With “The Wolverine” set to be released to theaters soon, fans of the X-Men movies and comic books anticipate the return of one of their favorite heroes. However, those who haven’t read the comic books don’t know what to expect from the movie. The only information they have regarding the plot of the movie comes from two of the film’s tag lines, “When he’s most vulnerable, he’s most dangerous,” and “The hero. The fugitive. The warrior. The survivor. The legend.” While these tag lines are certainly intriguing, they do require a little more explanation to be fully understood.
The first tag line refers to the fact that, for the most part, Wolverine is only violent when he feels cornered. In this origin story, he often can’t control the use of his mutant abilities. Just like a wild animal, Wolverine reacts violently when others threaten him. These unintentionally violent reactions cause a lot of problems for him in the movie, causing him to harm those he knows and loves. When Wolverine is feeling confident, he minds his own business. However, all who know him soon learn that his vulnerability is what makes him truly dangerous.
Wolverine is described in the second tag line as a hero. This description may seem accurate to those who have seen the other films in which Wolverine fights for the safety of others, but it isn’t always accurate at the beginning of this origin story. Wolverine starts out as a frail and scared little boy, but “The Wolverine” shows how he overcomes his fear and vulnerability and learns to fight back and defend others. In other words, Wolverine learns from his trials to become a hero by the end of the movie.
Those who only know the heroic version of Wolverine may have a hard time hearing him described as a fugitive, but it plays a huge role in how he becomes a hero. Before he learns to control his power, Wolverine accidentally hurts and kills many people. To avoid being convicted and punished for these crimes, he must run from the law and become a fugitive. Because of his fugitive status, he wanders the world for many years. Through his wanderings, he learns techniques that help him on his road to mental and social recovery.
While fleeing from the law, Wolverine spends some time in Japan, where he learns to be a samurai. They teach him how to channel his anger and fight. This is how he becomes a warrior. While his mutations make him strong, his samurai training helps him use that strength productively. He even picks up a few fashion tips from the samurai, as Wolverine’s classic outfit is influenced by his time in Japan. It’s only through this warrior status that Wolverine can fulfill his destiny and become a hero, dangerous to all who oppose him.
“Survivor” is probably the most apt nickname for Wolverine, as everything he does and the status he gains happens simply because of his will to survive. He survives a childhood that was both mentally and physically rough. He survives his criminal status by learning to adapt. He even survives his samurai training by learning to channel his power. No matter what life throws at him, Wolverine always survives. He climbs out of the rubble of his broken dreams stronger and more determined than ever. This is why he is called “the survivor” and why that name describes him better than any other.
Finally, the movie posters advertise Wolverine as being a legend. He certainly lives long enough to gain that title. His origin story takes place almost 200 years ago. Though Wolverine is blessed with longevity, he doesn’t remember most of his life. Every time his vulnerability causes him to act out violently and unintentionally, his mind blocks the memory to protect him. Because of this, Wolverine’s back story is unknown to him and to most who know him. With such an air of mystery about him, it’s no wonder he’s considered a legend.
The tag lines for “The Wolverine” describe the title character as being many different things. However, all of these things are interlinked, and Wolverine is not one without the others. His different fates and destinies intertwine to form a complex and intriguing story. Audiences will certainly be thrilled to see this hero’s origin story come to life on the big screen and to see how he becomes a survivor, a warrior, and so much more than that. Until then, movie posters and tag lines will have to do.