MOVIE NEWS

The Wolverine on Disney Plus : Justice for Yukio

All summer long, Disney+ subscribers have seen these peaks and valleys of the tumultuous X-Men film franchise with the addition of acclaimed movies (X-Men: Days of Future Past), campy movies (X-Men: Apocalypse), and… well, your mileage may vary on 2000’s X-Men, but you have to admit that it was a game-changer.

The latest X-addition to Disney+ is 2013’s The Wolverine, the sprawling franchise’s most underrated banger—and it stars the most nuanced, unapologetic badass mutant to ever appear in an X-Men movie. I’m talking about Yukio, a snarky warrior who—like basically every single woman in the entire X-Men franchise—deserved so much more than the hand she was dealt.

Let me just start by saying that y’all gotta revisit The Wolverine, just in general. The film suffered at the time because it was, well, a Wolverine movie. 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is one of the most unintentionally hilarious superhero movies ever made, so expectations going into The Wolverine were toxic. But the film, James Mangold’s first Marvel team-up, gave the sub-franchise a helluva glow-up. Truly, can you think of a sequel that course corrected as ferociously as The Wolverine? The movie set the stage for Logan, Mangold’s Oscar-nominated, R-rated opus—and it’s safe to assume that Logan’s mature audiences rating is gonna keep it off of Disney+. So Wolverine fans, you have The Wolverine to stream again—and you have Yukio to celebrate.

Played with searing, smoldering sass by first-time actor Rila Fukushima, Yukio is a dizzying, dazzling ass-kicker. Like too many characters in the X-films, Yukio is loosely based on a similarly cocky comic book character. Movie Yukio has some of the character’s spark, but she looks completely different and has a mutant power; she can see peoples’ impending deaths.

I can put my X-purist qualms aside if a movie version is rad as hell—and Yukio is rad as hell. Her look—blunt bangs dyed atomic red and chunky raver/goth gear—is unlike anything seen in the X-movies before and a perfect counterpoint to Wolverine’s grizzled cowboy aesthetic.

But Yukio is more than the looks! She takes up space in The Wolverine to a frankly shocking degree, considering how superhero movies almost always treat their “flawless,” “fearless” women. There’s a formula: a badass woman teams up with the male hero—only to get captured, knocked out, defeated, humiliated, or killed midway through the movie just to piss off the super dude. Not Yukio.

THE WOLVERINE, Rila Fukushima, 2013. ph: James Fisher/TM & copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved/courtesy Everett Collection
Photo: Everett Collection

The Wolverine puts Logan through the wringer, as his healing factor is severely diminished early in the movie. That means this superhero needs super help. He literally needs a bodyguard—and Yukio becomes that bodyguard. She saves Wolverine, and it’s exhilarating! Just rewatch the scene where Wolverine performs surgery on himself to excise the diabolical doodad sapping his healing factor. It’s up to Yukio to stall the sword-swinging big bad while Wolverine digs in—and she does. She’s relentless, ducking and diving and kicking, taking hits and—just when you think she’s done—getting back up.

The movie even gives Yukio a stunning amount of depth! In fact, there could easily be a version of this movie where Yukio is the central figure; she’s cursed with power, she has to learn to deal with it, she has a strong bond with the film’s central “damsel” that has absolutely nothing to do with Wolverine (and BTW, Mariko is such an awesome character that it’s reductive to call her a damsel). The way Yukio goes from delivering a haunting, tear-stained monologue about the trauma of her death vision to bucking up and declaring herself Logan’s bodyguard with a wry smile? That’s some lead character charisma.

Yukio is, without a doubt, Wolverine’s best partner, and The Wolverine knew that. The absolute worst part of the movie—aside from the bonkers take on Silver Samurai—is the ending. The film ends by low-key promising a sequel—or sequels!—starring Wolverine and Yukio as international ass-kickers. They’re seated side by side as complete equals, survivors of a movie that also depicted them as equals.

THE WOLVERINE, center from left: Rila Fukushima, Hugh Jackman, 2013. ph: James Fisher/TM & copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved/courtesy Everett Collection
Photo: Everett Collection

But, because the X-Men film franchise never knew how to follow through on anything good, we never got that movie. We did get Logan, a near-masterpiece that introduced a character that’s just as good as Yukio: Laura, a.k.a. X-23. But, just like Yukio before her, Logan’s pint-sized brawler has also failed to return (also, the Yukio that appeared in Deadpool 2 is obviously not the same Yukio—the X-movies are frustrating).

The Wolverine is all we got of Yukio, and that really sucks. But at least we got what we got—and now you can meet Wolverine’s bodyguard all over again on Disney+.

Stream The Wolverine on Disney+

.

Tags

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close
Close