"The Wolverine" is set for a wide release Friday with select screenings this evening. The World-Herald's Kevin Coffey catches you up on the story and characters. Illustrations by The World-Herald's Matt Haney.
Logan is a loner and a wanderer, but he's also the Wolverine, a man with mutant powers that give him keen senses, claws that spring from his hands and a healing factor that allows him to survive any wound (including the bonding of the indestructible metal adamantium to his bones and claws).
Wolverine's healing factor also greatly decreases the effects of aging, which allows him to live on long past a normal human lifespan. That's where we find him in “The Wolverine,” a film out Friday that takes place some time after “X-Men: The Last Stand.” The character (played for sixth time by Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan, where he meets Shingen Yashida, an acquaintance from decades past who promises Logan that he can lose his healing power and therefore his immortality — and thus his long, tiring life may finally come to a close.
Most of the story and characters are borrowed from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 “Wolverine” comic book series.
In the comics, the Silver Samurai was the son of Shingen Yashida, a Japanese crime boss. The Samurai had the mutant ability to charge anything with energy, which he often uses for his katana sword. He fought alongside the villain Viper to assassinate his half sister, Mariko Yashida, who was also Wolverine's lover.
In the film, not much is known about the Samurai — other than the fact that he and the Wolverine will have a big showdown fight.
Played by Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova, Viper is a dangerous mutant who is involved in removing Logan's healing powers. Her intentions, other than harming Wolverine, are somewhat mysterious in the film.
Wolverine is the only character to appear in every X-Men movie. He has also appeared in dozens of comic book series, both solo titles where he was the star and team titles where he was just one of a large cast. Try these out if you're interested in learning more about the adamantium-clawed hero.
» Watch “Wolverine: the Musical,” a video from Glove & Boots.
» “Wolverine” by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller — “The Wolverine” film is based on this 1982 limited series, the first to feature Wolverine in a solo title.
» “Wolverine: Origin” by Paul Jenkins and Joe Quesada — Wolverine was always a character with a mysterious back story. But that all changed with this 2002 series, which told of his full name and childhood.
» “Wolverine: Old Man Logan” by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven — Set 50 years in the future; supervillains Dr. Doom, Red Skull and Magneto have taken over.
» “Incredible Hulk” No. 181 — Wolverine's first full appearance labeled him as “the world's first and greatest Canadian superhero.” In it, Wolverine and Hulk begin to fight before they team up to take on Wendigo. Then they fight again.