20th Century Fox
Directed by James Mangold, Logan's latest adventure picks up where "X-Men: The Last Stand" left off, with the loner anti-hero battling the ghost of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and his immortality as much as the real foes he finds during a trip to Japan. The Wolverine movie fans have long been hoping for, this latest outing is a more intimate and much improved return for everyone's favourite perpetually grouchy mutant.
Yet while the movies have always played fast and loose with comic book canon, one element that never changes is Logan's Canadian roots. And fittingly, despite the majority of "The Wolverine" taking place in Japan, it starts out in Northern Canada -- much like the man himself. So to celebrate, we're taking a look back at the character's Canada connection.
Canadian From The Start
Considering his current popularity, the character had a relatively non-descript debut, battling the Hulk and a furry Canuck monster called the Wendigo over a few issues of "The Incredible Hulk" in 1974. But from the very beginning, being Canadian was an essential part of Wolverine's DNA. Originally introduced as a superhuman government agent of the Great White North, then-Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas asked writer Len Wein to design a character named Wolverine with the following specifications: make him small, angry, and from Canada. So much for that old stereotype of the "polite Canadian."
In the ensuing years, Wolverine was brought back as a member of the X-Men, but was almost cut from the team until a fellow Canuck saved him. Artist John Byrne, who went on to create the Avengers-like Canadian super-group Alpha Flight, fought to keep Wolverine around. And with that important civic duty, Byrne helped ensure his fictional countryman's eventual place in the superhero pantheon.
Putting Down Roots
After a successful run with the X-Men and on his own, Wolverine's Canadian heritage was expanded upon in a 2001 miniseries called "Origin" that revealed Logan was born in Alberta in the late 1880s as James Howlett, the child of wealthy landowners. (Or at least one of them -- it was eventually explained he was the groundskeeper's illegitimate son.)
From there, the future Wolverine grew up in the Yukon, did stints in the Canadian military in World Wars I and II, and fought alongside Captain America, minus the ostentatious patriotic outfit, of course. And if that wasn't quintessentially Canadian enough, Logan finally got those iconic adamantium claws thanks to the country's mysterious Department K, which aimed to turn him into the perfect assassin, as well as prove that the U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on famous mutants or secretive government programs.
In the comics, Canada and the U.S. fought over Wolverine's services for years. For a while, Logan worked for the significantly-less-evil Department H as a Canadian intelligence operative and one of the country's first superheroes. But in the end, he defected to the X-Men after being sent by his superiors to assassinate Professor Xavier, a reversal that helped Wolverine's popularity stateside, but also resulted in the superhero equivalent of brain drain.
The Character's Movie Origins
Whether in print or film, Logan's had some seriously bad luck when it comes to his memory; his brain's been wiped more times than Jim Carrey in "Eternal Sunshine." But one thing that's always remained? It keeps bringing him back to Canada.
The first "X-Men" movie introduced Logan as an amnesiac cage fighter in Northern Alberta, though those roots were mostly dropped in the sequels. The biggest Canadian connection in "X2" and "The Last Stand" came from the fact that both were shot in Vancouver. But that changed when the character got his first solo movie in 2009 with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." The prequel spent almost half its runtime north of the border, taking Logan from his traumatic childhood to receiving his metal claws in the Weapon X program, though this incarnation was run by an American general.
And despite being maligned by movie fans and critics as the weakest of the franchise, "Origins" was rife with Canadiana. When Superman wants to blend in, he becomes a reporter. Wolverine, though? He becomes a lumberjack in the Canadian Rockies. And after said U.S. general implores the would-be superhero that his country needs him, Logan replies simply, "I'm Canadian." 'Nuff said.
Of course, by the end of "Origins," Logan gets his memory wiped in order to not upset the original trilogy's timeline (a fate audiences may have wished they could've shared). But Mangold's new film makes up for it, restoring Logan's Canadian connection by bringing him back home to the Yukon for the start of the movie. Then again, the director also makes things up to Wolverine fans on both sides of the border by giving the character the audience-pleasing standa-lone adventure he deserves.
Now, about that Captain Canuck movie...
"The Wolverine" opens in theatres on July 26.