Battle scars are deadlier then the battles themselves. A solder goes through heaven and hell to complete his mission, having to kill a few people along they way and even witnessing the death of their friends. Though I’m grateful for their sacrifice on their country, they also pay a price of their own humanity. No man should ever have to kill another. The blood can be scrubbed from their hands, but they can never become clean. If they are truly human, then the emotional anchor will weigh down on their hearts, giving them a new kind of guilt.
For the super hero, their emotional anchor must drag them into the deepest pits of the earth. Guys like Superman and Batman have seen innocent people killed and entire cities become part of the villains’ new world. I hope that many comic books dwell into the posttraumatic stress of the caped crusaders. Most superhero films tend to have Spider Man shake off the dust and continue fighting. You would think that battling the lizard, an eight-foot mutated creature, would create some space in his brain for some trauma. Well, it looks like someone has finally taken advantage of this story arc by looking into the X-Men hero Wolverine, and how he’s dealing with his battle scars in The Wolverine.
Taking place sometime after X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) has left the Mutant Academy and is now living in the Canadian frontier. Though he seems to be doing fine on his own, he still has nightmares of killing Jean Grey. Each dream ends with him being told that it’s too late for him with his claws sunk into his ex. After a confrontation in a bar with some drunken hunters, Wolverine comes across Yokio, a Japanese assassin who has been sent to look for him. He agrees to go with her to say goodbye to someone he saved.
It was 1945 when the atom bomb was dropped. Japanese forces captured Wolverine who remained immortal. While everyone ran for cover, this mutant used his metal prison as a shelter and ended up saving the life of Ichiro Yashida. Cut to modern times as a dying Yashida wants to help Wolverine with something. When Wolverine arrives in Tokyo, he is told from this old man that he can end Logan’s eternity by transferring his healing powers over. Despite saying no, the Wolverine discovers later that his body can no longer heal after being attacked by the Japanese mafia. They kidnap Yashida’s daughter, leading Logan to confront his past and somehow get his powers back.
Though it doesn’t sound like it, The Wolverine is actually a more personal story of the clawed hero. It’s the complete opposite of the other movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While that movie was just an hour and a half of noise, this movie does not have too many fights. A lot of it is of Logan trying to find his inner peace in Japan. From what I understand, the movie was based off a popular mini series of the X-Men comics. So how does it translate to the big screen?
Well for one, I’m actually glad they took his healing power away for most of the movie. This made Logan more vulnerable and dare I say, human. I was more intrigued to see what he was going to do when confronted with his enemies. What does disappoint me is that I would have wanted his powers stripped from him a lot longer. The third act turns into another typical superhero movie where he has to beat the obvious villain. The movie was doing pretty good with the direction they were taking with Wolverine, yet it seems they had to rush to the ending by giving everything back.
I guess I would have wanted more surprises with the story. You kind of know where things are going and I bet you already know how this is going to end. It doesn’t completely spoil everything, as the one thing I really enjoyed was the fighting scenes. By placing everything in Japan, it allowed its Samurai style to give use new action scenes not seen before in the other X-Men movies. The bullet train sequence took me by surprise and may have been one of my favorite action scenes of the summer. So in a way, The Wolverine is either going to be a fun popcorn movie or a flawed character story. I side with the former. Take your pick.
I’ll give this three and a half Wolverine claws out of five. When compared to the first movie, The Wolverine has a lot of fight. On it’s own, it’s underwhelming. But I had fun.