Some superheroes have become synonymous with the actors who play them. For many people, Spider-Man is Tobey Maguire. Christopher Reeve is the most recognizable Superman. And of course, Hugh Jackman is the Wolverine. Even though he’s Australian instead of Canadian, is much too tall for the part, and has a background in musical theatre and ballet, he is the Wolverine.
The Wolverine is the latest in a series of Marvel X-Men movies. Set in Japan, it follows Logan/Wolverine as he fights to survive without his healing powers. But is it as thrilling as First Class or as big a disappointment as Origins? Let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here.)
So who stars in this film? As I already mentioned, the title character is played by Hugh Jackman, whose films outside the X-Men universe include Australia, Les Miserables, and The Prestige. Svetlana Khodchenkova portrays Viper; her other movies include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, as well as a lot of Russian films. Rila Fukushima plays Yukio, whom I like to describe as the emo Asian daughter of Ronald McDonald. This is apparently her first American movie; previously, she has appeared in multiple music videos. So really, Hugh Jackman is carrying this movie’s publicity all by himself. And when your character is this well established, that’s actually feasible.
Who is the director? That would be James Mangold, responsible for such movies as Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, and Knight and Day. The fact that the first film was nominated for five Oscars speaks to the quality Mangold can bring out in a movie, while the other two prove he knows how to direct an action film.
Our trailer begins as Logan saves a random Japanese soldier from the bombing of Nagasaki. In gratitude, the soldier offers his protector a sword. “It’s beautiful, Yashida,” says Logan. “Keep it safe for me. Someday I’ll come get it.” Actually, I’m just tactfully letting you down because I have six swords more awesome than this one. And they shoot out of my hand. SNIKT!!
But years later, Logan isn’t feeling too hot, mainly because his last two major appearances were in movies of questionable quality. He hides out in the snow, but he’s got a stalker, Yukio, who makes a habit of recording him on her iPhone. “It’s an honor to meet the Wolverine,” she tells him. Logan replies, “That’s not who I am anymore.” Who am I? Who am I? L-O-G-A-N! (I had to make a Les Mis joke somewhere.)
Yukio brings Logan back to Japan with her to meet her employer and grandfather, Yashida, who is now a high-profile businessman. He says, “I want to give you a gift, Logan.” Since you wouldn’t take my sword. “Your ability to heal can be passed to another. Allow someone else to shoulder your burden . . . I’m not ready to die.” So he’s thanking you for saving his life by asking you to save his life? How much more of an ungrateful jerk could this guy be? “Trust me, bub,” says Wolverine. “You don’t want what I’ve got.” Now could you please explain that to the millions of fanboys who all want healing powers and adamantium claws?
Logan gets kissed in bed by a beautiful blonde while he’s in bed with another woman. If it were anyone besides Hugh Jackman, I would wonder how much charisma it’s possible to have, but in this case it makes perfect sense. Then he and the woman go to a funeral, and one of the robed priests fires a gun at Logan. I’ve gotta say, Japanese gunmen in conspicuous orange robes shooting at Wolverine redefines the meaning of the word “kamikaze.” While Logan rescues a damsel in distress, Viper sticks out a really long tongue and makes a man’s face break out in plastic wrap.
After the fight, Logan realizes his wounds aren’t healing because of Viper’s interference. “This flesh is weak now,” she says. And I’m totally not trying to sneak in any feminist message about how women are not the weaker sex but are just as strong as men. “What are you?” someone asks her as she carves a scar down a man’s cheek. “A chemist, a capitalist, a viper,” she replies. Also, I’m yet another gorgeous mutant woman. Got a problem with that?
“So you can see the future?” Logan asks Yukio. She replies, “I saw you die.” You were choking on your Happy Meal. It was horrible. But then you came back to life because you’re a superhero and it’s in your contract. Then a group of assassins called the Hand corner Wolverine on a snowy street and ask for his surrender. Wolverine replies, “Is that all the men you brought?” A few more and we could have had a nice game of footy. Also, he just blew up that truck. I hope his healing powers are working again.
We see that Viper can shed her skin as easily as a snake. I’ve heard her soul is so unclean pure water can melt her. (I’ve probably lost man points for referencing the musical Wicked, but I do not care.) Logan tells his love interest, “Your grandfather called me a Ronan: a samurai without a master who has no reason to live.” I’m starting to think your grandfather didn’t like me very much. Wolverine fights off multiple baddies, but The Hand fills his back with arrows attached to steel cables, turning him into some kind of twisted musical instrument. And the trailer ends as we finally get a look at Silver Samurai, who looks like something out of a Transformers manga or maybe like the Japanese version of the Destroyer from Thor. In short, he looks awesome.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Cautiously, yes. The action is top-notch, the story comes more or less from a popular comic series courtesy of Frank Miller before he lost it, and of course, we have Hugh Jackman being awesome with his claws and saying “bub” a lot. What more do you need? Well, you need something more than X-Men Origins had to offer. Wolverine’s last solo film seemed to be all about fight scenes and not about likeable characters or an interesting story. I don’t think this one is making the same mistake, but I’m still trying not to get my hopes up too high. Also, I wouldn’t recommend this film for kids and younger teens, mainly because of the violence. But for everyone else, The Wolverine has promise at the very least. Will I see it in theaters? I’m certainly going to try. In the meantime, I’ll just imagine how Les Miserables would have been different if Jean Valjean had had adamantium claws. “24601, bub.”
The Wolverine is owned by 20th Century Fox.