Full disclosure, I was one of those people who believed that this movie was never going to be released. Originally slated to be released in April 2018, it was delayed four or five times because of things like the Fox/Disney merger and reshoots to change the entire tone. Like you do. In the end it released to an extremely limited theater run in August 2020, and was made widely available for [legal] streaming yesterday. As the last 20th Century Studios X-Men adjacent film--ending a 20 year franchise--was it worth the wait? Well...
Mr. James Mangold did such a good job on The Wolverine, why wouldn't 20th Century Fox give him another shot? And what a shot this is! The second R-rated X-Men movie after Deadpool, Logan goes in a slightly different direction to justify the rating: instead of cartoonish violence, Logan shows how ugly fighting to the death can be. And a bunch of "fucks," but that's a side benefit.
Speaking honestly, I'm not a Wolverine fan. The character has his moments, sure, but he's never really resonated with me. I like Cyclops, a loyal leader until the world beats him down enough that he's forced to make tough choices. Wolverine makes nothing but tough choices, and the decision to put himself in charge of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning in the comics was so laughably bad that I'm surprised Storm and Kate Pryde took as long as they did to take control of it away from him. What I'm saying is it takes a really damn good story for me to care about Wolverine, and this movie was pretty close to that.
So X-Men: The Last Stand was not very good. I know, the hottest of hot takes. So I'm sure the stakes while making X-Men Origins: Wolverine were high as a result. 20th Century Fox needed to this to be good, damn it! This could be the start of an entire X-Men Origins, or possibly lead to an X-Men 4! That's obviously not what happened, in part because this film was... Well, I'll hold off on my opinion 'til later for dramatic effect.
Once upon a time I thought this was the worst movie I had ever seen. Ah, to be that young again, ignorant of things like Diary of a Cannibal and Collateral Beauty… Regardless, this is widely considered to be a wet fart of an ending to an otherwise pretty decent trilogy. Some even still consider this the worst X-Men movie, but… well, touch on that more when I eventually review X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Movie trilogies often follow a pattern: the first is fine, the second is superb, and the third is terrible. The X-Men trilogy is a wonderful example of this, in part because X2 (later retitled X2: X-Men United) is one of my favorite movies, and quite possibly my favorite superhero movie. This is the high point for the X-Men films; it’s all downhill from here! Well, except maybe for Logan and Deadpool, but still.
No surprise to anyone who knows me, but I am a huge X-Men nerd. The first comic I really remember picking up was Uncanny X-Men #300, chosen after careful consideration at how the story–just kidding, it was a holographic cover and my dumb kid brain latched onto it. I was instantly hooked, absorbing just about every piece of X-Men media I could. There was the animated series, action figures, trading cards, card games, board games, and of course, enough comics that if they were to fall on me, I’d be crushed to death. As time went on I became a bit more discerning and stopped picking up every single Marvel comic that had an “X” in the title, but my love of the characters continued. So imagine my joy when my favorite heroes were going to appear on the silver screen! And the result was… fine. It’s fine by today’s standards. It’s fine.