I can tell you that I was not, at any point, pointing at the screen and laughing at X-Men, First Class. I can tell you that it was smart: while you don't need a knowledge of WWII and Cold War history to enjoy the film, it helped. And you most certainly don't need a knowledge of the comics or even the previous movies to enjoy it. They chose unusual, out-of-the-way characters, like Banshee, Darwin, and Havok, and didn't bother much with safe choices like Wolverine and Rogue. Also, when the hell did this happen?
|Things that make me feel like a filthy old leach.|
So speaking of the fella who is the best there is at what he does, I'd like to talk about Wolverine for a minute, because, well, he's an interesting phenomenon. Wolvie first shows up in a Hulk comic back in 1974, way before anybody at Marvel had any idea what they had on their hands. He shows up again in issue 1 of the All New, All Different X-Men when he thrills audiences by smoking a cigar and clawing off Professor X's tie. With that bit of bad boy action, Wolverine was off and running.
So here's the thing about Wolverine that's kind of weird. Creators didn't love him. They thought about dropping him. But Wolverine soon grew bigger than his creators, growing into an obnoxiously ubiquitous star that audiences couldn't get enough of. He became one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and Marvel's biggest cash cow. He was everywhere, and not just on merchandise. He was on, at one point, like four X-Men spin-off teams at once, in addition to his own title. By the early 90s, he was selling issues just by showing up on the cover of comics he wasn't even actually in. You'd think, given they created the one, Marvel could create another character just as popular, just so poor Wolvie could take a vacation or something. But he was lightning in a bottle. They've never managed to create a character that even comes close in popularity. Even though some of his adventures are downright redonculous.
Interesting. How do you create a character who takes on a life of his own like that? The dude seemed to happen by accident, and yet he can't be stopped.
Point of interest: Kermit kind of did the same thing. They didn't necessarily intend him to become the flagship Muppet. In fact, I seem to think he wasn't even originally slated to be the host of the Muppet show, but I don't remember details.