Wolverine is one of my all-time favorite superheroes. He's practically indestructible (READ: immortal due to healing factor), has KNIVES as a part of his body that he can retract at will and he has the bad attitude/gruff cynical attitude to match. Comic book heroes don't get anymore badass than that. The only people who come close are the Punisher and Spawn in terms of sheer badass. So I was decicedly excited and blown away when I first saw trailers for Origins back in 2009.
The more I think about it, the only thing good about that movie was Hugh Jackman's performance. Everything else was kind of subpar and cliche considering that it was a movie from the same franchise that basically set the standard for superhero movies a few years prior with X2. The movie's story was all over the place, and it fell flat trying to cover way too much material in one movie (although the Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting through various wars in history montage was cool). Not to mention, it had too many individual mutants and didn't go into enough detail with any of them (I'm looking right at you, Deadpool and Gambit). In short, it could have been much more with better writing and character development.
Which leads me to my next point, Wolvie gets a sequel aptly named...wait for it...wait for it...The Wolverine. Despite mostly negative reviews, Origins did well enough to warrant a sequel and hey, that's how Hollywood works. Of course, I've been a diehard X-men fan for most of my life so I'm always interested when they announce new shit. Whereas the first movie focused on Logan's origin story, this one will focus on his time in Japan, based on the famous Chris Claremont/Frank Miller miniseries from the early 80s.
Of course, Hugh Jackman returns for the titular role. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone else playing Wolverine even though he's technically a foot shorter than Jackman. Because it's set in Japan, most of the roles are played by Asians, something I like because I'm, well, Asian. Hiroyuki Sanada (that really badass samurai from The Last Samurai) plays the crime lord Shingen and the film's villain, Silver Samurai, is Will Yun Lee. The other notable roles are played by Brian Tee (who coincidentally shares, down to the letter, the same name as my brother) and Tao Okamoto as Wolvie's love interest, Mariko.
The actors definitely make a movie, but arguably more important is the director and the writers. I don't know too much about screenwriters, but at least one of the writers here has collaborated with Bryan Singer (director of the previous X-men films) before so that's promising. James Mangold is the director here, a better choice for the darker setting of this sequel. He's got hits on his resume like Walk the Line (which won several Academy Awards and Golden Globes) and 3:10 to Yuma. I'm not expecting The Wolverine to win Best Picture, but I'm hoping at least it's an improvement over Origins. So far, Marvel seems to be headed in the right direction.