Australian Council on Children and the Media

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes, Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • a review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 April 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, disturbing scenes and coarse language.
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This latest film in the X-Men series opens in 1845 in Canada where we meet James/Wolverine and older half brother Victor/Sabretooth as children, running away together after the death of their fathers. We then follow the pair as adults, fighting, dying and being brought back to life through their mutant powers in several major conflicts.
Incidents during the Vietnam War result in James (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) being court-martialled and imprisoned. While in prison, they are offered freedom and the chance to serve their country by Colonel William Stryker (Danny Huston) in exchange for joining his special team of mutants.
After an experience in an African village where James witnesses the team killing innocent people, he declares that he has had enough of killing and leaves, walking away from Victor, Stryker and the rest of the team. When we next see James six years have passed and he is now called Logan and living a peaceful life in the Canadian mountains with his girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins).
While Logan is living the quiet life, mutants belonging to Logan’s old team are being systematically killed. Stryker approaches Logan, asking him to return to his old unit and assist in tracking down those responsible for the killing.  Logan refuses, not wishing to be involved in killing anymore. However, when Victor turns up and apparently murders Kayla, Logan goes into action once more, seeking out members of his old team and becoming involved in epic struggles against enormous and unforeseen forces.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Mutants; war; superpowers

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

  • The film contains frequent intense action violence, often brutal, although with minimal depiction of blood and gore. Examples include:
  • We hear a gunshot and see James run down stairs to find his father lying on the ground dead and a man standing over him with a shotgun. Bone-like knives come out of James’s fists and he charges at the man holding the shotgun and plunges both of his knife hands into the man’s stomach, killing him.
  • The film’s opening credits include a montage of scenes from wars, including explosions that send people flying through the air, soldiers being shot in the chest, soldiers being hit in the chest by cannon balls, soldiers fighting in trenches soldiers being shot in the chest by machinegun fire
  • During the Vietnam War, we see Victor rough-handling a woman and throwing her on a bed in a village hut, apparently intending to rape her. He is stopped by his fellow soldiers and goes berserk in response, shooting and killing the soldiers that interrupted him, Logan enters the fight trying to stop the killing with Victor and Logan finally submitting when surrounded by a ring of soldiers all pointing their guns at the pair.
  • A mutant pulls out two hand guns and with superhuman speed and accuracy shoots and kills armed men behind a barricade. The mutant then leaps over the barricaded gate and continues to shoot armed men until all are dead. We see another mutant stick his fist into the gun barrel of a tank causing the tank to explode.
  • A mutant holding a samurai sword walks out of an elevator into a hailstorm of machinegun fire. The mutant swirls his sword in a blur of motion, using the sword to deflect bullets with some of the deflected bullets hitting those wielding the machineguns. The mutant uses his sword to stab, cut and slice his way through the remaining armed men until only one remains.
  • We see a group of African villagers kneeling down with their hand behind their heads while being surrounded by a squad of mutant solders. Victor grabs the head villager by the neck and twists the man’s neck.
  • Logan finds Kayla lying on the ground dead, her chest and neck covered with blood. We see Logan holding Kayla’s dead body in his arms and screaming out in despair.
  • Logan and Victor fight each other in several scenes. The pair leap at each other, Logan with his knife blades extended and Victor with his claws extended, slashing, clawing, hitting and throwing each other around. We hear the sounds of bones breaking. Logan stabs Victor through the hand and in the chest with his extended bone knives, while Victor sinks his claws into Logan’s chest and shoulder. In one fight Victor picks up Logan and throws him into the path of a speeding truck, Logan rolls over the bonnet of the truck and lands hard on the ground. Logan lies on a train track and Victor walks up to Logan and stomps down hard on his extended bone knifes, breaking the knives off and causing  Logan to scream in pain.
  • Logan grabs Stryker by the throat and slams him against a wall, holding him there until Stryker’s face turns red. Logan lets him go and he falls to the ground.
  • A woman who is about to perform a medical procedure on Logan tells him that he is about to experience more pain than any man has experienced.
  • After being experimented on Logan, now called Wolverine, breaks his restraints and slashes several people with metal knives protruding from his knuckles. Soldiers shoot at him as he runs through the complex, fighting, slashing and cutting through the soldiers.
  • An elderly man points a shotgun at Logan. He and his wife are both struck by bullets and we see them lying dead on the ground.
  • A helicopter fires a missile at a barn and the barn explodes in a ball of flames. At the same time Wolverine comes crashing out of the barn doors on a motorbike
  • Wolverine is chased by gun wielding men in a helicopter. One of them says “Blow his brains all over the road”. The gunmen the shoot their guns at Wolverine with bullets flying in all directions as Wolverine dodges them. Wolverine runs up a hill and leaps onto the helicopter, using his blades to slice off the helicopter’s blades and causing the helicopter to cash in smoke and flames. We see one of Stryker’s mutant henchmen wounded and partially hanging out of the helicopter’s windscreen. Wolverine walks away from the helicopter, striking his blades on the ground and creating sparks that ignite spilt fuel and the helicopter explodes in a ball of flames.
  • Wolverine fights a fellow mutant called The Blob, an extremely obese man. Wolverine repeatedly hits The Blob in the face and the stomach and The Blob throws Wolverine out of the boxing ring. We see more punches to the head, stomach and back being exchanged. The Blob head-butts Wolverine and hear the sound of a loud metallic clunk. Wolverine slams his fist down on top of The Blob and The Blob collapses to the ground.
  • Victor chases a teenage mutant boy through a school building. When Victor catches the boy he knocks the boy to the ground, the boy’s glasses are knocked from his head and laser beams shoot out of the boys eyes, cutting through the walls of the school. Victor holds the boy’s head while a second man injects a tranquiliser into the back of the boy’s neck, causing the boy to fall unconscious.
  • Victor punches his hand through another mutant’s stomach and grasp hold of something. Victor says “I can feel your spine” and jerks his hand out. We hear bones cracking and see the mutant fall to the ground.
  • Wolverine holds his fist blades at Victor’s neck and tells Victor “I’m gunna cut your god damn head off”. Wolverine and Victor fight and Wolverine puts his fist blades through Victor’s hand.
  • Gambit tries to escape Wolverine by climbing metal fire escape. Wolverine slices through the metal fire escape with his fist blades, causing Gambit to fall hard to the ground.    
  • Stryker picks up a long sword-like blade and runs it through the stomach of an army general.
  • We see a flashback image of Victor injecting a drug into Kayla to make it appear as if she were dead. He pours blood over her body to make it appear that he had savaged her. 
  • Victor grabs Kayla by the throat and she screams. 
  • We see Kayla holding her hand over a bloody bullet wound in the side of her body.
  • Wolverine is standing on top of a nuclear reactor tower when Weapon XI approaches. Weapon XI impales Wolverine through the back with a long sword-like blade protruding from his hand and is poised to decapitate Wolverine when Victor shows up and attacks Weapon XI. Weapon XI stabs Victor through the back. Laser beams shoot out of Weapon XI’s eyes, aimed at Wolverine. Victor is hit by the laser beams but recovers. Wolverine slashes Weapon XI across the throat with his fist blades and then kicks Weapon XI into the reactor tower.  As Weapon XI falls his head separates from his body while laser beams continue to shoot out of his eyes.
  • We see Kayla lying on the ground with blood covering the side of her torso. Wolverine picks up Kayla and carries her a short distance before he is shot by Stryker; Wolverine falls to the ground. Stryker approaches Wolverine and shoots him in the head at close range and we see two silver bullets protruding from Wolverine’s forehead.
  • Stryker approaches Kayla, who is wounded and lying on the ground, points a gun at her head, but then turns the gun on himself, putting the gun under his chin. Kayla touches Stryker and tells him to walk and not stop until his feet are bleeding. During the film’s end credit we see Stryker still walking with bloody feet.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, particularly scenes of mutants and transformations. Examples include

  • The severed head of an animal like a bear lies on the ground with blood around the neck. 
  • On numerous occasions slits open up in the flesh of Wolverine’s knuckles and knife-like blades sliding out of the slits. Knife-like bony spines erupt from the knuckles of Wolverine as a young boy.
  • As a young teenager Victor has long canine teeth and claw-like nails that resemble a lion’s claws. He sometimes moves like a tiger bounding along on all fours.
  • In a circus sideshow and we see a brief image of a woman squashed into a small perspex cube. 
  • A pale skinned, bald headed man lies on an operating table with his mouth stitched closed.
  • We see images of a male (teenage mutant with laser beam eyes) lying on an operating table, the boy is lying very still and has all of the skin around each eye pulled back tightly to reveal as much eyeball as possible
  • Weapon XI is pale-skinned and bald with a scarred mouth that has been fused shut. Long sword blades extend from his hands and laser beams fire from his eyes.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned scenes, children in this group may be particularly disturbed by the scene where Wolverine is submerged in a tank of water, numerous needles drill through his skin and we see x-ray images of the needles penetrating his skull. A liquid metal (Adamantium) is injected through the needles into Wolverine’s bones and he thrashes about in agony and is finally pronounced dead.    

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

As well as many of the above-mentioned scenes, children in this age group may be particularly disturbed by the scene in which Victor almost rapes a woman, handling her roughly and throwing her onto a bed before being stopped.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains infrequent sexual references. Examples including:

  • Kayla tells Logan a folk tale revolving around the moon taking a lover.
  • When an elderly farmer discovers a naked Wolverine in his barn he offers him a coat, telling him to “Cover up with that. I don’t want you giving the old lady a heart attack.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is occasional nudity and low-level sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Kayla, wearing an oversized shirt, hitches it up and straddles Logan’s lap
  • Kayla and Logan kiss in several scenes.
  • We see front, side and rear views of Wolverine running naked across a field, standing on a waterfall and in a barn. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • On several occasions we see Logan/Wolverine with a cigar in his mouth; the cigar appears unlit.
  • A young teenage boy is shot in the neck with a tranquilizer.
  • Wolverine sips beer from a bottle and also sits in a bar sculling a shot glass of spirit. When he asks for another shot the bartender asks him if he’s drinking to forget, Wolverine replies he’s drinking to remember.

Coarse language

X-Men Origins contains occasional low-level coarse language, some putdowns and hand gestures. Examples include:

  • O Jesus; my god; screw this up; freak; …got screwed; what the hell; bullshit; shit; hey Fat; The Blob; His arse is coming out of his shirt; You are an arse hole; Whip his arse. 

In a nutshell

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a comic book style action/adventure which is darker and more violent than other X-Men films and definitely aimed at older adolescents. The film relies more on intense action and special effects rather than story line. The main messages from this movie are

  • brothers should look after and protect each other
  • revenge can distort perception and leave a person open to manipulation.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with older children include:

  • selflessness and courage 
  • self control
  • forgiveness

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with older children attitudes
and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • whether the means justify the end 
  • the very different ways in which Wolverine and his brother use their mutant powers



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