Film Discussion

The Wolverine – Throwback 10

If you’re here reading about The Wolverine there’s a good chance that you’re a fan of the character, and that you’ve seen the images of Hugh Jackman in the yellow and blue suit on the set of the next Deadpool movie. Excitement for the character of Wolverine has perhaps never been higher now that fans are finally getting the iconic costume after two decades; but ten years ago Wolverine was a character that a lot of people had given up hope on. The last time he’d been seen was a brief cameo in X-Men: First Class, and before that was the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the barely better X-Men: The Last Stand. A lot of fans had stopped hoping for a good Wolverine movie; but then the trailer for The Wolverine landed.

The version of Wolverine presented on the big screen had always been a watered down version of the character, thanks in large part to them having to sanitise him in order to make the films accessible to the biggest audience possible. Any film that depicted Wolverine honestly would have to be ultra-violent to do so. But there were also large parts of the character’s personality and past that the main X-Men films just didn’t touch upon. When their first spin-off movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tried to do this it managed to get a lot of things wrong, and ended up being what fans consider to be the worst X-Men film ever made. As such, when it was announced that there’d be another Wolverine movie fans were somewhat nervous about what we might be getting.

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The first sign that perhaps this film might be better than what came before was the announcement that director James Mangold would be working on the film as both writer and director. Having directed films such as Copland and Walk The Line, Mangold was seen as something of a bold choice, a director who’d made ‘real’ respectable movies. When it was also revealed that the movie was going to be taking influence from the highly acclaimed Chris Claremont and Frank Miller Wolverine limited series, the excitement was palpable. The first trailer for the film would then show fans the character in Japan, fighting against foes with samurai swords, and ninjas. Geeks were hyped.

Photo by Ben Rothstein. – © 2013 Marvel Characters, Inc. © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film.

Taking its ques from the Wolverine limited series, The Wolverine took Logan (Hugh Jackman) to his home away from home, Japan. The character has had a long history with Japan, and the film explored this by introducing the character of Ichirō Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), a Japanese soldier in World War II working at the prison camp that held a captured Logan. As the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Yashida tried to free Logan, and Logan in turn helped him to survive the blast.

Decades later, following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand Logan is living in the Canadian wilderness as a hermit, but is approached by the young mutant Yukio, who’s been sent to bring him to an elderly Yashida. Travelling to Japan, Logan finds his old friend dying of cancer. It’s here that Yashida offers Logan a gift, a release from the healing powers that prevent him from ageing and dying. Asking Logan to transfer the powers to him in order to save his life, Yashida believes that both men will get what they want.

Photo by Ben Rothstein. – © 2013 Marvel Characters, Inc. © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film.

Logan refuses, however, seeing his powers as a curse that he doesn’t want to transfer to another. After Yashida dies Logan finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle within the family as Yashida’s children fight over the estate. With a young woman’s life under threat, Logan puts himself in harm’s way to protect her. Unfortunately for him, something has begun to go wrong with his powers, and he isn’t healing the way he should be.

The Wolverine put Logan in a situation that fans of the characters had been calling for for years, and introduced characters from the comics such as Shingen Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada), Mariko (Tao Okamoto), and The Silver Samurai. After the disaster that was the previous Wolverine movie it was a huge breath of fresh air, a film that not only felt like it respected the original work, but was just competently made by someone who likes to make good movies.

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It’s not surprising then that the film out-grossed the previous one, and that The Wolverine would even go on to become the third highest grossing X-Men film at that point. The success of the film all but guaranteed that another Wolverine movie would be made, and James Mangold returned to give fans another adaptation of one of the characters most iconic stories, turning Old Man Logan into an even better story with Logan four years later.

The Wolverine also gave audiences a small tease of the iconic costume in a deleted ending scene where Logan was presented with the yellow and brown suit, complete with the mask. With Deadpool 3 putting the character in the yellow and blue there’s one thing that fans are still waiting to hear, if it has the mask or not. With the love that the film has, and with it being the first of the Wolverine films to get things right hopefully the creators of Deadpool 3 will take a look at the fan reaction to it and bring that aspect across too. Until then, however, we’ve still got a great Wolverine film to keep us going.

The Wolverine was released in the UK on the 25th July 2013.

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