While the anticipation continues to grow for Bryan Singer’s direct sequel to X-Men First Class, 2011’s hugely successful reboot of the comic book franchise which will be released next year, another foray into the mutant world has been watching patiently from the sidelines. Amidst the tirade of superhero films being released it is no small task to come up with something fresh to offer and yet this next installment of the X-Men franchise could well have something unique to offer to the series.
This July will see the release of James Mangold’s The Wolverine, a film which promises to be a more intimate look into the character of the world’s favourite mutant hero, played brilliantly by Hugh Jackman, this time picking up his story following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. The story, penned by Christopher McQuarrie, Scott Frank and Mark Bomback and based partially on the 1982 comic book mini-series Wolverine, finds Logan/Wolverine travelling to Japan where he encounters a mysterious figure from his past who forces him to confront the pains of his past as he deals with the burden of immortality. When offered the chance relinquish it, he stands with a chance of being relieved of his pain but also left more vulnerable than he has ever been.
The latest trailer and recently issued posters, which can be viewed below, showcase this new setting for the franchise and give us glimpses of new villians Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), an alluring but deadly criminal, and Silver Samurai (Will Yun Lee), a mutant with the power to charge his katana with energy which makes it able to cut through almost anything and Yukio (Rila Fukuskima), an assassin whose allegiance seems in question. We are also shown that the spectre of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) hangs over our hero and she may yet still have some part to play in his journey.
The Wolverine interestingly, and I think crucially, is the first film to be released in the series without ‘X-Men’ in the title. This immediately tells us that its focus is entirely on Wolverine’s journey, resisting the temptation to force in as many mutant characters into the film as possible, a pitfall that other installments have suffered from in the past, not least X-Men Origins: Wolverine, an act that seemed to be trying to please too many people but which made the film suffer as a result. The settings and characters that have been confirmed to be appearing in this new film are generally lesser known entities to certainly casual fans of the franchise and are therefore not burdened with expectation as others have been in previous films. So far as we know the only actual mutant in the film other than Logan is Silver Samurai. The filmmakers have allowed themselves the space to produce a new and exciting take on this universe. Wolverine himself is a character that carries such intrigue and mystery, a character that has so much potential to be explored in depth on screen that we can only hope that with the talented people behind this film recognise that potential.
As it stands now, it seems that we might be in luck. While the trailer still promises the same quality of action that we have seen in other X-Men films, this addition has allowed itself to explore new territory in terms of story and character and if executed right, could well prove to be a high point of an already strong film franchise.
The Wolverine is released in the UK on 25th July by 20th Century Fox