Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"You Can't Pretend Stuff Isn't Happening When It Is" - The Wolverine Adoption Movie Guide

While a prisoner of war in Japan, Logan (Wolverine) shields one of his captors – Yashida - from an atomic bomb blast. Logan’s supernatural self-healing abilities are known to us from previous X-Men movies, but they surprise Yashida. Decades later, Yashida summons Logan to his bedside. There, Yashida asks Logan to transfer his healing powers to him. That way, Yashida can live forever, and Logan can end the immortality which he has long viewed as a curse. Logan declines, Yashida is reported dead the next morning, and then the action starts. At Yashida’s funeral, his granddaughter is kidnapped by the Yakuza. Logan tries to rescue her, and finds that his healing powers have started to decline.

How is This Relevant to Adoption? 
Some children might experience life similarly to how Wolverine experiences it. Wolverine has experienced significant trauma, and almost certainly could be diagnosed with PTSD. He has frequent nightmares over things he’s done and things done to him. He struggles with trust issues.

Strong Points
Wolverine has experienced a lot of trauma. Although he does seem to put up a shell around himself, as I’ll write about later, he doesn’t seem to hide from what’s happened. One statement in the film is, “You can’t pretend s*** isn’t happening when it is.” That’s good advice.

It’s a bit of a stretch to take this symbolically, but in one scene, Logan is unable to heal himself because of blackness on his heart. He painfully removes the blackness, and then is able to heal himself again, and from there, he’s able to help his friends.

The film does show that not all bad premonitions are correct. That’s very valuable.

Logan ultimately decides that he wants to live.

 Weak Points

Reel Spirituality editor Elijah Davidson suggests that Wolverine’s aloofness, heroism and unpredictability can make him sort of a fantasy father-figure for kids with absent or unknown fathers. At the same time, he is very violent. A man hits a woman. Any of these aspects could be very troubling for kids who’ve witnessed domestic violence in their families of origin or foster families.

Yashida’s offer to help Logan is primarily selfish. Yashida later tries to force Logan to die, and Logan ultimately kills him. This seems to re-enforce messages that you can’t trust anyone, and that kindness will often be rewarded with unkindness. Logan also struggles with nightmares for killing the woman he loved, which in the movie’s universe was a righteous deed. Kindness is foolish, but killing is kind. It has the potential to be a very confusing message, especially for the audience that Davidson forsees the film appealing to – teenagers confused about the absence of dependable adult figures in their lives.

One character almost commits suicide, and her attempt isn’t addressed particularly seriously. Logan is considering dying, and a character says, “it’s not hard to die.” Many pre-teens and teens are actively considering suicide at any given time (one study estimated that the number might be over 25% at any one time). Scenes like these probably don’t nudge kids in healthy directions.

I’vesuggested earlier that Wolverine’s ability to self-heal and his aloofness mightresonate with kids who put up strong shells in order to avoid emotional pain. In this film, a woman takes Wolverine’s powers. She explains, “He’s just a man now. His flesh is weak. I’ve suppressed his powers so he could be taken.” This seems to reinforce the message, “You need your shell to be safe.”

There are some nightmarishly violent scenes. 

I liked Hugh Jackman's character a lot better in Les Miserables. Like the other X-Men movies, The Wolverine does have some nuggets of good insight that would be helpful for teens who’ve gone through difficult situations – “you can’t pretend stuff isn’t happening when it is” – but other films in this series -- X-Men, X2, and X-Men: First Class seem to have a better “good stuff” to “problematic stuff” ratio, and I’d recommend those over The Wolverine. This film isn’t without merit, but Wolverine isn’t the best choice for a hero.

Questions for Discussion after the movie

Have you ever had bad premonitions that did come true? That didn’t come true?

Have you ever thought about suicide?

Have you ever tried to hide from something that was happening, to avoid dealing with it? Have you ever confronted something head on? How did each of those work out?

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