By Darren Franich
March 27, 2013 at 08:24 PM EDT

Considering that it’s a spinoff-sequel of one of the biggest superhero franchises in Hollywood, The Wolverine has always been a movie shrouded in mystery. Everyone involved in the project has always implicitly indicated that the movie would more or less ignore the miserable (and miserably successful) X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and it’s common knowledge that the film is loosely based on the 1982 Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine miniseries. But today, the first official full trailer for The Wolverine finally hit the internet…and just for good measure, the studio also released a much longer international trailer. Let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?

The trailer begins with a mysterious woman finding Wolverine, who has apparently become a wreck of a human being in the years since X-Men: The Last Stand. This woman is Yukio. She is an assassin. She has a sword. Fans of Sin City may be interested to know that Yukio represents one of the earliest examples of Frank Miller’s hot-ninja-gal obsession — in fact, she dates from the same hot-ninja-gal creative period that conjured up Elektra, a.k.a. Daredevil’s girlfriend, a.k.a. Ben Affleck’s wife.

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This marks the second movie in one year where Hugh Jackman starts the movie with a beard. Fun fact: Hugh Jackman can grow a beard in under a minute. He just grew a beard while I was writing that last sentence. So profesh.

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No but really, she carries that sword everywhere. Non-spoiler spoiler alert: Lots of people in this movie will have swords.

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Because it wouldn’t be an X-Men movie without some kind of World War II flashback, the trailer sends us back in time to a city in Japan where everyone is running from…

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Yep, we appear to be in Hiroshima (or Nagasaki), in the midst of an atom bomb strike — a moment which has always had considerable meaning in X-Men lore. (The team is sometimes referred to as “Children of the Atom.” And by “sometimes,” I mean “it was the subtitle of a fighting game that you probably played in the mid-90s.” Ironically, Wolverine was only the second-best character in the game.)  

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We also see Wolverine push a young Japanese man down under cover, and hold the cover as the radiation blast fillets him. Director James Mangold has talked at length about how The Wolverine will confront the character’s immortality — it seems appropriate that the film will begin with the character surviving a nuclear blast. Side note: Am I crazy, or does this pit conjure up ambient Batman Begins memories?

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The man Wolverine saves grows up to be this fellow, a man wealthy enough to afford his own secret laboratory. (He also dresses like he’s an extra in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It’s good to be the king.) He tells Wolverine that, as a thank-you for saving his life, he wants to cure Wolvie of his immortality. 

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The old guy is hanging out with an Eerily-Attractive Scientist Lady. When she takes off the glasses, she becomes a completely different person — namely, Viper, a character with a long and tangled history in the comic books. She appears to be one of the lead baddies in the film. But she’s not the only one…

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This shot is notable because it’s one of the only appearances in the trailer by Hiroyuki Sanada, who is playing the movie’s version of Shingen Yashida. Hiroyuki Sanada played the coolest samurai in The Last Samurai, Dogen in Lost, and The Master of Revenge in Revenge. Presumably, he will have a sword at some point in this movie.

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The Wolverine features the film debut of Mariko Yashida, the daughter of a crime boss and, coincidentally, one of the two loves of Wolverine’s life. The first love, of course, was…

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Jean Grey, the telepath super-mutant played by Famke Janssen in the X-Men trilogy. This is either a flashback or a dream sequence — it’s unclear if this is leftover footage from The Last Stand, but presumably, Janssen will be making an appearance. (Jean Grey has already died four or five times in the comics, counting clones and alternate realities and alternate-reality future clones.) The Claremont/Miller miniseries is generally seen as the basis for the last few decades of Wolverine’s character development, since it added a layer of dark melancholy to a character who had previously been the fun/kooky/homicidal Drunk Uncle of the X mythology.

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Wolverine goes to a funeral, presumably for the ailing old guy. One of the monks pulls out a shotgun, naturally.

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Wolverine gets shot, and appears to actually feel it — clearly, whatever operation they did on him worked a little too well.

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Some ambient shots of a laboratory indicate that whatever operation they perform on Wolverine will be a central aspect of the movie. Are they trying to recreate the Weapon X program? Are they trying to create their own adamantium-powered assassin? Will there ever be a movie about Wolverine without extended references to his origin story? So many questions!

Look, an X-ray shot of Wolverine’s feet! Totally Out-There Theory: Could The Wolverine be reintroducing the bone claws?

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This handsome gent with a so-hot-right-now bow and arrow is Kenuichio Harada, illegitimate son of a Japanese crime boss. As his black dress indicates, he will be another baddie in the movie. He’s played by Will Yun Lee, a.k.a. the prologue villain from Die Another Day. Lee also, weirdly, played a key character in Elektra, another Marvel-Universe film produced by the same studio as The Wolverine.

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Wolverine cozies up to Mariko….

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BUT HOLY CRAP SHE ISN’T MARIKO ANYMORE.

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Hey, this is just like that movie Vanilla Sky,” thinks Wolverine to himself, probably, while weighing the benefits of making out with a nice Yakuza mob daughter vs. an evil blonde with a penchant for dressing in skintight green outfits.

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This guy is fighting Wolverine on the back of a moving train.

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It doesn’t end well.

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These ninjas are fighting Wolverine in a snowy village.

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It doesn’t go well.

Viper pulls a Mission: Impossible and rips off one face, revealing another face underneath. Not to go down a rabbit hole of geekery, but the film’s decision to prominently feature Viper is interesting. She isn’t typically a big character in Wolvie’s comic-book mythology (and, honestly, she’s pretty boring), but the trailer indicates that she’ll be a central part of The Wolverine. Will there be some kind of twisted romantic triangle between her, Wolverine, and Mariko? Does she only love Wolverine for his adamantium? Since Comic Book Viper is one of the leaders of HYDRA, the main nemesis of SHIELD, should comic book fans hope against all corporate logic that 20th Century Fox and Disney are building up to an X-Men/Avengers crossover?

“YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, LISA!”

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The international trailer for The Wolverine features a longer look at the movie, including this intriguing shot of a Jean Grey Polaroid…

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…and a shot of Wolverine ambling around a mountain town, indicating that he’s returned to his homeland, Canada. Weirdly, this makes The Wolverine the second movie this summer where the protagonist starts the film walking aimlessly through a snowy street.

The international trailer also shows Wolverine getting into a fight in a random small-town bar before Yukio rescues him. This is notable mainly because, to my eyes, this whole setting looks weirdly similar to the bar Logan walks out of in Weapon X, the delightfully-weird 1991 origin story by Barry Windsor-Smith. (See here.)

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One more treat from the international trailer: A full-fledged shot of Silver Samurai, a character who may be Wolverine’s main opponent in the game. Funnily enough, Silver Samurai was the best character in X-Men: Children of the Atom, although only the real cool expert gamers played as him. (Cheap douchebags played as Sentinel.)

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Silver Samurai attacks Wolverine while he’s sleeping. Weirdly, this makes The Wolverine the second superhero movie this summer where the protagonist is attacked while in bed by an armored assailant.

X-Men fans, did you spot other deep-cut Wolverine references in the trailer? Normal movie fans, do you like what you’re seeing so far? Is this erasing all the bad memories from X-Men: Origins–Wolverine from your memory?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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