Shout! Factory // 2013 // 66 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Matt Dicker (Retired) // July 2nd, 2013
The Greatest Mystery of the Marvel Universe...Until Now
Wolverine, a beloved anti-hero introduced during the Bronze Age of Comics (1970-1985), has remained one of Marvel's most popular heroes. After waiting more than 25 years to learn how Logan got his claws, fans of the vertically challenged Canadian have ravenously consumed various adaptations of the story of Wolverine's past. Wolverine: Origin -- the latest version of the tale -- offers little not already available in the original comic series, is the best telling of the story since the Origin series debuted over a decade ago.
Wolverine: Origin traces the development of James Howlett, sickly son of a wealthy Canadian landowner, as his exposure to trauma leads to the activation of his latent mutant powers. Shunned from his community, James and his childhood companion Rose run awau to start a new life. Unable to remember any of the traumas that led to his exile, Howlett -- now living under the name Logan -- grows stronger and begins manifesting the behavior of a wolverine.
Closely guarding the origin of Wolverine for more than 27 years, Marvel hasn't been able to shut up about it since. 2001 saw the release the comic series Origin, followed closely by the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, an Origin video game, an Origin toyline, and now Wolverine: Origin, the motion comic version of the same printed series.
While X-Men Origins: Wolverine was very much its own film, Wolverine: Origin is as faithful to the comic as possible. The film employs the same visual aesthetic as the comic, reproducing many of the original frames and adding limited but highly stylized motion. The effect is jarring at first, but offers a sly way of keeping the story firmly in the realm of comic books without sacrificing our interest.
Though the story of Wolverine's past was controversial when first revealed, on reflection it's remarkable how much focus the writers gave to character development at the expense of action. In fact, Wolverine: Origin is almost completely void of action, focusing instead on themes of trauma, loss, and identity with only a few brief scenes of violence that pale in comparison to the overblown fight sequences of the average Wolverine comic or X-Men feature film.
Wolverine: Origin is also a bit campy at times, due to some truly terrible voiceover work for the characters during their childhood years. Luckily that evens itself out once the characters reach adulthood. Shots of Wolverine hunting or Rose bathing nude feel out of place, perhaps best left in the comics. Marvel has done a nice job adapting the story for a brisk animated run time. The conclusion lacks the emotional punch of the original series, but it's hard to know if this the fault of the creative team or repeated exposure to Wolverine's origin story.
The story of how Wolverine came to be doesn't have enough narrative depth to stand on its own, and without at least a passing knowledge of the character and his...ahem, charming personality, the casual viewer won't find much to hold their interest.
Shout! Factory does a nice job with the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby 5.1 Surround quality of its presentation. The iconic color palette of the Origin comic series, with its deep sepia hues, sparkles on the screen. Though the "snikts" of Wolverine's claws won't leave you cowering like so many of his foes, the surround experience is more than up to the task.
Extras are limited to two featurettes, one detailing the writing of the story and the other chronicling the design and artwork of the series. Both featurettes consist of interviews with key creative figures and are told in standard talking head style. Some of the original pencil work for the series is shown, but these features would have benefitted from more behind-the-scenes access. It would have also been nice to include bonus features relating to the motion comic, especially considering the uniqueness of this relatively new animation technique.
Though Wolverine: Origin does not offer anything new or unexpected, this was no cheap effort by Marvel. Fans will welcome a revisit to the popular origin story, and serve as a worthy primer for the character's next feature film, The Wolverine.
As a Canadian citizen, Wolverine is not under the jurisdiction of Judge Matt
Dicker, so this case is dismissed.
Review content copyright © 2013 Matt Dicker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 66 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated