The Wolverine & Corporate Product Placement

Filmed In Japan, Manufactured in Italy

I just saw The Wolverine and enjoyed it.  I lived in Japan for a couple of years and have a soft spot for it.  The idea of Logan in Japan was cool and I was looking forward to seeing what local vehicular colour they put into it (Japan does a lot of domestic one-offs that you don’t see anywhere else).

Unfortunately I’d forgotten that Marvel is in bed with Volkswagen Group.  Imagine my disappointment when everyone in Japan is driving Audis or riding Ducatis (Ducati is owned by VW Group).  To top it off most of it was filmed in Australia and made to look like Japan.  If you’re looking for a film that shows you Japan, this ain’t it.

So while Logan and his sidekick are on Ducatis (in Japan, sort of), I wonder what the local manufacturers are thinking.  Since the whole advertising/placement thing is sorted out by lawyers, I imagine that Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha had no say in it anyway.  Isn’t it a shame that brilliant local engineering like that can be made to not exist in a film?  Can you imagine if they did a film in America and everyone was riding Ducatis with not a Harley in sight?  It would seem unrealistic.  If film makers are more interested in milking advertisers for product placement than they are in making a film seem properly placed, it bodes poorly for the future of film.

I’d read an online discussion about the best summer riding gear and someone suggested looking at what Boorman & McGregor wore on Long Way Down.  It was immediately suggested that this wasn’t the best kit but merely the one that sponsored them.  Like Ducatis in Japan, media is more about advertising than fact.  With that in mind, can you trust anything you see on film about motorbikes or even the kit being used?

Ninjas! On motorbikes!

One scene that was motorbike crazy was Logan taking on a squad (clutch? herd?) of ninjas on motor-cross bikes.  I couldn’t see what they were (it was dark, there were ninjas everywhere), but it made for some frantic fight scenes, especially when one of the ninjas did a stoppie and hit Logan in the face with the back wheel.

I enjoyed The Wolverine, it was a good action flick, but it would be nice if they made more of an effort to create a genuine vehicular experience in the film instead of chasing hidden advertising revenue.