Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Cinematic Relationship Of Wolverine & Jean Grey Is Silly

Next to Batman, the X-Men franchise is probably my favorite comic book/superhero film series.  When I was younger I not only read the comic books, but watched the animated series that ran on Fox religiously (my son's name is Logan, mind you haha).  A common character thread through all that is a love triangle between the characters of Jean Grey, Cyclops and Wolverine.  It was always entertaining and Wolverine and Jean Grey just seemed like they were never going to happen, but we wanted them to cuz Wolverine was "cool" and Scott Summers was a douchebag most of the time.  The cinematic universe of the X-Men kinda goes of the deep end with the Wolverine/Jean Grey matchup that isn't earned, is completely forced and very silly when you break it down.

In Bryan Singer's first film, there's an attraction set up between the two.  Wolverine is smitten moreso with lusting after Jean Grey, a woman he can't have because she's with Scott.  Jean proves a pinch of curiosity as Wolverine is that bad boy outsider, but her loyalty clearly through is to Cyclops.  When X2 rolls around, Cyclops is kidnapped and sidelined the entire film, leaving Wolverine with Jean Grey and an added level of tension while Scott's away.  Still nothing happens and Jean ends up sacrificing herself at the end of the film.  Singer gets this all right, but he left before he could see anything through.

When it comes to X-Men: The Last Stand and Jean Grey returns as the Phoenix, she kills Cyclops upon her arrival, conveniently leaving Wolverine the only other angle of the triangle.  Jean never fully recovers in the film and it climaxes with Wolverine having to kill her in the end.  Its all played up as some big romantic tragedy and ends in Wolverine telling her he loves her as he does it.  Two people who were never together.  The Wolverine sadly continues this thread and Logan is constantly having nightmares with her and is needing to accept what has been done and move on.
Here's the problem, there was really no relationship present.  Ever.  Wolverine thought she was a hot piece and she was always devoted to Scott.  If you look at the timeline of these films, the two characters only ever really knew each other for a couple days.  In the first film, Wolverine and Rogue are rescued by the X-Men, brought to Xavier's mansion and introduced to everybody.  Within a day or two Rogue is captured by Magneto and the battle at the Statue of Liberty occurs.  After these events, Wolverine leaves to find out the secrets of his past.  X2 begins with Wolverine's return while Jean Grey and Storm go and pick up Nightcrawler.  Within days, there is a siege on the mansion and he escapes with...Rogue, Iceman and Pyro.  Later in the film they meet up, but the next day is the day Jean dies saving everyone.  Then we have The Last Stand where she's the Phoenix the entire film til Wolverine kills her.

Where is the time for this romance to blossom and come to its tragic climax?  Sure, there were years and years between movies, but in the storyline of the films, they only knew each other for...maybe 6 or 7 days?  It feels unearned, unsatisfying and honestly ridiculous in that final moment of The Last Stand.  While I like Famke A LOT (2nd favorite Bond girl all time), the way she was used in The Wolverine continued on with that silly thread.

How much more epic and satisfying is The Last Stand if they don't kill Cyclops and he is the one who has to kill Jean at the end?  Wolverine and him would have to finally stop butting heads and have to come together to save the woman they both so admire.  That's the earned romantic tragedy you have.  The ACTUAL COUPLE has to go through this, not the brooding guy on the side with some nice thoughts and feelings just because the audience likes him better.  You know, the ones in the actual relationship.

The Wolverine is terrific and you should definitely go see it, but its a problem i've had with The Last Stand for years, and now seemed the time to share.  I still think its a solid comic action film that is actually still fun, but as a followup to X2 and a payoff for its characters it falls pretty flat.  Its got some moments that'll drive your fandom heart a bit crazy, but its still a very entertaining film.

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