As released in the middle of last month, ladies and gents, here is the trailer for The Wolverine. I’ll admit that I’m pretty psyched. I’ve long waited for a film which takes on Logan’s relationship to Japan, and the time that he spent there. When the film was announced, I was hoping for a film that would recount his time in Japan before World War II, with his wife, Itsu, and their son, Daken. Perhaps we’ve seen too much in the way of Wolverine fighting those who have the same powers that he does (re: Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike), and I’ll accept that movies are going to be different than Earth-616.
World War II has James Howlett in Japan, performing his typical acts of self-sacrifice and heroism, saving the life of the man who would become Yashida, the yakuza boss and corporate magnate. It does seem, however, that the relationship established there has come to haunt his future, as Yashida seems keen to have Wolverine’s immortality for his own. He is, as the official synopsis has it:
Out of his depth in an unknown world…vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits.
It’s the intrigue around that fact that makes this trailer so exciting for me. What does Wolverine do when his defining ability, the source of some of his greatest triumphs and his most harrowing agonies, could be taken from him? How does he fight Yakuza enforcers and the deadliest assassins in Japan minus the ability to recover instantly from his wounds?
I think it will actually make for a more compelling story, overall. Wolverine is a man who usually only knows emotional and mental desperation. His healing factor means that he’s stronger, moves faster, can fight longer, and fatigues more slowly, and without it he’s going to come up against enemies who can challenge him physically, both superhuman and not. If the true measure of man is “how he stands at times of controversy and challenges”, or “how much of himself he can give,” then surely we will see a more intimate picture of Wolverine when he faces not only defeat, but death with his failures.
There are a few other things that this trailer has me excited about. I’m interested in how the film will take on Viper (whose character you might know as Madame Hydra). She’s portrayed here by Svetlana Khodchenkova (of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), who seems to have all the manipulative Eastern European femme fatale vibes necessary for the role. Director James Mangold has it that she “views Logan like a great hunter might view hunting a lion in his quarry. There’s kind of an admiration, a desire to destroy and a desire to consume and to have and to hold.”
That actually brings me to both of my other points. Between Viper, Mariko Yoshida (in the red wig), and all of the ninjas we see in this trailer, there’s going to be some pretty decent costuming. Now, that could go one of two ways. It could just make the whole thing seem cartoonish and overdone. But given the sources it seems to drawn on, inevitably including Tokyo street fashion and our popular conception of ninjas and samurai, I’m inclined to believe that those over-the-top elements fresh out of anime and comic books could be the right choice, with sufficient individuation to give us a sense of character through costume. That’s what I’m hoping for at least.
I’m also hoping for some strong fight choreography, something I often see as lacking in superhero movies, with The Avengers being a notable exception. I’ve certainly been disappointed by all of the X-Men titles in this regard. So the prospect that I’m going to get my wish with this film leaves me watering at the mouth, frankly. It seems unavoidable. With a cast of master assassins and martial artists, including Yukio and Kenuichio Harada, whom you may know as the Silver Samurai, artfully directed martial arts choreography seems implicit. I, for one, will be sorely upset if this is not the case.
The Wolverine comes out in the US on July 26.