Well, summer is almost over and Hollywood finally throws us a bone.
The Wolverine is, in my book, this summer’s only Big Blockbuster Hollywood Tentpole Franchise Movie™ that actually works.
I didn’t go in with a good feeling. X-Men Origins: Wolverine threw too much at the screen, hoping something would stick. Some did. Unfortunately, it was shit. This chapter in the Wolverine franchise comes sort of from the classic limited Wolverine comic series done by Miller and Claremont. Set in Japan, it really helped to deepen the character of Wolverine, as not just as a berserker killing machine, but as an honorable man.
The movie manages to lift some of this story line well; other parts of it, the movie eschews for some reason. Other parts are built upon to cover the holes left. Some work, some doesn’t. But the thing about this movie is…I didn’t care. The movie set up its own world, it’s own storyline and ran with it, and it pretty much worked. The action was actiony, there was lots of character development, a few good villians, and the exotic location of Japan as a backdrop.
All in all, The Wolverine works like a summer blockbuster should…and for some inexplicable reason most of the others–Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim and Man of Steel–didn’t. Aside from the direction, which was pretty good, the story, which was also pretty good, the reason for this is the almost perfect, lightning bolt casting of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
If you’d have asked me about casting this actor prior to having seen him in the roll, I would have rolled my eyes. Too tall, too tame, too Broadway musically. But, shit, if he hasn’t defined this character, at least for the movies, in much the same way Robert Downey Jr. has Tony Stark/Iron Man. Marvel has been blessed with this type of casting, from Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto, all the way to Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans as Thor and Capt. America. But Jackman is in that rarified air shared pretty much only with RDJ. What will Marvel do when, as is fast approaching, these guys become too old to play the roles? I’d hate to be the actor, in some distant future, that has to fill either of these shoes.
No spoilers, but the movie, of course, leaves Wolverine in unusual circumstances that will, based on the inevitable teaser scene, be played out in the forthcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. I can’t wait.