[Text] X-Men Origins: Wolverine, by David Benioff and Skip Woods [review]

Ryan Reynolds is returning to the comic book genre next week, which has prompted me to look back at some of his previous efforts. We begin with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, by David Benioff and Skip Woods. After the success of the X-Men trilogy, 20th Century Fox decided to continue the franchise by producing a film which starred a specific mutant, but was still recognisably part of the franchise. Which means that, in the end, nobody is quite able to tell if X-Men Origins: Wolverine is actually X-Men Origins feat. Wolverine or Wolverine in “X-Men Origins”.

I’d argue that X-Men Origins: Wolverine is both of those things, which is why the narrative is such a mess. No mistake – in a spin-off focused on James “Wolverine” Howlett, we also see Victor “Sabretooth” Creed (from X-Men, by David HayterTom DeSanto and Bryan Singer), John Wraith, Kayla Silverfox, Fred “Blob” Dukes, Chris “Bolt” Bradley, David “Agent Zero” North, Wade “Deadpool” Wilson (Reynolds), Scott “Cyclops” Summers (from X-MenX2 by Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris and X-Men: The Last Stand by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn), Emma Silverfox and Charles “Professor X” Xavier (from X-MenX2 and X-Men: The Last Stand). So that’s ten other mutants who appear in Howlett’s origin story. Hence calling it X-Men Origins: Wolverine, rather than Wolverine Origins or just Wolverine.

How can such a situation exist? Well, the truth about X-Men as a concept is that the characters only work when they’re together. That was the whole point of X-Men when they were created – to be a team, rather than just individual heroes. So as soon as one’s given the spotlight, and the others relegated to a supporting cast, they become another generic character.

The mutant abilities are only used as plot devices, it’s the relationships that matter. So the first mistake of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is in its approach, because it forgot the heart of the franchise that had even made it possible. The Critics Consensus shown on Rotten Tomatoes’ X-Men: The Last Stand page declares

X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors’ deeper character moments.

What happened to X-Men: The Last Stand? Well, X-Men and X2 were directed by Singer, who departed X-Men: The Last Stand to direct Superman Returns, and Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus says:

Bryan Singer’s reverent and visually decadent adaptation gives the Man of Steel welcome emotional complexity. The result: a satisfying stick-to-your-ribs adaptation.

Singer’s not just been praised as an emotive X-Men director, but as an emotive direct overall. To say that the reception to his two X-Men films at that point had only increased their reception, it’s not irrelevant that the following two X-Men films had decreased their reception. Singer’s absence from X-Men was noticeable, and it gave us X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But what exactly is wrong with it?

Well… it’s the extreme of what’s wrong with all prequels: X-Men established perfectly well that Howlett can’t remember his early life. And that’s all we needed to know for X-Men to be a well-told story. But X-Men Origins: Wolverine decides to reveal what happened anyway, despite the story being written around the inevitable crux of Howlett inevitably forgetting it all. Therefore, I’m inclined to ask – why does it matter?

The reason we started where we did with Howlett in X-Men is because it’s what we needed to know for the story to work. Any information before that, therefore, is something that was irrelevant to the story, so will be impossible to justify including. X-Men Origins: Wolverine feels like a footnote in a character history, the unimportant details of a biography that was excised and placed into its own film just because the information was there. It’s like one, long deleted scene that was deleted for a reason.

(Video) Advice for New Screenwriters

Script Mailer interviewed numerous screenwriters, who gave their advice to new screenwriters. Those interviewed were:

  • Reality Show‘s Adam Rifkin
  • Hound Dog‘s Ron Shelton
  • Akeelah and the Bee‘s Doug Atchison
  • Frankenweenie‘s John August
  • Enemies Closer‘s Peter Hyams
  • Callr‘s Joe Forte
  • Masters of Horror – Chocolate‘s Mick Garris
  • Wolves David Hayter
  • Ready Player One‘s Zak Penn
  • The Soul Man – Home Boyce‘s Kriss Turner
  • Sanjay and Craig‘s Joe Stillman
  • Secret in their Eyes‘ Billy Ray
  • Beyond the Reach‘s Stephen Susco
  • Castle – Hollander Woods Andrew W. Marlowe
  • Oliver Kitteride – Security‘s Jane Anderson
  • Surrogate‘s John Brancato
  • Once Chance‘s Justin Zackham
  • Ghost‘s Bruce Joel Rubin


BAFTA Film Awards – 2015 Original Screenplay nominations

The BAFTA Film Awards airs tonight at 21:00 on BBC One HD, and will announce, among other things, the winners of the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay awards.

Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place, for the most part, entirely within the titular building, where a murder occurs, prompting concierge Gustave H. to prove his innocence, which takes him through the various parts of the hotel. Inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig and his real-world travels, Anderson planned the story with Hugo Guinness, which is divided into six acts: PrologueM. GustaveMadame C.V.D.u.T.Check-point 19 Criminal Internment CampThe Society of the Crossed KeysThe Second Copy of the Second Will and Epilogue.

The character H. was inspired by someone Anderson and Guinness both knew. When creating him, the original screenplay draft was a short, and not set in the past or a hotel. Anderson was inspired to revise it when discovering Zweig’s writings. Beware of Pity influenced the opening scenes, which Zweig used in his other writings, in-which a character living on the edge of society meets an equally interesting character, which is how The Grand Budapest Hotel begins. Zweig’s further influences in the screenplay involve the decline of an empire, developing division and declining independance.

Anderson’s previous nominations include The Royal Tenenbaums with Owen Wilson.

Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash

Chazelle’s Whiplash was nominated by The Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, whereas The BAFTA Film Awards have nominated it for Best Original Screenplay. To encourage interest and funding, Chazelle produced a short film from an extract of the screenplay, which The Oscars determine to make the finished product an adaptation. The BAFTA Film Awards determined it to only be an adaptation of itself, and therefore be considered an original screenplay.

Artistic inspiration behind Whiplash can be found in Chazelle’s previous work, Grand Piano, in-which a pianist will be killed by a sniper if he plays a wrong note. This situation is threaded through Whiplash, with playing out-of-time causing music teacher Terrance Fletcher to become violent and aggressive. Writing Whiplash began as reaction to writing another screenplay, which wasn’t working. Chazelle instead began focusing on his other idea of being a jazz drummer, based on his own experiences with a real teacher. It was for this reason that he initially didn’t want to share the screenplay, which felt “too personal”, and for a long time it was in a drawer. It eventually gained interest from producers, but not enough for any to fund it. The Black List ranked it among the top unproduced screenplays of the year, leading to it being greenlit.

This is Chazelle’s first nomination.

Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler

Gilroy’s aim with Nightcrawler was to write a screenplay with a “moral darkness” that would highlight Los Angeles’ best aspects. In that way, it counterbalanced the sociopathic tendancies of Louis Bloom with news media’s own sociopathic nature. It works as a form of alternative psychology, by presenting sociopathy as a scale, and presenting the numerous ways it can manifest in all people. The vulnerability of the characters is another key element to it, which also balanced the sociopathic themes, which both bring-out each other.

Nightcrawler was inspired by Arthur Fellig. the first crime photographer to follow events with a police scanner in his car, who inspired others to do the same. Part of Bloom’s character was inspired by Weegee’s biopic, Howard Franklin‘s The Public Eye. Gilroy based Bloom on a coyote, nocturnal animals often seen around Los Angeles late at night that are never. From there, he wrote Bloom as never being fed spiritually, with his hunger extending itself with every feeding. Bloom’s addicted to the scenes he photographs. This hunger’s the catalyst of his success story, which Gilroy says made him not want to label Bloom with a label that reduces his character. He has sociopathic tendencies, but from a desire to be a self-employed business owner, which is also a very Human feeling.

This is Gilroy’s first nomination.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo‘s Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The majority of praise for Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has focused on its metatextuality within 2010 cinema. During the peak of the superhero genre trend, it presented the audience with an out-of-work Michael Keaton, who’s career was made with Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren‘s Batman and and Daniel Waters‘ Batman Returns. Here, Keaton’s Riggan Thomas attempts to stage a comeback through directing a production of When we Talk About When we Talk About Love. Along the way, he encounters Edward Norton of Zak Penn‘s The Incredible Hulk. In this version, Norton is an actor in a similar situation, not only being a further reflection of Keaton’s declining career as a former superhero, but as Norton’s own status as having been replaced as the character in Joss Whedon‘s Marvel’s the Avengers by Mark Ruffalo (also nominated for Best Supporting [Male] Actor as Dave Schultz in E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman‘s Foxcatcher). Also appearing as Sam Thomas is Emma Stone, who’s most famous role – arguably – is Gwen Stacy in James VanderbiltAlvin Sargent and Steve Kloves‘ The Amazing Spider-Man, before being killed-off by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s Stone who’s nominated for Best Supporting [Female Actor], due in part to a scene in-which she talks of how nobody really matters. It’s this theme of being dispensable that makes it a story of people who are existing on the edges of their own existence. It may be a meta-parody of the superhero genre, but more than that is it a Human interest.

This is their first nomination.

Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood

Though showing the life of a family over twelve years, Boyhood was scripted and followed a pre-constructed narrative that was altered with every year’s filming in collaboration with the cast. Linklater called it a document of time, though it resembles a documentary to show the indistinction between fiction and non-fiction. The screenplay’s a compilation of smaller screenplays written every year that follow-on, like an inconsistently-lengthed serial. But it still feels like one story, with each year’s segment remaining part of the same thing, rather than seguing into tangents. This was largely a result of the collaboration with the actors, who also began to know where the characters were themselves going. Linklater wanted each year not to noticeably transition, but to only exist through perception, with the effect of the film being emotion created by realising the passage of time. It relied on the audience’s nostalgia, and the emotion that comes that hindsight.

This is Linklater’s first nomination.