It’s that time of year again, readers, when the biggest of the big blockbusters plant their flags in the sand to rule the box office, with 2019’s superhero movies set to reign supreme once more. As we look back at where superhero movies have come from to where they are today, one character in this contemporary golden-age of comic book adventures can’t help but stand out from all the rest – Wolverine.
Beginning with his big screen debut in 2000’s “X-Men”, Wolverine has left his mark on the modern era of superhero cinema like no other, thanks largely to Hugh Jackman’s iconic portrayal of the character. His vast talents may have begun with singing and dancing, and he’s ready to continue down that road with the recently announced sequel to 2017’s “The Greatest Showman”. However, it was his tenure as Wolverine, spanning an astonishing seventeen years, that made him a global, household name.
Mr. Jackman’s unforgettable, uber-charismatic performance was absolutely instrumental in bringing the superhero genre to where it is today, and anyone currently basking in the golden-age of comic book movies will forever be indebted to him. And something we can all agree upon – he really raised the bar for superhero action, as well. With a training regimen that gave him the body of a god, he never left audiences wanting when it came to the action sequences of the “X-Men” films, and they were some heavy-hitters, indeed. With three adamantium claws in each hand, Wolverine was practically, genetically engineered with the abilities of a Samurai or a Silat master, and the world was treated to many incredible superhero brawls during Mr. Jackman’s time playing the character.
…And with all that said, it can only mean one thing, it’s time for another countdown…so brace yourselves for some wild, claw-slashing, berserker-mode action, readers – here, in descending order, are KFK’s Top 10 Wolverine Movie Fights!
- Wolverine vs Weapon XI/Deadpool — X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
- Battling the Brotherhood — X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
- Train Fight — The Wolverine (2013)
- Mansion Attack — X2: X-Men United (2003)
- Rampage in Weapon X — X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
- Wolverine vs Lady Deathstrike — X2: X-Men United (2003)
- Logan vs X-24 — Logan (2017)
- Wolverine vs Shingen — The Wolverine (2013)
- X-23 Unleashed — Logan (2017)
Okay, everyone’s probably ready to rip my head off over this one, but please, just hear me out. Hugh Jackman, Scott Adkins, and especially Ryan Reynolds have all voiced their displeasure with the final product, with Reynolds even going as far as to put a bullet in the head of this version of Wade Wilson in last year’s “Deadpool 2”. But, let’s set aside for a moment The Merc with a Mouth being transmuted into a mute, zombie ninja codenamed “Weapon XI”.
Logan’s final battle with Wade is still among his best big-screen battles, and aside from Hugh Jackman’s typical greatness in the role, a lot of that has to do with Scott Adkins. Given that the film came out between “Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing” and the then-upcoming “Ninja”, Scott wasn’t quite as known to the world he is today. That would ultimately give the film the distinct advantage of having Scott be able to perform the more complex stunts and martial arts of the final battle with the audience being none the wiser whenever he took over. Except those of us who’d seen “Undisputed 2”, that is – as we all left the theater opening night, I was certainly making sure to let my friends know who it was doing all those back flips and spinning kicks, even as the major topic of discussion was the atrocity that was stitching Wade’s mouth shut.
Yeah, it may have disgraced The Merc with a Mouth in half a dozen different ways, but given that all three of our leads would go on to greener pastures within the comic book genre, it’s fair to say that, judged purely as a superhero smackdown, the finale of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” still delivers.
Oh, “X-Men: The Last Stand”, or as I like to call it, “The Most Underrated X-Men Movie”. Sure, it may rejigger the Dark Phoenix storyline without its famous cosmic elements, and yeah, the handling of Cyclops’ death is simply inexcusable. However, it’s also the first “X-Men” movie to not just explore the politics that come with anti-mutant prejudice, but really dive head first into the kind of civil war bubbling beneath the surface of America’s political polarization. Oh yes, it’s also the first “X-Men” movie to put Logan deep in the wilderness in his trademark white tank top and have him slashing through his enemies like a wild animal, no biggie! In all seriousness, Logan’s battle with the latest recruits to Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants is torn right out of the best Wolverine stories, and Hugh Jackman throws everything he’s got into chopping through his opponents like a lumberjack. The forest setting just fits our animalistic hero, ahem, like a glove, and “The Last Stand” was the first chapter in the series to incorporate a fight sequence to take full advantage of that. Thankfully, it wouldn’t be the last, either.
2013’s “The Wolverine” was the first film in the “X-Men” franchise to really center itself around Logan’s healing factor, and explore the heightened risk he would face if it would start to fail. Thanks to a parasite inserted into his body by the nefarious Viper, played by Svetlana Khodchenkova, our hero now faces exactly that dilemma, and it comes at the worst time possible – right as Wolverine is battling a team of pursuing yakuza assassins while on a train speeding over the streets of Tokyo.
With Hugh Jackman and a team of stunt men doing the heavy lifting of the practical side of the sequence, the CGI of the speeding train is excellent, as well. The audience really gets a feel of being in the shoes of characters in the dual predicament of fighting to the death while clinging for dear life onto the top of a bullet train going well over 100mph. And that’s without even factoring in the beams, cranes, and signs whizzing over and past them that they continually have to be conscious about avoiding. It was the first time in the series that Wolverine couldn’t count on his healing factor to make it out in one piece, and “The Wolverine” really drills into the kind of suspense that comes from that with its incredible train fight scene. Be sure to also check out KFK’s exclusive interview with one of the stuntmen seen here, Jon Valera, on his work as fight coordinator on “Aquaman”, as well!
After 2000’s “X-Men”, comic book fans and moviegoers alike knew that we could not possibly have asked for a better Wolverine than Hugh Jackman. And while he’d more than solidified his (adamantium) bonafides in his maiden voyage in the role, 2003’s “X2: X-Men United” was the first chance audiences had to see Logan slip into his famed “berserker rage” and really cut loose, both figuratively and literally. That moment comes when the nefarious William Stryker, played by Brian Cox, leads an invasion on the X-Mansion. While Iceman, Siryn, and Colossus lend a hand in getting the young mutants of the school to safety, Wolverine wastes no time at all in popping his claws and letting loose on Stryker’s mercenaries. Although “X-Men” was still working within a PG-13 sandbox at this point, Wolverine’s one-man defense of the school would nevertheless push that rating for everything it could, and barely stopped one centimeter shy of crossing that line. Looking back on it now, it really was a taste of things to come, with Wolverine venturing ever closer to R-rated territory with “The Wolverine” before finally breaking down that wall with “Logan”. However, at this point in the series, our hero’s defense of Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters was exactly what the world was dying to see after Mr. Jackman’s first performance in the role, and he did not disappoint!
2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” is, decidedly, one of the weaker chapters in the “X-Men” franchise, and the least of the prequel series that began with 2011’s “X-Men: First Class”. However, even at their worst, the “X-Men” movies have always had something fantastic to treat audiences to. In the case of “Apocalypse”, there’s two undisputed stand-out set pieces that are among the series’ all-time Hall of Famers. The first comes in the form of Quicksilver’s rescue of the X-Men from the exploding mansion set to Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. The second is Wolverine’s rampage through the halls of Weapon X, and it is absolutely glorious. Without any dialogue and only a few minutes on screen, Logan slashes, chops, and mutilates any unlucky soldier that gets in his way in his bid to escape the captivity of Weapon X, and Hugh Jackman once again throws down the gauntlet on why he absolutely owns this role like few comic book actors ever have. “Apocalypse” may not be the greatest “X-Men” movie overall, but it had as firm a grasp as any chapter in the series on how to give viewers an X-cellent Wolverine fight sequence, and left fans around the world, myself included, crossing our collective fingers in the theater that this was a prelude to what “Logan” had in store (and spoiler alert – it was)!
You can quickly sense the greater self-assuredness of 2003’s “X2: X-Men United” in comparison with its predecessor. With the pivotal role that “X-Men” played in the revival of superhero movies in the early 2000’s, there’s a free-spiritedness in “X2” that can only come in a sequel to something that breathed new life into a dying genre. You can see that clear as day in Wolverine’s heated battle with Yuriko Oyama, aka Lady Deathstrike, played by Kelly Hu. Aside from the incorporation of wire-fu in their battle, a first for the series, the viciousness seen in Logan’s defense of the X-Mansion is ramped up to eleven in his battle with Lady Deathstrike.
Even better, the fact that they each possess healing powers lets the film go all out with the brutality of the fight without any concern for the gender of Wolverine’s adversary. Another upgrade from its predecessor is the fact that the audience gets to clearly see claws impaling arms and legs, along with the duel wrapping up on an ending that hits you right between the eyes in its grim bluntness. Sixteen years later, “X2” remains one of the best “X-Men” movies, and its showdown with Logan and Lady Deathstrike still one of the greatest big screen battles Wolverine’s ever fought.
Oh “Logan”! The dark, gruesome, profanity-filled, R-rated blood bath of adamantium-slashing carnage that comic book fans had been waiting for, and Holy Smoke, was it worth the wait! Aside from finally delivering on the desire of fans to see Wolverine go completely unhinged, “Logan” proved a bittersweet experience for being Hugh Jackman’s final performance in the role that made him a star.
Clearly cognizant of the enormity of that, “Logan” not only puts our hero into a grim and gritty Western in the future with heavy influences from Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan”, it also gives viewers a second Hugh Jackman to keep up with in the form of Logan’s murderous clone, X-24. Hugh Jackman just wasn’t going to let his career as Wolverine come to an end without treating audiences to a battle of mutant doppelgängers, and as soon they starting slashing away at one another, it’s every Wolverine fanboy’s dream come true, being brought to life right before their eyes. And don’t think for a second that this is the last you’ll see of “Logan” or X-24 on this list, but you probably already knew that.
FYI – as hard as it may be to believe, there was even more gruesome Wolverine action that didn’t make it into the finished film; check out KFK’s in-depth interview with the second unit director of “Logan”, Garrett Warren, to read all about it!
If you’re a reader of Wolverine comics, you know that the idea of Logan in Japan is a no-brainer, so much so that it’s amazing it took until 2013 for anyone to try it. A loose adaptation of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s 1982 eponymous limited series, “The Wolverine” drops Logan right into the heart of a Samurai movie. And with three adamantium claws in each hand and a body that heals from anything up to and including a nuclear blast (a sight we are graciously treated to in the film’s opening), it’s about time we got to see Logan hold his own in a good old-fashioned sword fight. Even better, his katana-wielding opponent, the nefarious Shingen, is played by Japanese super star Hiroyuki Sanada, well known to Western audiences for his memorable appearance in 2003’s “The Last Samurai”.
The staging of Logan slashing claws with Shingen’s blades is right out of a Kurosawa movie, and while we’re still technically in PG-13 territory, the film pushes it as far as that rating can possibly go. “The Wolverine” hit it out of the park with the concept of Logan in a Samurai movie, and on top of that, I think we can all agree it proved incredibly prophetic at what James Mangold can do with a Wolverine movie. Fun fact – to get his physique into such exceptionally ripped condition for this sequence, Hugh Jackman underwent a technique called the “dehydration diet”, drinking four gallons of water daily for a week beforehand, and then abstaining from any liquid consumption for 24 hours prior to filming the scene. Don’t try that at home – by Mr. Jackman’s own account, you’ll be in for the worst headaches of your life!
“Logan” captured the hearts of Wolverine fans across the globe as Hugh Jackman’s swan song from his signature role. However, it must be emphasized that his was far from the only spellbinding performance delivered in the film. Case in point – Dafne Keen as Logan’s genetically-created daughter, Laura aka X-23. It’s a little poetic, in a way, that Ms. Keen would be unsheathing adamantium claws right as Hugh Jackman was retiring his. Nevertheless, her portrayal of X-23 would instantly fly right to the upper one percentile of break-out performances from child actors, something she pulled off without saying a single word for the first three-quarters of the film, no less! Ms. Keen’s physical performance as X-23 was no less incredible, either. She’s arguably even more vicious than our hero, slashing through an army of mercenaries like propeller blades while her father does his best to keep up with his now dampened healing factor. There’s no shortage of reasons why “Logan” will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Wolverine fans, but Dafne Keen’s unforgettable portrayal of X-23, along with her mesmerizing action scenes, is certainly one of them.
…and in at #1 is…
Berserker Rage Forest Battle — Logan (2017)
Remember all that talk about how a forest is the perfect setting for a Wolverine fight sequence? James Mangold sure did, and he didn’t forget the tank top, either! Full disclosure – my big fantasy going into “Logan” was for it to have a sequence of claw-slashing action that would be the equivalent of Tony Jaa‘s bone-snapping face-off against a hundred henchmen in “Tom Yum Goong”. Suffice to say, the finale of “Logan” clearly had the same idea in mind, and delivers not only the best Wolverine fight sequence, but the most bittersweet one, as well.
In keeping with the film’s overarching theme of mortality, due to our hero’s diminished healing factor and the metal poisoning he’s fallen victim to as a result, Logan is just about on his deathbed by the end of the film. On top of seeing Wolverine maul his enemies like a bear with the R-rated freedom his legions of fans have craved for years, the audience is equally aware that he can’t shake off gunfire like he used to, and he’s in a level of danger he’s simply never faced before. Additionally, “Logan” can’t wrap up without X-23 fighting alongside her genetic father, or without pitting the title character against X-24 one more time. Its the showdown of mutants Wolverine fans had been craving for since the series began, and (spoiler warning) there wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the time it was over.
“Logan” brought Mr. Jackman’s career as Wolverine to an unforgettable finale, and wrapped it up with both the greatest and most emotive Wolverine fight sequence of all time. Thank you, Hugh Jackman, for seventeen amazing years of adventures as Logan. We couldn’t have asked for a better Wolverine in a million years, and with “Logan”, you thrilled the world with a gripping, emotional, action-packed portrayal of your signature role #OneLastTime!