Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, John Perich and Matthew Wrather overthink The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman. Bonus overthinking of Highlander: The Final Dimension.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/mwrather/otip265.mp3]
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An observation, and a question:
I hoped to hear from this podcast some about the theme of healing in The Wolverine. Wolverine’s inability to heal physically throughout most of the film is a metaphor for his inability to heal emotionally, and the two conflicts are resolved simultaneously when Wolverine gets a handle on the things gnawing at his heart, those being a robotic parasite and his unresolved guilt about killing Jean. Pretty on-the-nose, but ambitious enough screenwriting, I thought.
And a question: What else we can do with the trope of the fight on top of a moving train? The Bullet Train in this movie upped the stakes and changed the physics, so that was cool. What’s next?
Well, one of the really cool things about the train fight scene is how Wolverine and the triad alternated between cooperating and competing — watching each other for cues on when to jump or duck to get out of the way of the low-hanging signage. You got the sense the guys didn’t want each other to really fall off the train; they wanted to finish the fight. I guess in the case of the Triad, if he didn’t kill the Wolverine himself, it would be unclear whether he actually died, so that’s a factor.
It felt like a dance, where the two were uneasy about trusting each other to watch out for the signs, but had to in the situation — and then once the trust was develop, Wolverine betrayed the other dude and got him killed.
So, what else can you do with the trope of a fight on top of a moving train? Well, what other relationships can two people fighting on top of a train have with each other?
You could have a fight on a train between two old partners — one has betrayed the other and is the bad guy, and the other is trying to win him over and mend the friendship, but also can’t avoid the necessity of this fight.
So, you have the two people fight on top of the train, and the betrayer friend is constantly trying to release and uncouple the train cars so they drift apart from one another, and the loyal friend character, while keeping up the pace of the fight, needs to get the train cars back together unharmed — either using super strength or rocket boosters or weight balance issues.
You could do this in a Fast & the Furious type movie where two guys are fighting on top of a train while also in cars (or ATVs or robot tank suits or something). Maybe the guy can nudge the the train cars back into each other by driving a car on top of the train and hitting the nitro when going in the opposite direction.
You could also do a rooftop train fight in a Superman movie or similar where the train has somebody important on it or a bomb or something — and the train goes through a tunnel in the alps, so rather than go into the tunnel, the fight continues at train speed going up, over and down the mountain the train is traveling through, busting through trees and scaring deer and stuff — and then then the bad guy lands back on the train… smirk… pause… And then the good guy lands on the train carrying a rabbit, which he hands down to a child peeking out a window.
You could have a high-speed train traveling in a tube under the Pacific Ccean and have people skitching the train and fighting in 270 degrees using grappling hooks and skateboards or rollerblades while in diving suits (because the tube wll be vacuum sealed.
You could have a train on the moon, and because of low gravity, the fighting makes the train jump up off the tracks sometimes, where it sort of floats before landing down on them again.
You could have a futuristic train that carries its maglev panels with it, almost like a tank tread around the body of the train — putting the panels down in front of the train and then gliding over them and picking them up. And then like Jedi Knights could run and jump from panel to panel while they lightsaber fight.
You could have a drill train burrowing into the center of the earth, a la The Core, and the two guys riding the roof of the train are also constantly breaking rocks by punching them.
There are a lot of cool things you could do.
Good ones! And then there’s the train that went through the center of the Earth in the Total Recall remake where gravity reverses half way through the ride.
Small “well actually” (that is actually tangentially connected to the topic of orientalism and Westerners’ perception of the Eastern “other”): he was fighting a yakuza, not a triad guy. Yakuza = Japanese organized crime. Triad = Chinese organized crime.
More to the point: the train scene felt fresh and exhilarating. I loved every second of it. Now, contrast the creativity of that scene with the ridiculous techno lab and silver samurai of the end. It’s night and day. Or rather, yin and yang.
Right, sorry about that. Triads are more well-known for using knives, thus the source of my confusion.
There is an awesome train-top Jedi fight in the 2003 Clone Wars series – and definitely one portrayed in a comic book (Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan maybe?) I don’t know if they stick with the standard train top conventions though.
Wanted to correct something I said on the podcast. I casually mentioned Stan Lee in connection with the creation of Wolverine. I should have remembered he’s a little late for a Stan Lee original — the character design for Wolverine was by John Romita, Sr., and he was first written by Len Wein, the same guy who co-created Swamp Thing.
And apparently the story of Wolverine’s coloring being based on the University of Michigan is just an urban legend. Kinda sad about that:
As penance for your sins you must now watch Ghost Shark and overthink the theological ramifications therein.
Regarding the “let’s try up” moment on the private jet, does this qualify as a Peter Pan solution to a Wolverine problem (i.e. “second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning”)? Or perhaps even a flavor of a Star Trek solution to a Wolverine problem (i.e. “let’s see what’s out there”)?
If allowed, I’d assume Enron would have benefited from help from Storm. Not that I actually would WANT them to be saved, but, yeah. Then all those rolling blackouts back in the day wouldn’t have happened.
I was pleased to be able to listen to your podcast about a week after seeing the movie. This is unusual because 1) I don’t get to the movie theater too often, 2) I am always backlogged with podcasts, and 3) I’ve pretty much given up on being “spoiler-free” if it means putting off commentary about things I haven’t seen yet. So whatever the merits are of this particular movie, it’s great to share the experience for once.
My wife and I saw this together (also unusual, if someone has to be home with our youngest child), and she commented that the relationship between Logan and Mariko seemed inappropriate to the point of being creepy. (In real life, he’s 45 and she’s 28.) Whether we are talking about apparent age or his immortal status, I guess we’re just supposed to assume he has relaxed his minimum age requirement for relationships? Is this just another example of what Hollywood does a lot with older men and younger women? I’m about the same age as Hugh Jackman, and maybe we’d like to live the dream, but in some respects having a girlfriend about the same age as my oldest (daughter) is off-putting. I know it does happen often enough.
Thanks as always for the little diversions that make me laugh, such as the She-Hulk sidebar conversation.
P.S. I will be back at the movie theater this week to see/hear the Rifftrax folks do their thing to one of my favorites, “Starship Troopers.” I have never been to one of their live (simulcast) events, so I am looking forward to being there.
Finally saw the movie, and not realizing only one of you had seen origins, I was a bit sad to not hear you talk about how much Jackman now looks like Liev Schriever.