“The Wolverine”
 
            The great thing about comic book characters is that you don’t mind if they’re caricatures.  But you’re pleasantly surprised if they’re not.
            What makes “The Wolverine” work is the complex character development of the main character.  Hugh Jackman plays Logan, who’s now bushy-headed and long-bearded and wandering around somewhere in the wilds of Alaska , where the grizzlies know enough to leave him alone.  You see, he has this special power, the origin of which is unexplained, but that’s OK, we’ve had enough superhero back-stories lately:  he can snap out these huge strong metal claws out of his knuckles at will, and, he heals instantly.  Pretty handy tools in a scrap.
            Yes, we could make much of the theological overtones inherent in the subplot here:  essentially immortal, Logan becomes bored, tired, disinterested, cynical, and generally world-weary.  We don’t know exactly how long he’s been around, but we do know that he was a POW in Nagasaki when the bomb fell….yes, that one, the atomic one after Hiroshima in 1945 that resulted in Japan ’s unconditional surrender to end World War II.  Logan managed to save the life of a Japanese guard, as well as escaping unscathed himself.  Now, all these years later, the prison camp guard is on his deathbed, and has asked Logan to come see him to say goodbye.
            Logan isn’t particularly sentimental about it, but he literally has nothing better to do, so he agrees to journey back to Nagasaki .  What he finds there is that his old buddy the prison camp guard is indeed on his deathbed, trying desperately to hang on, but it’s more complicated than that.  In the meantime, he’s managed to build a great business empire, which his mobster son fully expects to take over, but his arrogant, heartless son is corrupt, mean-spirited, and abusive.  So the dying patriarch decides that he would really rather will his entire international conglomerate to his beautiful young granddaughter, who, naturally, has also taken an interest in our ageless Wolverine (well, that would be one advantage of not aging like everyone else).
            But wait, there are other unseen obstacles to Logan getting his Mojo back.  His old girlfriend, Jean (Famke Janssen) keeps appearing to him in his dreams, stunning and alluring in a white negligee, begging him to come join her (on the other side?).  As if to accommodate that fantasy, The Wolverine finds himself mortally nicked by a wicked ally of the mobster, Viper, who looks like a blonde bombshell seductress but is actually evil personified:  she brings nothing but death and destruction and chaos.  Let’s see, throw in some samurai mumbo-jumbo and black-clad ninja fighters, along with some lighthearted cultural irony (sticking the chopsticks straight up in the rice is considered bad luck), and you have the ingredients for a spicy mix of palace intrigue, a hint of romance, and obligatory cartoonish violence. 
            But we want to root for The Wolverine because he fights through his demons and re-discovers his sense of calling, to be a soldier for good.
            Now, doesn’t that make us all sleep a little better at night?
 
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas