Inspired by the giant success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Twentieth Century Fox has decided to use their X-Men rights to create a cinematic universe of their own. Complete with post-credit bonus scenes for upcoming films, the X-Men universe is set to begin with James Mangold’s The Wolverine, which came out in theaters on July 26.
Set up as a sequel to 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine sees Hugh Jackman reprise his role as Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine. Logan is on the run from his past—particularly the events in The Last Stand—when he is approached by a Japanese girl. A man he saved from the nuclear attack on Nagasaki near the end of World War II has one dying wish: to say goodbye to Logan and bestow on him a final gift. When Logan refuses the gift, however, things go south and the Wolverine soon learns how it feels to be mortal.
As we’ve come to expect after X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this film again contains a plethora of small inconsistencies to bug the fans. However, the pure and awesome spectacle of The Wolverine goes a long way to redeeming those minor faults. From a high-speed fight on top of a Japanese bullet train, to Wolverine taking on dozens of ninjas, to battling a huge adamantine robot, The Wolverine is an edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride.
The true strength of this newest X-Men flick lies not in its spectacle, however, but in the exploration of Logan’s character. As you may remember, Last Stand left him pretty banged up emotionally, and he’s in a very dark place in The Wolverine. Because of that, we get to see a side of him we haven’t seen before, and due to the faultless acting of Hugh Jackman, it’s a side that is very intriguing, indeed. One thing is certain: at the end of this film, Wolverine won’t be who he was in the X-Men trilogy.
As X-Men movies go, The Wolverine is definitely one of the better films, and it goes a long way to redeeming the disappointment that was Last Stand and the extreme inconsistencies of First Class. Fans may still be a little bugged by certain elements, such as Wolverine using his claws free of pain while he’s lost his healing powers, but overall, this is a promising start to a new phase in the film franchise, and it gives me high hopes for X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is planned for next summer.
Oh, and if you’re seeing The Wolverine in theaters, don’t forget to sit out the credits for a bonus scene that leads into that film.