BY LE LE MAC
I’ve seen the X-Men movie series and X-Men Origins: Wolverine and by far, The Wolverine is my favourite X-Men movie. There are many reasons but to start, it was entertaining from start to finish. It defied common stereotypes of Asian females in movies and it will satisfy the comic nerd and the too-cool-for-comics kids alike.
The Wolverine starts off with Logan a.k.a. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) alone and emotionally decaying in an Alaskan cave. Everything changes when he meets an ass-kicking Japanese woman, Yukio at a bar confrontation. She explains to him that she was sent to summon him to Japan to say goodbye to her dying employer, Yashida, who wants to thank him for saving his life during the bombing of Nagasaki back in WWII when he was a war prisoner. Once Logan and Yukio arrive back to Tokyo, the simple mission of saying goodbye to a dying man becomes a whole lot of drama and action packed sequences. The plot thickens when the dying man, Yashida, who happens to be the most powerful tech mogul in Japan, offers to end Logan’s tortured eternity by offering him mortality.
Another part of the story is that Logan gets caught in a love “square”–his love interest, Mariko, who is Yashida’s granddaughter, has a fiancé for political reasons and a childhood admirer. Action ensues as Logan tries to protect Mariko from the Yakuza gangsters who are trying to kidnap the next most powerful person in Japan, as she is soon to inherit her grandfather’s legacy.
Throughout most of the plot, we see Wolverine in a weakened state physically, when we see his ability to self-heal deteriorate, and emotionally, when he constantly dreams about his guilt of killing his true love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). We get to see the hero experience his vulnerability, making him a more compelling character. One of his other drawbacks is that he constrains himself as the lone soldier-not wanting help from anyone. However, the two other leading female characters, Yukio and Mariko prove to him that he does need help and allies, helping him strengthen his character.
When Mariko was first introduced in the movie, she was a dainty, crying, suicidal girl with no significant dialogue who steals bashful glances from Logan. She obviously needed help. My first thought was that she is going to be the stereotypical Asian damsel in distress, however her character grows as her inner strength surfaces and is displayed later on in the movie. Yukio is another interesting female character because she fights alongside Wolverine and affectionately labels herself as his bodyguard. Basically, she fights the little bad guys and Wolverine fights the big bad guys, so they’re ying and yang. She is a tough cookie and vital in helping Logan win his battles, as he can’t fight the most powerful and dangerous people in Japan on his own. The audience can see that she fights alongside him, not for him and that this makes it possible for the viewer to consider her his equal. The filmmakers didn’t give them any sexual chemistry, which is a good thing because this prevented her from being objectified and validated her strong role instead.
The Wolverine has a simple yet entertaining storyline for those who haven’t read any X-Men comics before or haven’t seen any of the movies to enjoy. It also allows the hard-core X-Men comic fans to appreciate the movie, as it stays fairly true to the comic. It’s a blockbuster for everyone!
Le Le Mac’s passion in film started when she would watch several Chinese films a week so that she could learn how to be more fluent in her mother tongue. Her passion then led her to study film and the Asian diaspora in Canada in graduate school. She is currently writing film reviews as a hobby. She is a big fan of Radiohead and tea. She has 40 different types of tea in her collection, and will often host tea parties. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband.