X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Movie Review)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

(Review by Stacey Tuttle)

“You can return a gift,” Wolverine half growls out in response when someone tells him encouragingly that his mutation is a gift. Wolverine has some unique traits – but the question arises, are those traits privileges or responsibilities? Gifts or burdens? It depends on who you ask. Some admire him, some envy him, some want to exploit him, but regardless the reason, it seems that nearly everyone else sees his mutation as a gift. Everyone else that is, except for Wolverine himself. He certainly doesn’t feel very “gifted,” he feels burdened. Why is it that he can’t appreciate who he is – the other mutants seem to appreciate who they are?

Is accepting your uniqueness simply a matter of perspective? If so, what is the right perspective? When considering possible perspectives, the first option is to see your “gifts” as gifts only, without acknowledging any responsibility. This perspective is probably the most obviously wrong, but nonetheless alluring as it appeals to our selfish nature. Victor, Wolverine’s brother, embraces his “gifts” with gusto as he uses them to kill gleefully without any thought of right or wrong, simply because he can and he enjoys it. This theme certainly isn’t limited to the X-men franchise. In Spiderman, Peter Parker initially uses his newfound spidey sense for money and selfish gain. Granted, this is better than Victor, since he isn’t hurting anyone else, nonetheless, it is still a selfish perspective. These unique talents should be used for good, not evil or merely selfish ends.

This view is also often found in the people who don’t possess such gifts. Possessing no such uniqueness or gift on their own, they look on with envy at how great it would be to have such and such gift and naively underestimate the price it comes with. In X-Men, Stryker wanted to possess and exploit the special talents of each of the mutants – combining them into one master soldier weapon. Or, think about in real life how we envy celebrities. We think how awesome it would be to have such beauty, fame, wealth and ease. Little do we understand the pressures of press and paparazzi and tabloids… never being able to go out in public without scrutiny and crowds. This view, which would only see uniqueness as a gift, without recognizing any of the struggles that accompany it, is incredibly naïve.

The opposite view point is really Wolverine’s perspective – that his “gifts” are non-returnable burdens. He would deny them all together for a life of quiet normalcy if he could. He sees nothing of a gift or privilege in his mutation. It’s hard to blame him when others forcefully exploit his uniqueness and use it to such evil means. When his gifts were the cause of the deaths of people he loved. It’s an understandable position, one we can maybe sympathize with, but still a wrong one. It’s selfish. Clearly, he couldn’t return it (his mutation), so the question is, how to do good with it? His choice wasn’t only to use it for evil or not at all – he had another choice: the choice to use it for good.

This brings up another perspective – the balance. This perspective says that yes, you have been given a gift, but it is a gift with a caveat – that it be used for the good of others. Peter Parker (Spider-Man) ultimately found this balance: “Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse…. Not everyone is meant to make a difference. But for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option.” The weight and burden that comes with “specialness” is lessened by purpose. That “specialness” can be in any form, mutations, super powers, fame, wealth, even deformities. In the movie Simon Birch, Simon has a particular form of dwarfism, viewed by most all but Simon as some sort of mistake, a burden. Simon however sees it as a design with a purpose – confident that there is a purpose for his life for which his small size is both perfect and necessary. It doesn’t negate the burdens of his body, but it lessens them as they are put into perspective, subjected to a higher purpose.

So, the answer to our question is yes! Yes, Wolverine’s unique abilities are a gift, and yes, they are a responsibility. Whether that responsibility feels a burden or an honor depends on your sense of purpose.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What are the things in your life which you feel make you unique? Do you see those things as gifts or burdens?
  • What are the burdens in your life, and how might you change your perspective to view them as gifts – gifts which you might use to the benefit of others?
  • Do you feel a sense of responsibility to use your life and all that is in it for the good of others?
  • Jesus set an example of serving others with his whole life – even to the point of giving his life for the salvation of the world. Do you think that it would make a difference in the world if more people followed his example and used their gifts, talents, uniqueness, etc. for the good of others? Do you believe that he laid his life down for you?