“I’m the best there is at what I do, which is lose fights.”


I’d heard THE WOLVERINE was okay but not great so I thought I’d give it a watch. Personally, I think “Okay but not great” is overstating things by a mile, but it can be instructive to watch and talk about movies that fail, so what the hell.


The basic plot is this: Logan is freed from a WW2 POW camp just outside of Nagasaki just as The Bomb is being dropped, and he saves a prison camp guard’s life, mainly because he freed Allied prisoners as soon as the air raid sirens went off.

Actually, never mind the motivations. Motivations aren’t going to make much sense here.

Anyway, jump to the modern day. Logan is living in the wild like a depressed hobo, dreaming about Jean Grey, the woman he loved and killed in the third Xmen movie, when a fellow mutant (one of those plot-convenient precogs) whisks him off to Japan to meet that same prison guard it seems he’s now the super-wealthy head of a giant corporation and he’s dying. He’s also willing to take Logan’s healing factor off his hands, since he knows (somehow) Logan thinks of his eternal life as a curse.

There’s some handwaving about how Logan’s healing factor has to be “suppressed” before it can be transferred, and he spend most of the movie in some weird gray area limbo of minor powers where he can be slowed down and made to limp from gunshots or whatever, but he’s not unkillable anymore. Nevermind that his powers are supposed to be genetic.

Anyway, there’s a snake woman villain named Viper who spits poison acid at people and brags about being immune to poison (I’ll bet that comes up all the time) but who seems to have no motivation other than to get paid and therefore has no reason to stick around for the lethal battle at the end. There’s a beautiful woman who, being Asian, has a sad history; also, she must get kidnapped as soon as Logan fucks her. There are ninjas who declare themselves devoted to the old dying guy but who shoot arrows at anyone the plot requires. And there’s the Silver Samurai, which in the movie is a gigantic robot-looking thing (actually a suit of armor, and boy will you be unsurprised to discover who’s driving it).

And you know what? This is all stupid and careless and a little insulting, but it’s not like I’ve never enjoyed a movie that was careless for the sake of being fun.

However! THE WOLVERINE has an astonishing lack of fun. There’s a fight atop a bullet train that’s inventive and different, but all of the other confrontations are nothing new or interesting. There’s a running fight at a funeral and through the streets of Tokyo that looks like the same mook tussle over and over. There’s a red neck bar fight. There’s a samurai sword/claw fight right where you would expect to see it.

And the ninjas, man. That whole sequence sucked the life out of the movie. Logan has to get off his motorcycle for reasons, and he has to not fight the ninjas because if there’s one thing Wolverine fans hate, it’s seeing him slice up a bunch of ninjas.

Worse, he just runs down the center of the street so they can shoot arrows into him. Not even a little juke to the side here and there.

The weird thing is that, Movie-Wolverine never says “I’m the best there is at what I do,” because on the movie hero level, he’s a really shitty fighter. Because he has a healing factor, filmmakers stage fights where he’s shot in the gut from close range, stabbed, bashed on the head with a bat… It doesn’t matter! He can’t defeat a trained samurai without his healing powers because he has to let the other guy get five or six lethal blows in before he can score one himself.

The ninjas kick his ass with poison arrows. The Yakusa who kidnap Sad Asian Lady shoot him in the leg because he helpfully announces that he’s rushing to the rescue. The Silver Samurai beats the hell out of him until Sad Asian Lady intervenes.

I mean, nevermind that the climax shows the baddie stealing Logan’s (unsuppressed) healing powers by… drilling into the stumps of his wrecked claws? How does that even work? But nevermind. The whole movie is about a guy who really sucks at what he does.

If you’re going to make a Wolverine movie, you don’t show/use his healing factor in every fight. You save it for the true badasses. And you don’t line up a bunch of ninjas opposite him and have him run away, ffs.


Added later: Cracked’s “The 9 Worst Things Comic Books Have Ever Done to Wolverine”