[Not to be confused with the prequel, “Wolverine.”]
The Wolverine was a super fun summer flick, taking all the good stuff about the X-Men and ignoring all the stupid stuff they did in X-Men III, like completely ignore all canon related to the X-Men universe and destroy the Golden Gate Bridge. (Come on. Everyone always messes with the Golden Gate Bridge. Why don’t they pick on the Brooklyn Bridge?) Although, frankly, this story doesn’t follow canon either, but at least it’s not actively twisting it into evil nincompoopery.
It was a VERY TYPICAL action-adventure (does it count as sci-fi/fantasy? There’s enough fantastical sci-fi that I think it does), and so it has all the typical highlights and lowlights. If you thought Wolverine was great but a little too tragic, then you’ll love The Wolverine.
These evaluations might hint at spoilers, but the fact is as soon as you meet the character in the movie you know what’s going to happen.
Damsel in Distress:
1) beloved daughter or granddaughter
2) gosh she’s gorgeous
3) she’s mysteriously emotionally distressed
4) somehow our hero starts protecting her and then *gasp* falls in love
5) they discover they’re in love and IMMEDIATELY consummate this in the only modern legitimate way to tell someone you love them [at least there was no gratuitous imagery here]
6) HOW MANY TIMES CAN ONE GIRL GET KIDNAPPED?!
Plucky Female Sidekick:
1) Hero does not welcome her but grudgingly accepts her kick-ass help
2) gosh, she’s gorgeous too
3) she has a tragic backstory
4) she really likes our Hero and is willing to fight (usually die) for him — seriously, if she doesn’t die, I feel like popping some champagne.
5) everyone in the audience think’s she’s cooler than the heroine
Local Big Shot Boyfriend
1) was in love (sometimes mutually) with heroine previously
2) was the coolest cat in town before hero showed up
3) generally acts with some kind of rationalized honor principle
4) is an antagonist until hero starts his Heroism, when LBSB then bravely fights and dies
5) Heroine cries as he dies.
Serpentine Vixen Villain
1) She’s super-sexy.
2) and a snake.
3) She’s snake-sexy.
4) She has to be killed by plucky female sidekick, because Guys are not allowed to kill Girls With Speaking Parts.
1) Filled with SO MUCH ANGST.
2) He doesn’t think anything will ever fill the hole inside.
3) Falls madly in love with Damsel in Distress and makes whole life purpose to protect said Damsel until the end of the movie.
4) Did I mention the angst already?
White Hero Gets Ethnic Chick
1) Seriously, Ethnic Male Never Gets White Chick.
Okay, I know this was also a lowlight. It only bugs me when the same hero goes through this multiple times and then abandons each girl at the end of the movie (are you listening, Mr. Bond?). But gosh, I LOVE angsty heroes. Here’s why.
Angsty heroes like Wolverine are attractive because they are incredibly strong, but they are also vulnerable. Which is a tricky balance for Wolverine, because as this movie focuses on, he’s physically invulnerable. But he is so emotionally vulnerable with very believable cause: an empty eternal life where everyone he loves dies.
My favorite parts of movies aren’t the giant fights where the hero saves the girl, or even the kiss (or wedding), but the part when the heroine tends to the wounded hero. Somehow the heroine can ease the burden and share her strength in a way that is essential to the hero. Oftentimes this is her only opportunity to be an active partner in achieving the Plot Goal.
Heroes are meant to be strong, but they are not meant to be invulnerable. (It’s even better, of course, if the hero and heroine are fighting together, get wounded together, and support each other with tears and laughter.) But I feel that there is also some fundamental differences between the masculine and feminine: their strengths flow differently.
What does the princess do when the prince rescues her from the tower? “She rescues him right back!”
SPOILER ALERT (but trust me, you won’t mind)!!!!!
Spunky girl sidekick doesn’t die! IN FACT, she appears to be involved in further adventures. WIIIIIN!
And can I just say, the bonus credits scene made the whole theater go, “SQUEEEEE!”