X-Men Origins: Wolverine
As the finale of a trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand was disappointing. It concluded by removing the natural superpowers of two key characters, killing off two other beloved heroes, and apparently killing, then inexplicably resurrecting, another central character—an odd ending considering all of them survive in the comics with powers intact.
Rather than resolve these threads—it's too expensive to renew the actors' contracts—the masterminds at 20th Century Fox are moving forward by looking back to the origin stories of various mutants. Naturally, they've started with the ever-popular Wolverine, followed by two other origin films in early development.
By now, fans know this franchise plays fast and loose with the mythology of the comics. The awkwardly titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine is no exception, but that's hardly surprising considering how murky and nebulous the character's past is. The movie still manages to strike some of the necessary beats of Wolverine's story, even while overloading it with extra characters and subplots that seem to conflict with the previous films. For example, how can a younger Cyclops or arch-nemesis Sabretooth appear in this movie when Wolverine seems to meet them for the first time in the original X-Men? The film attempts to explain questions like these with convoluted answers. (Hint: Sorta rhymes with magnesia.)
This tale originates with Wolverine's earliest days as James Howlett, a boy living in mid 19th century Canada. As a mutant with the ability to heal rapidly (not to mention those trademark retractable claws), he ages at a much slower rate than normal—hence why he still appears middle-aged even today. Turns out his half-brother Victor has similar talents, including a lesser healing ability and some deadly fingernail claws.
The siblings run away from home after a tragic event, leading to the coolest sequence of the film: an opening credits montage detailing their experiences in the Civil War, both World Wars, and Vietnam. It's a little bit Benjamin Button meets Highlander—and all too reminiscent of the credits in Watchmen— but nevertheless serves to contrast how these characters wield their abilities. Victor (a very feral looking Liev Schreiber) is a murderous psychopath who kills for thrills, while James (a very buff looking Hugh Jackman) is more a reluctant killer with a conscience.
Their time in Vietnam attracts the attention of Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston), who has put together a black ops team comprised of gifted mutants to perform dangerous covert missions around the world. (An older version of Stryker, played by Brian Cox, was the key to Wolverine's past in X2.) A conflict in morals soon causes James to walk away from the team. Changing his name to Logan, he settles down into quiet life as a lumberjack in love with a kindly Native American schoolteacher. That tranquility is short-lived once Victor (aka Sabretooth) begins killing off members from the disbanded team; apparently out of brotherly respect, he settles for Logan's beloved instead. The murder sets Logan on a vengeful path that eventually leads to the Wolverine we all know from the X-Men comics and films.