This weekend, Disney+ added one of the most controversial Marvel movies to its catalog — X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The 2009 movie told a version of Logan's origin story based on the Marvel Comics, from the American Revolutionary War through his conscription into the "Weapon X" program. For all its faults, it is one of the most widely discussed movies in the Marvel pantheon.
Disney expanded its Marvel library greatly when it acquired 20th Century Fox, picking up all the X-Men movies the studio had made in one stroke. That included classics like the first X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003), as well as flops like X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Most of the movies are more like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, however — falling into a vague category of nostalgia and mixed feelings. Movies like this seemed like serious and exciting adaptations of the comic books before Marvel Studios came along with more faithful films like Iron Man (2008) and The Avengers (2012).
X-Men Origins: Wolverine stars Hugh Jackman as the title character and Liev Schreiber as his brother, Victor a.k.a. Sabretooth. Danny Huston plays Stryker, Will.i.am plays John Wraith, Lynn Collins plays Kayla Silverfox, Kevin Durand plays Fred Dukes, Dominic Monaghan plays Bradley, Taylor Kitsch plays Remy LeBeau, Daniel Henney plays Agent Zero and Ryan Reynolds made his first appearance here as Wade Wilson — a.k.a. Deadpool.
Still, it is that last casting choice that makes this movie somewhat controversial among comic book fans. Unlike the two movies that have followed, the version of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine is hardly faithful to the source material at all, either in spirit or in the narrative. The "merc with a mouth" here has his mouth literally sewn shut and has also been given more powers than he has in the comic, including Cyclops' eye blasts, teleportation and retractable katanas that emerge from his arms like Wolverine's claws.
Reynolds would later mock this interpretation in visual gags from Deadpool and Deadpool 2. Some fans accept X-Men Origins: Wolverine as a forgivable relic from a time before movie studios fully understood how profitable a faithful comic book adaptation could be. Others are more harsh, hoping that Marvel Studios will continue to retcon aspects of this movie out of the continuity in the films to come.
The movie also catches more flak than ever in recent years because it was co-written by David Benioff, one of the two showrunners of Game of Thrones. After the series widely reviled ending, anything with Benioff or D.B. Weiss' name attached is taboo in some nerd culture circles.
For those willing to give the movie another try — or completionists intent on seeing every nook and cranny of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — X-Men Origins: Wolverine is streaming now on Disney+. You can get a free trial to the service here.