If you’re gonna make a superhero movie, there aren’t many characters better to base it on than Wolverine. He might be from the X-Men roster, but he’is inherently a loner, so you’re not tied to any other characters, he can have as many allies or enemies as you want. He’s a goodie, but he’s not a goodie-goodie like Superman, or comes with an aversion to killing like Batman. Wolverine has no problems killing someone in his way, but he also comes with an inbuilt heart that means it’s not totally out of character for him to build believable, sympathetic relationships. He’s been alive for a long, long time, so you can set his story at pretty much any cool or interesting time or place between now and the middle of the 20th century. He’s dark and angry, which can lead to really funny, or really violent situations, or both. So why have film makers struggled so much to make a really cool Wolverine movie?
I’ve never seen 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine
, but its reputation is enough to make me confident I’m not missing much. Bryan Singer’s two X-Men
movies have a great reputation, but never blew me away. And Brett Ratner’s addition to that series has been relegated to the same lame franchise scrap heap as Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3
. And while the fact that the recently released The Wolverine
proves the character successful enough for Hugh Jackman to have played him five times now, I just feel like I still haven’t seen a really great movie adaptation of this really great comic book character.
The Wolverine starts strong, with Wolverine / Logan a POW in an about to be atomically obliterated Nagasaki. This sequence is really cool and a great glimpse at the rich history of the character. Logan saves the life of a Japanese soldier before the movie cuts to present day. Now he’s a drifter, haunted by the memory of having to kill the love of his life at the end of X-Men 3: The Last Stand. He’s found by a kickass lady samurai who takes him to meet her boss in Japan, who also happens to be the soldier Logan saved all those years ago, now a terminally ill, but crazy rich business man. He wants to harness Logan’s quick healing factor and virtual immortality to save himself from death. Logan says no, the old dude pops his clogs and the movie becomes a story of espionage, survival and Kung Fu.
As far as comic movies go, this is a pretty good one. And as far as depictions of Wolverine go, this is probably the best so far. I just wanted more. Jackman really is Wolverine at this stage. He nails the part every time, and any shortcomings so far have been the fault of the screenplays and/or directors, never Jackman. The Wolverine is the riskiest of all the movies so far and that does pay off. The Japanese location leads to surprisingly majority none-white cast, which isn’t something you see too often in a blockbuster. Removing this so far form the regular X-Men world and embracing the character’s lonerness, it also means we don’t have to put up with popular characters being shoe horned in just so the studio can hopefully sell a few more action figures.
If there were no Iron Man, Avengers or Dark Knight movies, The Wolverine might have a shot at being the best super hero movie you’d seen recently. The only problem is, there are Iron Man, Avengers and Dark Knight movies, and the bar has been set higher than The Wolverine ever attempts to reach.
Directed By – James Mangold
Written By – Mark Bomback, Scott Frank