Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wolvie

Call it a guilty pleasure, if you will, but I'm looking forward to seeing the latest movie in the X-Men saga, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and, in particular, Hugh Jackman in the role of Wolverine – or, as I like to call him, Wolvie.

Based on the X-Men comic books first created in 1963 by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, X-Men: Days of Future Past opened three weeks ago and is, according to Sean O'Connell of Cinema Blend, "the greatest, most complete and staggeringly entertaining [X-Men film] to date." Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 92% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 7.6 out of 10, based on 212 reviews. The website's consensus reads: "X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments."





Kinda gay

I've written previously on some pretty obvious parallels between the X-Men films and the struggles of LGBT people in a predominately straight world. In reviewing the latest installment in the franchise, Dana Stevens similarly notes that:

[T]his film strike[s] me primarily as a fable about the torments and pleasures of being an outsider in a world that hasn’t yet come around to embracing difference. It isn’t even quite right to say that the movie functions as an allegory about gay culture or gay rights – it’s more of a full-on gay romance, with every other relationship taking a backseat to the stormy lifelong bond that links the destinies of Erik and Charles (civilian names seem suitable here, since they spend relatively little time helmeted up in full Magneto/Professor X regalia). The men’s love for the dangerous and unpredictable Mystique – who was raised alongside Charles as a kind of adopted sister — seems sublimated to the point of abstraction in comparison with the immediate physical connection the two of them share.


Interestingly, when X-Men: First Class was released three years ago, AlterNet.com's Sarah Jaffe wondered if it served as "the love story" of Professor X and Magneto. I haven't seen this particular X-Men film, so I can't really comment on it – or on Jaffe's contention.

To be honest, I'm really not that into either the X-Men films or superhero movies in general. This despite the fact that, like most children growing up in the 1970s in the Western world, superhero comic books were readily available.

I remember the Avengers were popular with my brothers and I, although I think I was unique in having as my favorite Avenger one of the few female members – Wanda Maximoff, aka, the Scarlet Witch. (Update: For more about this character, see the 6/14/15 Wild Reed post, Season of the Witch.)




I was disappointed to hear that somewhat of a cameo appearance by the Scarlet Witch was cut from X-Men: Days of Future Past. According to International Business Times entertainment reporter Tanya Diente:

[One] scene that was inevitably deleted in the final screening . . . was an appearance by Quicksilver's twin sister the Scarlet Witch. [Writer] Kinberg had toyed with the idea of bringing the Scarlet Witch into the mix.

"Actually, there was a little scene that we shot that we ended up cutting out of the movie that alluded to her. It was sort of an interstitial scene that didn't push the movie forward and so it ended up being cut," Kinberg explained.


Now here's something I only recently found out: The Scarlet Witch has already appeared in a recent superhero movie. In a mid-credits scene in the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, released earlier this year, Elizabeth Olsen portrays a young Scarlet Witch (left). She'll reprise the role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, due out next summer.

Something I have always known is that ever since I was a kid I've been more drawn to the superheroes of Marvel comics than to those of DC comics (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, et al). This is because the Marvel characters, including Wolverine and the Scarlet Witch, are just more complex and thus interesting than many of their DC counterparts. I find it somewhat intriguing that I picked up on this even as a child.


Outsider with a heart

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has been described as an "outsider with a heart." Looking back, that's how I recall thinking about – and why I was drawn to – the Scarlet Witch. It's not, however, the primary reason I'm drawn to Wolverine. No, my interest in Wolvie is more to do with the fact that he's played by Jackman.

You see, now that I'm a man of a certain age, I find myself on the look-out for, shall we say, "mature-age" role models. What do I mean by this? Basically, older guys who dress sharp, stay in good shape, and embody a well-grounded, integrated life. I have to say that Hugh Jackman, who is roughly my age, is definitely one of these role models (even if I do think he goes a bit overboard with the bodybuilding for the Wolverine role!).




I also appreciate and respect Jackman for his diverse talents (he's an accomplished actor, singer, dancer, and awards show host!) and for the fact that he's seemingly remained a very down-to-earth individual and dedicated family man despite the pressures and perks of fame.

As film journalist Nev Pierce notes in his July 2013 Empire article on Jackman: "[He] has a versatility few stars possess. . . . [and] is, famously, the nicest man in Hollywood. You could say he's a sheep in wolf's clothing."

Jackman has made the role of Wolverine very much his own. In fact, no other actor has played a superhero longer than he has. X-Men: Days of Future Past will be Jackman's seventh outing as the bladed berserker. Yet it's a role he almost didn't get.

During the planning stages of the first X-men movie in 1998, the role of Wolverine was offered to Russell Crowe. He turned it down but told director Bryan Singer about Jackman, who was then starring in the musical Oklahoma! in London's West End. After several auditions over many months, Jackman learned that Scottish actor Dougray Scott had been cast as Wolverine. However, after Scott injured himself while filming Mission: Impossible II, Jackman was invited to Toronto, where Singer had already started filming the first X-Men movie. After what Jackman remembers as an "awkward" audition and screen test, he was offered the part.



Above: Jackman in X-Men (2000) and in 2013's The Wolverine.
(Personally, I prefer the earlier look!)


A pop culture phenomenon

Recently, Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly ranked every mutant superhero to have ever joined the ranks of the (comic book) X-Men team. Apparently, there's been 100! At number one is Wolverine, and here's what Franich has to say about him:

[T]he man called Logan reflects everything I love about the X-Men, and about comic books as a whole. Built on a grab-bag of personality traits and powers that feel assembled by accident — claws, healing factor, amnesia, Canadian-ness — Wolverine has been variously presented as a scuzzy uncle and a heartless romantic, a man without a past and an immortal icon existing throughout time. He’s a bar-fight samurai, hilarious comic relief and/or a bruised leader dripping with gravitas. He can be self-consciously “cool” — a fifth grader’s idea of a grown-up — but he can also be a tragic figure, his own worst enemy. He is every X-Man: Every cool and stupid power, every goofy backstory and time-tossed retcon, every death and every dark future. Wolverine is all things.



Above: Jackman as Logan/Wolverine in the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine.


Over at BuzzFeed, Matthew Perpetua has compiled a similar list but in this one, Wolverine loses out to Cyclops when it comes to the top spot. About Wolverine, Perpetua writes:

Wolverine [is] the most famous X-Man, and arguably the biggest reason the series went on to became a pop culture phenomenon. He’s changed a lot over the years – he started off as an unhinged loose cannon, became a foil to steady leaders like Cyclops and Storm, and eventually opened his own version of the X-Men’s school to help the next generation of mutants and offer an alternative to Cyclops’ militaristic direction. Wolverine is a hugely versatile character, and easily one of the most iconic superheroes of all time.


. . . He's also bisexual, well, at least in a parallel dimension.




Writes Jase Peeples in the February 26, 2013 edition of The Advocate

X-Treme X-Men, the Marvel comic featuring well-known alternate versions of iconic characters from parallel dimensions, had implied for some time that the bisexual demigod Hercules and James “Logan” Howlett, the Wolverine of another universe, once had a romantic relationship.

However, according to Bleeding Cool, the comic’s most recent issue, X-Treme X-Men #10 moved beyond flirtatious hints and placed the couple’s softer side front and center, depicting the two men kissing in a passionate embrace.

"We were our worlds' greatest heroes," Logan says in the issue. "And the day we slew the worst monster who ever threatened the Dominion of Canada ... We revealed our love."

However, this is not the first time a mainstream comics company has served up an alternate version of an iconic character sailing the same-sex seas. Marvel’s Ultimate universe included an out-and-proud version of the X-men’s Colossus, while DC’s Earth 2 currently features the adventures of the publisher’s only gay, Green Lantern.




Above: Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past.



Gay Wolvie

In the always entertaining world of fan art, the character of Wolverine is often depicted as gay. I guess it just goes to show how many gay fans of superheroes there are out there, and how strongly they resonate with Wolvie!

Following are a few examples of this fan art.

Left: "Logan and Victor [Sabretooth]." (Artist unknown)





Above: "Resolution" by Ponderosa.

Right: "To Tame a Beast" by Segda.

In these two images Wolverine is pictured with Gambit, about whom Wikipedia notes:

A mutant, Gambit can mentally create, control and manipulate pure kinetic energy to his every whim and desire. He is also incredibly knowledgeable and skilled in card-throwing, hand-to-hand combat, and the use of a bō. Few X-Men trusted Gambit, who was originally a professional thief, when he first joined the group.




Above: "Taste for Blood" by Ponderosa.

Left: "Wolverine x Sabertooth" by MuusKazi.


About Wolverine's long-time enemy Sabretooth, Wikipedia notes the following:

Sabretooth (Victor Creed) is a fictional character, a Marvel Comics supervillain created by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer John Byrne. The character first appeared in Iron Fist #14 (August 1977). Originally portrayed as a non-powered serial killer, Sabretooth is later written as a mutant who possesses bestial superhuman abilities, most notably a rapid healing factor, razor-sharp fangs and claws, and superhuman senses. He is a vicious assassin responsible for numerous deaths both as a paid mercenary and for his personal pleasure.

The character Wolverine is depicted as his long-time enemy, although conflicting accounts have been given as to the origin of their feud. It is also known that he and Sabretooth were victims of the Cold War supersoldier program Weapon X, and that Sabretooth saw Wolverine as competition and tried to make his life miserable. While Wolverine is depicted as suppressing his more savage qualities, Sabretooth does the opposite and embraces them.


A common theme in a lot of "gay fan art" is that the fierce tension and antagonism that exists between certain male superheroes is actually a sign of mutual (though repressed) sexual desire. The role of the fan artist, it would seem, is to give these characters an opportunity to let loose with this desire. We see this depicted with Wolverine and Sabretooth (above) and Wolverine and Cylops (below).



Above: "A Completely Accurate Retelling of X-Men: Schism" by Ilias Kyriazis, Ed Ryzowski and Rus Wooton.






Right: "Scott and Logan: No Regrets" by hellyeahscogan.




Above: "Logan x Kurt [Wolverine x Nightcrawler]" by Suchtel.

Left: "Orange" by crow821


It's not all fury and angst. In these charming examples of fan art, Wolverine and Nightcrawler share a tender moment.

Nightcrawler actually sounds like a pretty interesting character, at least as described by Matthew Perpetua:

Nightcrawler is the soul of the X-Men. He’s a guy who looks like a devil but has the soul of an angel, and insists on a positive, joyful outlook on life despite the impossibility of ever living a normal life. He’s one of the best characters for action scenes – the gymnastics, the swords, the teleporation! – and he’s a valuable source of comic relief in darker stories.


Hmm . . . seems like a perfect match for Wolvie!




Above: "Real" by crow821



Above: "Logan and Bigby" by Deviance.



Above: "The Wolf Among Us" by Deviance.



Above: Wolverine, the ultimate underwear model! (Artist unknown)



Right: And finally, Wolverine sans underwear.

I don't know the artist responsible for this image but as it's an, er, interesting take on the image that opens this post, I thought it perfect to end with it!









See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men
The New Superman: Not Necessarily Gay, But Definitely Queer

Related Off-site Links:
Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past – Justin Chang (Variety via Yahoo! Movies, May 12, 2014).
X-Men: Days of Future Past is Maximalist Hollywood Filmmaking at Its Best – Dana Stevens (Slate, May 22, 2014).
Why X-Men: Days Of Future Past Changed A Pivotal Storyline From The Comics – Frank Pallotta (Business Insider, June 4, 2014).
Hugh Jackman Gets to the Heart of The Wolverine – Gina McIntyre (Hero Complex, July 25, 2013).
X-Men's Star Hugh Jackman Shows Off Wolverine’s Exhibitionist Streak – Gina McIntyre (Hero Complex, May 27, 2014).
Why Hugh Jackman Went 'Commando' While Filming X-Men: Days of Future Past – Michael Rothman (ABC News, May 21, 2014).
Hugh Jackman Forgot to Warn His Daughter About Nude X-Men Scene – Barbara Tasch (Time, May 22, 2014).
Hugh Jackman Says ’70s Era Perfect for Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past – Cindy Pearlman (Chicago Sun-Times, May 22, 2014).
Why X-Men: Days of Future Past Could Only Work in 1973 – David Crow (Den of Geek, May 27, 2014).
Wolverine: Hugh Jackman's Outsider with a Heart – Gina McIntyre (Hero Complex, July 25, 2013).
"Meditation Has Changed My Life," Says Hugh JackmanThe Third Metric (July 1, 2013)
Hugh Jackman Explains How He Understands God and Uses Meditation Daily – Steven Bancarz (Spirit Science, June 13, 2014).
Hugh Jackman Opens Up About Battle with Skin Cancer – David Blaustein and Michael Rothman (ABC News, May 12, 2014).
Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart: X-Men Echoes Struggles of Gay Rights Movement – Seamus Duff (Metro, February 24, 2014).
X-Cluded: Why Are All the Minority X-Men Left Out in the Cold? – Gwynne Watkins (Yahoo! Movies, May 31, 2014).
A Little History: LGBT Representation in Mainstream American Comics (Part 1) – Alan Kistler (The Mary Sue, May 15, 2014).
Why Your Guilty Pleasures Matter – Chuck Klosterman (Esquire, November 1, 2004).


UPDATES: Why You Should Be Thankful for X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Mike Cecchini (Den of Geek, November 27, 2014).
Hugh Jackman in Talks for X-Men ApocalypseYahoo! Celebrity (December 17, 2014).
How Long Hugh Jackman Plans to Play Wolverine – Joseph Baxter (Cinema Blend, February 24, 2015).
X-Men: Apocalypse – Everything You Need to Know – David Crow (Den of Geek, March 14, 2015).
Hugh Jackman Announces Exit from X-Men Franchise – Michael Rothman (ABC News via Good Morning America, March 30, 2015).
X-Men: Apocalypse: A Look at Hugh Jackman in His Wolverine Costume – Tanya Diente (IBT, April 2, 2015).
Does Wolverine Finally Suit Up for Hugh Jackman's "One Last Time"? – Randy Micah Smith (Moviepilot, April 2, 2015).
Ten Actors Who Could Replace Hugh Jackman as Wolverine – Mark Hughes (Forbes, April 8, 2015).
Why Hugh Jackman is Walking Away from Wolverine – Adam Holmes (Cinema Blend, May 7, 2015).
Hugh Jackman Definitely Quitting Wolverine Role – Simon Drew (Den of Geek, June 8, 2015).
The Real Reason Hugh Jackman is Done with Wolverine – Catarina Cowden (Cinema Blend, June 8, 2015).
Hugh Jackman Explains Why Jerry Seinfeld is Behind the End of Wolverine – Graeme McMillan (The Hollywood Reporter, June 9, 2015).
Hugh Jackman Reaches Out to Fans Over Final Wolverine Movie – Ben Bussey (Yahoo! News, July 28, 2015).
Hugh Jackman Promises "Berserker Rage" in Wolverine 3 – Ben Skipper (Yahoo! News, August 17, 2015).
The Two Things Wolverine Fans Really Want To See In Wolverine 3 – Nick Romano (Cinema Blend, August 18, 2015).
Wait, Is Sabretooth Coming Back for Wolverine 3? – Nick Romano (Cinema Blend, August 19, 2015).
Hugh Jackman Proves He’s a Superhero in Real Life – Gwen Breitstein (Yahoo! News, August 28, 2015).
Hugh Jackman Wants Tom Hardy to Be the Next Wolverine – Jacob Bryant (Variety, September 24, 2015).
Final Wolverine Movie to Explore Character's Relationship with Professor X – Ben Skipper (Yahoo! News, September 25, 2015).


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