Well it’s been a few days now since X-men Origins: Wolverine leaked onto the web. Have you watched it? Have you done the deed and downloaded the unfinished workprint without proper music and special effects? I know a lot of people have, but not I. Nor do I have plans on it, and I can’t really understand why anyone might want to. Especially the people who profess to be fans of genre films.
You know it took a long time for fans to start seeing quality comic book adaptations on the big screen. For years we were stuck with half-assed, low-quality films like Steel and Batman and Robin. Things started to change in a big way in 2000 with the first X-Men film, directed by Bryan Singer and starring Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, and a star in the making named Hugh Jackman. This was the first comic book film in too long to take its source material seriously, playing it dark, with stellar actors in the lead roles. It wasn’t perfect, but damned if Singer and company didn’t get things more right than wrong. The results were the beginnings of a film franchise that’s first three films have brought in more than $500 million worldwide. And it’s no exaggeration to say X-men begat Spider-Man, which begat Batman Begins, Iron Man, Watchmen and so on.
But imagine if you’d have seen that first X-men film not on a large theater screen but on your laptop. No music, no special effects. Wires hanging from the characters who are supposed to be jumping or leaping or flying. There’s no way that wouldn’t sully your experience of seeing Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops et al come to life. And even if you chose to accept a roughcut for what it is, I doubt you’d be able to escape those images and your initial reactions when you’re watching the finished product. Hey, I could be wrong, but luckily back in 2000 we didn’t have to worry about the temptation of seeing an unfinished version of X-men.
But now we’ve got that Wolverine workprint floating around and apparently easily accessible if you want it. I don’t. I didn’t have an interest for a second. Why would I want to watch something that isn’t ready for my consumption? Would I want my steak when it’s only half ready? Would you drive a car with an engine but without the windows and the bumpers? A film, especially a tentpole blockbuster film like Wolverine, is supposed to be experienced as a finished product, for better or for worse. Maybe the script will suck, as the rumours have been circulating for months. But maybe the battles between Logan and the Weapon X team will be worth the price of admission, even if the script is lacking.
The thing is, if you’d rather watch an unfinished product like X-men Origins: Wolverine on your laptop or your television and say that you’ve seen the film, then be prepared for the possibility of disappointment. You’re not getting a finished product and in the case of Wolverine, you’ll also be missing out on 12 minutes of footage that is supposed to make the film complete.
And don’t use the cost of movies today as an excuse to make an illegal download – grab an AMC Moviewatcher or SCENE card and you can save on the bucks. You say you love movies? Movie lovers aren’t going to be content watching an incomplete version of the origin story most comic book fans had to wait nearly 30 years for to finally read.
X-men Origins: Wolverine is due in theaters Friday May 1st. I can wait until then to see the finished film. You should be able to as well.