As we all undoubtedly know, X-Men: Apocalypse comes out on May 27th, which is less than a week away. In the time leading up to this premier, I will be re-watching and writing about each X-Men movie made so far. Today, The Wolverine.
Despite my perpetual Wolverine Fatigue, I always thought this movie was pretty solid, but a lot of folks have told me they feel otherwise. Maybe I’m just comparing it to Origins: Wolverine too much?
The Wolverine is an interpretation of the 1980’s Wolverine limited series by comics legends Chris Claremont and Frank Miller in which Logan hangs out in Japan, gets into some trouble, falls in love, etc. Some characters are shifted around in terms of their roles, but pretty much all the key players are the same. And the first of those key players we are so #blessed to meet?
Yukio. No family name given. Yukio is the love of my life. She’s a ninja, a rōnin and an all-around fun lady.
Her unshakeable sense of self and no-fucks-given attitude is so infectious that it inspires Storm to get a mohawk in the comics after they meet. Yukio and Storm love each other and will get married someday, and you cannot tell me otherwise.
The other really big character we meet in The Wolverine is Mariko Yashida, Logan’s actual true love. (Yeah! Fuck you, Jean.) Mariko’s quiet strength and incorruptible purity of character make her not the most interesting person to show up in these movies, but I still like her a lot.
The reason Logan ends up in Japan is because Mariko’s grandfather, Ichiro Yashida (who I think is an original character created for this movie), sends for him. Ostensibly this is because he is dying and wants to bid Logan a proper good-bye, as Logan once saved his life when he was a young man. However, of course, the man has shady ulterior motives that somehow involve stealing Logan’s healing powers and putting them in himself. Somehow. Science!
Ichiro’s son/Mariko’s father Shingen is even worse. Mariko stands to inherit Ichiro’s super huge and successful company when he dies, and Shingen is so pissed, he actually puts out a hit on his own daughter with the Yakuza. There are a lot of levels to the conflict in this movie.
The most unnecessary level being some weird version of Viper/Madame Hydra with absolutely bonkers powers (which include shedding her skin) showing up to cheesily deliver clunky lines of blatant exposition, and then make everything that happens way more confusing. It is never very clear what game Viper is playing at, or what she is trying to gain here. Her presence is annoying and distracting, and this movie could have been really great without her dragging it down. Although it was fun to watch Yukio hang her to death in an elevator shaft.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I want to take a minute to say that I am thoroughly and woefully ignorant of Japanese culture, and I really have no idea whether it is being portrayed accurately here. It all seems respectful to me. The culture is never used as the butt of any jokes, and Logan’s role is never to show the Japanese why the way white people do things is better. But for all I know, this screenplay could be chock-full of misinformation, so I’m not going to proclaim this to be a sensitive take on Japanese culture. I just don’t know.
That said, the mood is very different in this movie compared to Origins: Wolverine. Things are serious. Not Dark Knight-level serious, but this is not a time for joking around or running off on quirky adventures. Logan is dealing with some significant emotional trauma in the aftermath of The Last Stand (in which he killed Jean Grey, whom he “loves”), and for a significant portion of the movie, his healing factor is inhibited, rendering him just as mortal as any other human. Shit is real. Not to mention the very complicated and painful family conflict the Yashidas are facing.
The fun in this movie comes with the action. I’m not huge into movie action sequences, but this one has some I really enjoy. The bullet train fight scene is the one thing everyone remembers about The Wolverine. It is truly gripping and so unique, and it gets me riled up every time I watch it. I still remember watching it in the movie theater and experiencing levels of adrenaline I never had before.
Plus any time Yukio is in action, I’m on the sidelines cheering. She’s a master.
Let’s talk about romance. Jean’s ghost keeps showing up in Logan’s dreams begging him to join her in death and it. is. so. annoying. We can’t even escape this inane, trash non-relationship after Jean dies. Jesus fucking Christ, Logan. Need I remind you that you barely knew this woman? In X1, Logan and Jean spent a few weeks in each other’s lives at most. In X2, they are separated most of the time, and when they are together, it is always with multiple other people around, in the middle of some shit. In The Last Stand, they spend like ten minutes together that don’t involve Logan killing Jean. YOU DO NOT LOVE THIS WOMAN, LOGAN. LET HER REST IN PEACE ALREADY.
Anyway, Logan and Mariko actually do spend an extended amount of time alone together, and there’s a real chemistry there. This is a relationship that unfolds slowly and naturally and is not just one person deciding they are in love with the other after knowing them for five minutes. It’s probably not fair of Logan to be all over Mariko when he’s still clearly sooooo hung up on Jean, but hopefully this will help him move past that bullshit.
Side Note: How many fucking times do we have to watch Logan go claws-out in his sleep because of a nightmare WHILE SOMEONE ELSE IS WITH HIM before he will stop putting women in danger by sleeping next to them. Seriously. This keeps happening. What are you doing, Logan? Sleep alone for Christ’s sake!
Um so basically Logan has to go fight this rando Mariko is engaged to for political reasons to find out why there’s a hit out on Mariko. Then he has to go fight Shingen for putting a hit out on his own daughter. Then he has to go fight Harada (in the comics, he is Mariko’s brother and also the Silver Samurai, but here he is just some guy) who doesn’t realize Logan is Actually Good and is getting in his way. Then he has to go fight Viper who has Mariko captive. Oh and also she’s the one who somehow planted that mini robot thing on his heart without him knowing (???) that suppressed his healing factor, but Logan rips it out of his own chest cavity so he’s back to full strength before the Final Boss Fight.
If you think Logan is finally done fighting his way up the Bad Guy Chain after taking on Viper, haha how naive are you? No, Logan still has to fight the Silver Samurai himself. Here, that’s a giant, animatronic adamantium suit that Ichiro Yashida (oh yeah, who “died” earlier in the movie but actually turns out isn’t dead) hangs out inside. And not, you know, an actual samurai.
Yashida tries to steal Logan’s healing factor by drilling holes into his bones or something. (SCIENCE!) And it works for a while, until it doesn’t. Mariko herself kills her beloved grandfather, and all’s well that ends well. All of Mariko’s relatives are dead after being revealed as evil psychopaths, BUT she’s now the CEO of a very big company!
Logan and Yukio get in a private jet supplied Mariko because they have to go be “soldiers” but they have no idea where. Hm… This movie might be dumber than I remembered it being.
We’ve got one movie left, folks! I can’t believe the end is so close. Stay tuned for my one-sided discussion of my personal favorite, Days of Future Past, and hit me up in the meantime with all your X-related musings in the comments or on Twitter.