Despite being one of Marvel’s most insanely popular characters, Wolverine has struggled a bit on the big screen. Sure, Hugh Jackman defied expectations when he first signed on to play the Canadian mutant. After, in the comics, the guy is short and stocky whereas Jackman is over six feet tall. He fit the ensemble in the X-Men trilogy of films quite nicely, playing off James Marsden’s Cyclops as both vied for Jean Grey’s love only to both watch her die in X-Men: Last Stand.
If there was any character ready for a spinoff film, it was Wolverine but X-Men Origins; Wolverine was a bit of a messy disappointment, overstuffed with other mutants and telling his poignant backstory. Still, the character was tantalizing for 20th Century Fox so they went back to the drawing board – and the comics – for inspiration offering up this summer’s The Wolverine, figuring if the article helped define Batman as darker and more serious, it could only enhance the hero’s second outing.
Director James Mangold, who demonstrated he could do character and action in Knight & Day, worked with screenwriters Mark Bomback and Scott Frank to strip mine the first Wolverine miniseries, the best of the lot, you know, the one from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. While they pat themselves on the back for honoring the spirit of the mini, they also left out its darker tones and themes of obligation. About the only things in common is Japan for the setting and the kick-ass women, Mariko and Yukio. Beyond that, give me the miniseries over the overblown film.
I’m told the movie makes more sense in the unrated extended version now available on some DVDs. 20th Century Home Entertainment sent the standard combo pack, containing the Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet digital copy. As a bonus you can also download a Marvel Infinite Comic, an original digital story although I could never read it as it failed to properly load on both my laptop and iPad.
Since Jean’s death, Logan has isolated himself from humanity and mutantkind alike, speaking only to her phantom image, well handled by Famke Jameson. He’s lured back to the society by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), on behalf of Yashida (Ken Yamamura/Haruhiko Yamanouchi), whose life Logan saved during the bombing of Nagasaki decades earlier. He has since built up the most successful technology company this side of Stark Industries and is now dying. He offers Logan a chance to have his mutant healing ability taken away, letting him live out a normal lifespan. Although he refuses the offer, Logan is on hand long enough to see all the political and familial machinations going on, coiled tight to be unloaded the moment the man dies.
During the funeral, Mariko (Tao Okomoto) is attacked and Logan rushes to her aid as does her lifelong friend Harada (Will Yun Lee). At some point, though, Wolverine comes to realize his healing factor has been compromised and he’s suddenly injured and not getting any better.
While Logan and Mariko are on the run, they fall in love and Logan regains some of his humanity once again. Still, things can never remain idyllic so she’s taken, leading us to several set pieces that skip all attempts at ingenuity and characterization in favor of boring action with a climax taken from the first Iron Man. And while the script starts with the miniseries as a source, it borrows throughout the comics so we get Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) with littler explanation of who she is and what she really wants and the revelation that the claws are actually bone protrusions, something that may be addressed in next summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. The end credits segue from this story to the next film, a gimmick that every studio with Marvel characters now seems obligated to include.
While pretty to look at, the movie speeds along and never really lets any of the characters move beyond their logline definitions so all seem flat. The actresses do nice work with the little they’re given while the guys all feel way too thin.
Jackman’s Wolverine is nuanced. A tortured soul who watches everyone he loves die (except for Mariko – for now at least) as he ages past other friendships. The Logan in the miniseries tamed his soul through Japanese culture but that angle is sadly missing from here.
The Blu-ray transfer is lovely along with fine sound so watching is a pleasure and the story makes as much sense as it needs to. There are a handful of extras including “The Path of a Ronin”, a multi-part, 53:44 Making Of documentary that explores many facets of the character and the film’s production. You also get a brief alternate ending (1:34) where we see him presented with the yellow and blue costume. Finally, Bryan Singer turns up for a set tour (2:47) for the next installment. There’s also a Second Screen App for those who want additional content.
What does it take to get a woman’s attention? The answer, gentlemen: Iron Claws. Logan, played by Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine, knows exactly what we mean. Jackman returns as The Wolverine and faces his ultimate nemesis in an action-packed, life-or-death battle that takes him to modern-day Japan. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his limits, Wolverine confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality; an epic fight that will leave him forever changed. Through all of this, Logan has no problem attracting women, some trying to save him and others trying to kill him. To prepare you for the film’s release on to DVD and Blu-ray today, we’ve compiled a list of The Wolverine’s leading ladies who can’t seem to take their paws off of his claws!
1. Yukio: The Body Guard
Yukio always remained in the “Friend Zone” with Logan, and it’s probably for the best. Thanks to her, Wolverine was able to dodge death several times. She is a badass sidekick!
2. Viper: Toxin Immune “Doctor”
Viper and The Wolverine have so much in common. Both are mutants, both have claws; both are pretty much immortal. While Viper wasn’t exactly fighting for Logan’s love and affection, she couldn’t’ seem to stay away. Even after Logan survives Viper’s murder attempt via a bot she put on his heart both he and she kept coming back for more!
3. Jean Grey: The Ex
While her appearance in the film is short and sweet, we find out that it didn’t end that way between the ex lovers. The Wolverine was forced to kill Jean, but it’s okay because she still loves him. No hard feelings!
4. Mariko: The One to Save
Originally, Mariko plays hard to get, she doesn’t think she needs The Wolverine’s help. Well, let’s just say she was wrong. Not only did Logan save Mariko from being killed, she also fell in love with him. I think it’s safe to say he loves her too.
In order to enter the contest, tell us which one is his True Love and why. Get us your thoughts by 11:59 p.m., Saturday, December 7. Open to US and Canadian readers only and the judgment of ComicMix‘s judges will be final.
The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class, in an epic battle that must change the past — to save our future.
Based on the classic story from Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin, the movie stars (deeeep breath) Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, Daniel Cudmore, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till, Peter Dinklage, Omar Sy, Booboo Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Adan Canto, Evan Peters and Josh Helman. Written by Simon Kinberg from a story by Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, and Jane Goldman, and directed by Bryan Singer, X-Men: Days Of Future Past is due in theaters May 23, 2014.
Somebody needs to save us all, so why not Sean Hayes? We talk to Sean about his busy summer producing and why he is back in front of the camera again in SEAN SAVES THE WORLD. Plus Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello explain why their roles in PRISONERS were so difficult, and is Sharon Carter headed to TV?
I wasn’t wearing a tie last Friday when Mari and I hied ourselves up the road to the monsterplex to watch the movie du jour, TheWolverine. Nothing unusual there; to the best of my recollection, I’ve worn ties exactly twice in the last quarter century. The first such occasion was at my wedding, a bow to the mores of the tribe that spawned me. The second was when I accompanied Jenette Kahn, at the time my boss, to meet some guy from the United Nations at one of those hoity-toity Manhattan restaurants that don’t permit entry to gentlemen un-tied, and while they’re at it, the gents had best be wearing suits too – or at least jackets. These are classy joints. They don’t let just anyone in. To chow down at one of them, you have to be of the elite, or at least prosperous enough to buy a strip of cloth to hang down the front of your shirt.
They’re signifiers of distinction, of class, neckties are, and as such they’re akin to a clergyman’s vestments, a soldier’s uniform, a detective’s badge, the rented tuxedo I once wore to a prom…feel free to add your own examples. I’ll add one more of my own: superhero costumes.
Odd clothing has been a defining feature of superhero stories ever since that warm Cleveland morning when a teenaged artist named Joe Shuster made the first Superman sketch. This was almost certainly done at the behest of Superman’s co-creator, another Cleveland teen, Jerry Siegel. Why the funny suit? Well, Jerry and Joe were big science fiction fans and were probably influenced by the futuristic garments worn by the characters in the illustrations that were prominent in the pulp magazines – at the time, sci fi’s main venue. Circus costumes may have been another influence.
Whatever Jerry and Joe’s reasons for costuming their brainchild, it was a good idea. It was attention-getting, it marked Supes as something special, it was ideally suited to the iconic quality of the medium that eventually gave him a home, comic books. Consider it an unwritten rule: you want a superhero, bring on the costume.
But Wolverine is most surely a superhero and there he was on the big screen, embodied by Hugh Jackman who was wearing, not a costume, but duds you might buy at a sporting goods store. In so doing, he was nudging superherodom a tiny bit closer to what we will jocularly refer to as real life, and not the fantasyland versions of Mother Earth that have been superheroes’ usual domains. This is an aspect of the genre’s evolution and we’ll have to see if it becomes permanent. If it does stay, writing jobs may be get a bit simpler; storytellers won’t have to give their superdoers a pause to change clothes before dealing with the latest humungous crisis. (Lois, could you fall a little slower?…can’t get the cape to hang right…) But some quirky charm may be lost.
Time will tell. It always does.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Martin Pasko
THURSDAY LATER AFTERNOON: The Surprising Return of Emily S. Whitten!
NOTE: All allusions to “morning” and “afternoon” are EDT USA.
Well, this weekend Iron Man 3 opens here in the States after having conquered the world. (BTW, when did this become the norm? It used to be a film opened here in the US of A and then around the globe. Is the American market now the secondary market?) What started in one medium – comics – has become big in another.
There certainly are lots of reasons behind it, a principle one being less risk. Comics make great fodder for movies because they are relatively a cheap way of testing and ironing out concepts and stories compared to movies. The risk is lessened and if the product (as with John Carter) bombs, at least the executive who approved it can show it was not an unreasonable risk – in theory. Something new? From scratch? Not with our hundred million, buddy! So having a proven commodity in some form makes it a safer, surer, bet. In theory.
There’s lots of different sources – books, games, amusement park rides, television, even the theater. Joss Whedon’s follow up to The Avengers last year? Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Why? Because he’s Joss Goddam Whedon and The Avengers made bazillions of dollars which means that for his next movie he gets to do whatever the hell he wants… at least until the box office receipts on that comes in.
The problem is – not everything translates well. I recently finally saw the movie version of the musical Les Miserables which in itself is an adaptation of the novel by Victor Hugo. I’m a fan of the musical, having seen it several times on stage, so I looked forward to the movie.
I was… whelmed. I enjoyed it and I have a DVD of it (yes, I need to move up to Blu-Ray or whatever else is coming) and I’m sure I’ll watch it again several times. Hugh Jackman was fine in the lead and, in a year that didn’t have Daniel Day Lewis owning the Oscar for his performance in Lincoln (adapted in part from Doris Kearns Goodwin biography, Team of Rivals) would have gotten him the Oscar as Best Actor. Anne Hathaway did score a Supporting Actress Oscar for her work as Fantine. However, there were several miscastings. Javert – the antagonist- should be intense, driven, formidable and ultimately tragic and Russell Crowe was none of those things. He was doughy. He was there.
Crowe was Oscar material compared to Sacha Baron Cohen who played Thénardier, the innkeeper. The character is a louse, a con man, a parasite but in every production I’ve seen, he (along with his wife, played in the film by Helena Bonham Carter, also badly cast) brings down the house in his songs. The character should be charming, a rogue, and funny and Cohen was none of that.
What really unsold the movie to me was the direction by Tom Hooper. Prosaic, uninspired, functional – it served its purpose, it got the basic job done, but I found no “wow” in it and the theater always gave me “wow.” The stage productions always swept me along; the movie version plodded.
That brings me to my central argument – maybe it couldn’t. Movies are often very literal. Les Mis on stage works because of its theatricality. Stage makes great use of suggestion, illusion, metaphor. It engages the imagination, makes you see what may not be there, makes you a partner in the production whereas movies have to show you and you become an observer. What was magical becomes pedestrian.
I’m not sure that something that begins as a stage musical ever translates well into film. Yes, Chicago was an exception but it found cinema versions to create a heightened reality that mimicked the stage production. It wasn’t a translation; it was a re-invention for the cinema – which Les Mis was not. Musicals that are created for movies fare far better, Wizard of Oz being a superb example.
Comics also work like musicals. The imagination must be engaged to fill in what happens in the gutters, in between the panels. The movies made from comics succeed when they re-invent them for the movies. I don’t need them to adapt a specific storyline; they are most successful when they are true to the concepts but re-imagine them for the films.
That’s why Iron Man 3 succeeds and Les Mis just lies there. Apples into oranges, my friends.
Paramount Home Video’s release of Rise of the Guardians arrives in stores on Tuesday, in time for the Easter Basket season. Here’s a clip of Hugh Jackman talking about his character and a behind-the-scenes look at how The Easter Bunny was developed for the film.
For those unfamiliar with the animated feature, which posits a world where icons are real, here’s a clip of Jackman’s Easter Bunny and the trailer.
The Farrelly Brothers have broken the comedy barrier in a number of films, but with so much unrated material posted online daily, is it harder to be raunchy funny on the big screen? That was one of the challenges they faced with MOVIE 43, and our exclusive preview continues with a look at that challenge – plus she was DOCTOR WHO’s River Song, but can she pull off Black Canary in ARROW?