Fathers' Day: 2 Legendary Comic Creators Proud of WOLVERINE

POLL: Pirated WOLVERINE and You?

At the premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine last week, there were two people sitting in the audience who had a little more interest in the characters on the screen than everyone else. After all, they created most of them.

Len Wein and Chris Claremont, two legends in the comic book industry, were the minds behind the creation of many of the mutants gracing the screen in the Wolverine movie. And according to them, the filmmakers did a good job of getting it right.

"Hugh Jackman is such a delight to watch on the face of it, but then when you throw in Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth and Taylor Kitsch as Gambit, it was just amazing," said Claremont, who created both Sabretooth and Gambit during his 17-year run on Uncanny X-Men in the '70s and '80s. "The bringing to life of characters that I've worked on, and doing it so well, was just an incredible treat."

"I was thrilled. I had a terrific time at the movie," said Wein, who created Wolverine in 1974. "I thought, and it was my wife's point too, that it was very much my Wolverine."

Wein, whom Jackman publicly thanked during last year's San Diego Comic-Con for creating Wolverine, explained that what he means by "my Wolverine" is that the movie captured the character's struggle with his humanity, which he always felt was at the heart of Wolverine's character.

"I've always felt that Wolverine became more popular when he started to become a killer. And I'm one of those old-fashioned guys; my heroes are heroes," Wein explained. "I always felt what made Wolverine heroic was that his natural inclination was to gut you like a fish, but that he'd stop when he was a fraction of an inch from your belly before he'd actually do it. And there's more of that, I think, in the film. God knows there's enough hacking and slashing and leaving bodies strewn across the landscape. But I think the heart of it was the type of guy he was, and he was more of the human than the animal, although he was always battling that animal side of himself."

Claremont agreed that the conflict between humanity and animal instinct is important to the character's story, but he added that the movie not only showed the internal battle, but echoed that struggle in the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth.

"They parsed it out between Wolverine and Sabretooth," Claremont said of the movie. "They set them up as equals, but while Wolverine struggles with his animal side, Sabretooth doesn't. Sabretooth thinks he's an idiot. Sabretooth looks around and it's like, I am what I am because I'm the best I am at what I do. And I don't really care. The rest of you guys are all prey. They're the flip sides of the same coin, and the difference is that Sabretooth knows he's right, but Wolverine has doubts. The doubts are what makes him human."

Claremont said Schreiber's portrayal of Sabretooth was surprising to him because he didn't have the size that the character has in the comics. "Liev is not as huge as Sabretooth from the first X-Men, but on the other hand, his movement is just wonderful. The sort of leaping across the floor and tackling," he said. "Liev is a tremendous actor, and from a totally different approach and perspective from Hugh Jackman. So it was really neat watching the two of them go at each other through this whole thing."

Claremont's other fan-favorite creation that played a large role in the film was Gambit, the charming card-thrower with a Creole accent who eventually joined the X-Men team in the comics.

"My kids thought he had the best stunt in the movie, when he leaps off the building down into the alleyway and just brings down the house, as it were. But then I remember thinking, gee, the New Orleans police department must be as bad as they say," Claremont joked.

"And his accent seems to come and go," Wein said with a laugh.

"Well, it's always easier to write those accents than it is to portray them," Claremont said. "You need a true Cajun for the role, but then if you had a true Cajun, nobody would understand a word he said! But what was important about Gambit was you ended up liking him, and that was a really good thing. And the actor really stole the show when he was on screen."

The two writers said the only thing they didn't like about the movie was that they wanted more.

"We got to the end and I was thinking, OK, now we've had that chapter; can we get the hour-and-a-half that comes next?" Claremont said.

The creators may not have to wait long. As Newsarama reported this week, not only is a Wolverine sequel in development, there's already a spin-off Deadpool movie in development starring Ryan Reynolds.

"From what I read so far, it's pretty much your and Frank [Miller]'s samurai story they're developing for the next one," Wein told Claremont as they discussed the movie.

"Oh, I've heard that before. They've been playing with that for years. I'll believe it when I see it," he said with a laugh.

Claremont said if filmmakers do end up adapting the story he did with artist-turned-filmmaker Miller – a story that focused on Wolverine's time in Japan and the character's courtship of a woman named Mariko Yashida – the key to making it work will still rely upon that internal struggle "between the monster and the man" that makes Wolverine's character so compelling.

"The thing about Frank's and my story is we take it right to the edge," he said. "We get him right to the moment where he said I do, and Mariko is about to say I do, and it's all there. He's almost got his Holy Grail. And then... bam. The challenge for him as a character is what comes next. Does he just keep falling and let himself turn into a monster, or does he pick himself up, dust himself off and try again to embrace his humanity? Ideally, from a writing standpoint, the goal is to keep the audience guessing until he actually does it. But to have him come back. The human part of him has a will to not give in to defeat, but just keeps coming back and trying and believing that some way he will find a way to win, to achieve what he wants most in the world."

"That's true of almost any hero, that heroic journey," Wein added. "What makes Logan's journey different from other heroes is that battle within himself, between the man and the animal. That constant struggle to stay a man despite the fact that the animal dominates."

As for the film based on Deadpool – one of the few mutants in the Wolverine movie not created by one of the two – both were enthusiastic about more of that character as well.

"I love Ryan Reynolds in anything he does, so I think he'll be terrific. It's the right guy in the right role," Wein added. "I want to see what happens next with all these characters."

Both creators said that although they aren't involved in the filmmaking and don't actually own rights to the characters anymore because they created them for Marvel, they feel lucky to have their creations portrayed in the movies.

"I've been very fortunate with the actors who have played my characters. Alan Cumming was the perfect Nightcrawler. The guy who played Colossus was terrific. It's just all been amazing, the people who have played those characters," he said. "I have worked in so many different mediums over the years. It's always fascinating to me to see how people working, especially, in film take what started out as a static, two-dimensional story and move it to the screen, where suddenly you have the advantage of actors and the nuance they can bring to the role. And I couldn't be happier with the way it's all turned out."

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