Carter’s Comic Corner XVIII: Enough With the Damn Wolverine

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Image via ign.com

By Carter Glace, Staff Writer

This Monday saw Fox release one final trailer for the upcoming threequel/reboot “X-Men: Apocalypse.” It looks… fine.

What has people talking is not the quality of the trailer, but the final ‘money shot.’ The last scene shown has Jean Grey and Cyclops having just escaped from some kind of holding cell, bodies lining the floor. When asked what happened, they simply explain, “We had some help.” The final image shows a particularly masculine hand with three metal claws jutting out. Yes, it would appear as though Wolverine is making another appearance in the X-Men universe. And in the wake of Hugh Jackman’s eighth film appearance, I think it’s time for a public service announcement: enough with the damn Wolverine.

That type of phrasing is typically employed when talking about Batman. The Caped Crusader is the patron saint of overexposed, with 13 ongoing comic series and 9 films. I would argue that Fox’s efforts have made the Canadian Mutant Marvel’s closest rival to Batman. Since the first X-Men film in 2000, Wolverine has been the lead in 6 of the  8 released films, two of them being Wolverine-centered films. And in those two he wasn’t prominently featured in, he made a cameo in one. That’s seven film appearances in just 16 years. At least Batman’s 7 films—not including Adam West’s film—appearances are stretched over 27 years.

What makes the X-Men the X-Men? Being a colorful, sprawling team of weird, diverse and iconic characters. Despite being a Marvel brand, the X-men can form their own entire universe of characters and stories. But when it’s time to make films about these heroes, instead of being massive epic ensembles, we disproportionately follow the escapades of Wolverine and how he reacts to the X-Men. He doesn’t even make sense as a point of view character for the audience: he’s angry, confrontational, and constantly threatening to leave. From Kitty Pryde to Rouge to any of the original teammates, there are an infinite number of better options.

And the result is that instead of getting a huge arc of cinema over nearly two decades, we’ve had 7 movies cover the same two or three characters covering more or less the same themes. Kitty Pryde? Reduced to a love triangle. Colossus? A supporting role in Deadpool. Nightcrawler? Gets one cool scene. The best film in the series from where I stand was “First Class,” because we finally got to see a big ensemble cast where every mutant was given something to do, building up to a huge battle in which everyone’s powers were shown off. But when we get to “Days of Futures Past?” Instead of following the comic and having Kitty Pryde go back in time—finally letting Ellen Page do something as one of the most popular X-Men—it was rewritten it to make Wolverine the main character. For me, the X-Men series has rarely been able to push past the ‘good’ mark, and their obsession with Wolverine is very symbolic of the continued restraint that holds the franchise back from its bigger, more interesting potential.

What’s so funny is that despite his over exposure in film, Marvel Comics has been somewhat under-exposing him as of late. In fact, they killed him off. In 2014, “The Death of Wolverine,” Logan was given a big, signature send off. But while Superman returned from death in a little under a year, Marvel has committed to this. The classic Wolverine has yet to return, with other characters taking on the moniker. Recently, a version of Logan did return to Marvel’s lineup, but that is the character known as Old Man Logan (short version: he’s from an alternate reality where villains take over America and Wolverine retires). Maybe Marvel is doing this as a deliberate stab at Fox by cutting off one of their most marketable characters, but it is refreshing to see Marvel take the opposite approach to the their rivals and open up their universe for other stars.

I get why people love Wolverine. He has cool powers, he’s violent, he broods, he’s had decades of cool stories. I understand that Fox loves Wolverine because he brings in the classic demographic of 13- to 25-year-old men. And I respect Hugh Jackman’s commitment to the character. But the over-exposure this character has received has swiftly run him into the ground. Frankly, it’s a miracle his popularity survived “X-Men Origins.” With Hugh Jackman wrapping up his time as the hero, could we please take this chance to give the character a break? Let the vast number of other X-Men have a chance for stardom. Marvel knew it was time to give him some much needed rest,  and I sincerely hope Fox does as well.

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