I was a big fan of the Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Frank Miller work of the late '70s and early '80s involving Logan's time in Japan. In fact, when the Origins movie was first announced, fans were hoping that's what Wolverine's first solo venture would be about. Sadly, that was not the case, but I'm sure glad we're seeing it now. Of course, this isn't exactly like the comic books, so don't get your hopes up, but the true fans of the series will appreciate the characters they brought to the table, even if they are different from their literary counterparts.
Surprisingly, The Wolverine takes places not too long after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand (uggh), but they do a fine job of not reminding us too much of the events of that train wreck. What's important here is that Jean Grey is dead and Logan is the one that killed her. Now, he's secluded himself, living out in the mountains, with a vow to never hurt anyone again. He's essentially given up being the hero.
But, we know better than that . . .
A quick run in with a strange Japanese woman and Logan is whisked away to Japan to pay his respects to a man whose life he saved the day the atom bomb dropped. I LOVE seeing Logan throughout time. Like the opening credits of Origins, this brief moment in the film has him back in the '40s and gives me hope for future films set in different time periods. The possibilities are endless.
Things, of course, are not as they always seem, and soon our favorite Canucklehead is battling Yakuza, ninjas, and his own mortality. Again, this is spoiler free, so I'm not going into much detail here, but the action scenes are very sweet, even if they feel too few and far between. In fact, the casual moviegoer might see the film as more slow paced than some of the other comic films out there. I'm inclined to agree, but I take that as a good thing. Origins was an overstuffed mess of unnecessary cameos, other mutants, and over-the-top action. It was TOO much. The Wolverine is more subdued, as a whole, and I enjoyed the ride a hell of a lot more. Yes, there are other mutants, but hardly. This is strictly Logan's movie, and, in fact, the only other real mutant (with visible powers) is Viper, whom I seriously could have done without. She is my major gripe with the film, as she, towards the end, becomes very exaggerated and cartoon-ish and had me rolling me eyes more than a few times.
After X2, The Wolverine is my favorite interpretation of the character so far. Taking Logan out of his element and tossing him in a foreign setting was just what the series needed to get back on track. If you hated Origins as much as I did, please don't let it stop you from seeing this flick. Logan deserves a second chance.
Oh, and this should go without saying these days, but STAY for the credits!!!