This might come as a surprise to you, but "The Wolverine" is actually pretty good. If you've been paying attention the "X-Men" franchise for the last decade, here's how things looked before the new standalone film:
1) "X-Men: Last Stand" capped off the original trilogy by essentially spitting in the face of the comic book fans and killing half the cast for little to no reason.
2) "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" drove the franchise even further off the road and gave us the worst CGI claws ever. They're literally the worst.
3) "X-Men: First Class" was a surprisingly great retooling the property that did away with pretty much everything from the Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner films.
So basically, "X-Men" had one good thing going for it and a lot to make up for, and the prospect of another standalone Wolverine movie — forgive me — didn't seem all that promising, especially with trailers that looked frighteningly similar to "Origins." (Mangold has since addressed the previews.)
But there are five very good reasons to give "The Wolverine" a chance, and you can find them after the jump!
Here's a guy that works his ass off, playing a character he genuinely loves. This is the sixth movie that Jackman has appeared in as Wolverine, and he's better at it in "The Wolverine" than he has ever been. It's because he gets Logan, and here the filmmakers actually give him the room to show it. In the "First Class" cameo and "The Wolverine," Jackman has proven that he and his take on the character are better than "Origins."
Characters That Make Sense
Sometimes it's nice when the good guys are good and you know why they're good. The same thing goes for the bad guys. Even if some of the motivation on the part of the villains is a little shaky and amounts to little more than "she's evil," there is very little confusion about what happens in "The Wolverine," and that isn't to say it's simplistic. It's clear and makes it very easy to sit back and enjoy.
In a lot of ways, "The Wolverine" is like Clint Eastwood movie. Not anything he directed, but something you might catch on a second-rate movie channel during a weekday. Clint's there, being Clint, and that's all you need. He'll kill a few bad guys, and then say something funny because he's hard-ass. That's exactly what happens in "The Wolverine" on a number of perfectly timed occasions, injecting just enough humor into the movie.
Considering the heading of this section, it's hard to discuss without spoiling, so I'll watch my words carefully here. There are two truly surprising scenes in "The Wolverine" that will catch just about everyone off guard, something not all summer movies can say.
How is it possible that after five years of Marvel Studios after-credit stingers, no other studio has figured out how to copy it correctly? "The Amazing Spider-Man" was a complete misunderstanding of the concept. "Green Lantern" came close, but no one saw it. Fox is making a big play to establish a universe (aka what every other superhero is doing post-"Avengers"), and this was their first significant move towards that. Definitely stick around through the first set of credits, but don't wait until the very end. There's only one extra scene.