In the early 1980s I was an "X-Men" fanatic, eagerly devouring every comic book I could get my hands on. But my favorite, and it remains my favorite to this day, was a 1982 four-issue mini-series written by Chris Claremont, drawn by Frank Miller and devoted exclusively to Wolverine. In it, Wolvie goes to Japan to find out what happened to his true love Mariko. He's a magnificent warrior and he understands Japan's ancient codes and rules but also understands his own raging animal instincts and his need to abandon the rules. He constantly battles these two sides, and in one sublime image, after a fight, he smoothes the disturbed pebbles in a Zen garden, making the connection between chaos and order.

Sadly, there's nothing in the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine even remotely as good or as interesting as that one image. This Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) no longer struggles between his two sides. He's smack dab on the side of good, and beholden to the unwritten Hollywood rule, which says that no hero can kill anyone in cold blood (only in self-defense, or in response to senseless acts of cruelty and violence). Sure, he can rage and howl from time to time, but he must pull back at the last second -- to set a good example for the kiddies, I guess. To spur him to action, the film brutally dispatches everyone who's nice to him, from his kind-hearted father/guardian in the opening flashback to the sweet farmer couple that gives him refuge, to his own sweetheart Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). So there's some bad foreshadowing for you: if you help an old lady across the street or tell a romantic story about the moon, you're toast.