Austin Connection Movie Review : The Wolverine


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While Wolverine is the most complex and interesting character in all the comic book universes, any and all film versions of him fail terribly at capturing him properly. The latest movie, The Wolverine, is a long-winded and overly sensitive depiction of the baddest of the bad in Marvel Comics. It’s amazing to know a character depicted in thousands of comics for 40 years is now so misunderstood in film.
The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold, is the latest offering by Twentieth Century Fox to put Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan on the big screen.

The Wolverine

First, one must understand what Wolverine is before making a film about him. Wolverine, aka Logan, was introduced as a Canadian berserker with claws, a short and very tough character with animal senses, and a man with a long history he has no memory of at all. His rough nature is due to the fact he is straddling the line between humanity and animal instincts, and his short temper would at times take him into incredible blind rages.

Logan joined the X-Men in a giant international draft when the original team was captured. His nature has always been in opposition to the steadfast Cyclops, who’s the team leader and boyfriend to Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), whom Logan fancied. His main motivation isn’t to the team, Wolverine is primarily there to work with the team telepaths, to try and unlock the mental blocks to his past and unravel the mysteries beyond his very limited memory.

The film The Wolverine is loosely based on a mini-series by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont published in 1982, in which Logan returns to Japan to help a friend and ends up battling a crime lord. The main theme to the movie is echoed in the comic series, about Wolverine being a great soldier but having no master, just like a rogue samurai. The print series also showed that Wolverine knows of Japanese customs and speaks fluent Japanese, unlike the character on the film who seems completely out of his element.

Logan was Jason Bourne before most of the world knew who Jason Bourne was. It was exciting to hear tales of his exploits by others in the comics. Flashbacks there showed us Logan paired up with many heroes battling all kinds of baddies. He could blend in, speak the language, and ended up with a lady at his side. This is consistent with many modern, quality adventure and action films.

The Wolverine

The Wolverine is long and dull. It starts off slow, gets slower, and almost puts you to sleep halfway in. Somehow, the director wants this film to be a sequel to the X-Men series, which makes no sense. This original story in comics was to be an insight to Logan and his sense of honor and him coming to grips with his humanity. Instead we have a whiny Wolverine who fusses over flying in planes, pouting over Jean Grey, and getting his butt whipped again and again. They advertise that the moviegoing public will finally get to see the Wolverine from the comics, but this guy is simply laughable.

Hugh Jackman does a good job with the role, but is limited to certain repeated emotions. First, there’s the confused Wolverine look, then the angry face with claws out, and then this pensive face. I don’t know why Mangold wants such stilted performances of the main character. I would personally love to see the hunter hunt his prey, moving like an animal in the woods, tracking down through foliage. I can’t tell they are in Japan, there’s no feeling of the culture or style. One would expect coming from the Pacific NorthWest into electric and busy Japan there would be clashes.

Being a fanboy of Wolverine in Marvel Comics gives me a very sensitive point of view towards any depictions of a cherished character I feel are inferior to his quality. I have read hundreds of comics through a few decades about Wolverine and it makes me feel I know him well. This is what being a fanboy in comics is, finding someone you connect with on a certain level, then buying just about every comic this person has been in. And their posters. And their T-shirts. And their action figures. And being their champion. There may be a movie that comes out, you grit your teeth and hope they get the essence of this character in your mind and then you get furious when a director glams up the gritty comic book character you love. Either I have to be accepting someone is trying to bring something I love to the masses or be the curmudgeon it’s not to my liking. And this film doesn’t make the fanboy in me excited.

I give this film 1 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

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I grew up on Kung Fu theater movie weekends, a lot of Top Ramen Noodles, G.I. Joe's, Evil Knivels Stunt Cycle and Stretch Armstrong. My Movie reviews and Artist Interviews have been a regular around Follow me on Twitter @arainbolt. or email me