Hugh Jackman grows back the muttonchops, packs on the muscle (after losing weight for Les Miserables) and sharpens his claws for his 6th outing as the world's most popular X-Man, Wolverine. (We're including his cameo in First Class.)
New to the Marvel universe, director James Mangold, whose down to earth credits including Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma, gives this film a less comic-booky feel. After the 2009 misfire that was Logan's first outing X-Men: Origins: Wolverine, audiences are right to be wary of a sequel. The good news is that this solo adventure's focus on character-driven drama, fantastic action and a great setting reminds us all why Wolverine is the fan favorite: It's all about the attitude, bub.
And that 'tude is in full effect in our 5 reasons The Wolverine really rips it up.
1. More Human, Less Mutant Works Well. Based on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's iconic comic-book arc from 1982, the story deals with Logan's burden with his seemingly never-ending life. A kiss (it's always a kiss, isn't it?) from a snake-tongued hottie named Viper greatly slows down his healing ability. He's also been plagued by dreams of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the love of his life he had to take out in X3. A big part of him wants to just end it all and join her in the afterlife. So maybe that poison lip-lock was a blessing?
Speaking of that kiss…
2. Now That's a Super Villain Outfit. The most cunning new mutant is Viper played by Russian-born Svetlana Khodchenkova. Aside from her toxic venom, she's a solid swordswoman and fantastic wardrobe-changing fashionista. In the comics, she's gone by the name Madame Hydra too, a longtime foe of the Avengers and X-men. Nerds will recall she made her first appearance in Captain America No. 110. As for the slithery latex couture? We have costume designer Isis Mussenden to thank for that.
3. Logan in the Land of the Rising Run. Starting in a flashback to WWII near the coast of Hiroshima, Logan rescues a Japanese soldier from certain death. Decades later, never forgetting the man with mutant powers, an ailing Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), calls upon Logan to say goodbye, among other things. The Wolverine's 80-day shoot spanned various locales across Japan (and a few soundstages in Australia). A fight between Logan and a deadly Yakuza atop a speeding train impresses, especially in 3D.
4. Sidekick… for Now. Tasked with the man with an adamantium skeleton proves difficult for hip pink-haired motorcycle riding, sword-wielding Yukio (Rila Fukushima). Eventually, she sorta comes to his rescue in Canada. Once Logan loses his healing ability though, she's his bodyguard. Fukushima has great rapport with Jackman. Since Yukio has a mutant talent too, fingers crossed this isn't the last we'll see of her.
5. Easter Egg of Future Past. We wouldn't spoil it, so just consider this a heads up. Be sure to stay after the initial end credits for a wicked cool lead-in to next year's mutant follow-up: X-Men: Days of Future Past, directed by Bryan Singer.