Directed by: Frank Squillace, Larry Houston | 79 minutes | action, animation, adventure, science fiction | Actors: Cedric Smith, Cathal J. Dodd, Norm Spencer, Iona Morris, Alison Sealy-Smith, Chris Potter, Lenore Zann, George Buza, Catherine Disher, Alyson Court, Tasha Simms
“Hey, that’s nice. Finally I get all the answers about Wolverine’s origins, my favorite X-Man! ” As a true fan of the Marvel comics you will find yourself in the above quote. You are probably very curious to read whether this “X-Men – Legend of Wolverine” is worth it, because the synopsis promises to reveal everything about your favorite superhero. Unfortunately, the expectations of Marvel junkies are by no means fulfilled. In fact, “X-Men – Legend of Wolverine” is a shameless attempt to knock money out of unsuspecting consumers. Where did it go wrong?
First of all with the story. Contrary to what the back cover of the DVD suggests, über villain Magneto does not appear at all in this film. And you should take that “discovery from the secret past of Wolverine” with a good grain of salt. “X-Men – Legend of Wolverine” consists of five episodes from the cartoon series about the cartoon characters. That series was on American television from 1992 to 1997. In the Netherlands, the series also ran for a while on Sunday mornings with the legendary children’s program “Telekids”.
The DVD consists of episodes “Out of The Past” I & II with Lady Deathstrike, “Nightcrawler” with Nightcrawler and “The Lotus and the Steel” with Silver Samurai. The episodes do not have much to do with each other and are rather sloppy after each other. The film jumps back and forth in time and a number of events and characters are not explained at all. The character Wolverine (fantastically voiced by Dodd) is supposed to be the unifying factor between all episodes, but often his presence is rather far-fetched and completely irrelevant. The episode “Nightcrawler” is about the introduction of the character Nightcrawler, known in Dutch to older comicle readers as Harlekein and not Wolverine. Why that episode is on this DVD is a complete mystery, because you will not know much about the hero of this DVD.
“Legend of Wolverine” covers in a short time what the comics around the X men took years to do. This may sound nice on paper, but the details leave a lot to be desired. Fans of the comics will recognize a lot of things about this film from the Wolverine comics, but the way the DVD is put together is so confused that you really need the necessary background knowledge about all the characters to be able to follow any of the story at all . In this way you are confronted with important matters from Wolverine’s past that are not explored. A good example is the relationship between Logan (Wolverine’s real name) and Silverfox. In barely thirty seconds you get some images of their romance, and then you hear nothing more. In addition, the same thing happens with Logan’s love for Jean Gray, it is touched on but nowhere clarified for the viewers unfamiliar with the X-man universe.
You could at least call the choice the compilers of this DVD made dubious. The episodes that made it onto this disc seem much less interesting than the episodes that are referred to. The separate stories do not connect with each other either, because the episodes are picked from different seasons. As a result, “X-Men – Legend of Wolverine” has become a disjointed whole that promises a lot, but doesn’t actually deliver on many of those promises. Add to that the fact that the animation is very static and dated and you get a picture of the very easy going way in which the boys and girls of Buena Vista wanted to fill their pockets. Yet it is not all doom and gloom with this DVD.
The disc has some nice extras, which may be for a limited audience, but are nevertheless worth mentioning. For example, the featurette “Who is Chris Claremont?” Is very interesting for the real Die-Hard X fans. Claremont talks about his career as a writer for the X-Menstrips. This American has meant a lot for the immense popularity of the comics around Wolverine and his fellow superheroes. In less than fifteen minutes, the author talks about his motivations, sources of inspiration and work for Marvel Comics. A second memorable extra is “Stan Lees Soapbox”. In this short interview you will hear living legend Stan Lee orate about the origins of the X-Men comics. Lee is a flamboyant, outgoing storyteller who shakes up one anecdote after another. Nice to hear how the co-creator, of the now legendary superheroes, came up with the idea of Wolverine and his team.
Fans of the comics can have quite some fun experience this cartoon. Especially since the essence of Wolverine is captured well. The violent outbursts and the continuous internal struggle to maintain his humanity is well illustrated in this cartoon. Unfortunately, the animation is very outdated. The voice cast also leaves a lot to be desired. Dodd is great, but the rest of the actors are very disappointing. The undisputed low point is the accents of ethnic minorities, who speak very annoyingly (and stereotypically) in poor English.
“X-Men – Legend of Wolverine” is a slack DVD release that picks up on the success of the feature films around the mutant superheroes. However, the TV series is very different from the movies, all the more so because the series is fairly faithful to the comics and is not at all comparable to the live-action films. So for the fans.