Times have been tough for Wolverine over the past few years. The X-Men franchise is no longer the biggest thing at Marvel; The Avengers have become the face of the company, with the aid of the Disney corporation. As the film rights to the X-Men still belong to 20th Century Fox, their importance has been downplayed in the comics. The age of the mutants has finally ended. It has been replaced by the age of “metahumans that are legally distinct from mutants.”
Wolverine is about to enter a new era of uncertainty. Hugh Jackman has had his final outing as the character (in Logan), meaning that a new actor will likely take over the role in future X-Men movies. In honour of Jackman’s seventeen years of history with the character, we are here today to look at the life of one of Marvel’s greatest characters. From his creator’s quest for cash to the true meaning of his name.
Here are 20 Things You Never Knew About Wolverine!
20. Wolverine’s Creator Barely Makes Any Money From The Character
As many fans know, Wolverine did not debut in the pages of an X-Men comic; he actually started out as an enemy of the Hulk. Wolverine first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #180, when the Hulk crossed over into Canada, and the two ended up in a three-way battle with the Wendigo.
Wolverine was created by Len Wein, who wrote the two issues of The Incredible Hulk where he first appeared. Wolverine would later join the X-Men, where he would achieve mainstream success. He would become a major merchandise seller for Marvel, and appear in numerous cartoons and video games.
So how much did Len Wein make from Wolverine? $350 for the issues where he first appeared… and that was it until The Wolverine was released. This was due to the fact that Marvel automatically owns all the rights to any character that appears in their comics. It was due to these contract issues that many of Marvel’s biggest names left the company in the early ’90s and formed Image Comics.
19. The Other Wolverine…
Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine in nine movies to date. The first time he played the role was in the original X-Men movie, which was released seventeen years ago. That is a long time to play any single character, and it is a tribute to Jackman’s professionalism that he never gave up the role, even after some of the terrible entries in the series. It will be a long time before another actor leaves such an impression on the character.
While Hugh Jackman is known for playing Wolverine on the big screen, there is another actor who has also played the character on numerous occasions. Steve Blum has played Wolverine in at least twenty different projects, ranging from video games, theme park attractions and various animated series. He has even been nominated for BTVA awards, due to his excellent portrayal of Wolverine.
18. He Might Be An Actual Wolerine (The Animal)
Wolverine’s true origins used to be one of the big mysteries surrounding the character. It was established that he had no memories of his life before he was found by the Hudson family. As time went on, numerous clues concerning Wolverine’s life were revealed. He fought in several major conflicts as a soldier, including the second World War. Wolverine had his skeleton coated with adamantium, as part of the Weapon X program, before he escaped and lost his memory. Wolverine’s true backstory was revealed in 2001, in a series called Origin. His real name is James Howlett and he actually grew up as a spoilt rich kid.
While Wolverine has been established as being a mutant, this wasn’t always going to be the case. At one point, Chris Claremont wanted to change his species. Wolverine was going to be an actual wolverine (the animal), that had been genetically altered by the High Evolutionary to resemble a humn. A few subtle clues about his true heritage were mentioned in early issues of Uncanny X-Men. This storyline was denied by Stan Lee himself.
17. Wolverine Defeated Lobo With The Power Of Democracy!
There is a misconception that DC and Marvel comics are rivals. This is not the case. The two companies have done numerous crossovers with each other over the years. These mostly involved team-ups of heroes vs villains (like Batman and Captain America joining forces to fight the Joker and Red Skull).
In 1996, DC and Marvel announced plans for a crossover series that would pit their characters against each other. The results of each fight would be decided via a fan vote. Wolverine was intended to fight Lobo.
Wolverine is a badass character to be sure, but Lobo can go toe-to-toe with Superman. Lobo should have absolutely destroyed Wolverine. The fan vote was overwhelmingly in Wolverine’s favour, however, as he is the more popular character. When the fight between the two characters started, it immediately went behind a bar, with Wolverine emerging the victor. The fight wasn’t shown, as the writers couldn’t think of a way to have Wolverine realistically beat Lobo.
16. The Anita Blake Crossover Cover
Spider-Man is considered to be Marvel’s most popular character. Wolverine was the 2nd most popular character for a long time (especially in the ’90s), though that is likely no longer the case, due to the Marvel Cinematic Universe bringing The Avengers into mainstream success. During the height of Wolverine’s popularity, it was not unusual for him to appear in several different comic books a month. He was even a member of both the New Avengers and the X-Men at once. As such, Wolverine used to appear on a lot of the covers of Marvel’s comics.
During the 30th anniversary of Wolverine’s debut, Marvel ran a promotion where every one of their comics had a variant cover that featured Wolverine. One series that had a Wolverine cover was Anita Blake. This was a comic book adaptation of a series of Buffy/Twilight-style novels, where a non-descript yet somehow simultaneously beautiful woman goes on dates with a range of handsome monsters. Wolverine appeared on one of the covers, which also included a note saying “Wolverine does not Appear in this issue”.
15. The Smoking Ban
Wolverine used to be one of the biggest smokers in all of Marvel comics. This was actually unusual, as most superheroes don’t smoke, as their series are usually geared towards being sold to children. Wolverine was often shown smoking cigars in the various X-Men comic books, and later, the movie series. This was kept to the comics & movies, with no smoking being shown in the animated series or video games. It could be argued that it is fine for Wolverine to smoke, as his healing factor would prevent any long term damage.
This all changed in 2001 when Marvel’s editor-in-chief imposed a company-wide smoking ban on all characters. Joe Quesada was the man responsible for this ruling, as he had lost a grandfather to lung cancer. As such, Wolverine finally gave up on his cigars. This also became a retroactive change, as old covers that depicted Wolverine smoking would have the cigar edited out.
14. The Australian Wolverine
The X-Men arcade game is still loved by many fans to this day. It is a beat-em-up game, where you play as a member of the X-Men, as they fight their way through hordes of Sentinels. You can also play X-Men with your friends and team up to defeat Magneto and his cronies. Some versions of the arcade machine even allowed for six players at once!
What most fans of the game don’t realise is that the arcade version of X-Men was based on a pilot episode for a cartoon that wasn’t picked up. It was called X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men, and it focused on a teenage Kitty Pryde, as she joined the second generation of the team. This episode can easily be found online. In Pryde of the X-Men, Wolverine had a thick Australian accent, despite the fact that he is Canadian in the comic books.
13. Wolverine The Misfit
Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine in nine movies. He will most likely forever be associated with the character. This goes both ways, as the next actor to play Wolverine will have to live up to the standard set by Jackman’s performance.
While Hugh Jackman was the first man to be cast as Wolverine in the movies, he was not the original choice to play the character. According to various sources, the first choice to play Wolverine was Dougray Scott. Jackman had to replace him at the last minute, as Scott was working on Mission Impossible 2 and couldn’t get out of it in time in order to do X-Men.
Along with Dougray Scott and Hugh Jackman, another man was approached for the role. Glenn Danzig was also asked if he was interested in playing Wolverine. Danzig refused the role and has gone out of his way to criticise Hugh Jackman’s performance of the character.
12. Wolverine: Apocalypse
One of the many complaints about X-Men: Apocalypse involves Wolverine’s presence in the movie. Several members of the X-Men are kidnapped by the forces of William Stryker. They are pursued by Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler, who attempt to free them. While exploring Stryker’s base, they just happen to come across Wolverine in a cage. They free him and use his rampage as a distraction to free the captured members of the X-Men. While Wolverine’s killing spree is certainly entertaining, it does feel very forced. The whole segment seems like they forgot that they needed to add Hugh Jackman to the film, so they stuck him in at the last minute.
This was not always meant to be the case. During development of the film, Wolverine was intended to have a much bigger role in the story. He was originally going to take over as the leader of the young members of the X-Men and train them for battle. This storyline was removed, as the creators felt that it took away from Mystique’s role in the film.
11. Wolverine Loves Hercules
Wolverine has had several love interests over the years. The main one is Mariko Yashida, whom Logan first met in Japan. The two fell in love, even though Mariko’s family opposed the relationship. Mariko managed to take control of her clan but was killed by The Hand before Wolverine could save her.
Along with Mario, Wolverine has long held a deep attraction to Jean Grey, though that was unrequited. In alternate universes & timelines, Wolverine has been in relationships with women like Mystique, Red Sonja and Storm.
One of the most well-known alternate versions of Wolverine appeared in the pages of X-Treme X-Men. This version of the character is bisexual and is in a relationship with Hercules. The two of them kissing in the pages of X-Treme X-Men #10 actually made its way onto several news sites. Hercules is confirmed to be bisexual in the regular Marvel continuity, which has lead to speculation that Wolverine is too.
10. The Accidental Mask
Wolverine has one of the most iconic costumes in comic book history. Despite this, it has never made its way onto the big screen. This is one of those cases where something that looks good on the page does not translate well into real life. The thousands of photos online of Wolverine cosplayers in their bright yellow costumes can attest to that.
When Wolverine first appeared, the helmet of his outfit was different than the more iconic design. The reason for this change is simply a happy accident.
Giant-Size X-Men #1 was pencilled by Dave Cockrum, but the cover was drawn by Gil Kane. Cockrum had already finished the comic when he saw the cover for the first time. Kane had changed the design of Wolverine’s mask without telling anyone. Cockrum liked the design so much that he went back and added the new helmet design to all of Wolverine’s panels.
9. Wolverine The Barbarian
During the “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, the X-Men had to battle the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, as part of a trial by combat, in order to save the life of Jean Grey. The battle takes place on the moon, near the residence of the Watcher.
Two What If… stories were released that concerned this battle. The first involved Wolverine being sent to another dimension. He arrived in the world of Conan the Barbarian, where he does battle with both Conan and Red Sonja. Conan is then sent back to the Marvel universe, where he is thrust into battle against the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. This leads to a second story, which focuses on Conan in the modern Marvel world.
Wolverine stays in Conan’s world, where he becomes the King of Aquilonia and marries Red Sonja. It seems that he enjoys his life amongst a society of warriors more than that of his time with the X-Men.
8. The Team Of Wolverines
In 2001, a new X-Men spin-off comic was released. It was called Exiles, and it concerned a team of superheroes who had been displaced from time and space. It was their job to travel to different realities and deal with any problem that might threaten the multiverse. The majority of the characters were related to the X-Men in some way, with most of the team being made up of mutants.
When the Exiles finally managed to escape their fate, a new team had to be formed to replace them. In Exiles #85, a group of Wolverines from different dimensions are brought together, in order to make the ultimate team. This did not last long, as the idea of a team of Wolverines was intended to be a joke. It was supposed to be poking fun at Wolverine’s over-exposure in Marvel comics. The team lasted for two issues, as they were overwhelmed by an army of Wolverine clones.
7. Everyone Hates X-Men Origins: Wolverine… Including Hugh Jackman
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is considered by many to be the worst film in the franchise. X-Men: The Last Stand might give it a run for its money, as well as X-Men: Apocalypse, but at least those films had excellent (if mismanaged) casts. X-Men Origins had Hugh Jackman, a Black-Eyed pea and the worst version of Deadpool.
The scorn heaped on this film is not just limited to the fans. Ryan Reynolds took a few shots at the film in Deadpool, including some jokes at the expense of his own performance.
One of the biggest critics of X-Men Origins is Hugh Jackman himself. He has admitted that everyone involved with the film could have done better and that they had essentially tried to make a fourth X-Men film, without any of the recognisable characters. His next solo outing in the franchise was in The Wolverine, which many critics were ambivalent towards. Luckily, the extremely positive reviews towards Logan may mean that he is ending his tenure as Wolverine on a high note.
6. The Wolverine/Batman Fusion
As mentioned in the Lobo entry, characters from both the DC and Marvel universes once clashed in battle. As that series progressed, there was a moment when both realities joined as one. This lead to the creation of the Amalgam universe, where DC and Marvel characters were fused together.
In the Amalgam universe, Wolverine was mixed with Batman, to create a new character, named Dark Claw. His enemy was a fusion of Sabertooth & the Joker, called the Hyena. Dark Claw’s real name was Logan Wayne and his sidekick was the Sparrow (a mixture of Robin and Jubilee). Dark Claw’s backstory was a mixture of both characters – he witnessed his parents being killed by a mugger as a child and was later drafted into the Weapon X program.
Batman is so popular that he actually received two different versions in the Amalgam universe. While Dark Claw was a mixture of Batman and Wolverine, there was a separate version for Bruce Wayne. In the Amalgam universe, Bruce Wayne was mixed with Nick Fury. He appeared in a comic called Bruce Wayne, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
5. He Lost To Mr. Spock
It might seem like a bizarre idea, but the X-Men have crossed over with two different crews from Star Trek. In 1998, the X-Men encountered Captain Picard and his crew, in a novel called Planet X. The book establishes the fact that Nightcrawler’s teleportation power works in a similar way to the Enterprise’s warp engine. Planet X also makes a joke about how Professor Xavier looks like Captain Picard. This was two years before Patrick Stewart was cast as Charles Xavier in the first X-Men movie. While that might seem like eerie foreshadowing, it really wasn’t a huge surprise that Stewart would go on to play Professor Xavier. He was always considered to be the front-runner for the role.
This wasn’t the first time that the X-Men encountered a Starfleet ship. In 1996, the X-Men met Captain Kirk’s version of the Enterprise. Star Trek/X-Men is a silly comic, which mainly existed to as a huge source of fanservice for fans of both franchises.
One of the most infamous moments in Star Trek/X-Men involves a fight between Wolverine and Mr. Spock. All of the berserker rage in the world didn’t help Wolverine, as he quickly jobbed out to a single Vulcan nerve pinch. His healing factor didn’t protect him from a patented Spock ass-kicking.
4. Wolverine Blues
There is a Swedish heavy metal band called Entombed. They formed in 1987 and still tour regularly to this day. In 1993, they released an album called Wolverine Blues, which featured a title track of the same name. The album has nothing to do with the character of Wolverine, nor does the “Wolverine Blues” song. They just liked the name.
The story would have ended there, if not for the fact that Entombed’s record label cut a deal with Marvel behind their backs. A new version of Wolverine Blues was released, that was marketed to a more mainstream audience. It had a picture of Wolverine on the cover and came with a small comic inside the case. The songs on the album were also heavily censored for content.
If the band had any objections towards the deal, then they clearly didn’t last long. They filmed a video for the “Wolverine Blues” song, which prominently featured drawings of the character. This version of the song would receive even more attention when it was featured on an episode of Beavis and Butthead.
3. Wolverine Loves Mary Jane
In Ultimate Spider-Man #66, Peter Parker wakes up inside of Wolverine’s body, with Logan’s mind now within Spider-Man’s body. The two of them have to live out a day in each other’s lives while trying to work out what caused the switch in the first place. Wolverine has to go to all of Peter Parker’s classes in high school, while Spider-Man ends up getting caught by the police, due to intervening in a crime.
During the period of time when Wolverine was in Peter Parker’s body, he leers at the cheerleaders who attend Peter’s school and tries to have sex with a teenage Mary Jane. This is all played for laughs and it is not portrayed as creepy in the slightest.
It is revealed that the source of the mind switch was Jean Grey. She was sick of Wolverine hitting on her, so she put his mind in Spider-Man’s body as punishment. Great plan, Jean! You wanted to punish a man who is hitting on teenage girls, by putting him in a situation where he can more easily hit on teenage girls?
2. He Killed The X-Men
When Logan was first announced, many fans assumed that it would be an adaptation of a series called Old Man Logan. This was a story set in an alternate universe, where the villains of the Marvel world all joined together and took over America. Most of the old heroes had died long ago. Wolverine is still around and lives on a farm with his family. He goes on a journey with Hawkeye, in order to earn the rent money he needs to pay to the family of the Hulk.
As Old Man Logan progresses, we learn the fate of many of the different heroes. Wolverine refuses to help Hawkeye on several occasions, as he will not unsheathe his claws in battle.
The reason Wolverine refuses to use his claws is tied to the fate of the X-Men. When the villains all teamed up to take over the world, the Spider-Man villain known as Mysterio was given the task of dealing with the X-Men. He used his powers of illusion to make Wolverine think that the X-Men were villains, who had invaded the mansion. Wolverine single-handedly murdered the entire team.
1. Wolverine’s Real Name Is A Joke At His Own Expense
In the X-Men comic books, Wolverine is noticeably shorter than most members of the team. His height has often been a target of insults, from both his friends and enemies. Wolverine has proven on numerous occasions that size doesn’t matter, as he has beaten many of Marvel’s most powerful villains in a fair right.
It isn’t just the in-universe characters who love to mock Wolverine’s height. Chris Claremont gave Wolverine a name that was intended to be a joke at his expense. Logan is named after Mount Logan, which is the tallest mountain in Canada. Claremont thought it would be funny to name the shortest member of the X-Men after one of the biggest things in Canada.
While most fans love Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine, there is no doubt that Jackman does not match the physical characteristics that Logan is known for. Hugh Jackman is over six feet tall, making him a physically imposing figure. We can only hope that the next guy to play Wolverine is the right height, and can help break both Hollywood and society’s stigma towards short men.