“I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn’t very nice.” – Wolverine’s catchphrase
Soldiers have infiltrated the X-Men’s headquarters with orders to kill any mutant they find. They begin firing at a man running at them. The bullets hit their mark, but the man keeps coming. He leaps at the soldiers as metal claws sprout from his fists. This man, this monster, butchers the soldiers before they can react. The other X-Men arrive to a massacre as Wolverine sheathes his claws.
Wolverine is one of the most famous superheroes ever. He’s lived for centuries, fought for mutantkind, and became the face of superhero cinema. So who is he? How’d he become a superhero? And what do you mean he’s dead?! Let’s find out, bub.
Weapon X: Wolverine’s Backstory
William Stryker: “Your country needs you.”
Wolverine: “I’m Canadian.” – X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Wolverine was created by Roy Thomas and John Romita, Sr. in 1974. He was originally an enemy of the Incredible Hulk, but later joined the X-Men. Wolverine was almost killed off because of his similarity to the X-man Thunderbird, but was saved when the publisher decided Thunderbird was a less interesting character.
Wolverine was born in the 80’s. The 1880’s to be precise. James Howlett was the son of a wealthy farmer and an all-around normal kid. His life changed when Mr. Howlett was killed after he accused Logan, the family’s groundskeeper, of rape. James’ mutation awoke and he grew bone claws. James avenged his father by killing Logan, who revealed with his dying breath that he was James’ real father.
Horrified at killing someone, James fled his home and took the name Logan to honor his biological father. Logan eventually wound up in Japan and received samurai training. He married a woman named Itsu and suffered the karma of their son Daken growing up to become one of his worst enemies.
Logan fought in World War 2 alongside Captain America and other contemporary heroes. He was captured by the Weapon X program, which attempted to turn him into their ultimate weapon. They poured molten adamantium into Logan’s body, covering his skeleton in the indestructible metal. He was the only mutant who survived the torturous procedure. Logan escaped from Weapon X, but suffered amnesia.
The X-Men: Wolverine’s History
Wolverine: “What does it all mean, Hank? I came here to find answers, but now I know less than I did before…can’t even trust my own memories.”
Beast: “I have no simple solution for you, Logan, but the X-Men and I are here for you now. Those are real memories…ones I know you can trust. Come on now…let’s go home.” – X-Men season 3, episode 18
Logan joined Department H , taking the codename Wolverine. He helped set up the superhero team Alpha Flight and was sent to kill The Hulk. He failed, but the fight brought him to Professor Xavier’s attention. When the X-Men went MIA during a mission, Xavier recruited a new team, including Wolverine, to rescue them. The new recruits decided to join the team.
Wolverine became the X-Men’s tough guy, the first to throw a punch and the one who put their enemies in graves. He also wound up in a love triangle with Phoenix and Cyclops.
During the story “Fatal Attractions”, Magneto used his powers to tear the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones, nearly killing him. Wolverine, who believed his claws were added by Weapon X, learned that they were made of bone and left the X-Men to discover his origins.
Wolvie eventually learned about his past (good) and had the adamantium returned to his bones (not so good). He returned to the X-Men and became the history teacher at their school for mutants.
The Death of Wolverine
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way” – “My Way”
Marvel announced in 2014 that Wolverine would die. He was infected with a virus that destroyed his healing factor, which meant he could no longer shrug off damage.
This set up an epic battle between Wolverine and Abraham Cornelius, the scientist in charge of Weapon X who accepted a contract to kill him. Cornelius sent his latest creation to kill Wolverine. He was covered in liquid adamantium during the battle and suffocated. He died content with his long, crazy life.
Ultimate Mutant: Wolverine’s Powers and Personality
[ about his claws ]
Rogue: “When they come out… does it hurt?“
Wolverine: “Every time.” – X-Men: the Movie
Let’s get this out of the way. Wolverine’s healing factor is insane. Originally, he healed faster. Over time, writers made him effectively immortal. Hulk tears him in half? He’s walking as soon as he finds his legs. The Punisher shoots him in the nuts with a shotgun and parks a steamroller on top of him? Wolverine’s pissed, but that’s it. A friggin’ nuke?! He thought it felt warm. That adamantium bath? Not so good for the breathing. When a superhero publisher decides it’s time for you to die, they don’t care how many nukes you’ve survived.
Wolverine’s claws, coated in indestructible adamantium, can cut through just about anything, but can be stopped by people with magnetic powers. Good thing the X-Men don’t fight anyone like that. He also has super strength and heightened animal senses.
When pushed too far, he enters a berserker rage and becomes a deadlier fighter at the cost of control despite his combat skills.
Wolverine is a grumpy, old warrior. He’s a rebellious loner, but a loyal friend and an excellent leader when he has to be. He has been a mentor to countless heroes and follows Bushido, the samurai code of honor and morality.
The Actors Who Played Wolverine
Other actors have played Wolverine besides Hugh Jackman.
Wolverine made his TV debut in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, where he was voiced by Neil Ross. Ross reprised his role for Pryde of the X-Men, and later said that he gave Wolverine an Australian accent due to the popularity of Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max.
Wolverine was a main character voiced by Cathal J. Dodd in the animated show X-Men. He also appeared in X-Men: Evolution, where he was voiced by Scott McNeil. Finally, Wolverine starred in Marvel Anime: Wolverine and Marvel Anime: X-Men, where he was voiced by Steve Blum.
Jackman’s is the only name you need to know about Wolverine in the movies. He’s been playing Wolverine for 17 years and has been in every X-Men movie
The Jackman era ends when he finally hangs up his claws in 2017’s Logan.
Didya Get All That?
The best there is at what he does, bub.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.