THE WOLVERINE: One Of The Best Of All Time?

Here, the edgyoutsider of comicbookmovie.com will explain whether The Wolverine is and deserves to be mentioned among the best the genre has to offer.

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By Nick Salinski - 5/6/2014
Keep in mind before I continue that every movie has its flaws and, The Wolverine is no different due to the weak last fifteen to twenty minutes of the film. That being said, I've always liked the X-Men films and I've liked the comics. Never been a huge fan of them but they're amongst the most interesting both in film and in the comics within the genre of superheroes. I'm by no means saying I like, X3: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins because, I don't. I find some things redeemable in those films as with Spider-Man 3 but just not enough. Last year, five comic book films came out: Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Kick Ass 2 and Thor: The Dark World.  I'm not looking at, The Wolverine as just a superhero flick though. I will be looking at it as a film in general, the theme of loss, the vulnerability of a god and why it overall deserves to be talked about among the best that the genre has to offer not  just in potential but to be shown as more than just style over substance ala Man of Steel (not flame intended).

The Wolverine is by far one of the most interesting superhero films because it's not just the summer popcorn flick that people were going to see. It's a character study of someone who is essentially a god that has had to suffer through years, centuries of loss. Regarded as one of the most over powered superheroes, particularly in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine is at his most vulnerable and interesting in the film because he's faced with mortality of his own for the first time in his life.  The loss of Jean in X3 really put him in a bad place but also a morale place where he doesn't want to kill anyone anymore. Hugh Jackman takes this character to dark, emotional places we've never seen before. When we think of Wolverine, we think of a badass that we want to see tear shit up. Which we do in the train sequence of  the film, which is a highlight. The aspect of it being a character study is a handed strength to the film that is based off of the Japanese saga. It's obviously not a direct adpatation but it provides enough of an interesting story.  Especially when you tie it in with X3 and make it to where he is vulnerable. How do you make the character more interesting, the stakes higher and the overall story and situations that much more personal. This is a man who is haunted by the losses and events he's been through. Honestly, you'd be pretty [frick]ed in the head and emotionally if you went through so many losses, wars and Nagasaki. Wolverine has a soul and James Mangold spends the film examining the soul, emotional and psychological aspects of this god.

Obviously we all knew Wolverine wasn't going to die because that's just not something the studios would do. Not to mention it was inevitable that he was going to be in the upcoming, X-Men Days of Future Past, which looks absolutely phenomenal and epic. So, what makes this one of the best superhero films of all time? Well, it shares similar strengths that films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier have. It puts our hero in a difficult place as all movies should do but does it in such a personal and intimate way. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it was about morales and the fact there is no lear line anymore of what's right and wrong. The difference of freedom and fear. The overall story with the titular villain along with fantastic performances in the film make it among the best as well as furthering the cinematic universe. The Wolverine gives us an interesting story which is a god who is faced with mortality and possible death, getting over the loss of a loved one and ultimately something that's worth living for. I personnally didn't care for the actress who played Yukio. But like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it didn't just deliver on story and the great style of a superhero film. It gave us great themes and character moments that pulls us in emotionally ultimately giving the fight scenes and the chases that much more weight.

The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2 gives us great themes and morales too but go about it in almost a similar way. Spider-Man 2 speaks to us in responsibility and what it means to give up things in life that we want in order to have a more fullfilling and happier life while The Dark Knight speaks to us with terrorism and the understanding as well as the not so understanding of people. Alfred even speaks in the film "some people, just want to watch the world burn". Again, going back to the themes of, The Wolverine. Loss and ultimately life is worth fighting for. Just have to find that reason, even if it means finding it again. A lot of people just look at superhero films as a bunch of mindless entertainment and while through recent years, specifically the last decade or so, the films have gotten more popular. The potential just hasn't been sought after until The Dark Knight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and others have come along and shown that they can be so much more, the same can be said for, The Wolverine. Wolverine, Mariko and Harada all have some sort of development in the film. Mariko learns to trust, Harada learns that if you ultimately love someone, you have to let them go and he sacrifices himself doing so. Wolverine finds a reason to live again and that's for the betterment of humanity.

The Wolverine is yet another shining example of what superhero films can be. They don't have to always be dark and depressing like, The Dark Knight or fun, fluffiness of The Avengers. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has proven this best that superhero films can have fluff and darkness in it while maintaining interesting characters, stories, motivations and themes. The Wolverine has the most personal themes of any superhero film if you ask me, outside of Spider-Man 2's themes of responsibility. I know I have spent most of this editorial talking about the themes of, The Wolverine but it's precisely why it deserves to be talked with among the best the genre has to offer. The interesting story of a haunted god facing mortality for the first time in his life, the themes and the overall performances, that in particular of Hugh Jackman which deserves praise, ultimately one of the best of all time that the genre has to offer. Now, I'm not saying if it should be among the top five or top ten. Just in general, one of the best superhero films of all time. I won't be surprised to see people disagree with me and such but I want to hear your guys' thoughts on this matter.
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32 Comments
MrSotoMan - 5/6/2014, 9:32 AM
LMFAO!
tonytony - 5/6/2014, 9:37 AM
fair point and well written. but your dc hate constantly betrays and undermines your point. seriously if you dont want people pointing out your pro marvel and anti dc stuff then stop writing anti dc stuff.

with regards to wolverine its def up there abd was a very wrll made and touching
tonytony - 5/6/2014, 9:38 AM
i dont know if I can call it top 5 but I huess you can make an argument for top 10
Pasto - 5/6/2014, 9:39 AM
No, this film is far from the best of all time. They had a good concept that could've made fans happy, but in the end they fell short. And tack on the fact that this film is a "sequel" to 'Origins' and you realize that this film had so much stuff going against it. Sure there are people who whole-heartedly enjoyed this film, and to each his own. But those people have questionable taste in films anyways, so I don't take them seriously.

Thing94 - 5/6/2014, 9:40 AM
This movie sucked I hated it
Doopie - 5/6/2014, 9:44 AM
Maybe not one of the best ever but it may hold the record for most improvement in a sequel
EdgyOutsider - 5/6/2014, 9:44 AM
@tonytony: I have not written an anti DC article in quite some time. But, I thank you for the compliment and am surprised to get one coming from you haha
H3LLBLAZER - 5/6/2014, 9:53 AM
I don't know. While I was watching the film I couldn't stop thinking of The Batman mythos and Batman Begins. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Bruce travel the world and even falls in love with a Chinese or Japanese woman as well? And that old china man reminded me of Ras al Ghul. I mean he had the whole lazarus pits thing going on and Wolverine even falls for his daughter, just like Bruce does with Ras's daughter Talia. I guess in the end it was an alright film.
LEEE777 - 5/6/2014, 10:00 AM
THE WOLVERINE should have been X-MEN ORIGINS, took FOX 2 movies to figure taht one out, yeah was pretty good - nowhere near as good as in the comic books ofc.

The robotic big cyborg Silver Samurai let it down, but there you go.

One of the best X-Men movies but that ain't hard to do.

Cool read.

Pity they cut out one of the best bits where Logan opens the case showing his brown an orange costume, why oh why???
supermanlives - 5/6/2014, 10:21 AM
It's a very good movie you don't need to justify it.
Thing94 - 5/6/2014, 11:08 AM
Wallymelon - 5/6/2014, 12:51 PM
All that don't like this film clearly don't understand film. Totally allowed to not like it but you miss the vision. The samurai battle shouldn't have happened. If it ended with him fighting viper and the father I would've been much happier but everything in act 1 & 2 was amazing
CherryBomb - 5/6/2014, 1:37 PM
It was quite boring.
A huge improvement to Origiins (which wasn't hard) but it did fall short, they made Viper into a caricature cheesy villain when she could've been an awesome bad guy.

The one thing I loved was Yukio.
Poolio - 5/6/2014, 2:15 PM
[frick] this movie! It fooled me into beleiveing there was a ninja battle in it (which was the only reason I went to see it), and the last sequence with the old man in the stupid robot suit was super cringeworthy.
Kurne - 5/6/2014, 2:24 PM
Overrated as hell.
SniktBub - 5/6/2014, 2:29 PM
@Poolio- the last fight scene was awful. But the after credits scene was worth the price of admission :)
Wallymelon - 5/6/2014, 2:45 PM
its clear most of you would rather see a film that has no meaning and just a series of action shots. laaaame.
JoJo1982 - 5/6/2014, 3:45 PM
Great movie
LehnsienJaw - 5/6/2014, 4:18 PM
great movie, much better than that piece of DICK film FIRST CLASS

but Fox needs some serious improvement still, especially with all the versatile/colorful characters of the X universe
CorndogBurglar - 5/6/2014, 9:27 PM
It just pisses me off hiw they competely ruin good characters. They did it to Deadpool and they did it to Silver Samurai. Woukd it have been so hard to make Silver Samurai the body guard or something? Given him silver armor and a sword that cuts through anything?Honestly, how hard would that have been?
Holmes - 5/6/2014, 9:50 PM
this movie was BADASS, not THE best but defintly a movie that all comic fans should at least check out, unlike some duds like HULK, IM3. etc
MightyZeus - 5/6/2014, 10:50 PM
The Wolverine was good. It was not the best cbm of all time though. I just felt that The Wolverine was an enjoyable film and it felt like a Wolverine film.
EdgyOutsider - 5/6/2014, 11:07 PM
@mightyzeus: I'm not saying it's the best of all time (a vibe I'm getting from the comments in general seem to think I am). Definitely a good movie and an awesome Wolverine film. It was an idea I had that "hey, maybe it's over looked and what if it Is ONE of the best of all time". Ya know?
marvel72 - 5/7/2014, 6:12 AM
i enjoyed the wolverine,its my second favorite x-movie.out all the comic book movies made by fox only two have found their way to my blu-ray collection,so to me that makes a good movie.
nibs - 5/7/2014, 6:13 AM
This movie was a predictable snooze-fest. Saying at least it was better than X-Men Origins is like saying at least it was better than Superman 4.
Gusto - 5/7/2014, 6:51 AM

DrunkenNukem - 5/7/2014, 7:01 AM
"The Wolverine is yet another shining example of what superhero films can be. They don't have to always be dark and depressing like, The Dark Knight"

I think the Wolverine wasn´t too far from being dark..but it´s my opinion.

LEOSTRATOR - 5/7/2014, 8:27 AM
Funny how people on this site put others taste in question like they'er the authority on what's likable. SMFH! How arrogant and a Ahole you would have to be, to tell someone if you don't think like me you're questionable. I like some of the trolling on this site, hell I troll myself it can be fun at times, but some people are just dumb fvcks.
dethpillow - 5/7/2014, 11:40 AM
I think it was definitely going for something more than it really delivered. But I do appreciate that it tried. I think it's like pretty much all these comic book movies that do try to do more, I think they hit a ceiling and split themselves for the sake of a safer box office.

Because, I think you could really tell that they were going for a very noir type of story. Wolverine's personality and his situation outside X-Men is already very similar to those 40s detective films and then you add in the total noir setup.

in this movie's case, just to be totally basic and outline it... mystery woman comes and recruits him for a job that involves him entering this strange, insular dysfunctional situation, and he's gotta figure out who's on what side, who he can trust, what's going on, where good and bad exist in this. things aren't what they seem, but he ends up jumping into the rabbit hole. And then ultimately, he himself gets sucked into the middle of things in a way that questions his chosen path of neutral outsider, he finds himself drawn too deeply in.

Not saying that's what all noir films are, but broken down like that, it's really reminiscent of some stuff from that time and that genre.

And I really think this was the intention of the people writing it and Mangold. Wolverine is a great character for that type of thing. especially cuz of what you're saying also about his situation with his own consciousness. questions about memory, the past and a definite outsiderness to how he's chosen to live his life. and he adheres to an internal code of honor. and that is what actually rules him, that's how he ends up in messes like this. even tho he's seen it all a million times.

In some ways, becuz of Wolverine's head and the themes that end up coming from that, he can possibly even be a better character for this type of thing than Batman, who's the most obvious and strongest other character for roles in a noir setting like this. both are pretty great for it, just depends on the angle, i guess.

But the problem to me is that the movie doesn't ever really follow through with this idea. it's like it's brought up like a set of clothes it's gonna wear, but it never delivers, it doesn't carry itself out truly. and especially the ending. And Iron Man 3 was almost exactly the same story to me.

Iron Man 3 at heart is totally a noir fairy tale, but they copped out after the Mandarin/Trevor reveal. pretty much everything after them finding out about the Vice President and the President is just the movie taking a great big hot shit on it's own head. that's not what should've happened. and it was the failure to carry itself out to it's own premise and it's own conclusions that did this. it was a cop out to a big action movie ending. the real movie's ending is so far away from what we got that it's ridiculous. but I do appreciate what I think Black and RDJ were going for on it. it's just that you have to actually be those things, it's not good enough just to dress up like them.

like in Wolverine, Madam Hydra should've been an opposite force to the grand daughter girl. it doesn't have to come down to anything sexual, although those movies usually did go that way, implied at least, but she should've been a direct counterbalance in some way. and Wolverine should have found himself confronted by his own nature and realized the futility of any choice. which he kind of did, I think the themes theoretically in the movie were rad, and well intentioned, it just didn't pull it off. In fact, just looking at things thematically, I think that's where Origins actually gets shafted by us a lot. that movie, if it was done by Mangold or someone else that really got it, there's a great movie there.

It's directly dealing with Wolverine's whole deal, whatever u wanna call that, and questions about existence and what we choose to piece together as ourselves. and I find myself thinking most about Origins than any other X-Men film. and it took watching the video game cut scenes edited together for me to really look deeper into the movie, cuz they somehow do a better job of it than the movie does. but Origins is really underrated I think. but at the same time deserves every bit of it's shaft and ridicule we give it. it was done so totally dumb. even written dumb I think, I gotta watch it again tho.

And I think this new Wolverine kinda gets too much credit for it's intentions in the way i'm talking about. cuz it's exciting to think that it could've been what it set out to be, even as you're watching it, you're like... i get it, this is totally rad, this guy is actually doing what should be a perfect Wolverine movie.

but then he doesn't really do it, and you're left with this ghost of what you wish the movie had been. and not just based on what you decided it should be, but what it seemed to be promising you.

that's how I feel about it. and I think it's such a tedious movie becuz it does all the slow pacing and the quietness and subtlty of a film like it wants to be but it doesn't have anything for us to really grasp onto that is the payoff in those old detective films. Those films at their best really knew how to kick off a mystery and even an illogical harebrained mystery, actually, and somehow keep you wrapped up in it til the end. like there's a moment when it clicks how it's talking about some pretty deep stuff, really mythic kind of drama to be sure, and it just sucks u in. and those movie were witty as hell too. that's a big part of it. well written character comedy and great actors that were performing and were old school. and dramatic, cuz you need something to offset the tedium and the po-faced trudging along.

so Wolverine to me just wasn't very good. And like I said it reminds me in certain ways of Iron Man 3, but totally not too. Iron Man 3, I just love. I love that movie. and it shared the same basic problem, but it did it with more style, more craziness and more genuine mystery going on. at least until after the Trevor reveal when it shit itself. then it was just mind burningly dumb.
it's an attempt at modern noir that at least plays out like a dream in it's disconnects and strange ways of presenting things to us. at least in that sense the ending keeps with dream logic.

it's like that part of the dream that you just don't care anymore, so really stupid things start happening, and u wake up and go... that's weird and laugh at yourself, but then a minute after u start remembering the actually creepy stuff that you dreamed leading up to it.

Wolverine needed more of that, and it needed more substance, I think.

but I do agree overall, I like what it was doing and I think that more comic book movies should try to escape the comic book movie genre.
dethpillow - 5/7/2014, 11:52 AM
I keep meaning to do an article, breaking down Iron Man 3 on these terms, but I can't figure out how exactly it missed what it should've been at the ending.

but I just wanna mention cuz I think u might find it interesting to look at, but there's really a great thing going on with Batman/Wolverine and other comic book type detective stories relating to 40s detective novels and also to old Elizabethan poetry about knights. like the Faerie Queen is a great place to start. and then also even before that, just British mythology... King Arthur and all that. all three are basically covering the same ground and it's really interesting and it's fun to read the comic books with that context in mind. Batman stories are probably the best for that, cuz his make up in his own head is so perfect for it, cuz a lot of these stories come down to heroes who have a code of honor and it is black and white, and the story ends up being about how that is compromised and how they deal with that.

U can't go all the way in comic books tho, cuz u can't ever end Batman, and pretty much the conclusion of the best of these stories would go against that primary concern of Batman going on forever. so they can't really go all the way. same with all comic book characters. but it's easy to imagine yourself what the ending would actually be if they were allowed to be true to themselves.

That's actually why I think that Nolan meant for Batman to die at the end of TDKR, my own interpretation of it is that Batman dies. There's no other way that Batman can be. Or he could be redeemed, but I don't see it earned in the movie.
MercwithMouth - 5/7/2014, 1:42 PM
Great article. I agree with everything.

The Wolverine is my second favorite CBM ever, right behind Blade II. It was a thing of beauty, from the story to the set designs, from the performances to the landscapes. Every bit of it was beautiful.
NateBest - 5/7/2014, 3:14 PM
Great write up and GREAT movie (one of my favorites last year)!

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