As any comic book fan knows, the Marvel universe is composed of many alternate realities, where writers can explore different iterations of characters and outcomes to stories. Since Wolverine is arguably the most popular character in the entire Marvel Universe, there have been many versions of the ‘ol Canucklehead floating around in the Marvel multiverse.
While there have been many versions of Wolverine over the years, not all of the can be winners (we’re looking at you feral dog Wolverine). Join us as we take a look at some of the best characters to ever take up the mantle of Wolverine.
10. Daken (Earth-616)
The son that Wolverine never knew he had, Akihiro, better known as Daken, was born from tragedy. His mother, Itsu, was gunned down by the Winter Soldier in an attempt to draw out her husband, the man known as Wolverine.
Unbeknownst to Wolverine, Itsu was pregnant when she died, but the baby’s inherited healing factor kept it alive long enough for it to be extracted from his mother’s womb.
Raised with a hatred of his own father, who he believed was responsible for his mother’s death, Daken set out to get his vengeance. Cocky and brash, Daken has powers virtually identical to that of his father, save for the ability to manipulate people to do his bidding via pheromones.
Daken’s quest for revenge has seen him adopt the alias of Dark Wolverine as part of Norman Osborne’s Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men. Wolverine has fathered many bastards over the years, but the only one that could really give him a run for his money is Daken.
9. Jim Logan (Earth-90214)
The Marvel Noir universe transplants some of the most recognizable heroes out of the modern era, and into the pulpy 1930s. Writers downplayed the characters’ superhero abilities in favor of gritty atmosphere which complimented the highly stylized black and white artwork.
While the most well known denizen of this universe is probably Spider-Man, Marvel Noir saw Tony Stark do his best Indiana Jones impression while fighting Nazis, and the X-Men were reimagined as delusional teenage sociopaths. Wolverine has the unique distinction of having two seemingly different personas within the Marvel Noir universe.
The first, a heavily scarred bootlegger known as Captain Jim, is a drunk who was previous entangled with the grifter and con artist known as Jean Grey. He also brandishes a gnarly set of claws which he wields with deadly force. In his other incarnation within the Noir reality, Logan is a private detective who is tasked with a mysterious and dangerous case that opens the floodgates to his own dark past.
Unfortunately, the reception to Wolverine’s appearances in Noir were met with tepid reviews, but there is no denying that Wolverine as a Philip Marlowe-esque rum runner with Vega-like claws for back alley beat ’em ups is a world that is worth a re-visit.
8. Wolvie (Multiple)
We’ve mentioned the bizarrely hideous Mojo before, an alien from another dimension who is a thinly veiled caricature of greedy network executives. Mojo rules the Mojoverse by providing its denizens with televised entertainment, mainly in the form of ultra-violent gladiator-style death matches.
Seeing the potential ratings boost that the X-Men could bring to the table, Mojo kidnaps the mutant superhero team and forces them to compete on his show. The X-men quickly best Mojo and make their way back to their own world, all while generating huge ratings. Realizing how lucrative the X-Men are, Mojo commissioned various knock-offs to be created, however all pale in comparison, save for the X-Babies.
Adorable infant counterparts to the X-Men, the X-Babies prove to be more than Mojo can handle, despite their small stature and proclivity to diaper rash. In addition to Cike (Cyclops), Shower (Storm), Colossusus (Colossus), Shadowkitty (Shadowcat), Creepy Crawler (Nightcrawler) and Sugah (Rogue), the team included Wolvie, still sporting claws that would definitely be considered age inappropriate.
7. Wolverine (Earth-2149)
This reality’s Wolverine is identical to his main continuity counterpart, only he is turned into a zombie after trying to stop the spread of the undead infection brought to his world by Ash Williams. Wolverine’s healing factor fails to keep the infection and subsequent transformation into one of the living dead, and he joins their ranks in their ongoing effort to satiate their never-ending hunger.
The zombie virus is slightly different in this reality, as it doesn’t destroy its victims mental faculties, although they are slaves to their need for human flesh. As a result, Wolverine is just as witty as he was when he was still one of the living. Case in point, when he easily defeats the Deadite army, he insinuates that he is going to use the pages of the Necronomicon for toilet paper.
The over-saturation of zombies in pop culture may have caused the undead to lose some of their bite, but a zombie with claws? We’d love to see Daryl and Rick take that one on.
6. Howlett (Earth-12025)
James Howlett was a general in the army of the British Empire, a role which ultimately saw him become the Governor General of Canada. He would join the hero Hercules on many adventures, and the two became known as their world’s greatest heroes. During one of their quests, Hercules gifted the legendary Olympian metal Adamantine to Howlett, which was later bonded to his skeleton, giving Howlett’s claws a golden hue.
After defeating a giant kaiju that was stomping around Canada, Hercules and Howlett declared their love for one another, something that was strictly forbidden by Zeus. As punishment, the pair were banished to the pits of Tartarus, where they spent years fighting off hordes of damned souls.
Eventually, the pair were recruited into a group of dimension hopping X-Men to track down and defeat evil Xaviers (don’t ask).
Howlett has been described as “Wolverine meets Teddy Roosevelt, but still Canadian” given his penchant for big guns and affinity for political service. Whereas the main continuity Wolverine loves his mutton chop sideburns, Howlett opts for the mutton chop beard, a look that pairs well with his trademark cowboy hat.
5. Wolverine (Earth-92131)
In 1992, the X-Men animated series premiered on Fox and fans were enthralled by epic story-lines that were lifted from some of the greatest story arcs in the X-Men’s (then) 30 year history. The series is also probably the reason why Gambit is as popular as he is today, since the character had only debuted in the comics a year prior and was a product of the ridiculously ’90s concept of wearing normal, everyday clothing over bright spandex (see also: Ben Reilly’s Scarlet Spider).
The X-Men animated series served to introduce Marvel’s mutants to an entire generation, and for existing fans, it was one of the first times that their favorite characters were given a voice.
One of the most iconic portrayals was that of Wolverine by Cathal J. Dodd. Employing a raspy, gruff vocalization, Dodd has helped to flesh out the character and has influenced virtually every depiction of the Ol’ Canucklehead since.
If you grew up in the ’90s, chances are you had the X-Men action figures, and we are positive that you tried your hardest to emulate Wolverine’s growls from the show… and now you have the theme song stuck in your head.
4. Weapon X (Earth-295)
The mutant known as Legion travels back in time in order to assassinate Erik Lehnsherr before he could become the super-villain known as Magneto. Unfortunately, Legion’s plans backfires, and he accidentally kills Professor X instead. This results in the mutant known as Apocalypse coming out of his hibernation 10 years earlier than in the main continuity, enabling him to quickly seize control of the United States.
Magneto pledges to fight Apocalypse and becomes the founder of the X-Men, of which the mutant known as Logan is a part of. Logan adopts the codename Weapon X, and his ferocity is unparalleled. He later develops a close relationship with Jean Grey that matures into a romantic relationship. When Jean is captured by Sinister, Weapon X refuses Magneto’s orders and sets off on his own to rescue her. Weapon X is successful, but loses a hand in the process due to an optic blast from Sinister’s henchman, Cyclops.
Weapon X and Jean Grey strike out on their own, fighting Apocalypse’s forces and working to evacuate humans from Apocalypse’s genocide. Despite his heroic efforts, Logan and Jean are torn apart as their reality faces extinction. To make matters even worse, Weapon X becomes the new Apocalypse to prevent aliens from exterminating all life on Earth, becoming hated by the same people he had fought so hard to protect.
3. X-23 (Earth-616)
Recognizing that Wolverine was a resounding success in the Weapon X program, aside of course from going on a rampage and murdering almost everyone involved, another shady organization set out to clone him, using a sample of his blood kept on ice from his days as a human guinea pig.
The final Y chromosome from the sample was damaged, preventing a male clone from being produced. However a decision was made to go ahead with a rule 63-inspired version of Wolverine.
Designated X-23 (as she was the 23rd cloning attempt), she possessed all of the same abilities as her “father”, save for the distinguishing characteristic of having two claws per hand plus a third that pops out of her foot.
Originally developed for the animated TV show X-Men: Evolution, X-23 was so well received that she got an official Earth-616 incarnation. With a mysterious and tragic past that proves pain and suffering is encoded into Logan’s DNA, X-23 was the only choice to take up the mantle of Wolverine after Logan’s death in 2014.
2. Wolverine (Earth-10005/Earth-TRN414)
The year was 2000. Y2K had passed without the world plunging into the dark ages and comic book fandom was waiting with bated breath as the live action adaptation of one of the most beloved Marvel properties was about to hit the big screen.
The director of the Usual Suspects was directing and Captain Jean Luc Picard was perfectly cast as Professor X, it seemed as though the X-Men feature film was on solid footing. However, many were skeptical of how one of the most iconic members of the mutant superhero team would be portrayed.
The notion of a relatively unknown 6’2″ (!) Australian was going to play one of, if not the, most popular in the entire Marvel universe was met with considerable criticism from fan-boys around the globe. But Hugh Jackman’s performance as the gruff loner known only as Logan was met with acclaim. Jackman took the time to properly research the character and delivered a version of the character that comic book fans could respect, even we have to pretend that X-Men Origins: Wolverine doesn’t exist.
Jackman has said that Wolverine 3 will be his last outing as James Howlett. Whether you think he’s too tall, too Australian, or just right, whomever is going to replace him has a mighty big set of claws to step into.
1. Old Man Logan
The age of heroes is over. 50 years ago, super-villains from around the globe banded together and executed a devastating coordinated attack, taking the Earth’s heroes by surprise. The resulting battle decimated the heroes, costing them their lives. Of the handful of heroes that escaped the slaughter, many have gone into hiding, as the United States is carved into territories ruled with an iron fist by various super-villains.
We discover that the hero once known as Wolverine managed to survive the onslaught, however the psychological trauma of being spared has turned him into a pacifist. Vowing to never resort to violence, Logan lives a simple life as a farmer with his wife and two children.
Experiencing financial hardship, Logan’s old friend Hawkeye makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Acting as a courier to a mysterious package, Logan must traverse the deadly terrain once known as the United States. This simple job turns out to be so much more, and Logan is forced to not only confront his dark and violent past, but embrace it.
Old Man Logan is a tragic and brutal story of vengeance, adding layers to its central character that had never been explored before. Also, Logan adopts a normal haircut for once.
What are your favorite versions of the man known as the Wolverine? Let us know in the comments!