So there I was… enjoying an opening night performance of the new superhero caper, The Wolverine. Hugh Jackman, who was so defined he must be using dictionaries as barbells, was doing his thing as the titular character. Namely, kicking the bad guy’s butts all over Japan with slashing claws, a dry wit, and a little mousse. The film was rapidly approaching its third and final act. Wolverine was directly threatening a “bad guy” (don’t worry about spoilers, I can’t remember any of the other character’s names anyway). I was leaning in, waiting for a delicious little bon mot of a line when an unexpected piece of ordnance exploded on the screen. By that, I am not referring to heavy machine guns, or napalm or even anything thermonuclear. I’m talking about the F-bomb. And it really disturbed me.
For whatever reason, screenwriters Mark Bomback and Christopher McQuarrie felt it necessary to add the king of all curses to bolster an already action-packed scene. Now, I’m no prude when it comes to language. One of my all-time favorite rants comes in the Stanley Kubrick classic, Full Metal Jacket, and it’s saltier than the bottom of a McDonalds french fry box. The difference being that FMJ is a gritty Vietnam era war film made for an adult audience. The Wolverine is based upon a comic book superhero. I wonder how many thousands of parents were made uncomfortable by having the “good guy” spout off language that would cause their children to be reprimanded immediately. Yeah, yeah, it’s rated PG-13, but so are a lot of other quality pics that manage to entertain without resorting to inappropriate language. As the title of this entry implies, it’s the inappropriateness that bothers me the most.
You see, unlike the vast majority of teens and younger who saw the movie, I have actually opened a comic book. Fond are my memories of reading up on the derring-dos of all of my favorite superheroes: Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk. Never once, despite all of the stress of saving the Earth (again) from the most heinous of villains, did they openly and mindlessly curse. As a society, we need to remember that language matters; the words we choose to express ourselves reflect back upon our character. Having Wolverine use this exceptionally explicit word did not make him appear tougher, or more realistic, or any more dedicated to righting the many wrongs committed throughout the film. It just made him coarse and vulgar.
And that’s simply not how a comic book hero should be.