Adamantium Samurai

The most iconic character in the X-Men universe embarks upon on an epic journey in modern-day Japan in The Wolverine. Inspired by the celebrated Marvel comic book arc, Logan (Hugh Jackman), the century-old mutant known to the world as Wolverine, is lured to a Japan he hasn’t seen since World War II – and into a shadowy realm of Yakuza and Samurai.

Suddenly finding himself on the run with a mysterious, beautiful heiress and confronted for the first time with the prospect of true mortality, Logan will be pushed to the physical and emotional edge – further than he’s ever been. On a perilous journey to rediscover the hero inside, Logan will be forced to grapple not only with powerful foes, mutant and human alike, but with the ghosts of his own haunted past, as well. As The Wolverine crosses his adamantium claws with Samurai swords, striking out through a maze of love, betrayal and honor, he will truly come to know the price of a life without end.

“This story takes The Wolverine into a world that is vastly different from any seen before in the X-Men series,” says Hugh Jackman, who also serves as a producer on the film. “It’s visually different and the tone is different. There are a lot of battles in this story, but the greatest battle of all is the one within Logan between being a monster and a becoming a human being.”

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A Stand Alone Movie

Though characters from Wolverine’s past are brought into the mix and there are allusions to what he has gone through in his previous adventures, the focus is on an alternate track from the X-Men movies.

Ultimately, Director James Mangold began to see the story more as an unflinching thriller about a man with a dark past searching for his future identity, than as something from a fantasy comic-book universe. “I think one the things that will most surprise people about this film is how real it is, how much you completely lose yourself in this world, in the action, the drama and the romance,” he comments.

Mangold was especially drawn to the uncertain junction where Logan finds himself at the beginning of this story: he’s been down many dark roads, feels he has lost or damaged nearly everything he loved, and is unsure if there is any path left to redemption. The one thing he has going for him is his immortality. But even that may be more of a curse than a blessing.

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Logan in Limbo

Though this marks the sixth time that Hugh Jackman has donned the persona of Logan – the most times a single actor has ever played a comic book hero — The Wolverine is like nothing that had come before. For one thing, as the film starts, Logan is unsure of what direction to turn as he heads to Japan.

“He’s someone who has always marched to beat of his own drum but at the beginning of our movie he’s probably more isolated than you’ve ever seen Wolverine,” explains Jackman. “He’s disaffected with the world, because he was created as a weapon and he’s rebelling against that – and he feels that he is a danger to society.”

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Seduction and Betrayal

Surrounding Logan in his journey to Japan is a cast of characters whose motives are initially unclear but whose codes of honor are new and intriguing to him. Although The Wolverine takes place away from the X-Men team, there are key appearances from figures in Logan’s past, including Jean Grey, the telekinetic mutant and Logan’s lost love, portrayed once again by Famke Janssen.

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Mutant vs Samurai

Mangold wanted The Wolverine to feature the most realistic action he has yet been seen in. That’s why he brought in 2nd Unit Director and stunt coordinator David M. Leitch and his team from 87Eleven to choreograph the action and train the cast. “One thing that’s different about this film is that 90 percent of the action has been done entirely by our actors,” notes Mangold. “We wanted to bring a kind of down-to-earth action to this, because I think there is something amazing and visceral about fighting battles on that person-to-person level.”

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Long before production began, Leitch began training with each cast member, and honing every sword flick, high kick and adamantium slash for the film’s ambitious battle sequences.

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“One thing we really tried to do in this film was make sure that the Japanese aesthetic of ninjitsu and martial arts comes out, but we also dashed it up with a flavor of fantasy,” says Leitch. “There are gymnastics and acrobatics that you wouldn’t expect, and at the same time, the clean lines and the minimalism of the Samurai movie comes through in the choreography. We tried to come up with something fun, cool and different.”

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One thing I find particularly interesting about Wolverine is his immortality, the fact that with his healing factor he can go on forever like a god, and because of that he also experiences the loneliness of a god. Even when Logan loses those he loves, he knows that he will keep going on.

James Mangold

The Wolverine opens in cinemas 25 July

Images courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Singapore

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