Friday, July 26, 2013

<i>The To-Do List</i>: Like an <i>American Pie</i> For Today's Ladies

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 1:46 PM

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The Wolverine movie Hugh Jackman
The Wolverine: Counting cameos, this is Hugh Jackman's sixth time playing Logan/James Howlett/Weapon X/Wolverine/The Wolverine. It was probably inevitable that given the comic book source and Jackman's charisma, he would find himself at the center of the on-screen X-Men universe—perhaps a bit unfair, given his only part-time X-membership, but let's face it: no one was going to drive X-Men Origins: Cyclops to an $80 million opening weekend, especially not if it was as poorly executed as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And if there's one thing Fox wants, nay, demands, it's the ability to execute its properties poorly. Witness the nerds-pleasing decision to hire Darren Aronofsky to make a stand-alone Wolverine non-sequel called The Wolverine and then let him quit the project for murky reasons. Sure, Aronofsky seems like the kind of director who loves grimness and grit in his comics, but The Wrestler and Black Swan both had enough flashes of dark humor and body horror to make me think his Wolverine would've been terrific.

Now we're getting a version of The Wolverine directed by James Mangold that ties directly into the X-Men franchise, which Fox has decided it would like to continue, thanks very much, after the one-two ruin-punch of X-Men: The Last Stand and the last Wolverine picture. At one point, I'm pretty sure this movie was to take place somewhere in the nethertime between the end of the stupid origin movie and the beginning of the quite excellent first X-Men movie; now it takes place in the aftermath of Last Stand and maybe as a prelude to next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past. It's all quite convoluted, but goddammit, I just can't quit the X-Men movies, especially when Fox goes and swerves into making good ones again: X-Men: First Class was great! I don't know if Days of Future Past's upcoming cross-pollination of the two franchise casts will be a mega-movie to end all nerdy ensemble superhero team time-travel sci-fi spectaculars, or just a feature-long retcom at the expense of the promising First Class cast. But while we're waiting to find out, here's James Mangold's The Wolverine, from which I'm getting vibes not unlike that first X-Men that made Jackman a star: a little smaller, a little less ambitious, a little more serious, and surprisingly good? Maybe Jackman will squeeze another six movies out of this character yet.

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