What did we learn from The Wolverine trailer?

Feature James Hunt 28 Mar 2013 - 07:18

Ninjas, Hugh Jackman, 3D, Japan and muscles: we take a closer look at the first trailer for The Wolverine...

It's strangely appropriate for a Wolverine trailer to arrive in three cuts, but after a six-second teaser two days ago and a 20-second version yesterday, Fox has finally released the full, 135-second version of the on-again, off-again, on-again Wolverine movie titled simply: The Wolverine. You can see it here.

A standalone solo movie set in the X-Men movie continuity, The Wolverine is also set chronologically after X-Men: The Last Stand. That's right! It's not a prequel! Fire the confetti cannons and break out the champagne, because after the disappointment that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this one is already looking a lot more positive.

Now, details about The Wolverine have been fairly slim up until this point. We knew it was going to involve a trip to Japan and be based, loosely, on the original 'Wolverine' mini-series by comicbook legends, Chris Claremont and Frank Miller - but this trailer gives us the first indication of what that actually means. So what can we learn from it?

Cold As Ice

One of the big problems with the last Wolverine movie was that the story didn't seem to know what it was doing. It loosely adapted the character's transformation into Weapon X but never quite found the tragic core of that story. Here, the trailer is at great pains to make us aware that this is very much a character piece, asking the question: what does it do to someone when they can't help but outlive everyone and everything they've ever cared about?

At the start of the trailer, Wolverine is wrestling with the consequences of just that situation. The woman he loved is dead. Without Xavier and his cause, he's got no place with the X-Men. And he's returned to Canada, hoping to find peace, and finding only conflict. You might be rolling your eyes at the prospect of yet another 'dark' superhero movie – but for a change, this one actually seems to have something to say about the darkness. And, more importantly, escaping it. Are we giving it too much credit? Let's hope not.

Turning Japanese

Wolverine might come from Canada, but Claremont and Miller gave him a second home in Japan, as he learnt to temper his berserker fury with a warrior's sense of honour. Rather than cramming itself full of mutants cameos for no good reason (sorry, Gambit) The Wolverine is bringing in multiple members of the character's supporting cast. The trailer includes versions of Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a devil-may-care martial artist who becomes Wolverine's ally, Shingen Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada), a wealthy Japanese crime boss, Mariko Yashida (Tao Okamoto), Shingen's daughter, and Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee), aka the Silver Samurai.

The question, of course, is how they're going to be used. Unlike the cameos in the previous film, these characters aren't exactly bankable names where the general public is concerned, so it's a safe bet they've been chosen for a good reason. Right now, we can only wonder why it is that Shingen seems so eager to 'help' Wolverine. Is it really just because he's repaying his debt, or does he want Logan to be off the board for some more criminal purpose?

And as anyone comics reader knows, wherever Wolverine goes, ninjas aren't far behind. Chances are they'll be as completely ineffectual in the movies as they are in the comics, but if you don't like the idea of Wolverine fighting ninjas, this probably isn't the movie for you…

Power Cuts

The trailer leaves us in no doubt that a major component of this film is going to be Wolverine losing his healing powers – and perhaps not as voluntarily as Shingen's initial narration suggests. At one point, he's strapped into some contraption while Viper looks on, not entirely benevolently.

At first glance, this seems like forced jeopardy. A result of that old chestnut levelled against the most popular superheroes: Wolverine is too powerful, so weakening him introduces an element of uncertainty into the story.

But obviously, Wolverine isn't going to die in this film. So what's the point of this power-loss plot?

Well, there's a certain amount of character logic to making him vulnerable: it stops him from taking his continued existence for granted. But further than that, the intro makes it clear that Wolverine doesn't have a problem with his own survival: it's the loss of others that eats at him. Weaker, less powerful, more vulnerable to injury, keeping those he loves alive will be harder than ever.

So, after all that, we're cautiously optimistic that this will actually be a movie worthy of the character's name. Admittedly, it's an unusually pensive trailer for what's supposed to be an action blockbuster, but maybe that's a good thing. This time, it's focusing on the character and his world, not trying to expand the X-Men universe. In fact, if this film's half as good as the trailer suggests, we can't think of any reason people wouldn't enjoy it.

And Then There's...

Oh, right. Well, you can always keep one eye shut, I suppose…

The Wolverine is released internationally on July 24th 2013, and July 26th in the United States.

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