Franchises of All Time
The "X-Men" Films
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
X-Men (2000) | X2: X-Men United (2003) | X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) | X-Men: First Class (2011) | The Wolverine (2013)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Film Plot Summary
The film opened in the Northwest Territories of Canada in the year 1845. Sickly young James Howlett (Troye Sivan) witnessed the shooting death of his father John Howlett (Peter O'Brien) by angry, abusive and drunken groundskeeper Thomas Logan (Aaron Jeffery), the father of his young friend Victor Creed (Michael-James Olsen).
The traumatic and distressing event caused the mutant boy to grow three bone claws that protruded from the knuckles of both hands, and he sought vengeance by stabbing Logan in the chest. As Logan died, he confessed to James that he was his real father: "He wasn't your father. Son." Victor was supportive of young Jimmy: "He deserved it, and you gave it to him." Both boys, realizing they were brothers (or half-brothers) in a fraternal bond ("brothers protect each other...we stick together no matter what, and take care of anyone who gets in our way") fled from an unseen, pursuing mob with dogs.
During the next century and longer, the ageless, virtually-indestructible adult brothers, James (Hugh Jackman) and the more feral, fanged Victor/Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) with dagger-like fingernails and the ability to leap, both fought - often side by side - in many wars, including the American Civil War, the Great War, World War II, and the Vietnam War -- shown montage-like during the credits. With their special skills as mutants, combined with their violent tendencies and unique regenerative abilities, they were well-suited to being soldiers. However, during the Vietnam conflict, a violent, blood-lusting, and savage Victor killed another senior officer who stopped him from raping a local village woman. James came to his brother's defense, but both were sentenced to die before a firing squad. They survived the execution ("Wake me when it's over"), and afterwards were placed in a cell, and considered "freaks" and "animals" by guards. Soon after the failed execution, they were confronted by black-ops militarist Colonel William Stryker (Danny Huston) who asked them if they were "tired of running" and "denying your true nature." He knew about their valuable and special natures, and offered them freedom from being locked up as "freaks of nature" - by joining him as recruited members of Team X -- an elite group of mutants.
They decided to join the special Team X, that included:
Their first covert mission was to land in Lagos, Nigeria and assault a high-rise building where a conflict-diamond trafficking operation was headquartered. Using their special skills, they eliminated the defensive perimeter, blew up a tank (Dukes punched and blocked the barrel of the tank with an explosive round), and killed guards on the 12th floor after emerging from an elevator. Stryker told the kingpin boss: "I don't want your diamonds." Instead, he wanted to know the source of a black meteorite fragment. He learned it was located in a small inland village three days travel away. There, the team harshly interrogated one of the villagers, who only could say: "It came from the sky" and that it was sacred. Although the man told the truth, the locals was mercilessly slaughtered, angering James who told Victor: "We didn't sign up for this...We've done enough." His brother disagreed: "This is what we do." James threatened to leave the team, disgusted by their questionable and careless bloodthirsty mission: "I'm done" - he tossed aside his dog tags, and then he walked away, abandoning Victor.
In the Canadian Rockies six years later, James (now calling himself Logan) was living with pretty girlfriend-schoolteacher Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins), employed as a pacifist lumberjack. Meanwhile, in Springfield, Ohio, electricity-controlling Bradley, another one of the disbanded team of mutants, was also living "a totally different life" - he worked on the sideshow at a traveling circus/fair as a "circus freak". Victor tracked him down and after telling him that "Wade's gone," murdered him in his trailer. Logan woke up from a nightmare at the same time with his erect claws bared, screaming - telling Kayla it was because of his memories of all of the wars he had fought in. Colonel Stryker drove into Logan's lumberyard, warning him that "someone is hunting down our old team" - with both Wade and now Bradley murdered. Reluctant to help when Stryker stressed: "Your country needs you," Logan walked off: "I can take care of myself." He also added, "I'm Canadian."
As he drove home with Kayla, she mentioned: "You're not an animal, Logan. What you have is a gift" - although she realized he had a hot temper. That night, as a wolf's howls were heard, she told him a legend about wolves:
She added that Kuekuatsheu meant "the wolverine."
Shortly later, Victor confronted Kayla in the middle of the road while she was driving. Simultaneously while he was working nearby, Logan spotted a decapitated wolf's head and claw marks on a tree, immediately sensing that Kayla was in danger. He ran to her location, where he found her car with claw-marks in the hood - but he was too late. Victor had murdered Kayla in the woods. He found her body and screamed as he held her in his arms.
An enraged Logan tracked down Victor to a remote bar, where Victor semi-jokingly explained the reason for the murder: "You don't call. You don't write. How else am I supposed to get your attention?" The two fought with their vicious animalistic powers, and Logan was brutally beaten when flattened by a truckload of large timber logs, and tossed into an approaching truck, plus taunted: "Was she worth it?...When are you gonna figure it out? We're not like them." Logan replied: "I am nothing like you." Although brought to a hospital for treatment of multiple knife wounds, Logan had already healed himself. The treacherous Stryker reappeared, offering to help, although Logan blamed him for leading Victor to his location. Stryker explained how he had locked up the dangerous Victor, but he went AWOL and came after the entire team. Stryker enticingly offered: "I can give you the tools to defeat him. And we can still save the others....You will suffer more pain than any other man can endure, but you will have your revenge." Logan promised to seek bloody revenge with no limits: "I come with you, I'm coming for blood. No law, no code of conduct."
Logan was helicoptered to an underground mountain location for an operation to reinforce his skeletal system with a impenetrable substance called adamantium. It was a virtually indestructible metal that was the composition found in the African meteorite. Stryker warned: "We're gonna make you indestructible, but first we're gonna have to destroy you." He added that to kill Victor, "you're gonna have to embrace the other side. Become the animal." Logan's last request before the procedure was for new dog tags, to read: "Wolverine" -- a direct reference to Kayla's story. The historic medical procedure was attended and witnessed by US generals, who were told that a new "Weapon X' was being created. During the successful but painful procedure, Logan's body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure dangerously rose as the solution was needle-injected, and he slowly came back from death. Stryker told Agent Zero that they would use Wolverine's DNA for the next weapon, named XI, and ordered: "Erase his memory." With supernatural acute hearing, Wolverine overheard the command - and rejected the idea of losing his memories of Kayla forever. He roared out of the operation tank with his new adamantium claws, and fought his way naked out of the facility, invincible to bullets. Stryker ordered Agent Zero from Team X to track after him: "Hunt him down. Take his head off."
Logan found refuge in the barn of an elderly couple named Travis (Max Cullen) and Heather Hudson (Julia Blake), who warily but generously offered him their son's clothing. He had difficulty adjusting to the new, more-powerful adamantium blades, accidentally destroying the bathroom sink and radiator before coming to supper. They also suggested that he sleep in the barn ("Nothing you can break out there"). The next day, Travis suspected that Logan was preparing to do a "bad thing...looking for blood," and then advised: "We all got a choice, son." He gave Logan his son's leather jacket, and allowed Logan to take a test spin on his son's '64 chopper-motorcycle. Then, as Heather brought breakfast to Logan, both she and her husband were shot and murdered inside the barn by sniper Agent Zero. Zero then ordered an attack on the barn with a bomb-carrying helicopter, but Logan evaded the explosion on the motorcycle and escaped into a wooded area. He was also pursued by two humvees on land (Alpha One and Alpha Two), but was able to destroy all of his attackers, the two vehicles, and ultimately, Zero was mortally-wounded when the helicopter crashed. Logan spoke to Stryker on the helicopter's radio, threatening: "Where's Victor?...After I kill Victor, I'm coming for you...You wanted the animal, Colonel. You got it." As Logan left the area, he incinerated the helicopter with a fiery explosion.
Dr. Abraham Cornelius (David Ritchie) advised Stryker about how to eliminate Wolverine: "The only thing that'll take him down is an Adamantium bullet." One of the generals, General Munson (Stephen Leeder) felt the entire operation was a disaster: "You just spent half a billion dollars making him indestructible." Stryker evacuated his compromised facility, and was pleased when told that his search for a young mutant had been successful - a teenaged student named Scott Summers (Tim Pocock).
Logan rode to Las Vegas, where he met up with former Team X member John Wraith, who told him that Stryker's mission after he left the team was to round up other power-infused mutants ("We hunted our own kind, Logan...Stryker said we'd be making a difference, protecting people from the bad ones"). In a boxing ring, Logan fought against Fred Dukes, now called The Blob due to grotesque obesity from an eating disorder (but attempting to get into shape by boxing), to get specific information about Victor's location. He was told that Victor took captured mutants to Stryker's new laboratory called "the island" - he also said: "They run it together...Rumor is that Stryker's doing experiments on them there." Wolverine realized that he was unwittingly part of Stryker's overall strategy: "They killed her so I'd let them put Adamantium in me. They killed her for a goddamn experiment." Under pressure, Dukes also divulged that one of the escaped subjects, Remy LeBeau/Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), knew the island's location. Stryker's ultimate end-game with the mutants was "taking their powers. Trying to combine them somehow."
In a deal to work with unscrupulous Stryker, Victor was aiding in the capture of new mutants for the experiments - and was seen stalking and seizing Scott Summers in the hallway of his high school. During the capture, Summers' sunglasses fell off his face, and his laser-beam eyes cut a path of destruction. Stryker was present for the kidnapping, and assured Victor: "All that's left now is Logan."
Wraith and Wolverine traveled to New Orleans on two motorcycles, where they located poker-playing, Cajun-accented street hustler Gambit in a Bourbon Street bar. While Wraith watched from the outside rear of the bar, Wolverine spoke to Gambit at one of the gambling tables, telling him Victor Creed was "the man I'm gonna kill," and that he needed to know the location of the island. Meanwhile, Victor showed up and killed Wraith by punching into his mid-section and ripping out his spine. Gambit suspected that Wolverine, wearing dog tags, had been sent to recapture him, so he attacked ("Two years I rotted in that hellhole and I ain't never going back"). With his kinetic mutant strength, he threw several playing cards at Wolverine, propelling him backwards through a wall into the street. There, Wolverine looked over and saw the murdered Wraith, with Victor bent over him while extracting a sample of Wraith's blood with a hypodermic needle. Wolverine turned his attention toward Victor - threatening to cut his "goddamned head off" with his new "shiny" claw-blades: "You're gonna die for what you did to her" - he snarled. He almost killed Victor, but Gambit interfered during the fight, permitting Victor to escape. After they briefly struggled together, Wolverine persuasively forced Gambit to take him to the island, where he promised to kill Creed and Stryker.
At Stryker's compound where he was imprisoning mutants and performing experiments on them, he described his objectives to General Munson -- to create an ultimate mutant named Weapon XI: "All their strengths and none of their weaknesses. We can win this war before it starts and save countless lives in the process. Pre-emptive action is the only action here, General. The days of our country sitting on the sidelines are over. We need to take the fight to the enemy before they take the fight to us." Munson ordered Stryker to end his experiments, citing his knowledge of Stryker's mutant son who killed his wife - "You're too close to this. I'm shutting you down." Stryker responded with an autopsy blade thrust into Munson's chest, killing him.
Gambit flew Wolverine to Stryker's island, Three Mile Island, where he had hidden his facility amidst the nuclear reactors. Logan came upon Stryker, demanding: "Before I gut you, I want to know why." Stryker defended his conspiratorial actions to create the ultimate super-soldier: "I needed your powers for the Pool...the mutant killer. Deadpool. Years of searching and refining, finding the right powers that can coexist in one body without ripping it apart. My son was the first piece of the puzzle. Logan, you were the last. You made Weapon XI possible." He had deliberately motivated the vengeful Logan to agree to the adamantium injections, after the 'killing' of Kayla. To Logan's amazement, Kayla was alive - she explained (shown in flashback) about the day she supposedly died, when she was given a shot of hydrochlorothiazide to fake her death (producing a flatlined heart-rate). Kayla also had a mutant ability -- tactohypnosis ("She can influence people as long as she touches them") - part of her convincing seduction of Logan. He was hurt and devastated by the knowledge of Kayla's betrayal ("It was never real") -- he remembered back to her story about the moon, and told her: "I had it backwards. I thought you were the moon and I was your wolverine. But you're the trickster, aren't you? I'm just the fool who got played. The worst part of it is, I should have known. But I ignored my instincts. I ignored what I really am. But that won't ever happen again."
After Logan departed from the facility, it was revealed that Kayla was compelled by Stryker to conspire with him and betray Logan in exchange for the safety of her abducted mutant sister, Emma Frost (Tahyna Tozzi), who had diamond-hard skin. She still had genuine love for Logan - but couldn't reveal it. Stryker double-crossed Kayla, refusing to let her sister go. Logan's departure also angered Victor ("You can't let him go"). Knowing he couldn't defeat Logan, he demanded the bonding procedure for himself, to give him the same powers as Logan: "Give me the adamantium!" However, Stryker claimed that Victor would never survive the operation, and denied him the "deal" that they had made. After Kayla told the angered Victor: "He's using us," he attempted to kill Kayla by strangling her ("How about this time you die for real? Your little mind games don't work on me"), and her screams alerted Logan to return in rage - and he struggled against Victor and was about to take his head off. However, Kayla persuaded Logan to remember his humanity ("You're not an animal") and not kill him - and Victor was knocked out instead.
Kayla convinced Wolverine of her sincerity, and apologized for any misunderstanding: "They have my sister. Please. I didn't trick you into loving me. It was real for me, too." She showed Wolverine the imprisoning cells where the abducted mutants were being held, and freed them from their cages by slicing through the locks. The group of young mutants were guided through a maze of tunnels by blindfolded, telepathic Scott Summers, with the aid of the bullet-repelling diamond-skin of Emma Frost. During the flight, Kayla was mortally wounded, and decided to stay behind, as the others continued on.
At the same moment, Stryker prematurely activated his newest creation, Weapon XI (Scott Adkins), although the bonding process wasn't complete. At one of the facility's exits, Logan engaged in a face-off with the new super-mutant, Deadpool, a monstrously-modified Wade Wilson -- a pale-skinned, muscular, bald, deformed, computer-controlled Frankenstein-like figure with a sewed-up mouth, markings on his skin to indicate his adamantium skeletal structure, a long sword-blade that extended from each arm, healing regenerative powers, and other super-mutant capabilities such as teleporting and laser-beam eyes. He quipped: "Wade, is that you? Guess Stryker finally figured out how to shut you up." Wolverine summoned Weapon XI to the top of one of the nuclear plant's oddly-shaped cooling towers, where he was quickly vanquished by the super-mutant and about to be decapitated. To his surprise, Victor came to his aid and support (vowing: "Nobody kills you but me"), and working together, Wolverine ultimately decapitated Weapon XI - sending his disembodied head and body down into the interior of the cooling tower. As the two body parts descended, optic blasts continued to fire from his eyes and slice the walls. Wolverine helped Victor up, but informed him: "This doesn't change anything between us, Victor. We're done," although Victor thought otherwise: "We can never be done, Jimmy. We're brothers, and brothers look out for each other." They both jumped off the top edge of the cooling tower as it collapsed, and Gambit saved Wolverine from being crushed by a gigantic piece of concrete.
Kayla softly summoned Logan to her dying side, telling him: "I love you." As he carried her away to safety to seek help, Stryker pursued him with a gun loaded with adamantium bullets (knowing the bullets wouldn't kill him, but could cause brain damage), and shot him twice in the back, once in the chest, and once in the middle of his forehead - rendering him unconscious. To assure he was incapacitated, he fired one more shot into his head. When Stryker walked over to Kayla, she grabbed his leg, and with her mutant hypnotic powers, was tempted to have him blow his own brains out, but she changed her mind: "I should make you pull the trigger, but that would make us no better than you. Throw the gun away." She then ordered him to turn around, and walk until his feet bled, and then to keep on walking. He obeyed her command, as she expired.
The mutant kids emerged from the tunnel system, and saw a helicopter in a grove of trees. Stepping off the helicopter was Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), communicating with Scott telepathically - and he offered them refuge - the teenagers would later appear at Xavier's school in the first installment of the series. Wolverine/Logan awoke after regenerating himself, but suffered memory loss/amnesia from brain damage, and couldn't remember who Gambit was, or where he was. Gambit attempted to persuade him to follow: "You need to trust me. We have to go. Follow me" -- but Logan ultimately refused and went his own way ("I'll find my own way"), as sirens from approaching emergency vehicles sounded. The film ended with Logan closing the eyes of the deceased Kayla, although he couldn't remember his past history with her.
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
This film was a prequel to the entire series. It was the first stand-alone feature and origin story, set about 20 years before the film trilogy.
A second spinoff film of Marvel's solo character (the Wolverine) was found in The Wolverine (2013), directed by James Mangold. It again featured Hugh Jackman in the lead role as Logan. This film was set long after all the existing entries in the X-Men series-franchise. The immortal, self-healing mutant traveled to modern-day Japan to say farewell to dying friend Yashida, a wealthy tycoon, and found himself protecting sheltered, rich heiress Mariko (Japanese supermodel Tao Okamoto) from deadly opponents while struggling with his own immortality. The Wolverine fought off two mutant enemies, Marvel's Silver Samurai (Will Yun Lee) and Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), and a host of samurai warriors, ninjas, and yakuza (Japanese mafia members).
With a production budget of $150 million, and box-office gross receipts of almost $180 million (domestic) and $373 million (worldwide). The gross receipts of this fourth film in the series ranked it in third place, ahead of the first film in the franchise, but significantly behind the other two films in the trilogy.
Set-pieces: the opening credits montage of fighting in American wars, the commando attack on a Nigerian high-rise building, the adamantium injection procedure, the helicopter and humvees chase sequence, Gambit's skill with playing cards and his walking stick, and the final fight along the rim of a Three Mile Island nuclear reactor coolant tower between Weapon XI/Deadpool and Wolverine & Victor.
Young James Howlett
Young Victor Creed
Colonel William Stryker
Fred J. Dukes/The Blob
David North/Agent Zero
Miss Kayla Silverfox
Scott Summers/future Cyclops
Emma Frost/Kayla's sister
Professor Charles Xavier
Series-Introduction - Index to All Films | Series-Box Office