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<i>X-Men Origins: Wolverine</i>: What Were You Expecting, <i>Doctor Zhivago</i>?

I'm not really sure why movie critics complain about superhero movies being loud and stupid. I am an avowed lover of comic books -- superhero books in particular -- and I will be the first to admit that superhero comics are mostly pretty stupid. Even the really smart ones (Watchmen, Sandman) are based on stupid principles, i.e., that people who can fly, pop claws, shoot laser beams, etc. will put on tights and fight crime. So why do critics -- particularly the ones I've heard called "comic book tourists" -- continue to look for depth, meaning and artistry? Were they spoiled by last year's summer of high-quality superhero flicks, and they want Wolverine to shoulder the full responsibility this year, since it's the only superhero movie coming out? Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket.

When I go into a superhero movie, I look for three things: a fair amount of accuracy, a certain degree of originality, and an appropriate dose of comedy. Dark Knight, Iron Man and Incredible Hulk had these things last year, and so does X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Is Origins as well-made as the other three? Well, no. But is it as entertainingly good? Hell, yes. How could it not be? It's Hugh Jackman, consummate showman, playing the role he would have been born to play if he was about two feet shorter. And the role is Wolverine, America's (and probably Canada's) most popular comic book character for the past 30 years. These factors alone give Origins a leg up, putting Wolverine on equal footing with Batman and Iron Man -- after all, Wolverine doesn't need to put on a suit to be a bad-ass. The man was born a bad-ass.

Yes, Wolverine is a man's man. He's fought in four wars. He can heal from any wound. He doesn't really age. When he needs to get to an island, they drop him out of a plane. He threatens to take three different people's heads off in the movie, and he means it each time. He even works as a lumberjack at one point! And the movie surrounds him with other born-to-be-badasses, including a man who can shoot and kill anything, a man who can punch a tank shell and not get hurt, a man who can blow up anything he touches, a man who can control electrical devices with his mind and a man who can do anything with a sword, including deflect and slice bullets (see our guide to them all here). And the king badass of them all is Wolvie's own brother, Sabretooth, played by Liev Schreiber. Everything Wolvie can do, 'Tooth can do better. This is all accurate, and therefore a thumbs-up for me.

The story is where the originality comes in to play. While most of the details of Wolverine's life are straight out of the comics, characters are shifted around and used in new ways. A couple of members of Wolverine's government kill-team were never involved with the Weapon X program. The creation of Deadpool at the end is interesting -- not how it really happened, but interesting nonetheless. But this is all nit-picking. If the movie told the story exactly how it played in the comic books, I would be pretty damn bored. This way, the events not only come to a sad, downbeat resolution at the end, they perfectly segue into the first X-Men movie (or another Wolverine prequel?). Maybe it's not the best stand-alone story, setting up the X-trilogy as it does, but neither was Dark Knight, with its "stop imitating me" opening and "just blame me" ending.

And if the comedy stylings of the Joker in Dark Knight were to your liking, then you should like the comedy in Origins. Jackman does double duty as tortured soul and as a comic genius, mocking Agent-on-a-leash Zero and eating-disorder-having Blob, streaking across a field and accidentally slicing up a bathroom sink. Will.i.am actually does a commendable job as the sly, jokey Wraith, and Ryan Reynolds is morbidly hysterical, of course, in his short time as Wade Wilson, which makes me sad, because I have no idea how they could spin off Reynolds' character into his own movie. Taylor Kitsch's Gambit has potential, I guess -- I've never been the biggest Gambit fan, but considering how few characters are left alive at the end, he may be our only hope... aside from Wolverine himself, of course. Jackman has already talked to the writers about a sequel set in Japan, and I, for one, would be first in line to see it.

What did you think of the movie? Or Hugh Jackman's derriere? Either/or?

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