X-Men Origins: Wolverine or Batman Begins?” width=”560″/>
Now: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)Then: Batman Begins (2005)
Face the facts. We’re in for a lot more superhero origin
movies, so we might as well get our bearings straight and acknowledge that superheroes are sexier (and more financially rewarding) when they come
outfitted with elaborately tormented back stories that justify the franchise. In Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer imagined a
previously unknown Himalayan exile for their young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Now
comes Wolverine, which reveals X-men’s alpha male (aka Logan) to be an
unkillable super-soldier who’s escaped in order to forget all the wars he’s worked. Which wars? All of ’em! Now… Which superhero movie emerges victorious?
The Tortured Hero in Exile
Wolverine: After more than a century of fighting (The Civil War, WWI, WWII, and Vietnam), Logan gives up on his violent past and tries to start life anew, working in a remote logging community with a beautiful girlfriend (Lynn Collins) by his side.
Batman Begins: Bruce Wayne gets himself imprisoned in Bhutan,
torturing himself in an effort to do penance for having (as he believes) caused
his parents’ deaths.
Winner: Batman Begins. Seeing Bruce Wayne as a tormented soul, we become invested in his becoming The Dark Knight.
The Animal Familiar
Wolverine: Logan hears an old Native American story about how the moon’s lover in the spirit realm was a wolverine. That’s mythic!
Batman Begins: Bruce Wayne is deathly afraid of bats. In
order to confront his fear, he becomes one. That’s Freudian!
Winner: Batman by a nose. Both are intriguing, but do the fanboys know that a wolverine is basically like a slightly glamorous otter?
The Clothes and the Wheels
Wolverine: On the run
from Col. Stryker and his men, Wolverine hides out with a kindly old
couple, who furnishes him with his signature bomber jacket. After
they’re killed by snipers, he takes their
vintage motorcycle, too.
Batman Begins: Returning to Gotham, Bruce learns that his
late father’s company has been developing state-of-the-art weaponry for the US
military. Among them, a prototype Batmobile, and an
experimental armored suit, which becomes his costume.
Winner: Batman Begins. Somehow, Batman is more believable
when it turns out that he’s really just decked out in experimental 21st Century weaponry.
The Love Interest
Wolverine: During their brief idyll, Logan
and his woman Kayla Silverfox joke about her special powers of
persuasion. It later
becomes clear that these powers are not just figuratively special.
Sadly, this doesn’t make her any less bland.
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) does little
more than occasionally look at Bruce Wayne with a mixture of
half-hearted lust and judgment. Bring back Vickie Vale!
The Winner: Batman Begins: It represents not just a daring new
re-imagining of the character, but a full-on reboot, making it one of the most
exciting superhero movies of recent years. No contest.