Len Wein is a living legend. Whilst not known around the globe like Stan Lee, mention his name to any comic book aficionado and they’ll kneel down and say things like ‘we’re not worthy’. Wein has been a proud superhero parent for decades — helping give birth to Swamp Thing, Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus and of course, Wolverine, which he helped create as a foe for The Incredible Hulk. His work in the mid ’70s saw a renaissance of the X-Men and a legacy that endures to this day. As an editor, he has worked at both Marvel and DC, and was the man at the helm who helped shape Watchmen. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2008.
As creator of Wolverine, how do you feel about the translation of your character to the big screen?
I think they’ve done a terrific job of translating it from one medium to the next.
When you first figured him out, did you reason why Wolverine has claws coming out between his knuckles, and not, say, his fingernails?
Well, for one thing, practicality. Frankly, it looks cooler. In point of fact, in the comics, they actually come out of the back of his hands. But that’s a bitch to show on the big screen.
Plus it would be impractical — he’d be like one of those ladies with long fingernails, make doing his hair a bit tricky.
Well there is one such character in X-Men 2 — Lady Deathstrike, who’s got razor sharp Adamantium fingernails.
Out of all the comic book movies you’ve seen, are there ones that resonate with you, and why?
Whenever you capture the spirit of a character. I thought Iron Man was astonishingly good, and that’s as much the casting as anything else — once you hire Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, you’re done. Almost everything you do after that is gravy. I thought the new Hulk movie was great — once again, Edward Norton was a terrific Bruce Banner. Some of the others didn’t work quite as well — Catwoman, I don’t think was a particularly good film.
I think most people will agree with you on that.
But when you capture the sense of a character, translating from one medium to the next, any changes are fine. That line from the first X-Men film — “What did you expect, yellow Spandex?” — black leather outfits work just fine by me!
You’ve worked with some of the greats in the comic book world, as well as being one of them. What does working with Stan Lee teach you?
Never lose your sense of enthusiasm!
What about the Watchmen boys, Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore?
Never lose your sense of dismay!
You actually edited Watchmen — in what way could you corral those creative forces?
It was a challenge. It certainly was a challenge. I have gone on print and online as saying I never liked the ending, I felt it was a bit askew. I thought the ending in the film worked better, but Alan is Alan. You take the good with the bad. You want that work crafted, that ability to sculpt a line like nobody else’s business, you put up with mismatched socks and an inability to spell… it works out splendidly!
Rumours are that the next Wolverine movie will be the “Japanese Story” — what do you want to see happen in the next one?
I just want to see them explore the characters more. I think the Japanese Story, if that’s where they’re going to go — and I imagine they are going there for the next story — is the perfect next choice. It gives you a whole other side of the character and allows you to explore aspects that have never been seen on film before — the noble warrior, as opposed to the berserker.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.