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The Wolverine

The Wolverine

It may be that what Wolverine would need to recover from dealing with foes on the scale of a Magneto or a Dark Phoenix, is find himself amidst an environment where no one he comes across looks like he or she’d present much of a problem to that great big bear we encounter at the beginning. It’s a pisser that that venom woman can spit into him a spider that cancels his healing, because otherwise the movie looked like one for Wolverine to remind himself he could reasonably just vacation himself through an onslaught of angry swords, guns, and knives. Truly, other than this one deadly ability from the venom woman, mutants here seem so downscaled—any ordinary guy, good with a sword, would seem just as much a problem. So if all he needed to get past Jean, was to get some soothing attention from a humbled, lovely girl, who you know is incapable of even making a loud gesture let alone bursting into a fiery, taunting, red-headed demon-woman, then this trip to Japan was just what he needed. Only, this environment was one that could infest him with a parasitic tick—the spider—he couldn’t possibly have worried about incurring while living cave-man in Alaskan woods (btw, when he removed it, were you too thinking of the slicing open of a salmon and the removal of guts? … Maybe I did so out of fidelity to that great bear.). And because of it, while Japan might requit him back to women—near literally through baby steps—it still reminds him of how badly human beings can suck. 

Think on what he had invited upon himself here. He had once saved the life of a man—Yashida—from nuclear explosion. After this, he had the presence of mind to realize that this man’s honor might still be vulnerable—his fellow officers had hari-karied themselves, in ritual recognition of their end—and manages to refute his offering up of his family heirloom sword in a sublimely honor-salvaging, appropriate way: he makes it seem that his keeping it is just his taking care of it for awhile until he comes back—after his eventual death—to reclaim it, a plausible enough scenario. What a sublime offering he gives this young officer, and Yashida makes use of the rest of his life to become a great industrial leader and the father of a great clan. What he does to Wolverine in recompense is beyond the pale. He lures Wolverine to his home in Japan, tugging once more on how brilliantly being from a honorable culture can be used to inconvenience anyone with a sense of decency. Then when Wolverine gets there, he tugs once more: not so much by security reacting to him like he might be a threat—though this was a way of soiling someone you are supposed to venerate—but by ensuring he gets a monstrously-thorough scrub-down before meeting him, which can play as just Japanese custom but also as someone using excusable means to show you through your constant honoring of expectation, that your proper role is as a supplicant: with your suffering yet one more inconvenience, how sure are you that your most profound instinct is actually not to submit? His piece de resistance is of course to instruct Wolverine that his curse is to be a warrior without a lord … and so ostensibly that what he was waiting for was not just to be sundered of his perpetual youth and healing abilities but to be essentially bidden to do so by a lord he had surely been lost without.

We wouldn’t much admire Wolverine if he didn't finally put up road-blocks to this manipulative idiot exactly then and there. The whole thing plays a bit like someone taunting someone out of envy whom he knows he’s going to have to play underhanded in order to actually get to “submit.” We can imagine ourselves personally tripping up our well-earned defenses against people in his situation, and are in fact fully bonded to Wolverine when he knows he’s going to have to rip apart a good chunk of Japan to achieve some self-esteem-salvaging, fuck-you-for-that push-backbut now without this being at all an easy thing to achieve ... Fuck! how did we get ourselves in this situation? It must have been stupid, stupid, stupid me! (fists slammed repeatedly against our heads.)

The revenge motive does work in this film, and we cheer his getting his healing powers back like we would a recovery of our own after a masterful, humiliating play on our own openness and gullibility. And we’re angry that the film connives yet some other thing that can best his healing power—the poison-cauldroned arrows. Really, we just wanted him to flip all those arrowed to him, to him, so he could mince them like fan blades; and for the rest in the film, melt through any foe presented to him as quickly and easily as through butter. 

Those who made the film seem stunningly unaware of it, but the idea that anyone should buy into pressing arguments that it is time for them to die, is given pretty powerful refutation by the setting of the film. In a flashback, we saw a good part of a Japanese city destroyed at a time when aggressive nations were taking their defeat as a sign that their cultural history was overthat it was time for them to die (indeed, during WW2 Germany's last days tens of thousands committed suicidethe largest mass suicide in history). Yet the movie is mostly set at a time when the city has long past taking even this in stride. Sometimes the harridon that is preying on you finally desists, not for your finally confronting it, ripping its influence away from your heart, but for its having finally had its fill, and falling off, satiated. If this is what happened with him and Jean, maybe he should desist being the warrioras as admirable a course as this seemed for himand head back to better know his young new Japanese girlfriend. He might go through a long lovely spell with her, and be totally demon free.  


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