Hugh Jackman’s most underrated Marvel movie dominates streaming
By Michileen Martin | Published
The solo Wolverine movies that Hugh Jackman made before Marvel and Fox were both under the same corporate umbrella have an interesting place when it comes to critical and fan reactions. At one end of the spectrum is the 2009s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which often finds a home on a list of the worst superhero movies ever. On the other end, it’s 2017 Loganwhich will usually be mentioned alongside The Dark Knight and Iron man as potentially the absolute best superhero movie ever. Often forgotten in the middle is the 2013s The Wolverine, although some HBO subscribers seem to be discovering it. The film just entered HBO’s top 10 list of films streamed this week.
In the wake of the events of 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand – which ends with Hugh Jackman’s Marvel hero being forced to kill Jean Gray – Logan lives as a hermit in the Yukon. He emerges from the isolation of the wilderness only to punish some hunters after their poison forces a bear to go astray, and soon finds himself on the other side of the world. The mutant Yukio finds Logan and brings him to Japan on the orders of the powerful tech boss Ichirō Yashida, whose life Logan saved during World War II. Ichirō is dying of cancer, and he has an interesting gift both to ask Logan about and to offer him. He wants to use a process to take Logan’s healing power to save himself from cancer, and to save Logan from the immortality he doesn’t want. Wolverine refuses, and soon after Ichirō dies.
Ichirō’s death is not the end of the drama. Logan is forced to dig in at Ichirō’s funeral when yakuza show up to kidnap the late CEO’s granddaughter Mariko. Together, Logan, Yukio, Marika are forced to go on the run; and to make a bad situation worse, Wolverine’s healing abilities stop working as they should. For the first time since Jean Grey’s death, Logan allows himself to fall in love while battling ninjas, the mutant villain Viper, and the mighty Silver Samurai.
Hugh Jackman’s fifth Marvel film was directed by James Mangold; the same director who would later direct the gameplay Logan. It was written by Scott Frank – who would go on to co-write Logan with Mangold and Michael Green – and Scott Frank (War of the Planet of the Apes). Ken Yamamura played the young Ichirō Yashida (Godzilla) while his older counterpart was played by Hal Yamanouchi (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). Rila Fukushima played the future to see the mutant Yukio (Arrow) and Logan’s love interest Mariko was played by Tao Okamoto (Westworld). Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat) has the role of Mariko’s villainous father Shingen, Svetlana Khodchenkova (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is the mutant Viper, and Brian Tee (Jurassic World) plays Mariko’s fiance Noburo. Famke Janssen reprized the role of Jean Gray for hallucination scenes. To set up next year’s X-Men: Days of Future PastPatrick Stewart and Ian McKellen appear in a post-credits scene.
The Wolverine is by no means Hugh Jackman’s best Marvel film — Logan rightly has that title – but it also doesn’t deserve to be as thoroughly forgotten as it has been over the past decade. While it doesn’t have the benefit of the rest of the X-Men backing Logan up, it’s a solid and fun superhero adventure film. Plus, when you think about it, most of Singer’s pre-Armageddon movies were just Wolverine and His Amazing Friends, so the fact that most of the other X-Men don’t show up isn’t that big of a deal.
Most likely the main reason The Wolverine remains an underrated chapter of the X-Men series is due in no small part Days of Future Past. And no, we don’t mean because Days of Future Past was just so good that it made everyone forget the previous movie. Days of Future Past seemed to be working very hard to ignore the events The Wolverine. Although in the earlier film Logan loses the metal claws of the Silver Samurai, i Days of Future Past they are back without explanation. Not to mention that the later film is set in the future with Professor X and Magneto taking on Logan in the present day. The deviations set The Wolverine in a dead zone where nothing in the film apparently stuck.
If you haven’t seen yet The Wolverine, your chance is here. It is streaming on HBO’s various services right now.