The Movie Watcher’s Guide to Wolverine


Also known as Gulo gulo, the wolverine is a dense and stocky animal, the largest of the mammalian weasel family. Normally known for their aggressive behavior in defense of kills – has this gone on long enough? I think it has. If you’re reading this on a film website, no doubt we’re talking about the Marvel comic character Wolverine, portrayed by Hugh Jackman in the X-Men franchise and star of the upcoming X-Men Origins installment. If you’ve ever read a comic, no doubt you’ve comic across Wolverine. Basically the only thing he hasn’t done is dunk on Sir Charles – a feat which both Godzilla and myself accomplished. But that’s unrelated.

wolvie-hulkcoverWhat You Think You Know aka What Used to Be True

Wolverine has been around since about 1974 when he first battled The Hulk. In the 35 years that followed, he became a fan favorite and was plastered across all the X-Men titles, multiple cross-overs regardless of if they made sense or not, and of course, he was featured in his own monthly magazine. If you’ve skipped out on your Wolverine history lessons, a lot has changed over the years. Scratch that – very few things have changed, but they sort of made a big deal about it.

What used to be true about Wolverine, or at least hinted at, was that he was very old and had memories of fighting in many wars spread through many different decades, if not centuries. An inability to fully remember his past was always part of his origin. His earliest adventures were under the command of Department H, which lead him to his fight with the Hulk. Shortly after this, the strangely coiffed mutant was recruited by the X-Men, effectively becoming a member of the second team of heroes to bear the name. It would take some serious verbage to explain all that goes on, but needless to say, Wolverine is in a lot of comics in this time and flirts with trips to Japan, entering a feral state, revealing pieces of his Weapon X background, falling in love with Jean Grey, and getting the adamantium ripped out of his body by Magneto. Previously, Wolverine’s claws had been assumed to have been surgically implanted by the Weapon X program, however after an intense danger room experience, it was revealed that his claws were in fact, illogically, made of a dense form of bone. Why the adamantium coating his gnarled bone claws appeared like finely tuned knives, no one knows.

wolvie-boyWhat They Tell Us Now

Being one of the most popular comic characters of recent times and gracing the cover of just about every damned issue of Wizard ever, Wolverine has gone through many changes. For a time he was completely feral, barely able to construct sentences, wearing a headband and very much looking like a ninja turtle. Or a ninja ape. But Wolverine, also known as Logan, was in for a major overhaul with 2001’s Origin. It is apparent from the trailers that this serves as the basis for the upcoming film.

Wolverine was born James Howlett, a sickly boy to wealthy parents in 19th Century Canada. Young James is infatuated with a red-haired lass named Rose and often hangs around with Dog Logan, a sadistic young boy who is the son of the groundskeeper, Thomas Logan, who looks all too similar to a fully-grown Wolverine to be coincidental. There are implications that Howlett’s mother had an affair with Logan, which would make him a bastard child to the grumpy groundskeeper. After an argument escalates between Logan and John Howlett, Jr. (James Howlett’s father), Logan murders the elder Howlett. In a rage, young James’ mutant powers activate and his bone claws are revealed, which he uses to kill Thomas.

As James ages, he grows stronger and more separated from society, often killing game in the forest with his bone claws. He later earns his keep by working in a quarry where his ferocious digging habits earn him the nickname Wolverine. Earning money by cage fighting and in a complicated turn of events, Wolverine accidentally kills Rose, goes a bit bonkers, and heads off into the woods, his healing factor creating a series of mental blocks to isolate the painful memories.

Marvel did like the idea of Wolverine fighting in multiple wars, definitely revealing his involvement in World War I and World War II, with the film version also having served in Vietnam. In the interest of time, we fast forward.

wolvie-weaponxWeapon X Marks the Spot

Wolverine, having gone by Logan for some years now, is abducted and introduced to the Weapon X program, a weapons creating facility attempting to create super soldiers. Because of his advanced healing factor, Wolverine is able to survive many different tests and eventually has the nearly unbreakable material adamantium bonded to his skeleton. Never one to obey, Wolverine quickly goes crazy again, reverts to a feral state, and escapes into the woods after killing pretty much everybody.

X-Men and Ex-Girlfriends

We’ve pretty much come full circle by this point. After his escape from Weapon X he briefly serves with Department H, fights the Hulk, disappears and then resurfaces as a member of the X-Men. Insert a few more instances of going insane and becoming feral and hitting the road, Jack, and you get the picture.

It’s worth noting that basically every woman who has ever dated Wolverine is dead now. Or was dead at one point. Childhood sweetheart Rose? Dead. Girlfriend Silver Fox? Murdered. Wife Itsu? Also murdered. Love interest Jean Grey? Killed several times. Avoid this dude, ladies!

Powers and Abilities

For the six of you who have been living under a rock for the past decade and have just now discovered dial-up internet, Wolverine has a pretty simple set of mutant abilities. He has a healing power that allows him to recover from, well, just about everything. Really. The only list longer than the list of people Wolverine has killed is the number of times he’s been killed. If you exclude ninjas from the list of people he killed, of course, because Wolverine hates ninjas (seriously). Wolverine has recovered from being burned, shot, stabbed, crushed, crucified, and cut up just about every way you can be cut up. He’s had his heart removed, been beaten to death, blasted by Cyclops, tossed by Colossus and beaten, stabbed, and exploded by Gambit.

Additionally, Wolverine has some animal traits such as an increased sense of hearing, increased sense of smell and eyesight, as well as some gnarly canine teeth and a wicked ability to grow hair from every inch of his body. Because Logan became so popular in the 90s, he was also granted a mastery of basically every martial art, became a master swordsman, modeled himself after a samurai, and was consistently rated a 6 or a 7 in terms of fighting ability on Marvel trading cards, despite having his ass kicked by everyone from Sabretooth to Jubilee. His popularity also afforded him the Mary-Sue like qualities of being supremely intelligent (from feral boy to chess master?) and capable of a wide range of skills from motorcycle jumps to piloting advanced aircraft. Add to that virtual super strength, supreme agility, and psychic shielding from Professor Xavier and Wolverine is basically always in Cheat-Mode.

View this Full Size. Seriously.

What More Do You Want From Me?

I seriously find it hard to believe that many, if any, of you are finding this enlightening considering the ubiquitous nature of Wolverine. Personally, he was a character I had long ago tired of until Hugh Jackman managed to be a pretty sweet on-screen representation, despite being about a foot too tall. We could spend time talking about Wolverine’s allies – though that’s pretty much half of the Marvel Universe. He’s fought alongside the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Punisher, Alpha Flight, X-Factor, the Avengers, and pretty much everyone who ever carried a hero card. If you want to talk about his enemies, that’s the other half of the Marvel Universe. Seriously, this guy is everywhere. His notable enemies are Sabretooth, a beastly man with similar powers, Omega Red, a sort of Soviet Doctor Octopus, Lady Deathstrike, and Hydra, a terrorist organization. Despite what the movie may imply, Wolverine and Deadpool were never really enemies, though that didn’t stop them from slicing and dicing each other on more than one occasion. In this comic page, Deadpool is itching for a fight and when Wolverine won’t snikt him, he punches Kitty Pryde in the face so hard she flies 9 feet into the air, while shouting “Shoryuken.” Priceless.

Basically, in some way or another, everything that has ever happened as happened to or because of Wolverine or he was at least there to watch it. Normally I’d try to recommend some reading for you, but he’s been in basically everything ever, so good luck. Ok, alright, fine I’ll try to make a recommended reading list. But now get off my damn lawn and at least pretend you learned something here today!

Recommended Reading

Is there anyone on Earth who doesn’t know who Wolverine is? Talk about the cigar-chomping ‘bub below and feel free to bring up any of the 184,762 things I had to leave out.

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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