When Marvel’s X-Men first graced the movie screen, the average viewer had no idea what made a Wolverine special, or what Weapon X was responsible for creating in the mutant’s version of America. Things have changed, with Logan being brought face to face with another famous product of the Weapon X Program, in the form of a young girl with his superpowers. And if it’s changing everything he thinks about the world he lives in… it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Yes, that covert experimental project helped wrap Wolverine’s skeleton in adamantium, and helped turn Deadpool into an unkillable idiot. But they were just a handful of the heroes and villains who passed through the group’s ranks over the years. And while plenty were simply recruited to hunt down and capture mutants without offering anything to the larger story, or were almost too minor to even discuss in detail, there were exceptions. It’s a program designed to give mutants new powers, after all.
So we’ve gathered a list of the Weapon X Subjects fans will want to know about before they’re ever adapted for film or TV.
Real Name: James Howlett
The savage killer eventually known as Wolverine – or ‘Weapon X – began his life as James Howlett, the son of a wealthy landowner in Alberta, Canada in the late 1800s. While sickly as a boy, seeing his family murdered in front of him caused his mutation to show itself, in the form of bone claws protruding from his hands. He soon took to the wilderness as he grew to adulthood, learning along the way that he was impervious to extremes in temperature, fatigue, and could heal almost instantly. And for almost a century, he put those skills to sue in dozens of memorable ways (stories told by just as many inspired comic writers).
Having taken the name “Logan” soon after his life was destroyed, the 1960s saw him move from standard military to Team X, the weaponized mutant strike force of the Weapon X Project (intended to wipe out the mutant threat). Over the next decade, Logan’s distaste for teamwork and the cruel savagery of his fellow Team X member Sabretooth had him planning his departure. But before he could escape, Weapon X authorities had him sedated, beaten, and forced to endure an experimental procedure. First came the adamantium coating his entire skeleton. Then came the brainwashing.
The intention was to program the humanity out of Logan, leaving only Wolverine, the brainwashed animal longing for nothing but to complete his missions, and kill as directed. He was given the name ‘Weapon X,’ and would serve for some time before finally breaking free of the programming, and slaughtering everyone between his cell and freedom (a breakout seen on film in X-Men: Apocalypse). Even more years wandering the globe would follow, before finding his place among the X-Men.
Real Name: Laura Kinney
Since the entire Weapon X/Weapon Plus program began as an attempt to recreate the original Super Soldier program that created Captain America, it only makes sense that the top priority would one day be to recreate Wolverine entirely. Advancements in cloning made it possible, but the corrupted DNA they had on file meant the clone would be lacking the Y chromosome in every male. Despite Dr. Sarah Kinney’s objections, the authorities attempt a clone anyway, creating twenty-two failed subjects. Only then did they yield to the mutant geneticist, and allow the creation of a female embryo: X-23.
The embryo was then forcibly gestated inside of Dr. Kinney herself (no resistance went unpunished in Weapon X), resulting in the little girl now appearing in Logan. Laura Kinney, possessed of all of Wolverine’s healing abilities and amplified physiology, along with a pair of double claws. Weapon X waited for their opportunity to divide mother from daughter, but ultimately failed – Laura destroyed their chances at further clones, before reuniting with her mother. Sadly, she found one last programmed manipulation that forced her to kill her own mother in a rage… but not before she could pass on a photo of Wolverine, her genetic twin/father.
Growing up with the same genes as Wolverine made Laura a volatile woman, but thankfully, things worked out in the end. And with the death of Wolverine in Marvel’s current continuity, Laura has even claimed the title for herself.
Real Name: Victor Creed
He may be best known as an archnemesis to Wolverine (for reasons that will be made abundantly clear by this list), but based on their powers alone, Victor Creed and James Howlett were doomed to butt heads. Similarly born in the late 1800s, Victor’s mutation granted him accelerated healing and metabolism. Like Wolverine, he can heal from injuries, live for an unknown span of time, and possesses enhanced physical skills, strength, and density. And that was even before he joined up with Weapon X to receive some upgrades.
Those upgrades came in the form of adamantium coating on his retractable bone claws, and all-around enhanced senses and agility. Over the years he received a number of upgrades, including adamantium coating on his bones. But with his joints still un-coated – unlike Wolverine’s – he could still be vulnerable to attacks. His teeth and feral nature gave him his name, showing how vicious and insanely brutal he can be even without adamantium torn from his enemy’s body by Apocalypse. But with these two, we have to assume that sharing is caring (they can’t seem to leave eachother alone).
11. Silver Fox
Real Name: Silver Fox
When his travels took him into the Canadian Rockies, Logan laid his eyes on a woman of the Blackfoot Confederacy – and the rest was history. Falling in love with the woman known as Silver Fox led to a brief, but happy life… until tragedy struck. Silver Fox was attacked in the home she shared with Logan by the hero’s old enemy, Sabretooth, but things only got stranger from there. In fact, the presumed dead Silver Fox eventually resurfaced in the modern Marvel universe occupying a senior position within Hydra. And her recollection of how she and Logan had parted ways was considerably different.
Since these stories took place in the years of Wolverine’s struggle to sift through “memory implants” given to him by Weapon X, the reliability of Silver Fox’s actions and fate were wildly varied. The first time through, it was revealed that Silver Fox had a mutation that gave her lethal, retractable claws, and was recruited into the Weapon X program to grant her a lesser healing factor – Wolverine and Sabretooth were implanted with the memory of her death. In the end, Wolverine: Origins did away with her possible/artificial fate, and cemented her story for good: she loved Logan, and was killed by his nemesis. But in Marvel history, one of the most prominent Weapon X figures, nonetheless.
Real Name: Wade Wilson
In all honesty, the origin of Deadpool is a pretty typical one, the old ‘boy joins the army, becomes a mercenary, is diagnosed with cancer and undergoes and immortality-triggering mutation and mental break.’ The Deadpool film covered the basics of Wade Wilson’s origin, with a few notable exceptions. On film, it isn’t anything close to a professional version of the Weapon X Program that he’s admitted into, although being pushed to his limits does force his mutant abilities to take effect. In the comics, that healing ability came as a gift from the project itself – derived from Wolverine himself.
It wasn’t until Wade broke the rules of the Team X group and was sent to the Hospice (for defective agents) that he was set on his own, non-government sanctioned course. The vindictive overseer of the Hospice mainpulated Wade into killing his lobotomized friend to end his suffering – a clear rule for inmate – and killed him as punishment. His hatred for that killer kicked the healing ability into effect, allowing Wade to return, taking the name of the “deadpool” the prisoners’ guards had to gamble on which inmate would survive, and which would die.
Real Name: Unknown
Silver Fox may have been among the first Weapon X subjects to claim Wolverine’s heart, but it was Native (true name unknown) who reflected him best. When her file was dropped in front of Wolverine as bait to help the government track her down, he knew exactly who he was looking for… but was missing the details. Native eventually ambushed Wolverine when he tried to seek her out in the wild, looking even more feral and crazed than he could on his worst day. Eventually, it was revealed that she, too, was a subject of Weapon X… blessed with all the same powers he had.
With a set of bone claws, healing factor, and amplified animal instincts, it took time for Wolverine to track her down (since she remembered his violent breakout from Weapon X better than him, she knew to keep her distance). The pair soon found what seemed like and old romance, and she even returned him to a small house in the forest that seemed familiar. The government won out, tracking them down and claiming Native, harvesting her eggs to try to continue their experiments. In the end, it was Sabretooth who killed her as a “favor” to his rival – along with the child her accelerated biology had already started to grow.
Real Name: Francis Fanny
When you’re setting out to experiment with turning ordinary mutants into uniquely gifted killing machines, it pays to have one such powerhouse on your side to keep the test subjects in line. The answer for Dr. Killebrew – the mastermind of the early project – was the man known simply as “Francis.” The Deadpool film made a celebrity out of the carefully-named villain, but the movie got most of his comic superpowers right. Before being given his job, Killebrew fitted Francis with some enhancements of his own.
Francis was made to be superhumanly fast, agile, durable, and strong, with all of his nerves removed to make him impervious to pain or torture. He was the one responsible for creating “Deadpool,” killing the annoying, failed test subject Wade Wilson by ripping out his heart. Wade regenerated a new one and came back to life… but his mind had been fractured beyond repair. After killing Francis, he would resurface in a suit of armor years later taking the name “Ajex” – before Wade snapped his neck, killing him for good (aside from a resurrection as ‘Abyss Man’ and a sacrifice to open an inter-dimensional portal… don’t worry about it).
Real Name: Garrison Kane
Not every test subject of Weapon X began as a charity case: take Kane, for example. He made his mark on the Marvel world at Cable’s side as part of his original strike team upon returning from the future (long before people knew he was the future-tossed Nate Summers). When Cable’s clone, Stryfe came back to attack the team, Kane was left for dead, separated from every one of his limbs. He wasn’t aware of the whole ‘Cable has a future clone’ thing, so he assumed that his former team leader had betrayed him. Weapon X gave him new cybernetic limbs, and he set off on a revenge mission with all new powers.
He would eventually travel forward in time to the 40th Century, getting his artificial limbs upgraded with Terminator-esque liquid metal before returning home, and getting more upgrades once joining Weapon X for good. It wasn’t just weapons he could form with his appendages, either. By ‘uploading’ his equipment with known mutant abilities, Kane could actually recreate them. As pointed out by Deadpool during one of their many altercations, trademarks meant little to Garrison Kane.
Real Name: Vanessa Carlysle
Only a woman with serious mental problems could love someone as messed up as Wade Wilson, right? Well, Vanessa Carlysle wasn’t an ordinary woman before she met Deadpool, born as a mutant able to change her physical appearance as well as any of the best known shapeshifting X-Men. Her relationship with Wade ended the same way it did in the film (played by Morena Baccarin), with him breaking it off knowing of his terminal illness, and not wishing to put her through it. But their time together was far from over.
Taking up a career as a mercenary, she eventually wound up on the X-Force team with Cable, masquerading as Domino. But when ordered to take out the team she had come to trust, she bugged out, and began a romantic relationship with Garrison Kane. Over time her powers grew more and more unstable, so when she next crossed paths with Weapon X, she requested some improvements. The treatments made her more powerful than ever, but the effectiveness of her shapeshifting cost her a sense of self… and shortly after being reunited with Wade, she was killed by… you guessed it, Sabretooth.
Real Name: Cunningham
We couldn’t make mention of the Weapon X flunkee who kicked Wade Wilson’s career into motion without giving him an entry of his own… even if he never really got the chance to show why he had been recruited at all. When Wade first moves to the Hospice, home to all the washouts of Killbrew’s Workshop, it’s Worm who rolls out the welcome mat by offering a summary of the many afflictions the inmates now face. In his case, it’s a faulty cybernetic upgrade turning half of his head into metal, but apparently built with “Argentinian parts.”
Wade remains apprehensive, more eager to wallow in the life he’s lost than take some dark amusement at his current predicament. But it’s Worm who stokes the fire of dissent and ridicule for Francis, their jailer, and once Wade’s onto him, there’s no going back. Francis finds a way to hurt him that he can’t laugh off, though, when he lobotomizes Worm in front of all the inmates, including Wade. As Worm tells Wade to keep on fighting, and find a way out, he’s reduced to nonsensical mumblings. And at an urging from Lady Death herself, Wade ends Worm’s suffering… and seals his own future.
Real Name: Bernard Hoyster
When assembling the very first group of enhanced mutant operatives, it only made sense for the Canadian group Department K to make sure a massive, lumbering, invulnerable tank was among them. Bernard Hoyster fit that bill, and received the blessing of invincibility (or almost invincibility) to go along with his well-over-seven-foot frame and weapons proficiency. Unfortunately, his contributions to the world of X-Force and Deadpool comics are more tragic than thrilling.
After departing Team X when Deadpool killed their aforementioned teammate, Sluggo ended up in a romance with Tina Valentino (a close friend of Copycat’s). So when Copycat shapeshifted to play Tina’s identical twin and hide out, Sluggo’s attempts to track her down alongside Deadpool’s lead to a case of mistaken identity. Sluggo kills Tina instead of Copycat, which would be incredibly tragic if his own death didn’t come as a total accident, with Deadpool’s friend Weasel shooting him in the head with a popcorn grenade gun. Weapon X doesn’t fix brains, just bodies.
Real Name: Sarah (Unknown)
As the name suggests, the mutant going by the name ‘Marrow’ has her mutation in the bone – literally. She’s able to stimulate bone growth throughout her body, effectively creating bone knives, swords, clubs, or armor as needed. It may turn the stomach of some readers, but it’s a trick that can make her as deadly as Wolverine in close quarters combat, but it comes at a price. Over the course of her early career in the comics, Sarah – her real name – suffered uncontrollable bone growth, disfiguring her and then ostracizing her from society.
She sought out Weapon X as a possible cure, since they claimed to have the technology to cure her for good. Desperate to fit in and be ‘beautiful,’ Sarah took the offer, and it worked exactly as designed. But with her new looks, Sarah wasn’t in a hurry to go back on the job any time soon. Since Weapon X doesn’t take kindly to those who back out or delay, some horrible manipulation follows to wound Sarah emotionally, and harden her into the kind of soldier the group needed. It worked, and Marrow entered a new chapter of her career: more beautiful than ever, and just as deadly.
Real Name: John Lopez
For those unfamiliar with the larger Weapon X program, it’s as much a team of mutant-hunters as it is a system to amplify or augment mutant abilities. So while the power to generate and manipulate water might not be at the top of the list of most coveted superpowers, someone assembling a versatile team might find the trick useful. And the leader of Weapon X – known as ‘The Director’ – is nothing if not a man who values what’s most useful. And in the case of john Lopez a.k.a. Washout, having one of the elements under control is hard to pass up.
Not all that much of Washout’s origin is revealed in his Weapon X days, but we do know he was a bed wetter before mastering control of fluids (a fitting note). He’s initially shown able to wield water as you would expect, but receives upgrades allowing him to turn his entire body into water at some point. We know that because of his attempted murder of his former boss, appearing in a column of water and boiling the water inside his target’s body until his skin begins to bubble off of his face. It’s his last act, but a memorable one.
Real Name: Aldo Ferro
We made mention early on that it’s hard to separate the first era of Weapon X in Marvel Comics from the intensely complicated and overlapping “implanted memories” afflicting Wolverine, but it extends to every team member. Those implants are actually the creation of Aldo Ferro, who used his immense psionic talents to control the mutants on behalf of Weapon X so that he could gain access to the life-prolonging serum derived from Wolverine, and given to most of the original crop of Team X members. As always, Weapon X turned out to be far too sinister for a normal agreement.
He would later make his return in a massive suit of mechanized armor, having spent decades trying to unlock the secret to immortality in Wolverine’s DNA. We would like to say that the fight was an incredible on, but it’s most well known for the moment the armor was torn apart, revealing the weak and withered body of Ferro it was concealing. He’ll at least be comforted by the release of Logan, accepting that time comes for us all… even immortal mutants.
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