X Factor


The new X-Men flick hits screens this weekend and by all accounts it will be a hit. Even Roger Ebert gives it a passing 3-star grade. And that is despite not at all understanding one of the main characters.

Ebert says Wolverine's "X-Acto knuckles seem pretty insignificant" compared to other powers in the comic book-inspired mutant universe. Of course, as all X-Men geeks know, Wolverine's true and ultimate super power is his "mutant healing ability" that renders him close to indestructible by conventional means. In short, Wolverine takes a beating, hurts like hell, and keeps coming.

That characteristic made the character immensely popular for decades and it was a major triumph that actor Hugh Jackman managed to bring all of Wolvie's pain, confusion, and rage together in a sympathetic way for the first X-Men movie. That film—which functioned as a feature-length introduction to the world of the X-Men—even went to great lengths to explain that Wolverine, aka Logan, was the subject of mysterious medical experiments as part of some terrible plan to use his healing mutation to turn him into a super-weapon. That thread is evidently picked up again in the new film and is based on the Weapon X storyline from the comic.

So it is beyond disappointing that Ebert could miss all this. In fact, I betting he didn't miss it. Ebert delights in pointing out the supposed fundamental contradictions in films and "X-Acto knuckles" is a good line. I surmise Ebert figured he'd have a little fun and no one would care.

Fair enough. Dopey summer popcorn movie. But I'll remember mutant healing powers the next time Ebert starts telling me who should win an Oscar.