Fox just made a drama about Wolverine. A large portion of the movie is built around the events of X-Men 3, particularly the death of Jean Grey.
By all rights, that formula should have resulted in a movie which fell somewhere between Origins: Wolverine and X-Men 3. Instead, we got something between First Class and X-Men 2. How did that happen? I'm honestly not sure.
It probably helped that this seems to have been directed by someone who knows the difference between a camera and a toilet and was therefore able to deliver a movie to the screen (take note Brett Ratner and Gavin Hood). It also helped that this movie pulled in some fantastic characters and does them justice. Yukio more or less steals this movie from right under Wolverine's nose.
A lot of X-Men fans - myself included - wanted future installments to bury the mess that was X-Men 3. Well, the makers of The Wolverine had another idea: they wanted to salvage it. They dug into the trauma of Jean's death. They wanted to make it clear that X-Men 3 happened.
And you know something: that's what they'd have done in the comics. You can't maintain continuity and ignore a bad story. You have to place it in the context of a larger story. The Wolverine takes place between The Last Stand and Days of Future Past. It serves as epilogue to one, a prologue to the other, and story of its own.
And it works on all three counts.
The movie isn't start-to-finish action, but there's plenty of violence for Wolverine fans. The claws come out, and blood gets spilled, including a lot of Wolverine's. As you know from the trailers, Logan spends a large portion of the movie mortal. But unlike Superman and Spider-Man 2, it's not to make him see how much the world needs him. If anything, it makes him into more of a bad-ass. Wolverine's best weapon was never the healing: it's the willpower. They got that.
The movie has flaws, of course. The final act villain was far too CG heavy and was the one character the movie didn't do justice. And even I had a hard time ignoring the fact Wolverine couldn't heal but his knuckles were mysteriously fine.
But make it a point to look past those details, and there's a great film here.