Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Badassery of Wolverine

Sometimes it blows my mind when I try to imagine how iconic roles could have been played by someone else entirely. Would Indian Jones have been as heroic if Tom Selleck filled out the fedora instead? Would Julia Roberts have had the career she has if Molly Ringwald had played the hooker with a heart of gold in Pretty Woman? And every time Hugh Jackman shows up as Wolverine (which is pretty damn often), I think about poor Dougray Scott and wonder if he still kicks himself for having to dropout of the first X-Men movie. (And all because of Mission Impossible II...I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.) The role has become so synonymous with Jackman (he's been playing it for 14 years now!), giving him a career in film (Oscar-nominated!), and pretty much making him an international star.  In honor of Jackman's latest outing as everyone's favorite mutant in this Friday's X-Men: Days of Future Past (does that title make sense to anyone?), this week's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot from Nathaniel at The Film Experience looks back at our first encounter with the clawed-one (and company) in Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000).

My only knowledge of the X-Men is based solely on the 90's Fox Saturday morning cartoon (does anyone have the theme song stuck in their head now?). I have never read any of the comics and can't say that I was necessarily looking forward to a film version as eagerly as others. I remember when first seeing the film that I was not that impressed with it. (I didn't even see it in the movie theater. Actually the only X-Men movie I've seen in the theater is the forgettable X-Men Origins: Wolverine.) But watching it again this weekend, it wasn't as unsatisfying as I remember it being. Sure, the special effects seem cheap (Toad's tongue is laughably bad, but the final film had to be rushed 6 months early–maybe they just ran out of time...and money). Halle Berry still barely registers as fan favorite Storm (that wig!).  And don't even try making sense out of the convoluted plot line. But some things are actually kinda fun. Rebecca Romijn (no Stamos) looks amazing as the shape-shifting, blue-scaled Mystique. And there's nice touches like this clever blink-and-you'll-miss-it dissolve at the very beginning when the X from 20th Century Fox lingers for just a little bit before fading to black:

But what still holds up the most, for me, is Jackman's charismatic performance. It really is hard to imagine anyone else taking on the role (sorry, Dougray...). Although it's probably fair to say that whomever took on the character would have equally excelled because it's the type of role that just wins over fans. He's a total badass. I mean, he's basically indestructible since his body is capable of healing so quickly. He's got a crazy feathered haircut that makes it look like he has horns (a look not so easy to pull of as it may seem. And I've seen guys try). And, most importantly, he has fucking retractable claws that pop out of his knuckles! Which is what I inevitably had to pick for my Best Shot. Wolverine proving his coolness by just how much he doesn't give a fuck. A little too on the nose, yes. But still pretty fucking awesome:

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