Wolverine Declawed: What Went Wrong In His Solo Outing?

The first solo outing for the man who is, to paraphrase his famous saying, the best at what he does, and what he does is (usually) not very nice, was poorly received by fans, and savaged by critics. But the immediate problem of the film can be found in his catchphrase, as it was produced and marketed on the following premise:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine’s epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program.

They key word is ‘violent.’ In his comic origins, Wolverine is not a nice, nor is a lot of what he does. But this is a film, so it cannot be too violent, to the extent that the film incarnation is a pussy cat compared to comic roots. In the first X-Men film, and to a certain extent the sequel, Wolverine was the anti-hero. He was the opposite of the broad shouldered Boy Scout Scott Summers, a natural leader. But here, unleashed in his solo outing, he could have been darker, meaner. He should have been an anti-hero, but instead he is a good guy, pushed for righteous revenge, and in the last act, is a saviour of children.

As an aside, one of my favourite Wolverine comic stories can be found in Ultimate X-Men: 41, as I think it illustrates exactly what Wolverine is about. It deals with a young boy who has just hit puberty, and so his mutant gene has manifested. Unfortunately his power means he radiates toxins which kill people. After the boy realises he is responsible for a number of deaths in his town, he hides in some remote caves. Wolverine appears, sent by Xavier (as his healing factor protects him), and gives the boy his first beer. The boy reflects that he will never get to do anything in life he wanted to. Wolverine says he is sorry, but does not pander to the boy. The kid tells him just to get it over with. Some time later, Wolverine leaves the cave alone.

Let us turn back to the script, written by Skip Woods (who previously scribed Hugh Jackman’s hacker thriller Swordfish) and David Benioff (of Game of Thrones fame). If I had to choose one word to describe it, it would be ‘rushed’ or ‘abrupt.’ The film just throws events at you and moves on, without explanation or any sense of pace. In the first scene, we see James Howlett, the child Wolverine, and his powers manifesting for the first time, when his father, John Howlett, is killed by Thomas Logan. Wolverine then kills Thomas with his bone claws, who in his dying breath reveals he is James’ real father, having an affair with John’s wife, Elizabeth. James runs, followed by Thomas’s son Victor, who reveals they are half-brothers, and that they will always stay together. All this is tossed at the audience like a cheap salad.

Another example of this is how quickly James and Victor part company. Although we see a montage of them fighting through various wars, the writers do not deem it worthy to explain to the audience WHY James and Victor age slower. James decision to leave Victor and Team X comes barely ten minutes into the film, having seen the Team on one mission. We have had one scene where we see the brothers relationship, but James walks away from Victor after almost a century together, one hundred years, and because the event has been rushed up to and is quickly executed, it has the emotional depth of a toilet bowl.

As this is an entry into a comic book inspired franchise, the writers, presumably with notes from the producers, have included a number of fan-favourites into the mix, bending the script to them, rather than staying true to the source material and focusing on the members of Team X and those mutants experimented on by the Weapon X / Plus program. Gambit makes an introduction, Blob appears, as does a teenage Cyclops, and, bizarrely, Emma Frost, portrayed as being sister to the main love interest, Kayla Silverfox. Apparently Marvel later distanced themselves from this in order to include her in X-Men: First Class, but it says it quite clearly over at IMDb. If only there had been as big a worry about the plot as there was about having unnecessary cameos.

The crux of the plot is revenge; Victor (or Sabretooth) apparently kills Silverfox, pushing Wolverine to seek him out and kill him. When he fails, he takes up an offer from William Stryker to make him stronger, bonding the indestructible metal adamantium to his bones, making him unbreakable. But as with the relationship between Wolverine and Victor, his relationship with Kayla is something of a damp squib, rushed and glossed over. When she dies, we do not feel the pain because we have barely glimpsed this relationship, nor have the writers really warmed her to the audience. She is necessary only to give him something to revenge.

However, it turns out Kayla is not dead; it was all staged to get access to Wolverine’s healing gene, so it could be used to create Deadpool (an absolute bastardisation of one of Marvel’s most beloved characters). But this opens up all sorts of plot holes. For example, if all they needed was Wolverine’s mutant healing gene for Weapon X, why not have Kayla (who is sleeping with him) stealthily steal a sample of his blood? Why make a man indestructible, then think about erasing his memory to control him? Oh, and why say this in the same room as him, when you know full well he has hyper developed senses? And how did Wolverine not notice that Kayla’s body had no wounds on it (she has fake blood smeared on her clothes to make it look like Victor mauled her)? And later, how does Wolverine know where John Wraith is? And in the fight scene with Gambit and Victor, Wolverine knocks Gambit out in an alley, yet about sixty seconds later he is running across a rooftop, leaping down to attack Wolverine with his characteristic staff.

The list goes on and on.

The adamantium bonding scene should be a crucial moment, but is, like so many events in this film, rushed. No sooner has Wolverine’s bones metallicised than he is escaping into an old couple’s barn. Here is where the script decides to take a massive pause, so Wolverine can have tea and crumpets with an old couple, talk about motorcycles and get his leather jacket seen in the other films. Hold on, didn’t he just escape a secret government facility? And isn’t he still thirsty for revenge? And does he not think they will be tracking him?

So to summarise:
• A rushed, poorly paced plot that does not allow the emotional relationships time to breathe and capture the audience, leaving them emotionally detached.
• A plethora of plot holes and illogical character choices.
• Many crucial details poorly unexplained, if at all.
• A number of cameos rather than focus on the central characters.
• The main protagonist meant to be a bad-ass anti-hero, yet comes across as almost wholesome.

For my rewrite, I decided to focus on something that is a weakness for an otherwise indestructible man; his memory. It is Wolverine’s kryptonite, something he yearns answers to. Until the events of House of M (a comic book event that fundamentally changed the Marvel universe), Wolverine had little or no memories of his past. This was his weakness, his flaw. We saw this best used in X-Men 2; the promise of answers to his past almost drives Wolverine to betray his friends. But in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he has perfect recall. Although it is touched upon (he has nightmares from the wars), it is not until the end, when Stryker fires adamantium bullets into his brain, that he loses his memories. In the comic it is caused by a mix of experimentation, ageing, and self-protective memory blocks that causes his memory lapses, and its that weakness I would choose to explore in my script, asking the question, “What is a man without his memories?” I would love to do an X-Men version of Memento.


On black, we hear Wolverine speak.

“I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn’t very nice.”

OPEN ON: A dingy American bar. Wolverine sits alone at the bar. He orders another beer.

BARMAN: You drinking to forget?
WOLVERINE: No, I’m drinking to remember.

Wolverine takes a swig of the beer as we

FLASHBACK TO: Mid-19th Century Canada. A teenager named Dog Logan, a scruffy kid with a resemblance to Wolverine, takes a swig of a bottle of whisky. He coughs and gasps. James Howlett, a weak looking child of similar age to Dog, laughs at him. They are in the luscious grounds of a large mansion. Dog asks if he wants some, bullying him into it. Rose, James’ young private maid, appears as James is about to drink. She is angry with Dog, says James is sick, and demands to know where got the liquor. Dog admits he stole it from his father, indicating the Howlett’s gardener, Thomas Logan, who is pruning a tree. From a window in the house, Elizabeth Howlett watches Thomas. Rose tells Dog not to bully James into anything, or she will tell his father. Rose leads James back inside.

Evening – We briefly see John’s father, Old Man Howlett, moaning about something. Rose reads James a story, but then John, James’ father, takes over, and allows Rose the night off. Rose leaves the estate, but discovers Dog is following her. He tries it on with her, but Rose refuses his advances. Dog attacks her, and almost rapes her were it not for the intervention of John Howlett.

John summons Thomas, and fires him, tells him to leave immediately, and take his son with him. Thomas tries to reason with John, striking Dog when he speaks out of turn, but John’s mind is made up. Rose and James watch from the balcony above. Dog glares up at them.

Rose tucks James into bed, over the sounds of John and Elizabeth fighting. Rose reads him a story, but they are interrupted by shouting. Rose tells James to stay in bed, but he follows her as she approaches the lobby. Thomas Logan is there for Elizabeth, with whom he has been having an affair. John realises this was why Elizabeth was angry with him for firing Thomas. Disgusted, John aims to kill Dog’s father, but Thomas kills John instead, witnessed by James and Rose. James’ mutant powers manifest – bone claws protruding from his knuckles. We will see that James, and not Dog, is in fact Wolverine. He kills Dog’s father, but learns that Thomas Logan is in fact his father with Thomas’ dying breath. Shocked and unable to act, Rose steals him away. Dog witnesses Elizabeth crying over his father. She takes his shotgun, and kills herself. When later questioned by the police, Dog will blame Rose. The last shot will be of Rose and James running into the night.

BACK TO PRESENT: Wolverine realises someone is sitting next to him in the bar, a well built guy with a deformed face. This is Wade Wilson, the Merc with a Mouth, codenamed Deadpool. He stares at Wolverine, who does not know him. They are antagonistic, and start to fight, demolishing the bar before Wolverine seemingly kills Deadpool with his (now metal) claws. However, Deadpool has regenerative powers similar to Wolverine. Wolverine realises Deadpool is like him. Deadpool explains he got the gift from Wolverine, asks Wolverine where he got the metal claws. Wolverine says he can’t remember, he thought he always had them. Deadpool remarks they were bone the last time they met. Wolverine tells him to start talking. Deadpool suggests they go somewhere else before the police turn up. Wolverine asks where he had in mind.

INT. STRIPBAR – Deadpool sitting at the front of the stage, ogling the strippers. Wolverine is non-plussed. However, one is scared by his deformed face. Deadpool blames Wolverine. Wolverine asks what did he do? Deadpool says his face is like this because of Wolverine, and still cannot believe he does not remember anything – rattles off a bunch of names – Wraith, Maverick, Sabretooth, Silverfox…

FLASHCUT: Intimate close-up shot of a hot Native American Woman.

BACK TO PRESENT: Deadpool chuckles, says it figures he would remember the fox. Wolverine grows tired of Wade’s mouth, grabs him by the throat and tells him to start talking. Deadpool explains they were part of a covert team of the CIA, Team X, made up of mutants…

FLASHBACK TO: Ten years ago. Wolverine and the rest of Team X, including sword expert Deadpool, muscle Victor Creed (Sabretooth), teleporter John Wraith, kinetic impact absorber Christoph Nord (Maverick), infiltrator Kayla Silverfox, and gun expert David Landers (Mastodon), who is the mission leader. The team are on a mission in Europe that goes awry, their target running. Wolverine pursues and eventually captures the package carried by the target. He kills the target as well.

Mastodon has a go at Wolverine for going off plan. Wolverine says his plan sucked. Their superiors, Major Arthur Barrington and Colonel William Stryker, arrive to collect the package. Barrington tells Wolverine he did not have to kill the target. Wolverine grumbles that he made him run, heads to the nearest bar, with some of the other team.. Stryker opens the suitcase package; inside is liquid adamantium, being kept liquid by a battery power source.

In the bar, Wolverine is getting drinks, when he sees Sabretooth chatting up a red-headed woman.

FLASHCUT – Rose being attacked by Sabretooth

Wolverine tries to shake the memory, but his mind is off. He finds himself staring at the woman. He asks if they have met before. Sabretooth laughs at him, says that is a terrible line. Wolverine argues back. Sabretooth and him nearly come to blows, but Silverfox interrupts, saying the line worked on her. She kisses Wolverine, and leads him upstairs where they have a room. Sabretooth shouts something like “Let your woman fight your battles, Logan.”

Wolverine and Silverfox make love. Later, when both are asleep, Wolverine suddenly wakes when Sabretooth kicks in the door. He smacks Wolverine away, and then kills Silverfox. Wolverine wakes again: this was a dream. She soothes him, says his mind is a wild, untamed animal, just like him. They kiss, and are about to make love, when Deadpool interrupts, asking if he can join in. Wolverine kicks him out, but Mastodon tells them they have a mission. Wolverine says good, he could do with killing something. Mastodon squares up to Wolverine, tells him to follow orders. Wolverine retorts that he is the best at what he does, and what he does is not very nice.

BACK TO PRESENT: Deadpool explains their next mission was in Russia, to retrieve another package, but Wolverine loses patience, leaves the stripbar. Deadpool reluctantly follows him. Wolverine says he has heard enough of this delusional make-believe story. Deadpool tells him Mastodon is dead. Wolverine stops walking. Deadpool realises Wolverine does remember things. Wolverine asks what this has to do with him. Deadpool reveals that Major Barrington was killed a week ago. It looks like they are going after the old team. Wolverine is nonplussed, asks why Deadpool is putting the band back together. Deadpool says not him – Kayla Silverfox. Wolverine once again threatens Deadpool, says he is lying, Kayla is dead. Deadpool says she looked pretty healthy for a zombie the last time he saw her. Amazing rack. Wolverine walks off, gets on his bike and drives away.

Deadpool asks why Wolverine said Silverfox was dead.


Wolverine and Kayla have retired, enjoying living in a cabin in the wilderness. They have a couple of huskies. They take them walking one day and end up in a disused quarry, which for a moment Wolverine thinks he recognises.


James Howlett, now going by the name of Logan, works in the Quarry – young and fast. One of the men, Smitty, remarks he is as ferocious as Wolverine, a nickname that sticks.

James returns home to his small cabin, which he shares with Rose, passing as his sister, although we can tell James is in love with her. Smitty calls round for them bringing them some extra coal or firewood, he is also keen on Rose. They flirt. Wolverine excuses himself.


Silverfox asks if something is wrong. Wolverine says it is nothing, thought I’d been here before.

In the cabin, they lie asleep. Wolverine hears something. One of his dogs yelping. The other does the same. Then silence. Wolverine approaches the door. Suddenly it bursts open. Sabretooth appears, and tosses Wolverine aside, then proceeds to kill Silverfox.


Wolverine driving away. However, halfway down the road, he reconsiders, turns around, and picks up Deadpool.


On the journey, Wolverine asks what happened in Russia.


Team X go up against a Russian mutant, Omega Red, to steal a device known as the carbonadium synthesizer. However, during the mission something went wrong, many people died, including Maverick, while the carbonadium synthesizer went missing. The team were grilled by their superiors, Wolverine being blamed, and they are disbanded.

BACK TO PRESENT: Wolverine says he cannot remember the mission, just bits. Deadpool asks why Wolverine said Silverfox was dead.


Wolverine coming to, finding Kayla’s dead body, mutilated by Sabretooth.

He charges out of the cabin, tracking Sabretooth, who has set a trap for him, trapping him under a rockslide. Sabretooth mocks him, says Wolverine’s problem is that he never thinks, he’s an animal. As Sabretooth strlls away, Wolverine snarls after him, demanding to know why he killed Kayla. Sabretooth says it is his birthday present to Wolverine, but calls him James.


Wolverine explains some hunters found him days later, thought he was dead.

FLASHCUT: Wolverine giving two hunters a heart attack when he comes to life.

Deadpool asks what he has been doing since. Wolverine vaguely says government work while looking for Sabretooth. Deadpool assures him Kayla Silverfox is not dead. Wolverine threatens him, says if she is, and if this is a trap, he’ll shut that mouth of his up for good.


They enter the safehouse, an abandoned warehouse. Wolverine sniffs the air, smells a scent he recognises.

Sabretooth. Wolverine attacks him, knocking him down. Wolverine turns on Deadpool, cutting out his tongue. However, he stops when Kayla appears, although he has already cut Deadpool’s tongue out. Kayla attends to Sabretooth, and Wolverine cannot believe want he is seeing. Deadpool garles that he cut his tongue out. Wolverine snarls that it will grow back. Wolverine tries to talk to Kayla, but she is angry at him, upset. She helps Sabretooth to his feet and leads them to an old secret Team X safehouse under the warehouse.


They join Wraith, who is happy to see Wolverine. Deadpool says something, but its garbled. He plays charades, mimicing Wolverine’s claws. Wolverine draws out his metal claws. The group says they are new. Wolverine said he thought he always had them. The others share a concerned look. Wolverine asks what is wrong?

They show him Mastodon’s body, which they stole from under heavy guard. Kayla says someone did not want us seeing this body. The body has aged prematurely. Kayla explains that while they were all part of Team X, they were given Wolverine’s healing gene. It doesn’t work as fast as his own, but it allows them to heal and slows down ageing. It looks like someone shut it off. They have encountered a device that can do this before – the carbonadium synthesier. Someone must have recovered it the day they lost it.

Wolverine asks what that has to do with his memory. They show him the rest of Mastodon’s body – it is covered with tattoos (akin to Memento – facts, figures, addresses). Wraith reveals Mastodon contacted him shortly before he died, but he was not making any sense. He left them a name – Aldo Ferro. No-one knows who he is. They have a mission – to find Ferro, and the carbonadium synthesier before someone uses it on them. They will start with the man who was in charge – Stryker – and they know where he will be tomorrow.


They approach Stryker, and end up kidnapping him from his bodyguards, and ask him questions. Wolverine notices he is not as surprised about his metal claws as the others, and asks him what he knows. Stryker says he will tell him, but he has to help him break free. Wolverine turns on Team X and steals Stryker away to safety.

Stryker reveals Wolverine came to him five years ago, a broken man…


Wolverine approaches Stryker, and asks for his help to find Sabretooth. Stryker bargained with him; Wolverine will do wetwork (unsanctioned missions, assassinations) for Stryker in exchange for information on Sabretooth. Wolverine agrees. Stryker also offers to make him invincible. Wolverine asks how.


Stryker gives Wolverine the tour, finishing with the Adamantium laboratory. Stryker explains its properties, and that he believes he could fuse it to Wolverine’s bones, making him unbreakable. Wolverine asks why him. Stryker says Wolverine’s unique healing factor means he is the only people who could possibly survive the bonding process. Wolverine thinks about it, but all he can see is Kayla’s dead body, and Sabretooth leaving him trapped for dead, laughing. Wolverine agrees.

Bonding process – nearly kills him.

Afterwards – Stryker approaches Wolverine, being held in a cell. Wolverine is angry he is locked up. Stryker says it was for everyone’s protection, that Wolverine lost control that the pain drove him beserk. Stryker asks how it feels. Wolverine says he is in a lot of pain. Stryker asks if he is ready to kill. Wolverine grins.


Wolverine cannot believe it. Stryker reveals the process was not without its drawbacks; the bonding process further pushed Wolverine’s already fragmented mind to the edge, becoming more an animal, acting on instinct. Stryker says that he believes Wolverine’s healing factor heals his brain as he gets old, and that’s why he has trouble remembering, even creating disjunctive memories.

An unassuming wall lifts up; it is revealed this was a rouse by Team X, that Wolverine never betrayed them, but they are all shocked by the revelation that he is part of Weapon X, especially Kayla.

Wolverine asks if it was him that killed Barrington. Stryker says no, Wolverine has not killed for years, at least not for him. Stryker reveals to the team that he was investigating Barrington’s death, and Mastodon’s – believe it was the same killer. Barrington was shot, Mastodon killed by the carbonadium synthesizer.

Slowly they put it together – Maverick. But he is dead, they all say. Stryker shows them recent pictures of Maverick with another man, known only as the Vole. Wolverine remembers a tattoo on Mastodon’s arm, which indicates that the Vole is Aldo Ferro. Stryker says none of them are safe with the carbonadium synthesizer out there, and suggests they all return to the secure Weapon X facility, as Maverick was aware of their safehouse. Team X are not too keen on this, Sabretooth the most virulent opponent. Wolverine wants Kayla to be save, and agrees. Deadpool does too, but Stryker says he has to keep his mouth shut. Wraith is against it.

Before they can move, Maverick and a squad of mercenaries attack. Wolverine protects Kayla and Stryker, Deadpool puts up a fight, but Maverick manages to kill Wraith. Wolverine slashes his way out of the fight, Sabretooth lost in the battle as the rest escape to Weapon X Facility.

On the journey, Wolverine asks Kayla what happened between them. She reveals that after Team X, they moved on. She says they never lived together in Canada.


They arrive, and Wolverine begins to remember snatches of memory here, but in his memories, he sees Aldo Ferro working at Weapon X. He sneaks around the facility, and meets Kayla, who is also looking around.

They find a section off limits, and sneak in. Here they find what looks like various film sets, but of places they have been, including the Canadian mountain Cabin Wolverine remembers sharing with Kayla. They also find the Team X safehouse is a set. Everything has been a set up; everything they remember is a lie. Deadpool finds them, and Wolverine says they have to run, but Deadpool pulls of his scarred face to reveal Aldo Ferro! He is a mutant who can control minds with the help of machines he creates and psychotropic drugs. Wolverine realises he has seen Ferro in all his fragmented memories. Ferro reveals that for some reason the memories never took with Wolverine; his brain fighting back.

Stryker comes in and joins Ferro; they are working together, Stryker gleefully saying he was so enjoying playing the good guy. Maverick appears with a captured Sabretooth, a device around his head. Wolverine tries to move but finds he is magnetized to the spot, Strkyer saying it is an added benefit of all that adamantium in his body. Wolverine is forced to watch as Sabretooth rips out Kayla’s throat. Ferro says its funny, that he and Sabretooth have been doing this dance for so long, only back then, he was known as Dog. Ferro reveals Sabretooth is Wolverine’s half-brother, but then teases him as he injects him with drugs, saying he probably will not remember.


FLASHBACK – 100 years ago

Sabretooth, then Dog, is sat with James Howlett’s grandfather, Old Man Howlett, on his deathbed. Old Man Howlett has sent for Dog, as he was the last one to see James and Rose. He asks Dog to find his heir, that there will be money in it for him. Dog instead uses the money to track down James with revenge in his mind.

At the quarry, Rose and Smiddy are being married, James/Logan his best man. Over this we hear a voice-over from Rose, saying she is worried about James. We see she has been keeping a journal, that she is writing this entry. She hypothesises over James’ memory losses, as well as his mutation and healing ability.

ROSE: “You seem to have forgotten what happened to us, what led us here.”

After the wedding, in the local tavern, people having fun, dancing. Meanwhile, Dog has found the mining town, and sneaks into their house, finding Rose’s journal, which he begins to read.

Dog enters the tavern, stopping the celebrations, looking for revenge for his father’s death. He and Wolverine fight, Wolverine getting injured.

ROSE: “It is like your body protects itself. Perhaps your missing memories is the same thing – your body protecting you from pain.”

During the fight, Rose tries to split it up, but Wolverine, driven by rage, accidentally kills her. Wolverine, unable to face her death, runs away, into the wild.

ROSE: “I will keep this journal so that you can read, and know who you are.”

We see Dog throw the journal into a fire, grinning.


Wolverine wakes, Aldo trying to erase his memory, unaware Wolverine is conscious, as he experiences a rush of different memories.

Wolverine thinks back, to what various people have said, that he is an animal, without his memories he would be nothing but an animal, uncontrollable. He remembers the pain the adamantium process caused, the berserker rage. He breaks free, and chooses to erase his memory via a painful electric shock helmet. He survives the treatment, wakes, and goes berserk, killing everyone in the facility, including Maverick, but Stryker escapes. During the attack he inadvertently frees Sabretooth, Sabretooth says something like “this doesn’t make us even.” Wolverine continues his berserker rampage until he manages to escape the facility, running off into the wild, until he collapses in the snow.

He has a vision of Kayla finding him, but then she turns into the scarred face of Deadpool. Wolverine does not know who he is. Deadpool, impersonatig Wolverine, says, “Your the best at what you do, but what you do isn’t very nice.” Wolverine stares at him blankly. “We used to kill people together. Come on, lets get a drink.”


Deadpool explains Mastodon had left him a message, but when he got to the safehouse it was deserted. Wolverine still cannot remember anything at all – just flashes. Deadpool has to leave, but says if he ever needs him, just flash a torch into the sky with a bat in front of it.

Wolverine orders another beer. The barman (the barman from X-Men 1) strikes up a conversation with him.
BARMAN: Who was your friend? Quite a face on him.
WOLVERINE: I don’t have any friends. You got anything stronger?

The barman pours him a shot of whiskey.

BARMAN: Are you drinking to forget?
WOLVERINE: Drinking to remember.
BARMAN: Say, you look like you could handle yourself. You ever done much fighting? (He indicates the empty fight cage behind them).
WOLVERINE: Bub, I’m the best at what I do, and what I do isn’t very nice.




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