Speaking honestly, I’m not a Wolverine fan. The character has his moments, sure, but he’s never really resonated with me. I like Cyclops, a loyal leader until the world beats him down enough that he’s forced to make tough choices. Wolverine makes nothing but tough choices, and the decision to put himself in charge of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning in the comics was so laughably bad that I’m surprised Storm and Kate Pryde took as long as they did to take control of it away from him. What I’m saying is it takes a really damn good story for me to care about Wolverine, and this movie was pretty close to that.
The story in The Wolverine revolves around three important women from Logan’s life: the ghost/memory of Jean Grey, haunting him since he killed her in X-Men: The Last Stand; Mariko Yashida (Ms. Tao Okamoto), who Logan almost married in Uncanny X-Men #173 (last mentioned in the X-Men post); and a loose adaptation of Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), who Logan married under dubious conditions in Wolverine #126, because comic books are dumb and Chris Claremont’s work during and after the 90’s has been… iffy. Anyway, Logan is a loner longing for death after the events of the X-Men trilogy when he runs into Yukio (Rila Fukushima). She works for Master Yashida, a man who Logan saved when the US nuked Hiroshima. Now an dying old man, Yashida wants to take Logan’s healing factor, letting him live and letting Logan finally die. Logan doesn’t take the deal, but soon finds his healing factor no longer working (just ignore that his knuckles aren’t bleeding every time he retracts his claws). He rescues Mariko, Yashida’s granddaughter and heir to his fortune, from assassins, but after the two grow close she still gets taken. Turns out her father, Shingen, is behind the abduction because he wants his father’s company. You’d think Wolverine–now back to normal after removing a sentinel from The Matrix from around his heart–killing him would end things, but no! Turns out Viper is working with a mysterious Silver Samurai, and together they manage to cut off Wolverine’s adamantium claws. Turns out reports of Master Yashida’s death was premature and he’s in the Silver Samurai armor, which starts sucking out Wolverine’s healing factor. Markio stabs him, Wolverine kills him, and in the background Yukio kills Viper. With a new outlook on life, Wolverine leaves Japan and years of hiding behind him. In a mid-credit scene he’s reunited with Professor X and Magneto, teasing the then-upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Full disclosure, I’m having a hard time writing about this movie in part because it’s a perfectly fine piece of cinema. There’s not really much to nitpick, although, again, his knuckles should be a bloody mess if his healing factor isn’t closing up his claw holes. There’s even some nice callbacks like the poisoned arrows: in the beginning of the film, Logan punishes a hunter who used one and caused a bear to rampage and kill someone, while at the end even a back-to-full-strength Wolverine blacks out from ninjas using them. It was also real nice that Mariko and Yukio were actually useful in the final fight, while Sabretooth and Gambit weren’t needed in the final fight of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Director James Mangold did a good job on this. We should give him another Logan movie! Call it James Howlett or something! I’m open to suggestions on the title.
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