This past May, we got to see a traumatized Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, followed in June by a conflicted Superman in Man of Steel, and this month we get to see Logan go through a crisis of existential proportions in The Wolverine. It's certainly been a dark couple of months - forget that, a decade - for the superhero genre; yet, the tradition actually goes back to director Bryan Singer's pre-9/11 X-Men film, which was released some thirteen years ago (back when no one but Broadway fans knew Hugh Jackman's name).
Wolverine continues geek culture's descent into darkness, by tackling one of the more famous X-Men comic book stories, featuring the (almost) immortal Logan on an adventure in the underbelly of modern Japan. We've spent the past month preparing our readers for the film - through a series of reports based on our visit to the Wolverine set - but today, we have a good old-fashioned round-up of the film's latest marketing material (character images, a new TV spot and featurette) to offer instead.
The newest Wolverine TV spot is mostly just re-packaged footage from previous trailers, but it still provides an intriguing tease for those who're not yet sold on this X-Men flick. That includes a one-line summary of the film's conflict (i.e. Logan has the chance to give up his healing powers), in addition to scenes where Wolvie goes into Beserker Rage mode to fight ninjas and catch a ride on a high-speed train.
Next on the agenda is a featurette that explains what a Ronin is - basically, they're a samurai with no real purpose or mission in life - and features interviews where the likes of Jackman, director James Mangold and X-Men series producer Lauren Shuler Donner explain how that concept is examined through Wolvie's experiences in Japan. It's an interesting look at how Eastern ideas can be relevant in a Western comic book movie, but you should bear in mind that the video is also chock-full of SPOILERS that pertain to key plot points and developments in the film.
THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WOLVERINE!
Although Wolverine takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand - and makes a direct reference to Jean Grey's death - the story is otherwise isolated from the previous X-Men installments, Origins: Wolverine spinoff, and even the upcoming past-meets-present chapter, X-Men: Days of Future Past. That's because the original script draft written by Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) went so far as to make Wolverine the only mutant in the story.
McQuarrie told us that his vision for the film was "Kurosawa’s Wolverine" (for those who are not familiar, he means the acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa). You can see the traces of McQuarrie's neo-Noir X-Men movie in the footage released from Mangold's film, as well as these new character images from the superhero blockbuster.
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While these eye-catching character stills aren't from the movie, they make similar use of shadows for both atmospheric and symbolic effect as the cinematography in the Wolverine footage released to date. The final result is an unusual blend of Noir style and comic book tropes, where you have the colorful ladies from the X-Men universe - like Yukio (newcomer Rila Fukushima) and her bubble gum pink hair or Viper's (Svetlana Khodchenkova) all-green fashion sense - draped in darkness, as though they're in a 1940s/50s detective film.
The relationship between Wolverine and the above-mentioned women - in addition to Mariko (Tao Okamoto) and Kenuichio (Will Yun Lee), who are pictured here - looks to be pretty different than from the "Wolverine" comic book source material (written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller). Then again, some of those characters aren't even in Claremont's mini-series, so the film may have some interesting surprises in store for even longtime fans (assuming the spoilery trailers haven't given them all away by now...).
The Wolverine attacks theaters on July 26th, 2013.