Thoughts on, and a place to discuss, the plot details we can’t reveal in our review.
Maybe the best scene in The Wolverine—or at least my favorite, for its visceral ingenuity—is the moment when Hugh Jackman’s Logan discovers what’s been suppressing his regenerative healing powers. Seated under what basically amounts to a high-tech x-ray scanner, he sees a squirming, multi-limbed parasite thing wrapped around his heart. Excruciating pain is a normal part of life for this tortured mutant loner; when asked by Rogue in the first X-Men movie if it hurts to pop his claws, he stoically remarked "Every time." So when faced with a threat within his own body, Wolverine does what anyone would expect him to do: He fishes the damn thing out. For X-Men fans, it’s always fun to see the team’s resident wild man actually put his claws to flesh. Here, he makes a surgical incision and then plunges his whole hand inside; cutting around the gruesomeness to preserve his PG-13 rating, James Mangold cleverly treats us to a shot, on the x-ray display monitor, of skeletal fingers grasping frantically for the squirming cardiac invader. Oh yeah, and then sword-weilding bad guys burst in during this impromptu self-surgery. It’s gross, funny, suspenseful—the sort of setpiece that distinguishes The Wolverine from its summer-movie brethren.
By the end of the film, Logan has lost the Adamantium coat on his claws, which are now just made of organic bone. (In the comics, Magneto stripped the metal out of him through his pores. Here, the Silver Samurai just chops the blades off at the knuckle, as though he were declawing a cat.) That’s about the only franchise progress The Wolverine makes, though. Mostly, and to the movie’s credit, it doesn’t further the overarching X-Men narrative. It’s a standalone work and more enjoyable for it.
That is, until the obligatory credits sequence, which finds a rejuvenated Logan stopped at airport security by a couple of faces from his past: Ian McKellen’s Magneto, newly repowered, and Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier, alive and well despite his fatal run-in with Dark Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand. (“You’re not the only one with special gifts,” ol’ cueball tells an astonished Wolverine.) There’s also an advertisement for “Trask Industries,” which the initiated will remember is the company responsible for the massive, mutant-hunting Sentinels. All of this is set-up for next summer’s all-hands-on-deck prequel/sequel Days Of The Future Past, adapted from one of the greatest of all X-Men arcs. I loved the self-contained nature of The Wolverine, but there’s no denying that, as credit teasers go, this one whets the appetite. Bring on the giant robots, dsytopian futures, and time-traveling messengers!