Wolverine – Four Easy Connection Points
Here are four key issues in Wolverine, four easy ways to use Wolverine as a tool to launch into some meaningful conversations, four places where culture and faith easily connect.
1. Life Purpose/Identity – One of the key themes in this installment is the meaning of life. Even if you only see the trailer (see below) you can see that it’s a key theme—Yoshida tells Logan/Wolverine that a man can run out of things to live for. Wolverine responds that he’s not there yet, but in truth, he has been wrestling with the purpose of his life. It is a struggle to outlive all your loved ones. It must be hard to live so long that you see the endless cycles in life. You would surely identify with Solomon who wrote that “everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (said multiple times in Ecclesiastes).
This is what Yoshida was banking on…or preying on is more like it. Yoshida was hungry for Logan’s ability to heal (his eternal life), and he wanted Logan to transfer that power to himself. Logan was lonely and he was struggling with who he was, wondering if his powers were more of a curse than a blessing. He was hiding from mankind, living alone so that he wouldn’t hurt anyone, determined to leave “The Wolverine” far behind, when Yoshida’s employee, Yukio, found him.
By the end of the movie, Logan fully embraces his identity again as The Wolverine. He realizes that while his unique abilities can hurt people, they are also the very things which enable him to help people, protect people and to fight against evil and wrongs in the world. That sense of purpose gives his life meaning.
- Why was Logan struggling with his identity? His abilities may be unusual, but do you think the struggles he faced were universal in nature? Have you struggled with your identity for some of those same reasons?
- Logan found meaning in life (despite pain and sorrow) when he found purpose. Why do you think purpose is more important than fun/comfort/ease?
- What purpose do you see for your life? Does that purpose give your life meaning?
- What are the unique abilities/talents/skills, etc. that you have? How can they be used to help people? How can they also hurt people (and how do keep that from happening?)
- Do you think God has anything to do with your abilities and your purpose? Why or why not?
2. Give up your life to Gain it – This evil viper mutant woman put a nasty little bug in Logan that attached itself to Logan’s heart and was killing him. Once Logan realized the parasite was killing him, he knew he had to get it out. It was the only way. Even if he died in the process, it was worth the risk, because he was surely going to die if the bug remained. Logan had no one to do this but himself, so he cut himself open and reached into his chest and searched for his heart, and for the parasite killing his heart. It was excruciating, even for Wolverine—he had no pain medication and no help…it was something he had to do himself. Of course, because he’s Wolverine, he managed to find the parasite and remove it without passing out from the pain…but that parasite had been weakening his body so long that his body couldn’t handle the procedure and he died. His heart stopped beating and he died there on the operating table.
The parasite had been stealing from Wolverine the ability to heal. Once the parasite was removed, even though he died, his body recovered its ability to heal itself. So Wolverine came back to life—life as He was created to have, eternal and without weakness, but it was only possible because he was willing to do whatever it took to remove the parasite, even die.
In this respect, Logan’s story is remarkably similar to the human story. We were created to have eternal life, without pain and sickness and weakness, but we too have a parasite that is weakening us, ruining us, killing us. Our parasite has a name – it’s sin. It’s attached to our heart and must be removed if we are to experience the life we were meant to have. Just like Logan, removing that parasite is a painful process that requires incredible commitment and sacrifice, and even death, but it’s worth it. It’s the only way.
Jesus paved the way for us and set the example by dying to pay the penalty for our sins (He had none of His own). He rose three days later. The penalty is paid, the cure is found, but we have to follow in His steps and be willing to give up our lives if we hope to gain them in the end. Look at this exchange between Jesus and his disciples in Matthew 16: 21-26:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Questions for Discussion:
- This principle that you have to die in order to live is one that all around us. What examples of this can you think of (in nature, in literature, in real life, etc.)?
- Have you ever had to “die to self” in some way? How has that “death” provided “life” in return?
- Yoshida was the foil to Wolverine – in other words, he is the opposite of Wolverine, and is used a contrast, to help heighten the point. How did he do the opposite of Wolverine? (Wolverine found his life when he was willing to lose it. Yoshida try to save his life, but lost in the end…but how exactly?)
- If you were face to face with Jesus, and he was telling you that if you wanted to find your life you would have to deny yourself, what do you think he would be talking about? What things do you think you might need to deny, or give up?
- Jesus seems to be indicating that if you are His disciple you will find/save your life. Do you think that’s true?
3. Viper woman – The dying Yoshida has hired a beautiful blond doctor, who turns out to be an evil mutant viper woman with her own nefarious objectives. She is evil.
When I thought back on the movie, and remembered her, I couldn’t help but immediately think of the many, many times Proverbs warns men to stay away from evil women and not to let their beauty deceive them. (Not that women shouldn’t steer clear as well…) Viper was a perfect illustration of the reality of the women the Bible warns us about. She was literally a snake, full of venom, poisonous, sneaking into men’s beds at night to do them harm, pretending love and care when death and destruction were her intent. She was right on when she said that she was “a nihilist, a capitalist, a viper”—such is true for all women of her kind.
Here is how Proverbs 5:3-5 describes such a woman:
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
Again in Proverbs 7:10-26, it talks about her:
Then out came a woman to meet him,
dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
11 (She is unruly and defiant,
her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
at every corner she lurks.) …
21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
… little knowing it will cost him his life. …
26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.
Proverbs is full of practical sayings and wise warnings to stay away from women like Viper. The Bible doesn’t stop there, however. If proverbial statements aren’t enough to make you wise, try the story of Samson and Delilah in Judges 16 – a cautionary tale about a strong and powerful man brought to great ruin by a beautiful, evil woman. The world is full of women like Viper, every bit as venomous and dangerous, even without mutant powers.
Lest you think I’m down on women (I’m not…I am one), let me also point out that the Bible (and the world) is also full of virtuous women. And while Proverbs is full of warnings to young men to avoid viperous women, it is also full of encouragement to find, love and treasure virtuous women. In fact, Proverbs 31 sets out a model for just what a virtuous women is, so that women have an example to follow, and men have a vision for what they should be looking for.
Questions for Discussion:
- Have you ever been around a viperous woman? What were the signs that she was viperous instead of virtuous?
- Have you ever been deceived by a viperous woman?
- Who are the virtuous women you’ve known? What sets them apart?
4. Leadership Principles – I happened to stumble across this article by Brian Dodd and thought he did a great job of bullet pointing eleven good leadership principles from the movie.
by Stacey Tuttle