This latest movie in the X-Men series opens in 1845 in Canada. James/Wolverine and his older half-brother Victor/Sabretooth are children, running away together after the death of their fathers. As adults, they fight, die and are brought back to life through their mutant powers in several major conflicts.
During the Vietnam War, James (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) are court-martialled and imprisoned. While in prison, they are offered freedom and the chance to serve their country by Colonel William Stryker (Danny Huston). This is in exchange for joining Stryker’s special team of mutants.
James witnesses the team killing innocent people in an African village. He declares that he has had enough of killing and leaves, walking away from Victor, Stryker and the team. The movie shifts forward six years. James is now called Logan and lives a peaceful life in the Canadian mountains with his girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins).
While Logan has been living the quiet life, mutants from his old team have been systematically killed. Stryker approaches Logan, asking him to assist in tracking down those responsible. Logan refuses, not wishing to be involved in killing anymore. But when Victor turns up and apparently murders Kayla, Logan goes into action. He seeks out members of his old team and becomes involved in epic struggles against enormous and unforeseen forces.
Mutants; war; superpowers
The movie contains frequent intense action violence. It is often brutal, although there is minimal blood and gore. For example:
- After the sound of a gunshot, James runs downstairs to find his father lying on the ground dead and a man standing over him with a shotgun. Bone-like knives come out of James’s fists. He charges at the man and plunges both of his knife hands into the man’s stomach, killing him.
- The film’s opening credits include a montage of scenes from wars. This includes explosions that send people flying through the air, soldiers being shot in the chest, soldiers being hit in the chest by cannonballs, soldiers fighting in trenches, and soldiers being shot in the chest by machinegun fire.
- During the Vietnam War, Victor rough-handles a woman. He throws her on a bed in a village hut, apparently intending to rape her. After being stopped by his fellow soldiers, he goes berserk, shooting and killing the soldiers who interrupted him. Logan tries to stop the killing. Victor and Logan finally submit when they are surrounded by a ring of soldiers all pointing guns.
- A mutant pulls out two handguns. With superhuman speed and accuracy, he shoots and kills armed men behind a barricade. The mutant then leaps over the barricaded gate and continues to shoot armed men until all are dead. Another mutant sticks his fist into the gun barrel of a tank, causing the tank to explode.
- A mutant holding a samurai sword walks out of an elevator into a hailstorm of machinegun fire. The mutant swirls his sword in a blur of motion, using the sword to deflect bullets. Some of the deflected bullets hit the people with the machineguns. The mutant uses his sword to stab, cut and slice his way through the remaining armed men until only one remains.
- A group of African villagers kneel down with their hands behind their heads while surrounded by a squad of mutant solders. Victor grabs the head villager’s neck and twists it.
- Logan finds Kayla lying on the ground dead, her chest and neck covered with blood. He holds her dead body in his arms and screams in despair.
- Logan and Victor fight each other in several scenes. Logan extends his knife blades and Victor extends his claws. They slash, claw, hit and throw each other around. We hear the sounds of bones breaking. Logan stabs Victor through the hand and in the chest with his extended bone knives. Victor sinks his claws into Logan’s chest and shoulder. In one fight, Victor picks up Logan and throws him into the path of a speeding truck. Logan rolls over the bonnet of the truck and lands hard on the ground. In another scene, Logan lies on a train track. Victor walks up to him and stamps down on his extended bone knives. The knives break off and Logan screams in pain.
- Logan grabs Stryker by the throat and slams him against a wall, holding him there until Stryker’s face turns red. Logan lets him go, and Stryker falls to the ground.
- A woman is about to perform a medical procedure on Logan. She tells him that he is about to experience more pain than any man has experienced.
- After being experimented on, Logan – now called Wolverine – breaks his restraints and slashes several people with metal knives protruding from his knuckles. Soldiers shoot at him as he runs through the complex, fighting, slashing and cutting through the soldiers.
- An elderly man points a shotgun at Logan. He and his wife are both struck and killed by bullets.
- A helicopter fires a missile at a barn, and the barn explodes in a ball of flames. At the same time, Wolverine comes crashing out of the barn doors on a motorbike.
- Wolverine is chased by gunmen in a helicopter. One of them says, ‘Blow his brains all over the road’. The gunmen shoot at Wolverine, who dodges the bullets. Wolverine runs up a hill and leaps onto the helicopter, using his knives to slice off the helicopter’s blades. The helicopter crashes. We see one of Stryker’s mutant henchmen wounded and partially hanging out of the helicopter’s windscreen. Wolverine walks away from the helicopter, striking his blades on the ground and creating sparks that ignite spilled fuel. The helicopter explodes in a ball of flames.
- Wolverine fights a fellow mutant called the Blob, an extremely obese man. Wolverine repeatedly hits the Blob in the face and the stomach, and the Blob throws Wolverine out of the boxing ring. They punch each other in the head, stomach and back. The Blob head-butts Wolverine, and we hear the sound of a loud metallic clunk. Wolverine slams his fist down on top of the Blob, and the Blob collapses.
- Victor chases a teenage mutant boy through a school building. When Victor catches the boy, he knocks the boy to the ground. The boy’s glasses are knocked from his head and laser beams shoot out of the boy’s eyes, cutting through the walls of the school. Victor holds the boy’s head while a second man injects a tranquiliser into the back of the boy’s neck. The boy falls unconscious.
- Victor punches his hand through another mutant’s stomach. Victor says, ‘I can feel your spine’, and jerks his hand out. We hear bones cracking, and the mutant falls to the ground.
- Wolverine holds his fist blades at Victor’s neck and says, ‘I’m gonna cut your god damn head off’. Wolverine and Victor fight. Wolverine puts his knives through Victor’s hand.
- A character tries to escape Wolverine by climbing a metal fire escape. Wolverine slices through the metal fire escape with his fist blades, causing the character to fall hard to the ground.
- Stryker picks up a long sword-like blade and runs it through the stomach of an army general.
- We see a flashback image of Victor injecting a drug into Kayla to make it look like she is dead. He also pours blood over her body.
- Victor grabs Kayla by the throat, and she screams.
- We see Kayla holding her hand over a bloody bullet wound in the side of her body.
- Wolverine is standing on top of a nuclear reactor tower when Weapon XI approaches. Weapon XI impales Wolverine through the back with a long sword-like blade. He is poised to decapitate Wolverine when Victor shows up and attacks Weapon XI. Weapon XI stabs Victor through the back. Laser beams shoot out of Weapon XI’s eyes, aimed at Wolverine. Victor is hit by the laser beams but recovers. Wolverine slashes Weapon XI across the throat with his fist blades and then kicks Weapon XI into the reactor tower. As Weapon XI falls, his head separates from his body while laser beams shoot from his eyes.
- Kayla lies on the ground with blood covering the side of her torso. Wolverine picks her up and carries her a short distance before he is shot by Stryker. Wolverine falls to the ground. Stryker approaches Wolverine and shoots him in the head at close range. Two silver bullets protrude from Wolverine’s forehead.
- Stryker approaches Kayla, who is wounded and lying on the ground. He points a gun at her head, but then puts the gun under his own chin. Kayla touches Stryker. She tells him to walk and not stop until his feet are bleeding. During the film’s closing credits, we see Stryker still walking with bloody feet.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. In particular, children in this age group could be scared by scenes of mutants and transformations. For example:
- The severed head of bear-like animal lies on the ground with blood around its neck.
- On numerous occasions, slits open in the flesh of Wolverine’s knuckles and knife-like blades slide out. When he is a young boy, knife-like bony spines erupt from his knuckles.
- As a young teenager, Victor has long canine teeth and claw-like nails that resemble a lion’s claws. He sometimes moves like a tiger, bounding along on all fours.
- In a circus sideshow, we see a brief image of a woman squashed into a small perspex cube.
- A pale-skinned, bald-headed man lies on an operating table with his mouth stitched closed.
- A male teenage mutant with laser-beam eyes lies on an operating table. The skin around each of his eyes is pulled back tightly to reveal as much eyeball as possible.
- Weapon XI is pale-skinned and bald with a scarred mouth that has been fused shut. Long sword blades extend from his hands, and laser beams fire from his eyes.
In addition to the scenes mentioned above, this movie contains scenes that could disturb children in this age group. They could be particularly disturbed by the scene where Wolverine is submerged in a tank of water. Numerous needles drill through his skin, and we see x-ray images of the needles penetrating his skull. A liquid metal (adamantium) is injected through the needles into Wolverine’s bones. He thrashes about in agony and is finally pronounced dead.
In addition to the scenes mentioned above, this movie contains scenes that could disturb children in this age group. For example, they could be particularly disturbed by the scene in which Victor almost rapes a woman, handling her roughly and throwing her onto a bed before being stopped.
The movie contains infrequent sexual references. For example:
- Kayla tells Logan a folk tale in which the moon takes a lover.
- When an elderly farmer discovers a naked Wolverine in his barn, he offers him a coat. He says, ‘Cover up with that. I don’t want you giving the old lady a heart attack’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example:
- On several occasions, we see Logan/Wolverine with a cigar in his mouth. The cigar appears unlit.
- A young teenage boy is shot in the neck with a tranquiliser.
- Wolverine sips beer from a bottle and also sits in a bar sculling a shot glass of spirits. When he asks for another shot, the bartender asks him if he’s drinking to forget. Wolverine replies that he’s drinking to remember.
Nudity and sexual activity
The movie contains occasional nudity and low-level sexual activity. For example:
- Kayla hitches up her oversized shirt and straddles Logan’s lap.
- Kayla and Logan kiss in several scenes.
- We see front, side and rear views of Wolverine running naked across a field, standing on a waterfall and in a barn.
None of concern
This movie contains occasional low-level coarse language, putdowns and hand gestures.
Ideas to discuss with your children
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a comic book-style action adventure. It is darker and more violent than other X-Men movies and is definitely aimed at older adolescents. The movie relies more on intense action and special effects rather than story line.
The main messages from this movie are that:
- Brothers should look after and protect each other.
- Revenge can distort perception and leave people open to manipulation.
Values in this movie that you might wish to reinforce with your older children include selflessness, courage, self-control and forgiveness.
This movie could also give you the opportunity to discuss with your older children issues such as:
- whether the means justify the end
- the very different ways in which Wolverine and his brother use their mutant powers.