Wolverine is definately a major character. The X-Men cartoon was watched by a lot of people who didn't read comics, when I was at College I used to talk about that cartoon with people quite a lot
(And by this logic, Gambit is pretty big too)
The difference is that Wolverine has a very strong chance at having a very VERY strong box office take. I mean, was anyone actually expecting War Zone to make anything? Hell, the Thomas Jane Punisher movie didn't even make shit. Punisher never had any box office potential. Wolverine is part of a massive franchise. And despite people's opinion of X3, people are still excited about this, because Wolverine is the character people wanted to see in the X-Men movie. Now they get to see more focus on him, without Halle Berry's shitty acting.
I knew I was going to take shit for it but it's how I feel and it's my opinion.
There is no seminal run on Wolverine. There may be some good stories, Weapon X is probably at the top of the list, but there is nothing that is even in the same league as Batman Year One, Lee and Kirbys run on FF, the Ditko and Lee run on Spiderman, and a hundred others. He's thr badass supporting character, and has suffered from massive overexposure, none of it really, I don't know how to express it, I guess none of it is "essential".
Now go ahead and commit the appeal to consensus fallacy and give a link to how many issues of Wolverine Marvel is selling.
For me, until he gets his swan song ala The Dark Knight Returns, he'll always be an X-men spin-off. Hell, he can't even carry a movie without a gazillion other mutants in it.
It's not that I dislike Wolverine, I just can't get jazzed about him in print, so how am I going to be psyched to see him in a movie?
Personally, I thought the Wolverine trailer looked phenomonal. Really surprised to hear about these reshoots.
I just hope it can live up to its potential. This might be a very good thing.
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Valid points, though I do not totally agree. Still, I agree somewhat...
Wolverine has a few stores that I would consider 'essential' - The Claremont/Miller series, BW-S's Weapon X, Origin, and Rucka's run (esp. the Brotherhood) were all excellent. There are others, too.
He is one of Marvel's most popular characters, and all the denying it isn't going to change things. However, the character has suffered because of this popularity. Firstly, he has a real identity crisis going on. Is this guy being written for kids, or adults? If for kids, what age group? 5-year olds? Teens? Everyone from 5-85?
Secondly, he does suffer terrible from over-exposure. When I first started reading, I couldn't get enough Wolverine. But after about a year-year and a half, I started noticing how much of a joke he was in 'cameo' appearances - just a caricature that popped into a story and 'bubbed' someone. Back during Civil War, his Sub-Mariner appearance was HORRIBLE. However, I liked very much how he was handled in the Penance mini. It is really hit and miss with these guest appearances, but...mostly misses.
So, basically, the character has a real identity crisis. Whereas Spidey is pretty much Spidey no matter who he's written for, Wolverine is not always Wolverine. Sometimes, he's a schmuck. I'm reading Wolverine First Class and it's definitely Wolverine-lite. The stories are nice, but no real meat to them. Really, they seem to be more about Kitty than about Wolverine. So...nothing epic there (not that I thought there would be). Then there's Wolverine Origins. I like the book very much, always have, but here you have the opposite end of the spectrum - there's nothing light or funny about it. I always thought with a little more grit added, and the right artist for the story (Dillon was fine, just the art should have been darker, like in X-Force), it would have been a better MAX title than regular. Wolverine's main book has been far the most promising, especially this last volume...but it suffers terrible by not having a regular writer on it. You get six issues of meh, one issue of WOW!, six issues of pretty damn good, 4 issues of what's the point, etc...there is just no consistency. In fact, I find some Wolverine one-shots and minis to be far superior to his main book.
It's really hard to take serious a character with a personality disorder! Is he the warm and fuzzy 'uncle' sort that First Class portrays him as? Is he the self-loathing, humorless man-on-a-mission Origins has pegged him as? Is he the miserable - yet somehow charming - beer-guzzling schizophrenic psycho his main book depicts him as?
One of the best balances I have seen to date is in X-Force, and probably why I enjoy that book so much. Jason Aaron also did a damn good job with the character recently. If you read enough Wolverine (like I do ), you can find excellent stories, but they are often far too short, or too obscure. So, everyone starts thinking of the character as this surly bastard cousin of the McKenzie Brothers who's all claws and bubs - and no substance - because that's the easiest way to write him.
For the record, my favorite 'Wolverine' is as he was portrayed at the beginning of BW-S's Weapon X - self-loathing and self-abusive, miserable and angry and alone - combined with the badassery of the Wolverine who punches Summers in the face, or tells Emma to piss off, or guts Spidey in a NA practice session - just because he can. Problem is, I have to read half a dozen different books to get that one composite character...I just wish *my* Wolverine was consistently portrayed in ONE book, and not spread out over the whole freakin' Marvel U.
Now - about the movie...
Here's why I am afraid of it - ANY time a person associated with a film comes out and basically warns the public about the film (Lucas before this last Indiana Jones flick), I worry. And Jackman did just recently say that - if this movie is not well-received - he'll hang up Wolverine's claws. That's very telling - that's saying that the actor isn't as confident in the product as he should be. Now, with the reshoots, I am very much afraid. But...ya know...with Wolverine's comic book track record, I guess it should come as no surprise if the movie is a mixed bag because they are trying to please too many different audiences. Make a choice, and run with it, I say...I just hope they pick the right one.
This may be true, but isn't what we consider 'essential comics' a bit objective? Let's say there's a great story out there - okay - let's take Watchmen, for instance. Few people would arge the importance of this book. But what if someone reads it and goes... 'meh'? What if they actually hated it? To them, it would be far from an essential book.
Now, what if someone reads Weapon X and it really hits home? What if it makes their head spin, and they just can't stop thinking about it. What if it changes their view of the character, Marvel U, or morality? Then I would say that - for that person, at least - it is an essential book.
At least, that's how I see it. There are a lot of so-called essential comics out there that I, personally, have no interest in reading, and then there are some that I read, and feel that EVERYone should read it, because - to me - it was just that good. So, who decides what is essential, and what's not? From where I stand, I don't think it's the crowd, but the individual.