After X-Men Origins: Wolverine turned out to be a bit of a mess, I was equal parts skeptical and hopeful about The Wolverine. I was skeptical for obvious reasons. But I was hopeful because this seemed like a completely different movie that was actually going to tell Wolverine's story without the distractions of mutants flying everywhere and shooting lasers out of their eyes. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed.
The Wolverine is the movie I (and many fans) wanted Origins to be. It takes place some time after X-Men: The Last Stand, when Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) had to kill his love Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). Doing so made him question his whole identity, and that internal struggle is the driving force behind this film.
The movie opens with Wolverine saving a young Japanese soldier, Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), from the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki. We then flash to the present day, where a full-bearded Logan is living in a cave and is friends with a bear (sort of). After killing Jean, he is afraid of what he's capable of, and he would rather live away from people than risk hurting anyone again. It is only when Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a fiery warrior with equally fiery red hair, finds Logan and tells him that Yashida is dying and wishes to say goodbye that Logan returns to society and heads to Japan. But Yashida actually wants to offer Logan the chance to become mortal again, which only makes it harder for him to acknowledge his true nature.
Once in Japan, Yashida dies and Logan ends up protecting his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) from the Yakuza gang and from her father, Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada). There’s sword fighting, knife throwing, and some ninjas with bows and arrows. In the middle of it all, of course, the claws come out. The action is what the audience loves to see, and it doesn't let us down. And when Logan isn't sticking his claws through some bad guy, he's dreaming about Jean. There's a nice balance between the two that reminds us that, even though Logan has healing powers and an adamantium skeleton, he's also a man who has seen and done many things and is struggling with who he is and who he wants to be.
It’s been 13 years since Jackman first played Wolverine, and he knows this character inside and out. That comfort level is what makes it so easy for the audience to connect with Logan and his struggle. His brooding, scowling performance brings Wolverine down to a more human level and shows that you can still have an existential crisis even when you’ve been around for hundreds of years.
There is, however, the matter of the Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), who takes Logan's healing powers at the beginning of the film. The Wolverine is possibly the most relatable of the X-Men movies, but the Viper brings a heavily melodramatic element to the film. Her costumes are so outlandish as to be laughable, and her main motive seems to be villainy for villainy's sake. She's almost too embedded in the comic book reality for a movie that focuses less on mutants with powers and more on the internal difficulties Logan is facing.
While the first two thirds of the movie deal with human emotions and identity crises, the film does get a bit overzealous in its final act. Wolverine fights the Silver Samurai, a giant made of adamantium, while Viper continues with the melodrama. But all in all, director James Mangold managed to make an entertaining film that gives us more of an insight to Wolverine than we've ever had before. It's a standalone Wolverine film that is actually about Wolverine.
And, true to Marvel fashion, there's an excellent post-credits scene.
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After an innovative, six-second tease that sent rabid comic book junkies into a frenzy earlier this week, the official trailer for The Wolverine has arrived online. Unlike the frantic editing of the Vine teaser debut, the new spot for the comic book blockbuster is cool and composed. Helmer James Mangold gracefully finds a new direction in which to take Hugh Jackman's iconic cinematic superhero.
Gracefully in terms of storytelling, that is. Don't worry: the movie delivers on the promise of "Wolverine fights ninjas," with the added bonus of Mangold finding a way to nuke his main character.
Check out the trailer, then jump into our full breakdown below, digging a bit deeper into some of the video's wilder moments.
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We pick up with Wolverine, a.k.a. Logan (Jackman) outside of a bar, looking wet, forlorn, and ready to belt a Jean Valjean number from Les Miserables. Clearly, life post-X-Men: The Last Stand has been rough on the gruff hero, as it has been for anyone who saw the trilogy capper back in 2006. But if he could bounce back to life after the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he can bounce back from the death of Jean Grey. And he will. As we learn in the trailer.
Meet Yukio (Rila Fukushima). In the arc from which The Wolverine takes its cues, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by the legendary Frank Miller, the mysterious woman comes to Wolverine's aid in the heat of battle. Here, she appears to recruit him for a mission, which, if it stays true to the source material, should involve some nasty Japanese gangsters and the protection of a new love interest for Logan, Mariko Yashida. Yukio may also have some secrets of her own. No spoilers!
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This is an image of Wolverine suffering from the blast of a nuke. A NUKE. Here, he's saving a younger version of Mariko's father Shingen from the explosion. Judging from the military base scene a few seconds earlier, this could be a sequence pulled straight from the history books. It appears to be a recreation of August 6, 1945, when the U.S. Air Force dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. As we know from X-Men Origins, Wolverine has been around since the Revolutionary War and fought in WWII. He could have been around to protect young Shingen.
Evidently, Shingen is pretty darn appreciative of Wolverine's actions on that fateful day. Sitting in a Pin Point Impression Needle Art Frame™ chair (did he get that at his local mall's science store?), Shingen gives Logan the opportunity of a lifetime: undo his mutation and allow him to be a mortal human being. Note: actor Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays Shingen in the film, is 53 years old. That's some amazing old age makeup!
Assisting in Shingen's continued medical care (and possibly Wolverine's reverse transformation into a regular joe) is Viper, played by Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy actress Svetlana Khodchenkova. Viper is an assassin who originated from the Captain America comics and wasn't part of the original Claremont/Miller storyline. But it never hurts to have an additional assassin in the cast.
Next: Hidden Cameos, Fight Scenes, and a Crazy Final Moment
We speculated when the six-second teaser arrived online whether Famke Janssen's appearance in The Wolverinewould be a flashback or newly shot material. It seems clear that it's the former, a memory that backs up Shingen's voiceover line "you have struggled long enough."
Sometimes, you have to take a moment and basque in the still-frames of badassness. With all the pitfalls of modern action filmmaking and the cluttered mess of a movie that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Jackman has still got it. He's ripped, he kicks ass, and he can convincingly spar with fake claws glued to his hands.
Will Yun Lee is listed as Kenuichio Harada in the credits of The Wolverine, but savvy comic book fans know him better as The Silver Samurai, one of Wolverine's deadliest foes. Silver Samurai enters into Wolverine's Japanese exploits after he's finished with his entanglement with the Japanese underworld, but it makes sense that the movie would bump up his influence on the storyline and make him a main adversary. In the comics, Silver Samurai has also acted as a bodyguard for Viper, making his appearance even more necessary and rooted in the source material. The only thing this trailer doesn't serve up is a money shot of Yun Lee in the Silver Samurai costume — a traditional set of armor glistening and enhanced by sharp metal.
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"I've stopped healing." It's a line that flies by, but here, Wolverine comes to the realization that his usual scratch-be-gone genetics aren't working. Now he's just like us!
No, Wolverine isn't Superman now. He's been reduced to Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible and zipping across the roof of a speeding train. With his angry face on.
One of the more intense sequences from Claremont and Miller's comic is Wolverine's first run in with ninjas. It doesn't go well. He might be tough, capable of slicing baddies in half with lightning speed, but these are ninjas who won't be close enough to our hero for more than a millisecond at a time. While we're looking forward to seeing Jackman kick some butt, we're also looking forward to seeing him get in over his head.
So, Viper may be an actual snakeperson. Sure, why not? This is X-Men! Viper wasn't actually a mutant in the comic books, but since she's running a genetics program for Shingen that's capable of undoing Logan's healing powers, it's no surprise she's used the same technology to beef herself up. Molting never looked so sexy.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox (12)]
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The next installment of the Wolverine film franchise has a title and it's short, sweet, and to the point. It's called, simply, The Wolverine.
In an interview with HitFix, director Darren Aronofsky not only announced the title, but said that it would be a "one-off" film. In other words, the movie will stand alone, without a number, not connected to the other movie(s) in any way. Basically, Aronofsky is giving a big ol' "screw you guys!" to anyone who's ever made an X-Men movie.
Beyond the title news, some story details have also emerged. According to ComingSoon, the script, written by Christopher McQuarrie, takes place in Japan. Logan (the real name for our adamantium-boned hero) begins a relationship with a Japanese woman who is, unfortunately, engaged. Being the unreasonable son-of-a-gun that Wolverine is, he won't take "no" for an answer, resulting in a battle with her father and samurai-sword-wielding brothers. McQuarrie based the script on the 1982 four-issue mini-series, written by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller.
These are all exciting details. We already know that Hugh Jackman is pumped about the film (he's already beefing up for the role by eating piles of chicken breasts and broccoli), but it's really good to hear some actual talk from Aronofsky, not just rumors. With his latest film, Black Swan, already being touted as one of the year's best, I have confidence that the Brooklyn born auteur will give us the Wolverine that we've always wanted: dark, layered, and tormented. Giddy-up.
Source: HitFix, ComingSoon
Marvel Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan are bringing 4 new anime-style cartoons to television in 2011. Entertainment-themed network G4 will air all four of Marvel’s upcoming series, which center on franchise superheroes Iron Man, Wolverine, Blade, and the X-Men. Warren Ellis, comics extraordinaire behind Transmetropolitan, has been hired to “guide” each of the 12 episode series. The point of the series, other than the fun of giving everyone excuses to fight ninja and samurai, is to bring the heroes to Asian markets. And for some franchises, the move is easy; for instance, the series plans to adapt the famous Frank Miller/Chris Claremont run on Wolverine that brought the mutant to Japan.
The trailer for the Wolverine series has been around for a while, but as far as I know, the Iron Man trailer is brand new. The Wolverine one strikes me as a bit generic, (is there some sort of law that all anime must include cherry blossoms?) but the Iron Man trailer has robot pirates, so it’s not a wash yet.
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Here are Marvel’s official summaries for the four projects:
"Iron Man" In an effort to make amends for his weapons manufacturing past, Tony Stark has dedicated himself to building the world up rather than tearing it down. Traveling to Japan to build a new arc reactor that will deliver unlimited free energy to the Japanese people, Stark is challenged by the Japanese government and the media when he attempts to import the necessary nuclear priming device. And when the reactor-in-construction is repeatedly attacked by the mysterious Zodiac consortium, Stark must gather his allies to take on Zodiac and its mastermind.
"X-MEN" The X-MEN are reunited following the death of a teammate, and are summoned by Charles Xavier to Japan following the abduction of Hisako Ichiki (Armor). There, they confront the U-MEN, a lunatic cult that steals and transplants mutant organs to further strengthen their own army, and the battle for justice is on.
"Wolverine" Based on the popular graphic novel by Frank Miller, the series begins in Japan, where Logan is challenged by Shingen Yashida, the notorious leader of a powerful mafia clan. When Shingen's employee Yukio, a female assassin, falls out of Shingen's favor, she must kill him or be killed. Teaming up with Logan, the pair seek out the villain to exact their revenge.
"Blade" Eric Brooks -- known as Blade -- seeks revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire lord who killed his mother while she was still pregnant with Eric. With all the powers of a vampire and none of their weaknesses, Blade's quest leads him throughout Southeast Asia in search of Frost, and, in Viet Nam, he discovers a vampire plot that threatens to take down the whole world.
Everything appears to be status quo between humans and mutants. There’s a president who is sympathetic towards mutants Prof. Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) school is thriving and Magneto (Ian McKellen) is quiet--for the moment. But when a “cure” for mutancy is discovered which would give those with the mutant gene the choice to give up their powers and become human Magneto sees red. Cure mutants? Dem’s fightin’ words. With a few more allies on his side--including the resurrected Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) who now calls herself the Phoenix and has unlimited powers--Magneto prepares to trigger the war to end all wars while the X-Men--lead by the stalwart Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and milquetoasty Storm (Halle Berry)--try to stop him. I seriously doubt this is really their Last Stand. All the usual suspects are back. Stewart is once again sufficiently wise as Xavier while McKellen’s Magneto continues to be one of the cooler comic-book villains. It’s amusing to watch him calmly mangle cars or dislodge the Golden Gate bridge with a gleam in his eye. Janssen also seems to relish playing dual roles--the tormented Grey and her evil alter ego Phoenix who is one scary broad. Unfortunately Jackman doesn’t have as much to chew on in Last Stand as he did in X2 and Berry is once again only good for drumming up fog. But the new mutants are kind of fun: Ellen Page (so deadly in Hard Candy) plays sweet this time as Kitty Pryde who can “phase” through solid material; Vinnie Jones (Snatch) is boisterous as the aptly named Juggernaut; Kelsey Grammer is diplomatic as the highly intelligent--and very blue--Dr. Hank McCoy aka Beast; and Dania Ramirez (Fat Albert) as the blink-of-an-eye quick Callisto gets to kick Storm’s ass. Cool cat fight. How dare director Bryan Singer leave his X-Men to go direct another superhero movie even if it is Superman Returns. If Wolverine had anything to say about he might have ripped Singer a new one. You really do feel Singer’s absence in The Last Stand. All of the director’s tormented pathos towards his mutant comrades and their struggles to live in the human world are not as prevalent in this third installment. Instead we’ve got happy-go-lucky director Brett Ratner of Rush Hour fame who turns The Last Stand into one giant id--big explosive and campy. Of course to his credit Ratner is pretty good at delivering a rousing albeit superficial action movie. It’s just not as gripping as X2. But listen the spirit of the comic is already built in from the previous installments so in essence we already know these characters pretty well. Do we really need more angst?