Hugh Jackman returns in 2017 for his final solo Wolverine movie, Logan, and we can’t wait to see the feral mutant back in action… even if we may also be seeing his demise. A long-time favorite character for so many comic book fans, Wolverine could theoretically keep appearing in films forever – as a character, he is functionally immortal, and no matter how far into the future (or the past) the series stretches, the gruff Canuck will always be there. Unless, of course, the healing factor that provides him with his immortality isn’t working, which happens far more than you might think.
Although Wolverine is known for his healing ability (and adamantium claws), and this mutation is powerful enough to bring him back from almost any injury imaginable, it’s not 100% foolproof. He’s been killed before, even though his healing factor was functioning; once when he was sent to Hell and his body was possessed (a half-death), and once when he used the Phoenix Gun to take down Doom (because the Phoenix Gun kills anyone who fires it, healing factor or not). At other times, however, he has flat-out lost his second most defining mutant trait; nothing can quite top those claws of his.
Here are 12 Times Wolverine Lost His Healing Factor.
12. Wolverine Origins (Before His Mutation Appeared)
Technically, Wolverine doesn’t lose his healing factor in his comic book origin, but he is missing it for a lot of this story because his mutation didn’t manifest at birth. In fact, for most of his childhood, James Howlett (Wolverine’s original name) was a sickly child suffering from allergies as well as various ailments. It was only when his father was killed in front of him that his mutation kicked in, revealing his claws, his feral nature, and his healing factor.
From that point forward, James (who soon took up the name Logan) had all his mutant abilities — although the adamantium being bonded to his skeleton came later. We don’t know exactly how old Logan was when his powers first manifested; he was young enough to still be considered a ‘boy’, yet old enough to be able to find work in a mining town in Canada. He appears to be in early adolescence at this point, which means that he didn’t have a healing factor for at least the first ten years of his life.
11. X-Men: Age Of Apocalypse (Cannot Re-Grow A Missing Hand)
In the alternate universe that is X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, there are some major changes made to Wolverine. In this universe, he is not actually even called Wolverine, and instead goes by the name Weapon X. He is still a member of the X-Men (led by Magneto), and he’s in a relationship with Jean Grey. The other big difference between Weapon X and Wolverine is that it seems that the character’s healing factor isn’t working in the usual way.
In Age of Apocalypse, Logan is missing a hand – one that was seared off by Cyclops’ optic blast. In the primary Marvel universe, this would be no big deal. Wolverine has recovered from far more than a missing hand! In AoA, however, the stump has been capped over, and the fact that it hasn’t grown back isn’t fully explained. Some have suggested that the metal cap prevents the limb from regenerating, and that Wolverine chose to keep it this way as a reminder of his failure. If that were true, it would mean that he does still have his healing factor. Others have theorized that his healing factor is significantly weaker/slower in this alternate world, and that the limb would regenerate in time. Whatever the answer, it seems like Wolvie’s healing abilities are definitely not the same when Apocalypse is in charge.
10. The Wolverine (Injected With A Parasite)
In Fox’s cinematic universe, Wolverine has very much become the face of the X-Men franchise. In 2013’s The Wolverine, the character’s second solo outing, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) injects Logan with a robotic parasite that attaches to his heart and suppresses his healing abilities. At first, this simply slows down his ability to heal (which we see when he is shot, and doesn’t immediately recover), but if left attached, it will eventually suppress his power completely. It doesn’t, however, appear to have any impact on the other elements of Wolverine’s mutation.
Luckily, Logan is able to discover the parasite in enough time to cut it out of himself and still recover from the impromptu operation. Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) has also created a machine that is capable of extracting Wolverine’s healing factor in the film, literally transferring it from one person to another. Had he achieved his goal, Logan would be left mortal, but obviously, this doesn’t happen because heroes always win, duh.
9. Marvel Zombies (Zombies Don’t Have Healing Factors)
In the alternate universe of Marvel Zombies, Wolverine (like most of the Marvel heroes) is infected by a zombie virus brought from another dimension by the Sentry. The virus is powerful enough to overcome his healing factor entirely — which, interestingly, means that a zombie virus is stronger than a vampire bite in the Marvel universe, and we’ll get to the Wolverine/vampire entry later on this list! — turning him into a shambling corpse-version of himself.
As a zombie, it appears that Wolverine’s healing factor is completely gone, as his body begins to rot like the other zombies and does not regenerate. Wolverine isn’t the only (usually) invulnerable character taken down by the virus in Marvel Zombies, either. The Hulk is also turned, as is Deadpool. As this is now an alternate zombie universe, it also seems like this version of Wolverine is unlikely to ever recover from the virus. Thankfully, it’s even less likely that the virus will cross over into the mainstream Marvel universe anytime soon.
8. The Weapon X Project (Shot With Carbonadium Bullets)
Carbonadium is one of the metals in the Marvel Universe that was created in an attempt to replicate Adamantium. The attempt failed, but the resulting product has some interesting properties. As well as being poisonous in general, carbonadium disrupts mutant healing factors. This substance has been used against Wolverine by the same people who first grafted adamantium to his skeleton: the Weapon X Project.
The project, seeking a way to test Wolverine (and to better control him) put this to use with bullets made of carbonadium. These bullets were able to slow down Wolverine’s healing factor almost entirely, but could not quite wipe it out completely. Once Logan was brought back in and the metal removed from his body, his healing factor would reassert itself very quickly. Wolverine himself has also used a carbonadium bullet – on his own son, Daken. In an attempt to rescue his son, Wolverine shot him in the head with the metal, allowing him to knock Daken out until he could take him away.
7. New X-Men (X-23 Exhausts Her Healing Factor)
Logan isn’t the only mutant to bear the Wolverine name – with All New, All Different Marvel, it’s Logan’s clone Laura Kinney who currently sports the mantle (the character was previously known as X-23). Like Logan, Laura has the same feral abilities and healing factor, as well as a slightly different configuration of lethal claws. Also like Logan, Laura’s healing factor can be ‘burnt out’ when it is put under excessive strain.
This happened in New X-Men #31, when Laura (along with a team of other mutants) went up against Nimrod, an incredibly advanced Sentinel from an alternate reality. In the process of taking Nimrod down, Wolverine (Laura) launches herself at Nimrod, taking the full power of his blast head-on. We are treated to a shot of her life withering away, and the effects of the attack prove so severe that her healing factor isn’t able to save her. Instead, she is rushed back to Elixar, who is able to use his power to restore Laura, saving her life when her healing factor couldn’t.
6. Curse Of The Mutants (Nanites Allow The Healing Factor To Be Turned Off)
In the Curse of the Mutants story arc, San Francisco is overrun with vampires and the X-Men (along with Blade and Namor) are the ones who have to stop them. As part of a diabolical master plan, the head vamp turns Jubilee, intending to use her as bait to capture Wolverine; and the plan works.
Logan comes to save Jubilee, Jubilee bites him, and he becomes a monstrous vampire who’s all ready to murder his former friends and teammates. However, it’s later revealed that Cyclops has secretly injected Wolverine with nanobots that are capable of shutting off his healing factor. Cyclops controls these nanites with a simple switch that allows him to turn Wolverine’s healing factor on and off in an instant. When Wolverine is able to heal, his mutation overcomes the virus in his system, but when his healing factor is suppressed, it is possible for Wolverine to become a vampire (and thus fully infiltrate the vampire clan, which was Cyclops’ plan all along).
5. Uncanny X-Men (Power-Wiping Mutant)
Both Wolverine and Rogue lost their powers on Genosha in Uncanny X-Men #236, thanks to the abilities of a mutant who goes by the name of Wipeout. A member of the Genoshan Magistrates, Wipeout has the unusual ability to nullify the powers of other mutants, rendering them powerless (or rather, human…any abilities and training that are not mutant gifts remain). He is able to essentially ‘remove’ their powers by setting up an energy block that prevents bio-genetic energy from their X-gene — in other words, because comic book science!
In this issue, Wolverine and Rogue are transported to Genosha against their will, and they respond by putting up a helluva fight. They probably would have won, too, if Wipeout wasn’t present to remove their powers. In this instance, Psylocke manages to eventually get their powers restored by forcing Wipeout to reverse what he had done, but this took around three issues of the two wandering Genosha without their abilities first.
4. Age Of X (Mutant Cure)
In the alternate universe that is Age of X, mutants and humans do not live side by side in the (relative) harmony that we know from the main Marvel universe. Instead, anti-mutant sentiment is so powerful that the mutant gene has actually been outlawed; humans who give birth to mutants are sterilized, and mutants themselves are either exiled, killed, or imprisoned.
In this world, there is a mutant resistance, led by Magneto, and Wolverine’s part in it nearly kills him. Logan is sent to try and destroy a ‘cure’ that has been developed by Dr. Richard Palance and Dr. Kavita Rao, one that would eliminate all mutant kind (this is similar to the Hope Serum in the mainstream Marvel universe). In order to destroy all of the serum, Wolverine is convinced to take every drop of it at once — and it works, completely wiping out all traces of the serum.
Wolverine’s healing factor is almost completely exhausted by the massive overdose, however, and the adamantium bonded to his skeleton begins to poison him. He is weakened to the point that the slightest exertion may kill him, and can do no more to help the resistance.
3. Uncanny X-Men (Exhausted By A Prolonged Battle)
The Mutant Cure isn’t the only way to exhaust Wolverine’s healing factor. In the same way that we saw X-23’s healing abilities severely weakened by a powerful blast, Logan’s mutant ability has been nearly wiped out more than once when it’s taxed with overuse.
In Uncanny X-Men #205/207 Wolverine is severely injured in an ongoing battle against Lady Deathstrike — a regular foe of the X-Men, one who has a particular vendetta against Logan. Having been turned into a cyborg by Spiral, Deathstrike, Wade Cole, Angelo Macon and Murray Reese head out to take down Wolverine, and repeated bouts against these cyborgs exhaust Logan’s healing factor to the point that he is critically wounded. Luckily, he is rescued and taken underground into the Morlock tunnels to recover. With the help of time, the Morlock Healer, and Jean Grey, Wolverine is able to eventually return to full health (and take on Lady Deathstrike again in future).
2. Wolverine (Destroyed When Magneto Ripped Out Adamantium)
In the ’80s and ’90s, Wolverine’s healing factor was definitely less powerful that it became in more recent years, and prolonged battles or severe injuries could burn it out. This happened when Wolverine went up against Lady Deathstrike (as we just saw), but it happened again in Fatal Attractions, when Wolverine battled Magneto in one of the most brutal fights in the character’s history.
Furious after Wolverine nearly guts him, Magneto uses his mutant ability to control the metal on the adamantium that is bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton — ripping the metal off his bones and out of his body. On top of being insanely painful (we assume), surviving this horrifying experience burnt out Wolverine’s healing factor, leaving him with his bone claws, but without adamantium or the ability to heal himself. It briefly looked like this could be the end for one of our favorite X-Men, but his adamantium was later restored by Apocalypse, who then made Wolverine his Horseman of Death.
1. Death Of Wolverine (Burned Out By A Microvirus)
Although there have been a few times where Wolverine lost his healing factor, in the main Marvel universe, he always managed to get it back…until 2014, when Logan finally ended his long run in comics. (Although the alternate-reality Old Man Logan has now joined the mainstream continuity, so he’s not entirely gone!)
In the aptly named Death of Wolverine storyline, Wolverine lost his healing factor for the last time thanks to an intelligent virus from the microverse that infected him and shut it off. Without a healing factor, Wolverine discovered that he could no longer use his claws without serious risk, and that his many enemies were coming after him as soon as they realized that he could be killed.
In a fitting end, Wolverine discovered that one of the men from the Weapon X project was attempting to make more adamantium-bonded soldiers, but that they needed his healing factor to make things work. He fought to prevent anyone else being experimented on, and in the process, slashed open a tank of liquid adamantium. The same metal that was bonded to his claws long ago covered him, slowly hardening around him until it became his final tomb.
Will Wolverine Have His Healing Factor In Logan?
Many have wondered if Wolverine will still have his healing factor in Logan, especially as he appears significantly older, more grizzled, and a few shots so far have shown him with multiple scars — which aren’t usually left when Wolverine heals. However, in an interview with Empire, director James Mangold explains that the healing factor is still there, it’s just starting to get weaker as Wolverine ages.
…he’s getting older and ailing. Perhaps his healing factor no longer produces baby-soft skin. So we imagined he heals quickly, still, but it leaves a scar. The simple idea was that his body would start to get a little more ravaged with a kind of tattooing of past battles, lacerations that remain of previous conflicts.
So those scars aren’t the result of a lost healing factor, but a lessened one. As we know from the comics, Logan’s healing factor only slows the ageing process (significantly), rather than halting it entirely. From these comments and the plot of Old Man Logan, we can assume that we may see Wolverine using his gifts a little less, especially at the start, but we will be seeing him pop those claws and heal after battle one last time.
What other times has Wolverine lost his regenerative healing abilities? Let us know in the comments.