"No less a critic than C. S. Lewis has described the ravenous addiction that these magazines inspired; the same phenomenon has led me to call science fiction the only genuine consciousness-expanding drug." Arthur C. Clarke

WOLVERINE and the Dissolution of Physics

I watched most of X-Men Origins: Wolverine last night and noticed something extremely discouraging about the way the special effects were handled: it seemed as if the entire film was taking place on some other planet, because the laws of physics were being thrown out the window.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the X-Men franchise, and I really liked the story in Wolverine, but I believe the special effects people who worked on this film went entirely overboard.  It is understandable that some things that the mutants do are extraordinary, and the audience must suspend disbelief because of their supposed “mutations,” but many of the stunts in the film were completely ridiculous.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine

X-Men Origins - Wolverine (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

For example, multiple times we see Wolverine cutting through objects seemingly effortlessly, and with very exaggerated results.  In his battle with Zero and the helicopter, this happens multiple times.  Wolverine is on his motorcycle (which he rode out of a building that was exploding) and rides right by a Hummer, reaching out and slicing it with his claws.  It’s not only that the claws slice right through the side of the vehicle, seemingly without any reaction from Wolverine (including any backward movement from his arm, per the Newtonian Laws of Physics), but also that this cut, which goes through the length of the Hummer, including the tires, causes the vehicle to fly up into the air and make the helicopter swerve out of the way.  Then, to top that, Wolverine climbs on top of another Hummer, which is shot at by the helicopter, and as the vehicle explodes he is able to propel himself up to the helicopter.  He not only slices the blades of the chopper but also lands on it.  Zero watches him in slow motion to the side of the helicopter, reaching up to cut the blades, and then somehow Logan is able to alter his trajectory in mid-air and land on the helicopter as it is crashing to the ground.  Then as he is walking away from the crash (he jumps off just in time) he slashes into some gasoline on the ground, causing a fire which burns its way to the helicopter and makes it explode.

Another example, possibly even more extraordinary: In his fight scene with Gambit on Bourbon Street, Logan is looking up at Gambit on a fire escape.  He decides to slice at the bottom of the fire escape support with his claws, making it begin to fall.  However, instead of just letting it fall off the side of the building, the stairway suddenly comes off of the building right next to Logan and stays straight up in the air as he quickly slashes over and over again, cutting off a few feet of the bottom of the stairwell each time.  Gambit stays on top of the fire escape as it hangs in midair, straight up, defying gravity, until he gets to the bottom with Logan.

One more example: In the final scene, when Logan cuts off Deadpool‘s head and both parts of him fall into the middle of the reactor, his head, still emitting lasers, supposedly spins around as it slowly falls, making a perfect helix of the circular reactor.  This seems like just lazy CGI; it would take nothing to put a simple perfect helix into a computer and tell it to animate that.  In reality, the laser would be spinning every which way, pointing up, down into the ground, and would fall at 9.8 meters/per second, not the 30 seconds it took to fall to the bottom of an 80-foot reactor.  Those are exaggerations, but the math was certainly not there.

You may be able to see some of these examples in this trailer.

It’s almost like the producers of this film forgot to hire a science adviser; I saw these inconsistencies the very first time I saw the movie in the theater.  This is certainly why I like my science fiction to be written by scientists, and the best have been: Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke were all scientists in one form or another first, and then used that knowledge to write science fiction.

One lesson to be learned from the ridiculousness of this film and the best science fiction writers of the present and the past: Even though it’s called science fiction, the very best is based in science fact.

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