With the upcoming release of The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman once again returns as the world’s favorite amnesiac mutant. But while he may be a great character, this regenerative beast’s last solo outing was less than impressive, which causes some reservations. Therefore, here are the 10 reasons Wolverine is both the best superhero of the summer, and the worst.
While straying from comics generally invites ire from fans, Fox at least deserves credit for their original costuming in the X-Men film series. With a decidedly modernized design, the cartoonish yellow tights worn by Wolverine were abandoned in favor of a rugged and unkempt look — complete with gigantic sideburns.
Unfortunately, the change in looks also took away some of the things that make Wolverine unique. Unlike other clean-shaven superheroes, Wolverine always seemed a bit haggard and — crucially — was just a bit taller than five feet. Unfortunately, he was “Hollywoodized” and Jackman’s take is still considerably easier on the eyes than the original.
Jackman is now synonymous with Wolverine, something that has no doubt played a part in the franchise’s cinematic success. The actor does an amazing job holding his own when even surrounded by legends such Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen, and perhaps no one has so perfectly melded into their superhero (Robert Downey Jr. being the exception, as always). At 44, Jackman likely can’t pull it off much longer but he’s already made his mark on the role.
Because Jackman’s Wolverine is so fantastic, it has brought him enviable mainstream popularity and — as Hollywood executives tend to do — that was seriously milked. The three original X-Men films were fairly Logan-centric (the second one being a more balanced exception), yet Fox still gave him an origin story and is now about to do yet another spinoff. FYI, there was also an animated series revolving all around him and a couple of videogames too.
One of the things that makes Wolverine so compelling is the way his misanthropy feeds so naturally off other normal people. Moments with the civil Professor Xavier are disconcerting and awkward, Rogue brings out certain fatherly qualities in our hero and villains such as Magneto force the oft-invincible man to become a bit humble. Say what you will about his manners, but Wolverine plays well with others.
The flipside to having great chemistry with others is that Wolverine without a supporting cast is relatively uninteresting because, without meaningful context, he just devolves into a thug. As proof, try to sit through X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Just try.
As aforementioned, Logan isn’t like your average hero. Unconcerned with the world yet somehow always getting pulled in, strong but severely damaged and capable of surviving in almost any situation, Wolverine looks like he can really pull off a win, no matter the odds. Plus, he can lift Thor’s Hammer; even the Hulk can’t do that.
The problem with Logan, though, is that his powers are relatively tame, if not in strength then at least in excitement. Those Adamantium claws are deadly, he can survive almost any fight with his regenerative abilities, and he has heightened sensory perception and survival skills, but all that those powers make him is one very sophisticated animal. Without telekinetic blasts, genius intellect and magical powers, Logan’s fights are gritty but a little dull.
Regarding the specific upcoming movie itself, The Wolverine boasts a seemingly decent (if somewhat unproven) cast, takes place in a great new setting that hasn’t been explored in the X-Men cinematic universe, and the fact that our hero has lost his immortality ups the ante a bit. Couple that with how most superhero sequels this summer (and movies in general) have been a bit underwhelming, now’s the time to slice up the competition.
That having been said, the story may still be a problem because superhero movies have this tendency to demonize other cultures, xenophobia bred from a wannabe-maverick mentality common in comic book writers. Considering the fact that it all takes place in Japan, expect some foreigner-bashing. And, considering the original story involved Frank Miller, expect some homophobia and jingoism thrown in for good measure.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming film? Are you burnt out by superhero movies and terrible summer blockbusters, or do you think there need to be more? Share your thoughts in the comments below!