If you're anything like me, or about 80% of my Facebook friends, you looked at today's new poster for The Wolverine and immediately joked, "Why the hell does a dude with adamantium claws need a sword anyway?".
Leaving aside the thematic purpose spelled out in the original Claremont/Miller stories--"The sword is a weapon of skill and honor, opposed to his claws which are of the animal berserker. The core of the Claremont/Miller miniseries, which this is supposedly based upon, was his struggle between his human and animal natures," my friend and regular reader Jeremy Wiggins chastised me when I joked about the poster--there's another thing I learned from the 20% of my Facebook friends who had no sense of humor about my mocking The Wolverine: there's a really good, really specific reason why a blade might be featured on the poster. It's likely the Muramasa Blade.
What's that, you ask? It's what I asked. Luckily, Feeding Ground artist Michael Lapinski furnished me with a link to the Marvel Comics Wiki, where it described the blade in question as follows:
There were actually two known Muramasa Blades in existence. The first existed during one of Wolverine's adventures in Madripoor.
However, this blade was not the same blade presented to Wolverine by Muramasa himself. The first Muramasa Blade, often referred to as the Black Blade, was many centuries old. This original blade was forged by Muramasa using a piece of his own soul and granted a number of superhuman physical attributes to the one who wielded it. Muramasa, who has been stated as being quite mad, also poured his madness into the blade. After wielding the sword for a period of time, the wielder would slowly be overcome by the sword's influence. Wolverine wielded the sword briefly and quickly fell under its influence. Wolverine managed to reassert his will over the sword just as he was about to kill the Silver Samurai and Jessica Drew and threw the sword into a wall. The Silver Samurai pulled the sword from the wall and, apparently, was chosen as its fated master. The Samurai noted that the sword was controlled by a person as equally driven as the sword itself. The fate of the sword is unknown as the Samurai was the last one known to have it in his possession but he was not seen using it again.
The second Muramasa Blade's location was revealed to Wolverine by the Silver Samurai. This sword, currently wielded by Wolverine, was a sword forged specifically for him by Muramasa. On their first meeting in Japan, Wolverine came to Muramasa after his wife Itzu had been murdered, so he could help him to "kill 'em all". Muramasa accepted, and promised to forge him a "mighty blade -...- against which all... even one as great as you... will fall" using a piece of Wolverine's soul. When Logan came to claim the weapon, Muramasa gladly gave it to him, telling him to "wield it like an angry god".
It's hard to say how much of this will be retained (except that the Madripoor stories will provide a rough outline for the structure of the film, per the official summary), although the more fantastical elements of it will feel somewhat more at home knowing that this film takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand, meaning that over-the-top superheroics are somewhat less alien to this version of Logan than they would have been to the guy in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And while the odds are basically zero that we'll see Jessica Drew (owned by another studio, as far as anyone knows), the likelihood is far greater that Silver Samurai, who is already widely reported to be in the film, will play a role.
If you're interested in seeing how the poster looks when it's animated, check out the short YouTube clip below, from the official site for the movie, which is in theaters on July 26.