Wolverine's story is seemingly the most cinematic and easily translatable of all the mutants in his universe. The dude has been alive for hundreds of years. He's pissed. He has gigantic metal talons that, when experiencing the aforementioned pissed-offedness, he plunges into people. Or into robots. Or into people operating robots. Sometimes into himself. That's the rudimentary overview of this character, and yet the poor guy has been stuck in a cycle of increasingly crappy movies, including an origin story that told the same origin story that X2
managed as a subplot, but nonetheless came out like a cross between Commando
and a B-list X-Men
spinoff with extra will.i.am. But The Wolverine
—star Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold's simultaneous love letter to the character and apology to fans still spurned by X-Men Origins
—is a completely different beast. This becomes apparent in the film's staggering opening, set in the moments directly preceding the bombing of Nagasaki. Later thrust into modern-day Japan, Wolverine is stripped of his powers and plunged into a family war. Which is to say he fights a lot of yakuza and ninjas in various settings, including snowy mountainsides and atop a speeding bullet train. For fans, this is the Wolverine movie they've been waiting for: a funny, fast and ballistic actioner based on a Frank Miller story that relies on the story at hand, rather than references to other films or tie-ins. The gloves come off early, and from there it's a fairly nonstop ride that only derails in its final minutes. It's basically a high-budget take on an old-school samurai flick, with Wolverine as the ronin. And it's as awesome as it sounds.