He’s the best at what he does, and what he does isn’t very nice. Thanks to being an expert fighter with deadly razor claws and a healing factor that makes him virtually indestructible, Wolverine is a formidable opponent for anyone standing in his way. Over the years his tenacity in the face of adversity has cemented his status as a fearless, pint-sized superhero. Courtesy of his mutant ability, Wolverine is able to take a lickin’ and keep on kickin’, and his unshakable moral code is a godsend to his friends and a nightmare to his enemies.
Due to his accelerated healing factor, Wolverine has been subjected to particularly brutal punishments, and over the years we’ve seen that his brooding, anti-hero persona is a direct result of the crippling psychological punishment he has had to endure over the course of his very long life. Maybe the one thing Wolverine is best at is taking a solid beating.
With that in mind, here are the 13 Worst Things to Happen to Wolverine.
13. Getting Torn in Half
Alternate universes give writers a chance to explore different outcomes to iconic stories and introduce readers to reinvented updates on classic characters. It also gives writers the ability to do some seriously messed up things to our favorite characters without worrying about potential ramifications in the main continuity. Case in point, the miniseries Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine.
In a throwback to Wolverine’s first appearance, Nick Fury dispatches Wolverine to Tibet to knock off The Hulk, who has been causing wanton destruction and generally being a pain in the backside, like a giant green hemorrhoid.
The story, written by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, opens with Wolverine literally torn in half, as his skeleton is adamantium, but the joints between his spine are not (otherwise he wouldn’t be able to move), and The Hulk is able to rip Logan in two fairly easily. Able to smell his legs at the top of a nearby mountain, Wolverine begins the laborious crawl to retrieve them, and in true Lost fashion, we jump forwards and backwards through time to learn exactly how he found himself in his current predicament.
This includes Hulk’s fondness of brothels, Wolverine meeting a Panda who claims to be his spirit animal, and the revelation that a decapitated Wolverine can survive by breathing through his skin. Just when did Wolverine’s healing factor go from closing wounds faster to indestructibility?
12. Owned by Spock
The mid to late-’90s were a confusing time for comic book fans. Superhero movies were not yet the summer tentpoles that they are now and Marvel was haemorrhaging money. In a somewhat perplexing move, Marvel teamed up with Paramount Studios in a deal that allowed Marvel to create comic books based on Paramount movie franchises like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. This allowed Marvel to use these properties to breathe some life into some of their own fledgling titles by the always intriguing, but rarely rewarding crossover.
Since the X-Men were no strangers to outer space shenanigans, it seemed only natural that the mutant superhero team would cross paths with the crew of the Enterprise. Upon their first meeting, due to some minor misunderstanding, Wolverine flies off the handle and rushes to attack, only to be shut down instantly by Spock thanks to his Vulcan Nerve Pinch. Wolverine is left to pout in the corner for most of the book as his expert fighting skills are no match to the Enterprise crew’s phasers when it comes time to confront their mutual enemy. Sulking isn’t the most dignified way to concede defeat, but we can’t say we blame him, getting owned by a pacifist alien is sure to damage the ego a bit.
11. A Messed Up Childhood
For a long time, Wolverine’s life before the Weapon X program was shrouded in mystery. Even what little information readers were given was constantly being called into question due to Logan’s memory implants at the hands of the Weapon X program. These gaps and mistrust of one’s own memories made Wolverine a tragic figure, and was largely the basis for his brooding demeanor.
In 2001, we were given a glimpse into the past that answered some of the long running questions regarding Wolverine’s origin. The son of a wealthy Canadian land owner in the late 1800s, Wolverine’s real name is revealed to be James Howlett. Sickly as a child, his mutant abilities did not manifest themselves until the groundskeeper at the family estate shot and murdered James’ father, causing James to go into a berserker rage that saw him murder his father’s killer and accidentally cause the death of his own mother.
Racked with guilt, James flees his family home with his friend Rose. Sometime later, James’ half-brother shows up to stir up trouble, and the resulting fight saw James stab Rose, killing her. Psychologically broken, James devolves into a feral state and runs into the woods to live with the wolves.
Wolverine and the Land Down Under have a spotty history. In 1989 an animated film called Pryde of the X-Men was produced, and Wolverine was inexplicably voiced with an Australian accent, despite being Canadian in the comics. Maybe the casting director thought any British Commonwealth would do, or perhaps this is an example of one of those weird pop culture coincidences, as Wolverine would be played by Aussie Hugh Jackman in all of the live action X-Men films.
In 1988, Wolverine and the X-Men head to Australia, because this was the late 80s and everyone was losing their minds over everything Australian due to the success of Crocodile Dundee. Hot on the heels of a group of cybernetically enhanced mercenaries called The Reavers, the X-Men defeat the low-rent Robocop wannabes and decide to set up shop in the Outback for a bit.
Lying in wait to get their revenge, the Reavers ambush Wolverine and crucify him to a giant wooden X. Injured, humiliated and exposed to the unforgiving Australian elements, Wolverine hallucinates about his enemies and murky past before realizing that he can’t allow himself to be taken out by a group of Mad Max extras and rips himself free with help from Jubilee.
9. Getting Squished by the Punisher
In 2001, a bunch of mob wise-guys were getting knocked off in slasher movie fashion, leaving only their legs behind as evidence. Both the Punisher and Wolverine set out to investigate, both heroes believing that the other is the person responsible for the gruesome hits. This is all a big misunderstanding (see the Star Trek crossover above), and the two fight. Punisher blows off Wolverine’s face with a shotgun and shoots his testicles off with a machine gun before the two decide to team up.
As they fight their way through a horde of crazy midgets, Punisher decides that Wolverine is more of a hindrance than a help, and wants to get the ol’ Canucklehead out of his way. Wolverine, the tenacious little guy that he is, doesn’t do well with rejection, and refuses to step down.
Punisher, realizing that there is no way he is going to be able to throw Wolverine off his scent, spies a steamroller and runs him over. Even as he is being flattened Wolverine continues to run his mouth, promising that he will get his revenge. He eventually does, beating the Punisher senseless before discovering magazines strewn with scantily clad men in Punisher’s possession. Punisher insists that they are suspects, but that doesn’t stop Wolverine from questioning Punisher’s sexuality. Way to take the high road, Wolvie!
8. Age of Apocalypse
The fan favorite Age of Apocalypse storyline from 1995 supplanted all of the X-books running at the time and replaced them with a radical alternate universe in which Professor X died before he could form the X-Men and Apocalypse conquered the Earth.
The series reimagined well known characters wihtout straying too far from their established archetypes. In this reality, Logan takes the code name Weapon X, and fights for humanity alongside his lover Jean Grey. He’s also missing a hand, courtesy of one of Cyclops’ optic blasts, but that’s not the worst he has to endure throughout the series’ run.
Logan has to say goodbye to his one true love, embarking on a suicide mission that will surely fail. Logan endures a lot of punishment, and in the end, the reality is wiped from existence as Bishop is sent back in time to prevent Professor X’s death, negating the world they have known.
Years later, the Age of Apocalypse timeline is revealed to have survived, and a presumed dead Weapon X reappears, having assumed the mantle of Apocalypse. After killing millions, he becomes a hated tyrant. It is revealed that Logan had little choice in the matter, as he had to do it in order to prevent the Celestials (super judgmental space aliens) from hitting the reset button on humanity by destroying the entire world.
7. Old Man Logan
A celebrated story that is rumored to be the basis for the upcoming Wolverine 3, Old Man Logan takes place about 50 years into the future. In this version of reality, all of the world’s super-villains band together and systematically eliminate the world’s superheroes. As a result, the United States is now broken up into territories ruled by the baddest of the bad, and the few surviving sperheroes live in hiding.
Logan is revealed to be one of the few remaining heroes, though he has pledged to never again use his claws. It is revealed that fifty years prior, a large group of villains attacked the X-Mansion. Wolverine, in a bid to save the young students, hacked and slashed his way through the invaders, only to discover that it was all an illusion concocted by Mysterio, and that he had actually killed all of his fellow X-Men. Completely and utterly broken, Logan has shed his Wolverine persona and is now living with his family in relative obscurity.
Going broke, he accepts a job accompanying a now-blind Hawkeye to deliver a mysterious package. Things quickly spiral out of control and by the time he manages to get back home, he finds that his wife and his children were slaughtered. Pledging vengeance, the claws come out for a final, blood soaked journey to right the world’s wrongs.
6. Death (and staying dead)
In 2014, a virus caused Wolverine’s healing factor to burn out. Learning that a bounty has been put on his head, Wolverine resolves to find this enemy, despite now being vulnerable to fatal attacks. His search ultimately leads him to Dr. Abraham Cornelius, the founder of the Weapon X program. Cornelius is attempting to recreate the the experiment that created Wolverine, however his attempts have all failed due to his test subjects not possessing a healing factor like Wolverine. When Logan tells Cornelius that he no longer has his healing factor, Cornelius flies into a rage and attempts to bond adamantium to his latest test subjects.
Before the bonding process can begin, Wolverine slashes the tank holding the liquid adamantium, which spills all over him. As the hardening liquid metal begins to suffocate him, Wolverine is left to reflect on his life, kneeling in the sunset, before dying.
Wolverine has not returned from his death, and the story continued by showing the ramification his death has had on others throughout the Marvel Universe. As we all know, comic book characters are never really dead, but with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this may be an instance of “if we can’t have him, then no one will.” Your move, Fox!
5. Losing his Adamantium
In one of the most one-sided battles in comic book history, X-Men nemesis Magneto aka the Master of Magnetism, exploits a weakness in Wolverine that had fans wondering why he hadn’t done it sooner.
In 1993, Magneto was more homicidal maniac than sometimes ally with bi-polar disorder. The Fatal Attractions storyline saw Magneto concoct yet another plan that would result in the destruction of the human race. Naturally the X-Men vehemently oppose, and travel to Magneto’s base of operations, the space station Asteroid M, and engage in a battle to save humanity.
During the fight, Wolverine attacks Magneto, nearly gutting him. An enraged Magneto then uses his mutant powers to forcibly remove the adamantium metal that is bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton. The metal is torn from his body, causing grievous injury.
Professor X, furious and fed up with his former friend, wipes Magneto’s mind in retaliation, which would go on to open up a whole other can of worms. Having defeated Magneto, the X-Men race back to Earth, desperately trying to keep Wolverine alive, as the injuries he has sustained are too much for his healing factor, causing it to short out.
Eventually Wolverine makes a full recovery, and his claws are revealed to actually be made of bone, instead of being an implant by the Weapon X program as previously thought.
4. Killing His Children
A group calling themselves the Red Right Hand set out to hound Wolverine and generally make his life a living Hell. It is revealed that this group is comprised of ordinary individuals who have been wronged by Logan in some way, and have dedicated their lives to making him atone for his past sins.
Instead of asking for a heartfelt apology, the Red Right Hand traps Wolverine’s soul in Hell and allow a demon to inhabit his body, which is a PR nightmare. Eventually, Logan is able to claw his way out of Hell and back into his body and sets out to do some damage control. He tracks down the Red Right Hand and slaughters their mutant bodyguards, but before he can exact his revenge on the group themselves, they all drink from the Kool-Aid, Jim Jones style. Robbed of his revenge, Logan is given one last parting gift by the group who sought to torment him, a recorded message revealing that the mutant bodyguards he had just slain were his own bastard children. Logan goes on to roam the wilderness in anguish, attempting punishing himself by throwing himself off of cliffs until the X-Men and the Avengers snap him out of it.
As if that wasn’t bad, later on Wolverine faces his estranged son Daken, the bi-curious mutant with abandonment issues. When Daken claims that he will never stop in his quest for revenge against his father and that he will kill every one of Wolverine’s young students to do it, Wolverine realizes that he has no choice but to kill his own son, drowning him.
3. Love Life
While Wolverine has had many lovers in the past, it seems as though the little furball is destined to be alone. In his first solo outing, we follow Wolverine to Japan in a story that illustrates his strong ties with Japanese culture and his portrayal as a “ronin”. He falls for a girl, Mariko, whose father, Shingen, happened to be a particularly nasty Yakuza boss. Shingen views Wolverine as an outsider and challenges him to a duel. Shingen resorts to dirty tricks to sully Wolverine’s name and honor, and leaves him for dead in the slums of Tokyo. Wolverine is able to recover, reclaim his honor and Mariko after killing Shingen. Mariko, now taking her fathers place as head of the crime family, is poisoned by a rival family. Wishing to be spared the agony, she asked Wolverine to kill her, an order with which he reluctantly complies.
In the early 1900s, Logan meets a young Native American woman named Silver Fox and they engage in a happy relationship in the Canadian wilderness. A nearby Sabretooth, sensing Wolverine and seeking to assert his dominance, savagely beats Wolverine and kills Silver Fox. Years go on and Silver Fox is shown to be alive, but a member of the terrorist organization HYDRA. When Wolverine goes off in search of answers in regards to the Weapon X program, he discovers that his memories, which he believes to be real, are actually implants, causing him to question whether the love and subsequent pain he feels towards Silver Fox, is even real.
Wolverine’s greatest love has probably been for the one woman who would never reciprocate. Jean Grey was always a foil to Wolverine, his brash, violent nature was countered by Jean’s gentle kindness. This unrequited love has allowed Wolverine to conquer some of his darker impulses, and has even saved him from death (see 1993’s Fatal Attractions storyline above).
Despite this, he has had to relive the act of killing a loved one once again in the 2004 storyline Planet X, where he mercy kills Jean before she is resurrected only to be killed again by Xorn/Magneto.
2. Weapon X
Perhaps the most influential thing to happen to Wolverine throughout his long life, the Weapon X program has caused more pain and trauma than arguably anything else on this list. The tenth experiment in an effort to create viable super soldiers, Weapon X was eventually revealed to be a part of the clandestine Weapon Plus program. The program has been responsible for creating some of the most formidable heroes and villains in the Marvel universe, from Captain America to Cyber, with the use of a variety of tactics ranging from genetic manipulation to mind control.
Kidnapped and subjected to horrific experiments that saw the indestructible metal adamantium being grafted to his bones, the Weapon X program sought to turn Logan into the ultimate living weapon. In order to control him, the scientists involved in the program also wiped Wolverine’s memory clean, allowing his baser instincts to take over, leaving him in a feral state.
This backfires on the scientists, as Wolverine escapes and dispatches his captors with extreme prejudice. The Weapon X program robbed Wolverine of his memories and identity, causing him to question what was reality and what was a fabrication for years. The Weapon X program made the mutant known as James Howlett into the X-Man known as Wolverine, but the psychological ramifications would torment him for decades to come.