The Wolverine (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Mangold|
by Chris Claremont
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Editing by||Michael McCusker|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
The Wolverine is a 2013 American–Australian superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Wolverine. It is the sixth installment in the X-Men film series and the second film headlining Wolverine after X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009. Hugh Jackman reprises his role from previous films as the title character, with James Mangold directing a screenplay written by Scott Frank and Mark Bomback, with uncredited parts by Christopher McQuarrie, based on the 1982 limited series Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. In the film, which follows the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan travels to Japan, where he engages an old acquaintance in a struggle that has lasting consequences. Stripped of his immortality, Wolverine must battle deadly samurai as well as his inner demons.
McQuarrie was hired to write a screenplay for The Wolverine in August 2009. In October 2010, Darren Aronofsky was hired to direct the film. The project was delayed following Aronofsky's departure and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. In June 2011, Mangold was brought on board to replace Aronofsky. Bomback was then hired to rewrite the screenplay in September 2011. The supporting characters were cast in July 2012 with principal photography beginning at the end of the month in New South Wales before moving to Tokyo in August 2012 and back to New South Wales in October 2012. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.
The Wolverine was released on July 24, 2013 in various international markets; and was released on July 25, 2013 in Australia, and on July 26, 2013 in the United States. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and has been a commercial success. As of November 24, 2013 the film has made roughly $414.8 million worldwide, nearly 3.5 times its production budget of $120 million.
In the present day, Logan lives as a hermit in Yukon, tormented by hallucinations of Jean Grey, whom he was forced to kill at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. He is located by Yukio, a mutant with the precognitive ability to foresee people's deaths, on-behalf of Yashida, now the CEO of a technology corporation. Yashida, who is dying of cancer, wants Logan to accompany Yukio to Japan so that he may repay his life debt.
In Tokyo, Logan meets Yashida's son, Shingen, and granddaughter, Mariko. There, Yashida offers to transfer Logan's healing abilities into his own body, thus saving Yashida's life and alleviating Logan of his immortality, which Logan views as a curse. Logan refuses and prepares to leave the following day. That night, Yashida's physician Dr. Green (aka Viper) introduces something into Logan's body, but Logan dismisses it as a dream.
The next morning, Logan is informed that Yashida has died. At the funeral, Yakuza gangsters attempt to kidnap Mariko, but Logan and Mariko escape together into the urban sprawl of Tokyo. Logan is shot and his wounds do not heal as quickly as they should. After fighting off more Yakuza on a bullet train, Logan and Mariko hide in a local love hotel. Meanwhile, Yashida's bodyguard Harada meets with Dr. Green who, after demonstrating her mutant powers on him, demands he find Logan and Mariko.
Logan and Mariko travel to Yashida's house in Nagasaki, and the two slowly fall for each other. Meanwhile, Yukio has a vision of Logan dying, and goes to warn him. Before Yukio arrives, Mariko is captured by Yakuza. After interrogating one of the kidnappers, Logan and Yukio confront Mariko's fiance, corrupt Minister of Justice Noburo Mori. Mori confesses that he conspired with Shingen to have Mariko killed because Yashida left control of the company to Mariko, and not Shingen.
Mariko is brought before Shingen at Yashida's estate when ninjas led by Harada attack and whisk her away. Logan and Yukio arrive later and, using Yashida's X-ray machine, discover a robotic parasite attached to Logan's heart, suppressing his healing ability. Logan cuts himself open and extracts the device. During the operation, Shingen attacks but Yukio holds him off long enough for Logan to recover and stop him.
Logan follows Mariko's trail to the village of Yashida's birth, where he is captured by Harada's ninjas. Logan is placed in a machine by Dr. Green, who reveals her plans to extract his healing factor and introduces him to the Silver Samurai, an electromechanical suit of Japanese armour with energized swords made of adamantium. Mariko escapes from Harada, who believes he is acting in Mariko's interests, and manages to free Logan from the machine. Harada sees the error of his ways and is killed by the Silver Samurai while helping Logan escape.
Meanwhile, Yukio arrives and kills Dr. Green as Logan fights the Silver Samurai. The Silver Samurai severs Logan's adamantium claws and begins to extract Logan's healing abilities, revealing himself to be Yashida, who had faked his death. Yashida starts to regain his youth, but Mariko intervenes and stabs Yashida with Logan's severed claws while Logan regenerates his bone claws and finishes off Yashida. Logan collapses and has one final hallucination of Jean, in which he decides to finally let go of her.
Mariko becomes CEO of the Yashida Corporation and bids farewell to Logan as he prepares to leave Japan. Yukio vows to stay by Logan's side as his bodyguard, and they depart to places unknown.
In a mid-credits scene, Logan returns to the United States after two years and is found at the airport by Magneto and Professor Xavier, who warn him that a grave new threat to the mutant race is coming (foreshadowing X-Men: Days of Future Past).
- Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine, a mutant whose prodigious healing abilities and adamantium infused skeleton combine to make him virtually immortal. Jackman, who portrayed the character in the previous X-Men films, also produced the film via his company Seed Productions. In terms of his character Jackman views Wolverine as "the ultimate outsider" and that "the great battle, I always thought with Wolverine, is the battle within himself". Regarding Logan's struggle with immortality, Jackman said, "He realizes everyone he loves dies, and his whole life is full of pain. So it's better that he just escapes. He can't die really. He just wants to get away from everything." Jackman stated that he ate six meals a day in preparation for the role. Jackman contacted Dwayne Johnson for some tips on bulking up for the movie. Johnson suggested that for six months, he gain a pound a week, by eating 6,000 calories a day which consisted of "an awful lot of chicken, steak and brown rice".
- Tao Okamoto as Mariko Yashida, Yashida's granddaughter. Logan protects Mariko as her life becomes threatened as a result of her grandfather's will. About her character, Okamoto said that Mariko is no pushover and is proficient in karate and knife-throwing.
- Rila Fukushima as Yukio, a precognitive mutant and one of the deadliest assassins in Shingen’s clan. Fukushima said, "My character's very physical. Yukio and Wolverine have a lot in common. She really takes care of him and he also cares about her." Mangold described Yukio as a lethal fighter who is "both sexy and almost kind of sprung from the anime world."
- Hiroyuki Sanada as Shingen Yashida, Mariko's father and corporate rival.
- Svetlana Khodchenkova as Dr. Green / Viper, a mutant, who has an immunity to toxins. About her character, Khodchenkova said "Viper doesn't really have many people that she cares about, most of them she just uses for her own purpose." Mangold said, "as her name would imply, she's kind of snakelike," and that Viper views Logan "like a great hunter might view hunting a lion in his quarry."
- Will Yun Lee as Kenuichio Harada, a former lover of Mariko and head of the Black Ninja Clan, sworn to protect the Yashida family. Lee said that he underwent rigorous sword training for the film.
- Haruhiko Yamanouchi as Yashida, the head of the Yashida corporation, a technology zaibatsu.
- Brian Tee as Noburo Mori, a corrupt minister of justice who is about to marry Mariko.
- Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, a mutant and former member of the X-Men, who Logan killed at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. Jackman said, "There’s no doubt that the most important relationship in his life is—we’ve seen through the movies—is his relationship with Jean Grey. Yes, we saw her die at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand, but in this movie, she has a presence which I think is vital to the movie, particularly for him confronting the most difficult thing within himself."
In September 2009, Gavin Hood, director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, speculated that there would be a sequel, which would be set in Japan. During one of the post credits scenes Logan is seen drinking at a bar in Japan. Such a location was the subject of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 limited series on the character, which was not in the first film as Jackman felt "what we need to do is establish who [Logan] is and find out how he became Wolverine". Jackman stated the Claremont-Miller series is his favorite Wolverine story. Of the Japanese arc, Jackman also stated, "I won’t lie to you, I have been talking to writers... I’m a big fan of the Japanese saga in the comic book." Before X-Men Origins: Wolverine's release, Lauren Shuler Donner approached Simon Beaufoy to write the script, but he did not feel confident enough to commit. On May 5, 2009, just four days after its initial weekend run, the sequel was officially confirmed.
Christopher McQuarrie, who went uncredited for his work on X-Men, was hired to write the screenplay for the Wolverine sequel in August 2009. According to Shuler-Donner, the sequel would focus on the relationship between Wolverine and Mariko, the daughter of a Japanese crime lord, and what happens to him in Japan. Wolverine would have a different fighting style due to Mariko's father having "this stick-like weapon. There'll be samurai, ninja, katana blades, different forms of martial arts - mano-a-mano, extreme fighting." She continued: "We want to make it authentic so I think it's very likely we'll be shooting in Japan. I think it's likely the characters will speak English rather than Japanese with subtitles." In January 2010, at the People's Choice Awards, Jackman stated that the film would start shooting sometime in 2011, and in March 2010 McQuarrie declared that the screenplay was finished for production to start in January the following year. Sources indicated Darren Aronofsky was in negotiations to direct the film after Bryan Singer turned down the offer.
In October 2010, Jackman confirmed that Aronofsky would direct the film. Jackman commented that with Aronofsky directing, Wolverine 2 will not be "usual" stating, "This is, hopefully for me, going to be out of the box. It's going to be the best one, I hope... Well, I would say that, but I really do feel that, and I feel this is going to be very different. This is Wolverine. This is not Popeye. He's kind of dark... But, you know, this is a change of pace. Chris McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects, has written the script, so that'll give you a good clue. [Aronofsky's] going to make it fantastic. There's going to be some meat on the bones. There will be something to think about as you leave the theater, for sure". Also in October it was reported that the film would begin principal photography in March 2011 in New York City before the production moves to Japan for the bulk of shooting.
While Jackman in 2008 characterized the film as "a sequel to Origins", Aronofsky in November 2010 said the film, now titled The Wolverine, was a "one-off" rather than a sequel. Also in November, Fox Filmed Entertainment sent out a press release stating that they have signed Darren Aronofsky and his production company Protozoa Pictures to a new two-year, overall deal. Under the deal, Protozoa would develop and produce films for both 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Aronofsky’s debut picture under the pact would have been The Wolverine.
In March 2011, Darren Aronofsky bowed out of directing the film, saying in a statement, "As I talked more about the film with my collaborators at Fox, it became clear that the production of The Wolverine would keep me out of the country for almost a year.... I was not comfortable being away from my family for that length of time. I am sad that I won't be able to see the project through, as it is a terrific script and I was very much looking forward to working with my friend, Hugh Jackman, again". Fox also decided to be "in no rush" to start the production due to the damage incurred in Japan by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Despite this, Jackman said the project was moving ahead. "It's too early to call on Japan, I'm not sure where they're at. So now we're finding another director, but Fox is very anxious to make the movie and we're moving ahead full steam to find another director".
In May 2011, Fox had a list of eight candidates to replace Aronofsky, including directors José Padilha, Doug Liman, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Romanek, Justin Lin, Gavin O'Connor, James Mangold and Gary Shore. In June 2011, Fox entered negotiations with Mangold and intended to start principal photography in fall 2011. In July 2011, Jackman said he planned to begin filming in October 2011 and that he'll fight the Silver Samurai.
In August 2011, The Vancouver Sun reported that filming would take place from November 11, 2011 to March 1, 2012 at the Canadian Motion Picture Park in Burnaby, British Columbia. Almost immediately, filming was postponed to spring 2012 so Jackman could work on Les Misérables. In September, Mark Bomback was hired to rewrite McQuarrie's script. At one point, Bomback tried to work Rogue into the script, but he rejected it for being "goofy" and "problematic". In February 2012, a July 26, 2013, release date was set, and in April, filming was set to begin in August 2012 in Australia, which would serve as the primary location due to financial and tax incentives.
In July 2012, actors Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima had been cast as Shingen, Yashida, Mariko and Yukio, respectively. Additionally, Will Yun Lee was cast as Harada, and Brian Tee as Noburo Mori. Also in July 2012, it was reported that Jessica Biel would play Viper. However, at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International Biel said her role in the film was "not a done deal", explaining, "People keep talking about this. I don't know anything about it. It's a little bit too soon for that kind of an announcement". A few days later, negotiations between Biel and 20th Century Fox had broken down. Later in July, Fox had begun talks with Svetlana Khodchenkova to take over the role. Somewhat unusually for action movies, The Wolverine features four female lead roles and "passes the Bechdel Test early and often", according to Vulture. Director James Mangold noted that he wrote his heroines so that "they all have missions. They all have jobs to do other then be the object of affection", intent of avoiding the "worn out" trope of the woman in jeopardy.
In August 2012, Guillermo del Toro revealed he had been interested in directing the film, as the Japanese arc was his favorite Wolverine story. After meeting with Jim Gianopulos and Hugh Jackman, del Toro passed, deciding he did not wish to spend two to three years of his life working on the movie.
On a production budget of $120 million, principal photography began on July 30, 2012. Some of the earliest scenes were shot at the Bonna Point Reserve in Kurnell, New South Wales, which doubled as a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Filming there ended on August 2, 2012, with production scheduled to continue around Sydney followed by a few weeks in Japan before wrapping up in mid-November. On August 3, 2012, production moved to Picton, which doubled as a town in Canada's Yukon region.
On August 25, 2012, director James Mangold said that production moved to Tokyo and began shooting. Scenes were shot at the Tokyo Tower and the Zojoji Temple, which was used for a funeral scene. On September 4, 2012, filming took place outside Fukuyama Station in Fukuyama, Hiroshima. Filming in Tomonoura, a port in the Ichichi ward of Fukuyama, concluded on September 11, 2012.
On October 8, 2012, production returned to Sydney with filming on Erskine Street near Cockle Bay. The following week, the film shot in Parramatta, which doubled as a Japanese city. Also in October, Mangold revealed that the film follows the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, saying, "Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all. Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for [Wolverine]." Mangold later stated that in the fight scenes, "there's an urgency and a kind of intensity and hand to hand physicality that I hope is a little different than everything else out there." On October 25, 2012 production relocated to Sydney Olympic Park in western Sydney. The set was made into a Japanese village draped in snow with filming beginning on November 1, 2012. On November 10, 2012, filming took place on a back street in Surry Hills. The set, constructed on Brisbane St., was transformed to look like a Japanese street with Japanese signage and vehicles scattered throughout. Principal photography concluded on November 21, 2012.
Reshoots took place in Montreal, including the credits scene where Magneto and Professor X warn Wolverine of a new threat.
In October 2012, it was reported that The Wolverine would be converted to 3D, making it the first 3D release for one of 20th Century Fox's Marvel films. Visual effects for the film were completed by Weta Digital, Rising Sun Pictures (RSP), Iloura, and Shade VFX.
In order to recreate the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, RSP studied natural phenomena such as volcanoes, instead of relying on archived footage of atomic blasts, and recreated the effects digitally. They also replaced the Sydney cityscape on the horizon with views of Nagasaki. The walking bear featured in the Yukon scenes was created with computer graphics by Weta Digital, while Make-Up Effects Group built a 12 foot tall animatronic bear, that was used for shots of the creature dying after it had been hit by poisoned arrows fired by hunters.
For a fight scene taking place on top of a speeding bullet train, the actors and stunt performers filmed on wires above a set piece surrounded by a greenscreen. The moving background, filmed on an elevated freeway in Tokyo, was added later. Weta Digital visual effects supervisor Martin Hill said the team adopted a "Google Street View method", explaining "But instead of having a big panoramic cam on top of a van, we built a rig that had eight 45 degree angle Red Epic [cameras] that gave us massive resolution driving down all the massive lanes of the freeway. We let a bit of air out of the tires of the van and kept a constant 60 kilometers an hour. So if we shot at 48 fps we just needed to speed up the footage by 10 times to give us the 300 kilometers an hour required."
The Silver Samurai, rendered by Weta Digital, was based on a model that had been 3D printed and chrome painted using electrolysis. Stunt performer Shane Rangi, wearing a motion capture suit, stood on stilts while filming as the Silver Samurai. Rangi's performance was then used to animate the digital character. Hill said the main challenge was creating the Silver Samurai's highly reflective surface, "He's pretty much chrome. We were worried that he was going to look incredibly digital and that it was going to be very hard to make him look solid and real and not just like a mirrored surface."
The original assembly cut of the film ran around two hours and 35 minutes.
In September 2012, Marco Beltrami, who previously collaborated with director James Mangold on 3:10 to Yuma for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, announced that he had signed on to score The Wolverine. Following Mangold's noir and Spaghetti Western inspirations for the film, Beltrami explained, "I think I do every movie as a western whether it is or not, so there’s definitely some of the spaghetti western influence on my music throughout the score, and I guess throughout a lot of my work. I wouldn’t say there was a particular movie that influenced me more than something else. There was nothing that I was trying to mimic or anything." On associating sounds with the film's primary location, Beltrami said, "I think the last thing that Jim [Mangold] and I wanted to do was Japanese music associated with Japanese places. There's a reference; I do use Japanese instruments, [but] not really in a traditional way." The score was performed by an 85-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox.
|Film score by Marco Beltrami|
|Released||July 23, 2013|
|Recorded||Newman Scoring Stage, 2012-2013|
|Label||Sony Classical, catalog #B00CSW07Z6|
|Producer||James Mangold (Executive Producer)|
|Marco Beltrami chronology|
|X-Men soundtrack chronology|
- Track listing
All music composed by Marco Beltrami.
|1.||"A Walk in the Woods"||1:02|
|2.||"Threnody for Nagasaki"||1:15|
|6.||"Arriving at the Temple"||2:10|
|16.||"The Hidden Fortress"||5:02|
|18.||"Sword of Vengeance"||4:32|
|22.||"Whole Step Haiku"||2:08|
- iTunes bonus track
The Wolverine was released in 2D and 3D theaters on July 24, 2013, in various international markets, on July 25, 2013 in Australia, and on July 26, 2013 in the United States. The film was titled Wolverine: Immortal in Spanish-language markets. The film premiered in Japan on September 13, 2013 under the title Wolverine: Samurai (ウルヴァリン: SAMURAI Uruvarin Samurai ).
On October 29, 2012, director James Mangold and actor Hugh Jackman hosted a live chat from the set of the film. The chat took place on the official website and the official YouTube account of the film.
The first American trailer and international trailer of The Wolverine were released on March 27, 2013. Empire Magazine said "This is all very encouraging stuff from director James Mangold, a man who's obviously not afraid of tweaking the original source material to serve his own ends." The trailer was later attached to G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The second American trailer was then released on April 18, 2013 and was screened at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On July 20, 2013, 20th Century Fox presented The Wolverine along with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men: Days of Future Past to the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con with Jackman and Mangold in attendance to present new footage of the film.
20th Century Fox partnered with automotive company Audi to promote the film with their sports car Audi R8 and their motorcycle Ducati. Other partners included sugar-free chewing gum brand 5 and casual dining restaurant company Red Robin.
The Wolverine was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D on December 3, 2013. The Blu-ray set features an exclusive unrated extended cut of the film referred to as the "Unleashed Extended Edition". This version of the film was screened for the first time at 20th Century Fox Studios on November 19, 2013. It contains 12 extra minutes, primarily including an extended battle with Harada's ninjas during the start of the film's third act as well as additional footage during moments of character interaction.
The Wolverine has received generally positive reviews among critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 68% approval rating with an average rating of 6.3/10 based on 206 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Although its final act succumbs to the usual cartoonish antics, The Wolverine is one superhero movie that manages to stay true to the comics while keeping casual viewers entertained." It has a score of 60 out of 100 at Metacritic, based on 43 reviews. CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade cinemagoers gave for the film was an "A-".
Richard Roeper gave it a grade of "B+", praising Jackman's performance as "strong, solid entertainment" and "a serious, sometimes dark and deliberately paced story." Christy Lemire, writing for the website of the late Roger Ebert, said that the film "features some breathtakingly suspenseful action sequences, exquisite production and costume design and colorful characters, some of whom register more powerfully than others." Variety film critic Peter Debruge called the film "an entertaining and surprisingly existential digression from his usual X-Men exploits. Though Wolvie comes across a bit world-weary and battle-worn by now, Jackman is in top form, taking the opportunity to test the character’s physical and emotional extremes. Fans might’ve preferred bigger action or more effects, but Mangold does them one better, recovering the soul of a character whose immortality made him tiresome." James Buchanan of TV Guide.com gave it 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "A rare comic-to-film adaptation that doesn't sacrifice substance for the sake of thrilling action." IGN praised the film giving it an 8.5 out of 10 and stated, "The Wolverine is a stand alone adventure for the classic character that reminds us that there's more to this genre than universe-building and crossovers. ... [The] story paints a deep and compelling portrait of Logan, a haunted character that Jackman still finds new ways to play all these years later." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone felt that despite the film's final act "sink[ing] into CGI shit", Jackman's performance "still has the juice" and Mangold's directing "shows style and snap."
The Guardian however blasted the film, giving it 2 out of 5 stars and stating, "Hugh Jackman's sixth time out in the claws and hair combo is looking increasingly wearied, as the backstory gets more complicated and the action gets duller and flatter." The New York Daily News offered a similar view, saying "Hugh Jackman has the role of the mutant superhero down pat, but the rest of the film is the same old slice and dice."
Along with the improvements in critical reception, The Wolverine has outgrossed Origins in box office returns. As of December 1, 2013, The Wolverine has grossed $132,550,960 in North America and $282,271,394 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $414,822,354. The film earned $139.6 million on its worldwide opening weekend. When compared to the rest of the X-Men film franchise, The Wolverine has garnered somewhat mixed results in terms of box office success. While its domestic gross is greater than the production budget, it's still lower than other five films of the franchise, with its domestic box office total being roughly $45.1 million less than the franchise's average. However, its overseas total currently exceeds the franchise's average by roughly $75.7 million and is significantly more than any of the other X-Men films. With a worldwide total of roughly $414.8 million, The Wolverine is the second highest grossing film of the franchise.
- Outside North America
The film topped the box office on its opening weekend with $86.5 million from 100 countries. The film achieved the highest opening of the franchise, passing X-Men: The Last Stand's $76.2 million opening.
- North America
In North America, the film opened at the top of the box office on its opening day, with $20.7 million, with $4 million coming from Thursday late night showings. It held onto to the number one spot through its first weekend, with $53,113,752, which is the lowest opening of the series.
In November 2013, it was reported that 20th Century Fox had begun negotiations with both actor Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold to return for a third solo film starring Wolverine. Mangold is negotiating now to write the treatment for the film with Lauren Shuler Donner returning to produce.  Mangold told Iam Rogue that the sequel will be inspired by any other popular Wolverine stories from the comics.
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