For fanboys, 'tis the season of the "prequel."
There's next week's Star Trek, which relates how Kirk got his mojo, and this week's X-Men Origins: Wolverine (opening in many theatres across Canada tonight, minutes after midnight), which explains how the X-Men's Logan got those adamantine claws.
In both cases, there's the usual 'Net guys screaming about messing with the "canon" -- a collection of "facts" and "events" amassed from 40-plus years of comic books, TV series and movies that are supposed to be treated like the Talmud.
You'll hear from us about Trek later, but Wolverine kicks off popcorn season with action, FX, forward momentum and a dose of character development that the X-Men movie franchise sorely needs in order to continue.
Personally, I don't care how many blasphemies it commits against comic-book plots from the '80s. Really, all most fans need to know is that it's better than X-Men 3.
And for you patriots out there -- hearts still swelling from chasing Billy Bob Thornton out of the country with torches -- comes literal confirmation of Wolverine's hoser status.
"I'm Canadian," he says, with disdain, when Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston) -- the younger version of the villain in X2 -- says, "Your country needs you, son."
The story begins muddily in the Northwest Territories in 1845, with a domestic homicide and a flight by two similarly super-powered brothers, James and Victor. Both have super-healing powers that render them immortal, and bony claws that pop up when needed. With only each other to depend on, they become history's super-soldiers, killing machines in the Civil War, the First and Second World Wars and Vietnam -- that is, until they're uncovered by the shady Col. Stryker. He has them join a covert group of super-powered killers who operate farther and farther beyond the moral and legal pale (with Victor becoming a clear sociopath). When a My Lai-like atrocity is committed in pursuit of an extraterrestrial metal, James Logan has enough and quits.
Thus is set in motion the military's nascent war against mutants, a revenge tale, betrayal, and an assault on an installation called "The Island," where imprisoned mutants are subjected to medical experiments with the endgame of creating a supermutant (Ryan Reynolds).
Yes, it does sound a lot like the plot of TV's Heroes. There's holus bolus destruction, pyro and wirework aplenty (wires you literally saw if you were one of the pirates, arrrrrr!, who downloaded the version of Wolverine that was famously smuggled out of Fox).
For X-Men fans, X-Men Origins: Wolverine provides an initial launchpoint for a handful of key characters, including a young Scott Summers (Tim Pocock) and Remy LeBeau/Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) and of course Victor/Sabretooth.
Narrative-wise, X-Men Origins: Wolverine moves more fluidly than a typical X-Men movie because it's not imperative that the plot be divided over several characters (played by actors demanding more screentime).
The most interesting X-Man, Jackman as Logan is more than capable of carrying a film.
I expect Ian McKellen is probably up to the task for the next Origins movie, which is to revolve around his philosophically motivated villain Magneto.
(This film is rated PG)
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