X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens this weekend and we all know that Hugh Jackman is reprising his role from three previous X-Men films and is here to take names and cut some goddamn heads off. This sparked a debate within the FSR offices: Who is more of a badass? Movie character Wolverine portrayed by Jackman since 2000 or comic-book hero Wolverine whose been slashing bitches since 1974. FSR contributing writer Paul Sileo and resident devil’s advocate Josh Radde debate.
Opening Statement (Josh):
Normally, when we talk about characters being adapted from the page to the screen we’re talking about a director’s interpretation of that character based on the written material. Sometimes said interpretations lack that extra “umph” to put them in the same stratosphere as the written work. In the world of comic book adaptations, we’re talking about this all the time: For instance, why hasn’t there been a completely satisfying Punisher on-screen; how could a good actor like George Clooney so horrendously f*ck up Batman? Inversely, we talk about Heath Ledger’s Joker or Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man as shining examples of actors who bring out the best of the famed characters they’re portraying. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is an example of an actor taking a character and bringing him to new heights that wouldn’t have been achieved in the comics.
Sure, comic book Wolverine has faced off against everyone from the Incredible Hulk to The Punisher to Spider-Man, but I contend that Jackman’s Wolverine is more of a badass. Not only do we get his charisma which makes him more watchable, we get more of his vulnerability as well. Seeing a character be vulnerable makes it more engaging when he’s ripping through people’s abdomens with his bitchin’ claws. We can connect with him more and to a degree it increases his LOA (Levels of Awesomeness, a technical term, Wiki it if you doubt me – [and if you Wiki it, just realize that this term only appears to people who have graduated the first two Levels of Awesomeness, kind of like how Scientology teaches their followers about Lord Xenu]). Let me ask you this – Who’s more badass: Schwarzenegger’s Terminator from the first film that is just a soul-less killing machine or Schwarzenegger’s Terminator from the second film who is trying to save lives and in doing so has to work harder and even develops some shred of personality. Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV is a far superior specimen in every way, but Stallone is the one we root for while singing “Hearts on Fire” at the top of our lungs! The latter in both scenarios is definitely more BAMF-tastic.
Because Jackman is so fearless in the role, he gives the character a higher sense of purpose than we can ever get from the comic book. Thus, I’m more willing to chant “Wolverine!” in the theater anytime he’s on (a sensation that is only duplicated when I watch Red Dawn at home) and less likely to wet my pants with glee when I see him on the page.
What the hell have you been sniffing on? Cole’s vial of ether? I guess I can’t really expect your walnut-sized brain to recognize this, but do you want to know why the movie version of Wolverine seems like such a badass? It’s because all the other X-Men in the movies are such fucking babies. Hell, he didn’t even bang one chick in the movies. All he did was play some wiener father figure type to Rogue and lose out on Jean Grey to Cyclops. Cyclops! The man who is about as much of a badass as my ten year old cousin. Wolverine wins the badassery contest in the movies simply by default. And Jackman bringing Wolverine to a new level? While I do believe Jackman was a good casting move, this is the same man who pranced around on-stage at the Oscars like Catherine Zeta Jones. I was highly disappointed when, in the middle of that number with Beyonce, he didn’t go feral and tear someone’s head off. Now that would have been television.
No, Josh, my repugnant friend, you are grossly misinformed. Let me lay it all out for you, in a way that maybe even you could understand. Also, I will do you a favor and ignore the fact that you cited his vulnerability in the films as a reason why he is more of a badass. I mean, really? Do you want to go have a latté with Hugh and play tiddlywinks while watching Dr. Phil? This is Wolverine we’re talking about. I’ll give you the raw version of Wolverine. The comics version. The real version. Prepare yourself, because I’m about to blow your goddamn mind.
Fact: We all know that Wolverine has adamantium grafted to his skeleton. But in the comics, this adamantium is literally ripped out of his body by Magneto at one point. Ripped out. Like, his entire skin comes open and the metal is pulled out. And he lives through it. But not only that, Wolverine discovers his real skeleton is just almost as good, and those claws of his? Yeah, those are natural, made out of his fucking bone.
Fact: One time, Wolverine was defeated by a guy named Cyber. How, you say? By having his eye gouged out. And did Wolverine cry or get all vulnerable? Hell no, he threw on an eye patch and continued to wreak havoc. I don’t think I need to explain how many LOA’s one achieves with the addition of an eye patch. Or being able to disembowel people with only one hand. Yeah, that’s right. In the Age of Apocalypse story arc, Wolverine only has one hand.
Fact: And speaking of Levels of Awesomeness, I know you still have yet to go through puberty, but in case you didn’t know, men have body hair. And real men have a lot of body hair. In fact, a guy’s level of badassery is proportionately related to his level of body hair. I’m sorry, but Jackman’s mutton chops just aren’t enough. The Wolverine from the comics is covered in hair. From head-to-toe. The man has more hair than a woolly mammoth. And they get some hairless Australian to play him in the movies? No thanks.
Fact: Alright, I left this one for last. It may be a bit controversial, but, regardless of its plausibility (which is ironic when we’re talking about mutants), I am going to name this as the Number One Reason Comic Wolverine Will Fucking Own Movie Wolverine. There is this dude named Nuke. I’m sure you can discern what his powers are. Yeah, so this dude named Nuke blows up. And incinerates Wolverine. I’m not talking about giving him a sunburn. I’m saying he is completely annihilated. In fact, nothing is left except for his indestructible skeleton, covered in adamantium. But, as we all know, you can’t keep a good man down, and Wolverine completely regenerates his entire body. From nothing but a skeleton! If that’s not badass, then you, sir, Mr. Josh Radde, don’t understand what badass is. Myself? I’m completely convinced you could cut Wolverine in half like a starfish, and get nothing for your troubles but two Wolverines trying to kill you, instead of one.
Look, you’ve made some decent points, but just because you have the word “Rad” in your last name doesn’t make you an expert on Wolverine. Or comics. Or anything, really. It just means I get to snicker every time I say it considering to whom it belongs. The comic version of Wolverine is far more of a badass than the movie version. Jackman does alright with what’s he’s got, but has he endured any of the mutilation or torture of the comic version? Has he been completely melted by a nuclear blast? Does he have high levels of body hair? No, no, and no. And guess what? Hugh Jackman almost didn’t even come back for X-Men Origins: Wolverine because, after X3, he felt like Wolverine was starting to turn into a little bit of a pussy. That’s right. Your hero, the singin’, dancin’, hairless Hugh Jackman, even knows you’re an idiot.
Closing Argument (Josh):
Fact: You keep a collection of your mama’s panties under your bed.
Paul, thank you for proving my point. Wolverine gets incinerated and regenerates? Guess what – THAT’S WHAT HE DOES! That’s one of his f*cking powers! When I cut my nostril hairs I don’t get rewarded because they grow back; neither should Wolverine get a Paul Sileo-patented rim job because he’s able to do exactly what his powers say he can. I will admit that what you say is pretty badass, and if I came across any comic book characters in an alley, Wolverine would be one of the ones to most quickly make me shit my pants. However, that’s not what I was arguing. Maybe our definitions of “badass” or uses of LOA differ, but mine comes from who I’d want in my corner. Which badass would I entrust to save the day.
OK, so comic book Wolverine is a survivalist and a fighter, but I never sensed from reading it that he wants to save people – he’s more of a lovable prick, and the fun comes from the fact that we may or may not trust him. Superman isn’t a badass because he’s indestructible and can fly; he’s a badass because he’ll do what it takes to save others. Jack Bauer isn’t a badass because he tortures people and yells a lot; he’s the f*cking MAN because you know he’ll go to the ends of the earth to protect people (unless you’re one of the hundreds that have died within a couple feet of him, of course). I’d want Jackman’s Wolverine in my corner because he fights FOR something. And I hate to use an example from X3, but the ending where he walks toward Phoenix and his skin keeps melting away and regenerating is most definitely badass. You telling me that from that scene alone he wouldn’t be able to regenerate if he were blown up? He’s every bit as badass (and adequately hairy) as comic-book Wolverine.
Final Words (Paul):
You keep my mama and her panties out of this.
Our definitions of badass must be all kinds of different if you are citing Superman as a badass. Look, man, at the end of the day, it seems you want a badass that can save the world. If it’s activist judges or the swine flu that you are worried about, by all means, call up Poofy Pants Jackman. But if you are troubled by the threat of a deranged supervillian promising worldwide destruction, an alien extermination force, or Dick Cheney opening up a private school for mutants, then the comic book version of Wolverine is just the man to cut some goddamn heads off. When humanity is threatened, I just can’t trust my life to someone who once starred in Oklahoma!.
Read More: Shouting Match
We can go back and forth discussing this matter all day, making personal attacks and eventually shanking each other like prison inmates. What really matters is Which Wolverine is More of a Badass in your opinion?