While it is tough to move past wondering what could have been if Darren Aronofsky and Christopher McQuarrie had remained attached as the director and writer, respectively, of this film, measuring The Wolverine (on Blu-ray / DVD + DigitalHD or On Demand) against its lackluster predecessor more than puts those wistful thoughts of a film never made to rest. James Mangold's entrant into the larger X-Men series certainly fares well, incorporating Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's Japanese saga into the film universe while giving the gruff and brooding hero a better, more streamlined platform by which to infuse both the history and the pathos that makes Wolverine a character to whom the audience is drawn.
Much of The Wolverine's success goes back to the initial casting of Hugh Jackman as Logan. For the past 12 years or so, he has embodied what any X-Men fan had always hoped to see on the screen. A lot of the other casting wasn't as successful, but Jackman fits the brooding, brawny Canuck naturally.
Most importantly, though, this installment in the series is much less a slipshod series of vignettes loosely strung together to resemble a film with a plot, which the first Wolverine film sadly was. One shouldn't have to worry about whether or not a movie is going to feel as though it had been haphazardly thrown together, but two of the previous three films in the X-Men universe definitely passed that burden down to The Wolverine. While The Wolverine may not have been as good as some of the Marvel Studios films that have come out in the past few years, it was definitely the second straight step in the right direction and was a much needed salve to the wound left by X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Here's to hoping that the franchise continues down this path.