I’ll admit it now, before going to this movie, I had no real excitement for it. Could it be because his origins story was so disappointing? Maybe. But somehow Hugh Jackman charmed me back into a theater seat and after watching The Wolverine, I went on an X-Binge and proceeded to watch every movie and reread some of my favorite timelines. Including the storyline of Logan in Japan.
The Wolverine is no masterpiece, but it entertained me as an X-Men fan without angering me as a comic book fan. I’ll also admit that I have not read too much of X-Men, much of my love for it stemmed from the movies when I was younger and progressed onto graphic art as I got older and the movies started to not be enough.
But this movie made me excited for Wolverine again. Sure he was still pining for Jean (who I hate in the movie universe), and sure he was still broody and sarcastic, but you can’t have the good without the bad.
He starts his tale waking up having taken a vow of peace after killing Jean Grey in X3: The Last Stand. He seems like a changed man, but it takes less than an hour before the claws come out and he’s threatening some gun-toting Canadian. It’s obvious to watchers that he’s plagued by a shadow of Jean’s ghost and it has been torturing him during his time off. He’s got a full beard and shoulder length hair, reminding me more of Jean ValJean rather than the clawed and flawed hero of Marvel.
But soon the story kicks in and he’s met by a flame-haired woman, no not Jean, but Yukio, played by a very badass Rila Fukushima. She pulls his ass out before he gets in too much trouble and whisks him away to Japan under the orders of her boss, Ichirō Yashida*, a man Logan saved years ago during Nagasaki. Although initially hesitant, Logan jumps on for the ride, and they are off to Japan.
I loved everything about them going to Japan. It not only showed that there are mutants in other places, other than just America and Canada, but it also put Wolverine in a new setting for viewers that was away from all of the X-Men and their shenanigans. I also love that the Japan cast was played by almost all actual Japanese people, as an Asian it’s important to me that we don’t just all get lopped together under a general title of Eastern-Asian.
It’s quickly revealed that Yukio has the ability to see people’s deaths before they happen. She’s based on a comic book character by the same name, but bears no resemblance otherwise. In fact, pretty much accept that other than a romantic storyline with Mariko, the Japan storyline is vastly different from the story we have known through comics.
Which is just fine for me, I prefer them to be separate. So Yukio and Logan arrive at Yashida’s home. We meet Shingen Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada), the son of Ichirō and a hot headed man. We also meet a dying Ichirō, taken care of by a mysterious doctor named “Doctor Green”, and watched over by his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto! I love her!)
From here the movie gains a lot of momentum. Logan is washed and scrubbed down by two hardy-handed japanese women and transformed back into the supermutant we know and love. He meets with Yashida, and we start to understand why Logan is there. It all seems to be some kind of convoluted plot, with Shingen openly defying his father and playing villain, while the Silver Samurai is lurking in the back.
Everything before the Silver Samurai is great. There is a lot of awesome character building done by Logan that was never even seen in his Origins story, which was more about two brothers than one man.
He gets a romance that I don’t want to throw up at the thought of, and a female friend that is not quite as co-dependant as Rogue is (film-Rogue, not comic-Rogue), his action is realistic and we see him in some real pain for once. To save from spoilers, I’ll say we really get to see a part of Logan we don’t see very often. Sure he’s still angry and terrified of his nightmares, but he’s thoughtful.
It isn’t packed so full with action we can’t see any part of the true character. Jackman’s chemistry with Okamoto is great, but even better with Fukushima. In moments when Logan is injured, Mariko can do very little to protect him, but Yukio can do a lot.
Ultimately the movie ends as a catharsis for Logan. He’s allowed time to heal. And honestly, for a series that is basically based on Logan, we needed this. To jump from where he was in X3 to Days of Future Past, we needed something that told us he was ok, that he could bear the load of bigger obligations without Jean clawing at his memory every two frames.
So, is it a perfect movie? No. The dialogue gets a little cliché at times and towards the end we get a very different tone that sort of turns the story around. The movie struggles from being a full blown superhero action extravaganza and being a story that makes us actually care about what happens to the characters. It could have easily sat back on its hind legs and done whatever in the name of Wolverine, knowing fans would still watch the movie, but in an attempt at something more, we got a much better experience.
But, the best part of this movie? What bumped it up from a C+ to a B-? The post credits scene. I knew they were going to do something for Days of Future Past, but I was not sure. It’s a short but perfect moment, where we see Magneto back with his powers and teaming up with his BFF/Frenemy (I feel like Frenemy is the best word to describe them, but also BFF), Professor X, back from the dead with full powers in-tow. It’s just a taste, an aperatif, for the movie coming out next year, but it has whetted my appetite for more X-Men.
In my book, definitely worth a trip to the theaters if you love X-Men. I give it a solid B-.
* I inte
rchange the use of the name Yashida and Ichirō, both are talking about the same patriarchal figurehead of the family. Any other family members bearing the same last name are mentioned by first name, i.e. Mariko or Shingen.
Also can someone tell me why when I search “The Wolvering Promotional Pictures” I get pictures of Wolvering intermixed with pictures of burgers?