The solo Wolverine movies Hugh Jackman made before Marvel and Fox were both under the same corporate umbrella have an interesting place when it comes to the critical and fan reaction. On one end of the spectrum there’s 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which often finds a home on any Worst Superhero Movies Ever list. On the other end there’s 2017’s Logan, which will usually be mentioned alongside The Dark Knight and Iron Man as potentially the absolute best superhero movie ever. Often forgotten in the middle is 2013’s The Wolverine, though some HBO subscribers seem to be discovering it. The film just entered HBO’s Top 10 list of movies streamed this week.
In the wake of the events of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand — which ends with Hugh Jackman’s Marvel hero being forced to kill Jean Grey — Logan lives as a hermit in the Yukon. He surfaces from his wilderness isolation only to punish some hunters after their poison forces a bear to go wild, and soon afterward finds himself on the other side of the world. The mutant Yukio finds Logan and brings him to Japan at the behest of the powerful tech CEO Ichirō Yashida, whose life Logan saved during World War II. Ichirō is dying of cancer, and he has an interesting gift to both ask of Logan and to offer him. He wants to use a process to take Logan’s healing power to save himself from cancer, and to save Logan from the immortality he does not want. Wolverine refuses, and soon afterward Ichirō dies.
Ichirō’s death is not the end of the drama. Logan is forced to pop his claws at Ichirō’s funeral when yakuza show up to kidnap the late CEO’s granddaughter Mariko. Together Logan, Yukio, Marika are forced to go on the run; and to make a bad situation worse Wolverine’s healing abilities stop working the way they’re supposed to. For the first time since Jean Grey’s death, Logan allows himself to fall in love, while at the same time fighting off ninjas, the mutant villain Viper, and the powerful Silver Samurai.