What We Want: The Wolverine
In July, we’ll be treated to the next installment of the X-Men series with another Wolverine standalone movie called (cleverly) The Wolverine.
Let’s start with what we know:
This movie is not a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but rather takes place following X:Men: The Last Stand (source here). In the synopsis released by FOX, it outlines that he travels to Japan and faces his deadliest nemesis. In the canon of Wolverine, his days in Japan take place in his younger days (and is also alluded to in a secret after-credits scene in Origins).
The above clip takes place somewhere soon after Origins so we can hope that in The Wolverine, we’ll see both a current storyline and then allusions or flashbacks to what has happened there before.
The basic storyline of the comics is this: A confused Wolverine finds himself in Japan and falls in love with a girl named Mariko. He is an outsider and her family doesn’t want her to marry him, so they seek to embarrass him by drugging him and then having him duel Mariko’s half-brother, Kenuichio, who is also a mutant known as the Silver Samurai. Wolverine eventually learns about Mariko’s father’s plans and duels him instead, killing him. Mariko is relieved, they plan to get married, however Mariko is poisoned by a rival clan before they could be married. To spare her a painful death, Wolverine kills her and vows to get revenge.
The Silver Samurai, likely one of the film’s main villains, has the power to create forcefields around objects in his possession, such as his armor or sword. This forcefield is able to pierce anything, save for adamantium (that’s convenient).
Now, before we can discuss The Wolverine, let’s talk about Origins.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is widely considered the worst of the X-Men films. So what went wrong?
In terms of story arc, the movie was in the right arena. A young mutant soldier fighting throughout the years eventually finds his home among a band of mercenaries. He then finds a moral compass, just as his equal (and half-brother) Sabretooth loses all sense of his. The climax of the film is Wolverine losing his memory and stumbling into the wilderness, feral and alone. If I were to come up with a perfect storyline for Wolverine’s origin, this would be pretty close.
Now, the problem came with story specifics. There was a choice to add a huge cast, which excited fans but ultimately failed to portray any of these characters with any sort of satisfaction. One of the biggest downfalls was the massacre of the character Deadpool (played by Ryan Reynolds). At the start of the film, he was witty and deadly, but the writers decided to sew his mouth shut and make him a hybrid, giving him the ability to teleport, shoot optic beams from his eyes, and have swords sprouting from his hands. Reynolds is currently tied to another spin-off focusing on Deadpool which might fix the mistakes that Origins caused.
In addition to Deadpool, the story featured Gambit, The Blob, Silverfox, and three other mutants created for the film. I had this same problem with X3. There is a whole world of mutants out there, why create new ones? And some of these characters had zero to do with the story and zero history. Cut the fat and let’s give these characters some screen-time.
And then we’ve got a major problem with visuals. Though this is one of the newer X-Men films to come out, the effects are horrible. There are some groan-worthy fight scenes with horrible wire-work, where characters just spin through the air without reason. And Wolverine’s CG claws are completely unrealistic and detract from the momentum of the story.
So… What do we want from The Wolverine?
In terms of story, there is a lot already written and hopefully the authors don’t take too many creative licenses. We’ve got basically two stories they could do (or both). We’ve got a confused Wolverine who could find and then lose love. And then we’ve got a current-day Wolverine who returns to face the wrath of his beloved’s half-brother, the Samurai. These two stories could bounce back and forth, revealing all the torture he’s gone through. To add to that, imagine that the events of X3 just happened. Wolverine managed to find love again and was forced to kill Jean Grey, much as he killed his former love Mariko. OH MY GOD, that would amazing and would give Jackman some real room to flex. The anger, the hurt, and a big nemesis to direct all that rage at.
At the core, The Wolverine shouldn’t be an explosion-driven summer blockbuster. Let’s see a darker and more emotional Wolverine story. One of the highlights of the franchise so far for me was a scene in X2, when the soldiers were storming the school. Wolverine loses it and starts hacking and slashing without remorse. In that moment, we’re reminded that Wolverine is an animal. Let’s see that again. Let’s see him lose control.
In terms of characters, I want to see a slimmer cast. The only other villain rumored so far is a woman named Viper, who (in the comics) hires the Silver Samurai for a stint as a mercenary. She’s also known to assassinate targets using venom, so maybe she’ll be the cause of Mariko’s death?
Less explosions, more character. Let’s see a darker side to Wolverine and watch him go feral.
The Wolverine, hitting theaters 7-26-13.
Edit: Below is the first full trailer for The Wolverine.