Wolverine: The beast within

Posted on May 5, 2009

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Everyone needs to know where they came from. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, tells the story of one of the most favored comic book characters in the Marvel universe. Wolverine is the rebel, anti-hero, and mysterious character that helped make the original X-Men movies so successful. From a critical standpoint, this movie was mildly enjoyable in parts but lacked in the overall execution. Fans of hero movies will be pleased while others may not. It’s not the best hero movie to come out in recent years, but it did get me thinking about Creative Leadership.

Logan, AKA ‘Wolverine’, is a tormented soul cursed with a lifetime (or many lifetimes) of death, war, and pain. More killing machine than human, Logan gives up his mercenary lifestyle for quieter days in the mountains. The problem is that you can take the beast out of the world but you can’t take the beast out of the man. After a series of unfortunate events, a revenge driven Logan is transformed into the indestructible, metal claw wielding Wolverine.

While watching this movie, the phrase that kept coming to mind was ‘I am my own worst enemy’. As creative leaders I think we have all felt like a mutant at times. Born with a special purpose, we endure all kinds of pain and hardship only to discover that the most ferocious and deadly enemy is ourselves. Regardless of special gifts and abilities, the beast within keeps us from experience true heroism. The best we can hope for is infamy.  I believe every leader and artist will come to a crossroad in their life where they will have to decide, will I live for the beast or live for the hero? Beast living is easy. It’s reactionary, impulsive, and brings immediate gratification. It gets results but it usually leaves a wake of destruction behind it. In contrast, hero living is calculated, patient, and the benefits are sometimes never seen. Sure everyone wants the fame and the love that a hero receives, but fail to realize what any true hero must first endure; death.

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In a pivotal scene in the movie,  Logan is about to begin the excruciating process of transforming  into Wolverine. The mastermind behind process says this to Logan;

“We’re going to make you indestructible, but first we must destroy you.”

Completely submerged in water, Logan dies for a moment only to return as a new creation. After the process, Logan looks in the mirror with his newly formed indestructible claws and realizes he is no longer the unrefined, ferocious beast but something more. It’s in this new form that he can begin the journey of hero living and most importantly, self discovery.

We will always have the beast within tempting us to lash out and fulfill our carnal desires. Fortunately, there is another force calling us to heroic living. Have you gone through the process of total and utter destruction? In the movie, one technician tells Logan that the process will be the most painful thing he has ever experienced. Are you willing to endure the pain of dying to yourself in order to live for others? You were born with special gifts to make a difference in this world. The beast is the only enemy standing in your way.

Are creative leaders made or born? I believe they are made AND born. You are born with the gifts but you also have to make something of it. Dying is the key.

It’s through your own death that will lead to saving your own life.

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