As Wolverine and his X-Men friends are ushered under the same roof as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Screen Rant's Ryan George reveals what (probably) happened in the pitch meeting for The Wolverine. Directed by James Mangold and released in 2013, The Wolverine was the second of three standalone superhero movies featuring Hugh Jackman's grumpy, cigar-chomping, super-healing mutant - preceded by X-Men Origins: Wolverine and followed by Logan.
Of course, this being the X-Men franchise, the continuity between Origins and The Wolverine is wobbly at best, and Logan more or less exists in its own separate universe. To its credit (or not, depending on your perspective) The Wolverine does actually attempt to maintain continuity from X-Men: The Last Stand, with Famke Janssen's Jean Grey frequently popping up as a ghost in an alluring nightdress to torment poor Logan. When the movie begins, Wolverine is living the hermit life in the Yukon with only ghost-Jean and an indifferent grizzly bear for company.
As so often happens, however, Wolverine's past catches up to him - this time in the form of a red-haired mutant called Yukio (no, not that Yukio). Yukio whisks Wolverine off to Japan, where he's reunited with a dying man called Yashida, whose life he saved during the Second World War. As repayment for this debt, Yashida offers to relieve Wolverine of his immortality and allow him to live a normal life... oh, and as a side benefit, Yashida himself will be cured of his cancer and have his youth restored. Did we mention that Yashida is a very savvy businessman?
Following Yashida's death later that night, Wolverine is plunged into a plot filled with complex family politics, yakuza connections, ninjas, and a couples' hotel with a sexy Mission to Mars suite. There's also a fight on top of a bullet train that's as entertaining as it is physically impossible. The Wolverine was a modest box office success, and after Deadpool proved that there was a place for R-rated movies in Hollywood, Mangold was given the go-ahead to make his planned R-rated Wolverine movie: Logan.
Though it was well-received by critics at the time, The Wolverine doesn't seem to have had much of a lasting impact on X-Men movie fans - perhaps because it somewhat falls apart in the third act, where Wolverine battles a big shiny CGI mecha-Silver Samurai. Still, at least it helped Logan to move past his period of guilt and mourning over Jean Grey by having a James Bond-esque fling with Mariko Yashida... And then the whole timeline got rewritten in X-Men: Days of Future Past. If we really have seen the last of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, at least he got a happy ending!
(Unless Logan actually does exist in that same timeline, in which case Wolverine got an extremely violent and painful ending.)