Inspired by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s much-loved comic-book run, The Wolverine takes The Mass Murderer Formerly Known As James Howlett to Japan for sake, sex and the removal of his healing powers. The full-length trailer for James Mangold’s take on the character that made Hugh Jackman famous arrived this week, and here below are 36 moments that made us want to stop a second and have a closer look.
N.B. As this is an analysis of a trailer, there will be spoilers of a sort here. This is your final warning, Bub.
As we exclusively revealed back in the December issue of Empire, The Wolverine is not a direct sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but a follow-up to X-Men: The Last Stand. This is despite the post-credits sting at end of Gavin Hood’s 2009 take on Logan Begins where Wolvie schlocks back the sake down Tokyo way. Check out this admittedly ropey recording of the footage to hear him respond to the question “Are you drinking to forget?” with the words “No, I’m drinking to remember.” This implies that Logan has already been in Japan before the events of X-Men, X2 and The Last Stand. Then again, you may want to treat that post-credits sting as non-canon as many people aren't aware of it and The Wolverine seems to ignore its existence.
Anyway, this all explains why he’s carrying around a photo of Jean Grey, the woman he loved (and killed) – with the mourning process turning him into an incredibly temperamental hobo.
On the left hand side of this still you’ll spot an empty hooch flask. It looks like Wolverine has, like Tony Stark in the Demon In A Bottle comic-book arc, hit the drink hard.
Yukio (newcomer Rila Fukushima), despite working for a technology magnate/crime boss, spies on Logan in a rather simple mobile phone-based fashion. From the street signs, this looks to be a town in the Yukon territory of Canada, just east of Alaska and way out in the boondocks. See also: all the moose references, from inside Yukio’s car to the antlered fella stuck to the wall in the bar.
Wolverine may look like he lives in a dumpster, but he still feels pain – and, more importantly, still regenerates the same way he always did. Also, does this look remind anyone else of a long-haired version of Jackman's Valjean early on in Les Misérables?
This is Yukio, face on, leading Logan to a private jet owned by her employer Yashida. She dresses like a Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World character and casually walks around with a katana. P.S. She is a trained assassin and will happily kill you without a second thought. Now you know.
Wolverine – in the movie version of his character, anyway – still hates flying, clutching onto the armrest like his life depended on it. Note the (hopefully Suntory) whisky he’s drinking to calm his nerves.
Incidentally, the not-liking-flying thing was Jackman’s idea. Here’s the animalistic Australian on the topic back in 2009: "I think ever since I saw the Indiana Jones movies and [saw] he was scared of snakes... I kinda loved the idea of someone with that kind of vulnerability. [Someone] who probably wouldn't appreciate being out of control in the air."
This is Wolverine (topless, natch), with the young Yashida (later to be played by Hal Yamanouchi) staring at the fallout out from one of the atom bombs that just hit.
From the looks of things, Yashida was one of Logan’s keepers in a concentration camp outside either Nagasaki or Hiroshima when the bomb hit. It seems that as well as fighting in the American Civil War, World War I, the D-Day landings and Vietnam – as seen in Origins – Wolvie did his killing thing in the Orient too, and without his half-brother-in-arms Victor Creed/Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) by his side. For more on this, check out Brian K. Vaughan's Logan mini-series, which does something rather similar.
Like a mash-up of The Dark Knight (Two Face’s burns) and The Dark Knight Rises (bring trapped in The Pit), Logan is severely hurt by the bomb’s blast, even though he’s, um, well far down a well. But hell, he’s Wolverine – he lives for this sort of stuff... or used to, anyway.
Wolverine is in Japan now. You can tell because of all the visual cues: neon signs for Yashida’s company, men in ceremonial dress and all those Shinto shrines.
This is Viper (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s Svetlana Khodchenkova) in her doctor’s garb, a character described as “someone from Wolverine’s past”, though she is not in Claremont/Miller's original story. As director James Mangold puts it, she’s rather “snakelike.” ''Viper views Logan like a great hunter might view hunting a lion in his quarry,” he adds. “There's kind of an admiration, a desire to destroy and a desire to consume and to have and to hold.'' She likes poisons and venoms and messing with people’s heads. Look out for this one.
Considering there’s so much Vaseline on the lens, it’s a safe bet this is a flashback (or a dream) concerning Jean Grey. This could well be the cameo every internet-using Marvel nut and his dog has been conjecturing about since The Wolverine started production.
Speaking to MTV, Jackman has said this about the Jean Grey appearance: "There's no doubt that the most important relationship in his life is... his relationship with Jean Grey. Yes, we saw her die at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand, but in this movie, she has a presence, which I think is vital to the movie, particularly for him confronting the most difficult thing within himself."
File this building under ‘foreboding final fight location’. You know, if you like.
Mr. Yashida is in a bad way, which is why he’s brought Logan back – to say thank you, and for something else. That something else involves offering Wolverine a way of losing his mortality, and from the looks of this computer screen, it involves… technology. And insects. Hell, it’s technical. Let’s move on.
This is a better look at Hal Yamanouchi, who doesn’t look well – for starters, he’s lying on a massive Pin Pressions toy, and that can’t be comfortable.
Is that a portrait of Yashida on the right? Is he dead now? Is this his funeral? That would explain the temple setting, the ornate dress and Yukio and Logan’s attendance. Perhaps he was done in by another member of the Yashida clan, Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada)…
Wolverine is shot, point blank, and feels pain. Real pain - pain with life-threatening consequences. Despite this, he steps up, unsheathes his claws and has at the bad ‘uns. But if he’s had his regenerative powers removed, how come when he extends his claws blood doesn’t pour out? Perhaps that’s just something we’re meant to ignore, or the regenerative effects have been toned down rather than removed outright.
Wolverine gets beaten up by goons – but, perversely, almost seems to enjoy the genuine pain.
This giant piece of robotic armour belongs to The Silver Samurai, also known as Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee), an illegitimate son of Yashida. If he wears it – and he’s angry with you – that’s a bad thing. In the background is Mariko Yashida (Tao Okamoto), daughter of Shingen and Logan’s love interest both in the comics and the film.
Hey, more Pin Pressions! It looks like Viper – now in a slightly more Poison Ivy-like garb – is messing with Wolverine in a chair we can safely presume is involved with the whole removing-his-regenerative-powers process.
Are Viper’s poisons messing with his brain? Or is she actually part-snake and is happy to shed her skin?*
P.S. Production designer Francois Audouy previously told Empire that "Jim [Mangold]'s described this movie as a kind of fever dream. It's kind of realistic but heightened, in a slightly surreal way. The settings are all ramped up to be dynamic and engaging visually. It's textured, atmospheric Toyko noir." This looks slightly surreal, to say the least.
This is Wolverine with a sewn-up scar. This feels wrong.
Wolverine takes on a horde of Shingen’s ninjas, echoing the front cover of Claremont and Miller’s book.
Wolverine, cigar in mouth, blows up some sort of gas canister to get rid of all those pesky ninjas in one go. Here’s hoping he still has his healing powers at this point...
N.B. There’s a beautifully camp pose from one of the ninjas on the left here – just in case you missed it.
Is this the Silver Samurai or a man in a smaller version of the suit? The previous look at the back of him makes him seem much bigger... Must be just a guy in a Silver Samurai-like suit who interrupts Wolvie when he’s having a kip.
Again, scars on Wolverine. Again, this is wrong.
Smaller Silver Samurai chap has had his helmet removed, because that’s just better cinema, and we all know it.
Wolverine can heal at this point. The way trailers are cut, this all gets very confusing.
In the same way many films set in London somehow end up shooting near Buckingham Palace, films set in Japan tend to somehow involve the good ol’ Bullet Train. Here, Wolverine squares off against a bigger-and-badder-than-most-henchmen henchman, and can feel pain.
Talking to MTV, Jackman has said that shooting this was "insane". "One of the most emblematic things about Japan is the bullet train," he added. "Since the '70s this train was built that goes 250 mph or something. We're traveling through the movie through Japan. It's not just in Tokyo, we go to the country of Japan. And how do you get there? By bullet train... [but you] can't go on the bullet train without any incident. It was hairy, shooting that stuff. To recreate what that is like, the kind of winds at 300 mph, let me just say, looking back at some of the footage, I thought, 'It's time for a facelift'."
And sure, the CGI is a little dodgy, but it’s worth it for...
Especially from this angle.
Many commenters online have pointed out that this train section of the trailer is the most disappointing part, saying that the CGI is "not good enough". Mangold has been clear to emphasise that computer effects are not going to be at the heart of the film, with the emphasis more on a Man With No Name story crossed with the feel of Yasujiro Ozu movies - Floating Weeds and so on - telling Empire: "Our goal is to try to be a little less super-CG and wires, and a little more hardcore. I want the film to feel analogue. You always have large-scale action and aventure - it wouldn't be a movie about gods if you didn't have epic physicality. But we all feel we're making a Japanese noir picture with tentpole action in it." This is some of your tentpole action here, Bub.
Is this the result of The Silver Samurai throwing Wolverine into a wall? Presumably he’s the only being with enough force to do so. Interestingly, director James Mangold tweeted a picture of this alongside the words, "There's a world through that blast hole" a few weeks ago...
The rest of the following screengrabs are from the US domestic trailer, which has more on Mariko (and veterinary surgeries, believe it or not). This is a closer look at Tao Okamoto, in the rain, looking longingly at Logan as a figure – presumably her father – looms in the background.
Is this inside the foreboding building we saw earlier? Is this where the Silver Samurai suit is kept?
A clear look at Will Yun Lee as Kenuichio Harada – and not his Silver Samurai alter-ego – as he does his best Hawkeye impersonation.
Wolverine, dressed all in black, is on the run with Mariko. He looks genuinely concerned. Bear in mind, this is not a typical Wolverine emotion.
It’s unclear whether this footage of Mariko kissing Logan is reality or not. They are lovers in the comic-books, of course, but considering the next still – and the way Wolverine’s had his brain/body messed with by scientists again – it’s all up in the air.
Hello Viper. By the way, does this remind you off the same bait-and-switch trick from the first Iron Man 3 trailer…?
Wolverine still can’t quite believe he’s lost his powers of healing – and in a vet’s offices, to boot...