Friday Movie Thing — Wolverine: A Chick Flick

(yes, I’m playing hookey from grading)

Hes strong.  But hes sensitive!
He’s strong. But he’s sensitive!

A “Chick Flick” is a movie designed to appeal to female audiences in which a character, usually male, with the guidance of another character (usually female), develops emotionally in response to a series of crises, with an emphasis cast not primarily upon the conflict (as in classical drama), but upon the emotions encountered within the conflict.

In this respect, the movie at hand (which was crap), falls into the Chick Flick narrative.  Now, I will admit that it does so partially by default — the fundamental conflict of the plot being utter self-contradictory crap (the female lead, having effectively seduced him, could simply have compelled him to undertake the experiment, with any number of plausible explanations for why, and without revealing the actual compulsion/seduction).  In addition, the “brothers who can’t agree forced to take on the world together” angle is indeed a well-used trope — albeit, again, in this case one which makes little to no sense, as said antagonist’s actions clearly do not match his motives.

What we are left with is a constantly-vacillating series of scenes, in which
a) Wolverine is tough
b) Wolverine is sensitive

Wolverine.  Sensitive.  Point A for the exhibit — Wolverine is many things, but he is NOT sensitive.  In order to provide some reference for why he develops a conflict with his brother, W must clearly be saddled with an Alan-Alda level of conscience, deploring violence (in stark contrast to the actual character, ready to happily deploy violence at the drop of a hat.  Anybody’s hat.)

The remaining premise involves Wolverine’s decision not to run away from an emotionally painful scene (as he did in Africa), but rather to return and confront evil rather than allow it to progress in his absence (thus allowing for cheesy fight scenes). 

Were this an actual moral decision, aka, a story of cowardice turned to bravery, it could be a “guy film” moment, as that sort of “manning up” is fundamental to male maturity and a heavy trope within it.  But rather, it is NOT such a decision.  Rather, W decides he must engage with evil (emotional growth?) **for the sake of a chick who is complicit in said evil.**  Fifty nameless, powerless villagers who will be slaughtered in cold blood?  Meh.  A hot chick who seduced him and done him wrong?  FIGHT-O!!

I believe that the overwhelming majority of male viewers is due to a small number of simple facts.
a)  comic book movie
b)  eyeball lasers (who doesn’t like eyeball lasers, especially on sharks?)
c)  fanboyz

But if we strip the (dare I call it a film?) down to its essentials, nothing happens except gratuitous violence and the presence/death of numerous far more-interesting secondary characters, leaving only two hours of special effects, raw feelings, and secondary characters who far outshine the primary actors and about whom one would much rather watch a movie (even Juggernaut, in this retelling, obtains a deep sense of pathos, portrayed not as a thuggishly evil bully, but rather a not-so-bright, almost sympathetic tormented spirit gone horribly wrong).  Nothing is then left for the viewer upon which to remark except

a) Wow, Wolverine’s tough
b) Wow, Wolverine’s sensitive

this being the crux of the film, where, at its climax, Wolverine maintains the emotional growth to lovingly close the eyes of a dead woman he doesn’t know, but who has nevertheless provided him with a sense of identity, aka, a cool nickname.

Oh.  And, of course the real draw of the film, as my wife so succinctly put it, “naked Hugh Jackman.”  (About which I cannot argue, as eye candy is its own reward, and one to which I am, while arrow-straight, certainly not immune).

Thus, “chick flick.”

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  1. drteine

     /  May 8, 2009

    Well that’s 2 for 2 for you lately. So here’s a blasphemous question:
    Ever seen a movie that falls into the “Chick flick” category that you did like? Or is it that the standard tropes and themes which make a stereotypical chick flick are the things you hate and therefore you’ll never like a true chick flick?

  2. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” It was very good, and not full of misandry.

  3. Make no mistake, I would have thought this flick was crap whether or not it was a chick flick, if only for its bizarrely nonsensical plot.

  4. drteine

     /  May 8, 2009

    Yes, that was a very good movie. I have yet to meet a person who didn’t like that movie.

    I gathered that you thought the plot of the movie was bad, misandry aside. There are not too many comic books that transition well to the big screen. Usually I just go for the eye candy and leave my brain at the door so that I’ll get my money’s worth, but every now and then the movie will grab me back and I’ll turn my brain back on to watch it. Most comic books, especially older Marvel ones, really are very nonsensical plots and again, you’re there for the eye candy.

  5. Bits were good. The acting was pretty good, for instance. The secondary characters were well-written. The effects were reasonable. No real misandry to speak of (a relative rarity in Chick Flicks, but in this case, there was ubergeekiness and eyeball lasers, so, meh).

    The plot was horribly, completely, twistedly nonsensical. MUCH worse than other Xflicks’ plots. The movie should have been over in about fifteen minutes.

  6. drteine

     /  May 8, 2009

    Now I better understand your complaint. We’ll see how Marvel studios does with Thor and Captain America so they can reach the date of The Avengers in 2011-12.

  7. If you think that was bad (which it was, just as you pointed out), don’t see Star Trek — it’s even worse.

  8. o rly?


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