The Wolverine Trailers: Am I The Only One Who Loved Them?

Am I the only one who legitimately loved the two Wolverine trailers?

International and domestic teasers for James Mangold’s The Wolverine finally arrived online after a few contentious days of cheap marketing exploitation. The frustration caused by silly promotional tricks had me ready to hate on whatever footage Mangold managed to present, but boy, did the trailers for this standalone adventure turn my opinion around.

It’s foolish to judge a film on its trailer. Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens looked fantastic as a two-minute tease. Too much can change when a movie plays out at feature length, obviously, but there are a number of elements in Mangold’s trailers that lead me to believe he and Jackman figured out how to tell a standalone Wolverine movie.

Both clips explore a crucial element of the Wolverine character that was brought up in the X-Men: Origins movie but shuttled after the opening credits. Logan (Jackman) is a soldier whose healing capabilities mean he has been around for an eternity … and that has to take a toll on a person’s mental health. The clip hints at the loves Wolverine has lost – that Jean Grey cameo isn’t supposed to be a surprise after all – and reduces him back to the feral state in which we found him at the start of Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie. This is a hero who tried to assimilate to society, and all it brought him was pain. I can completely understand why he’d want to exist off the grid.

But I also like the hook of what pulls him back in.

Mangold’s using elements of Frank Miller and Chris Claremont’s samurai saga (opens in new tab), a beloved storyline for Wolverine fans that will pit him against the Yakuza crime syndicate and the Silver Samurai … Wolverine’s chief nemesis outside of Sabretooth. And all of these narrative elements can be spotted in the trailers, which alone gives me geeky goosebumps. These new clips also tie back to themes introduced in Singer’s X-Men movies – the desire for a “cure” to the mutant gene, and a need to be “mortal” so as to shed what makes heroes like Wolverine special. Logan’s vulnerability isn’t a part of Miller and Claremont’s story, but if Mangold brought it into the fold to give Jackman an emotional angle to play with, I think it could elevate The Wolverine beyond a basic berserker-rage movie.

It doesn’t all look perfect. The bullet-train sequence looks as hokey and green-screened as the van sequence in the first Kick-Ass 2 trailer. But Ross Emery’s cinematography gives Japan an icy sheen that adds menace even to the sun-soaked daytime action sequences. The plot seems to pull as much from the character’s mythology as it does from Japan’s rich history with the samurai.

If this isn’t the type of Wolverine movie you were hoping for, then I’m not sure Hollywood – or Hugh Jackman – will EVER be able to give you a Wolverine movie that lives up to your standards.

That was the consensus on Twitter shortly after the trailers dropped. However, the tide turned – as Twitter tides often do – once more people started watching both teasers and analyzing the footage. So far, what I’m seeing in the Wolverine trailers have me pumped up for a standalone adventure that’s completely in line with what I want from this character … a noble mission in a far-off land that’s rooted in his emotional pain born of the mutant powers he never really wanted. It doesn’t look like it’s going to get too gonzo, and try to shoehorn in Logan fighting a mutated Deadpool on the edge of a nuclear reactor. Yes, that really happened. If Mangold and Jackman were able to simplify The Wolverine into a character-driven thriller with an emphasis on Logan’s evolution, then I think fans finally will be able to embrace this as the movie they’ve been patiently waiting for. And these trailers suggest to me that we’re on the right track.

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Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.