“The Wolverine” is the forgotten “X-Men” movie. And I don’t mean that in the sense of its underappreciated or not included in enough top ten Marvel movies lists. People literally forgot this movie had ever been made.
“You’re talking about ‘Logan,’ right?”
“No, not ‘Logan,’ but the one before that.
“Oh the origins one with the early Deadpool and Liev Schrieber that got leaked on the internet.”
“Nope, the one right after with Wolverine in Japan.”
“Yes, Japan. And the bad guy is a elderly man in a giant robot samurai suit and his sidekick is a girl that spits venom, like the lovechild of Poison Ivy and Reptile from ‘Mortal Kombat.'”
To be fair, any “X-Men” or comic book movie sounds ridiculous when you boil it down like that. The thing that makes their reality so appealing is that you can do things there that you can’t in our own. But this film feels like it was colored outside the lines a bit too freely. Logan travels to Japan to pay respects to a man whose life he saved back during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. But Logan finds himself protecting a princess while scraping up thugs on the bustling streets and speeding trains of Tokyo.
It’s a fun romp for those that 1. Enjoy Wolverine and 2. Enjoy Japan. The movie’s a unique geographic spin when far too many superhero fables situate themselves in New York. And “The Wolv iserine” also revealing for painting Logan not only as a soldier, but as a warrior, showing how even though he drowns his remaining memories in booze, he still had a code to live by.
The plot is difficult to follow though, as the movie masks itself as a noir/samurai film more than a comic book, placing more emphasis on dialogue and interpersonal relationships. There’s double crosses, side changes and a really dumb reveal in the film’s climax. A lot of the action scenes seem needlessly convoluted too, like when Logan is being fired on with a barrage of arrows, or ninjas straining their legs with excessive rooftop running when street will do just fine. And the constant dream appearances of Jean Grey, Logan’s now dead love interest, dampen any emotional effect she would have. One or two would have been fine, but four or five feels excessive and lazy.
But this is an “X-Men” movie with little connection to the overall universe, save a loose post credits tie-in for “Days of Future Past.” “The Wolverine” is more entertaining than not, and had it not been successful, we might have never gotten more individual “X-Men” stories like “Logan,” let alone “Deadpool.” But “The Wolverine” succeeds and suffers for trying to mix two strong fantasy and international genres together. A sushi hamburger still tastes good even if it’s not that fulfilling.