Everybody knows Wolverine. Almost sixteen years after Hugh Jackman first burst onto the big screen as the centerpiece of Fox’s X-Men cinematic universe, Wolverine has become one of the most famous names in comic books… and he was already pretty famous to begin with! Since his first appearance in 1974, Wolverine has grown to be a fan favorite and a huge part of the Marvel universe as one of its most recognizable faces.
Although Logan is known for many things – his temper, his fighting abilities, his interesting hairstyle – his most recognizable feature for most is his claws. His most deadly weapon, these retractable blades have been with Wolvie from the very beginning, but how much do you really know about these unique appendages? Read on for 14 things you might not have known about his weapon of choice… *snikt!*
14. His Claws Are Fused With Adamantium
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Starting us off, we have some fairly common knowledge – that Wolverine’s claws, along with the rest of his skeleton, are fused with a metal that only exists in the Marvel universe, known as adamantium. This isn’t part of his mutation, though. His skeleton was fused with the metal courtesy of the Weapon X project, a secret government branch dedicated to weaponizing superpowers. Logan wasn’t the only subject, but he was one of their most successful attempts to build the perfect living weapon. He was the ideal candidate for this because of his natural mutation – his healing factor meant that he would be able to survive the process, something that no one else could.
What you may not know is that he also had his memory wiped at the time. This was part of the plan, and put him under the control of the project, programmed to kill for them for some time before he could eventually break free. His escape was also aided by the Winter Soldier – yet another amazing crossover that we won’t see until Marvel and Fox learn to play nice with each other. However, we did see a little bit about this in X-Men: Apocalypse, when Jean Grey released a crazed Weapon X from a bunker.
13. His Claws Are Part of His Bone Structure
Although they weren’t always (see: number 8), Wolverine’s claws are now actually fully retractable bone claws. These claws are just a little bit shorter than the rest of his forearm, which allows him bend his arm when they are retracted (despite this, they often appear longer in certain comic panels – this is just artistic license. If the claws were actually longer, they simply wouldn’t fit into his body!). The claws themselves are part of his original mutation, along with his healing factor, heightened senses, increased strength and stamina and animal empathy.
Although earlier comics showed them as a Weapon X addition to his body, this has since been retconned. Originally, he had only his healing powers, and Weapon X added the “claws” as a weapon when they fused his (much more human) skeleton with adamantium. However, his current origin story shows him with bone claws popping out at a young age. In fact, it was in the 1800s (remember, Wolverine is super old) that his powers first manifested after his father was killed in front of him, and his bone claws first burst out of his fists. It wasn’t until much later that the adamantium was added by the Weapon X project (see: number 14).
12. His Bone Claws Have Been In Three Movies
Although he is shown with adamantium claws in most of the comics, and it wasn’t actually until the ‘90s that comic books showed his claws as part of his bone structure, they have still appeared in several of the movies in the X-Men franchise. First, we saw his bone claws in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which went right back to his beginnings in the 1800s, and did a surprisingly good job of staying true to the current comic canon. Here, we saw both his bone claws and how he got his more recognizable adamantium claws when the Weapon X project got their hands on him. Then, they appeared again in the significant solo improvement that was The Wolverine, when the Silver Samurai severed his adamantium claws, and Wolverine was able to regrow his bone claws in time to kill Yashida. Interestingly, this wouldn’t actually happen like this in the comics, where he regrows his skeleton with the adamantium attached (his mutation adapted to be able to do this).
Most recently, his bone claws came up in X-Men: Days of Future Past, when Logan went back in time (before the Weapon X procedure) to change the future. For the extent of the scenes in the ‘70s, his claws are bone, although he apparently will be getting his adamantium back for Hugh Jackman’s final two appearances in character.
11. Real-Life Wolverine Claws Exist
OK, not true real-life claws that actually exist as a retractable part of a skeleton. Replica claws in various forms do exist though, as fans and cosplayers have made multiple variations on the iconic weapon for fun. Most of these are either sewn into gloves (like Wolverine’s very first claws in the comics!), or include a base/handle that has to be held for the claws to poke out between the wearer’s knuckles. However, these are rarely retractable, which is why you will see cosplayers wandering the convention floor with claws out at all times – it’s just simpler to create replica claws that don’t have to move.
However, one YouTuber and inventor, Colin Furze, has created a set of fully retractable, wearable claws! The claws are attached to wrist gauntlets and a pneumatic apparatus on his back, and by squeezing a button in his hand, he can extend and retract them at will. They even spark when they hit each other. Awesome! The backpack that holds the pneumatic equipment can fit under a coat, too. Sadly, they aren’t actually made of actual adamantium, though.
These aren’t the only replicas Colin Furze has made, either. He’s also made a Pyro wrist-mounted flamethrower, Magento-inspired magnetic boots to allow him to walk on the ceiling, and many more film-based gadgets.
10. He Has A Comic Mini-Series Titled ‘Claws’
While it’s not technically about his claws, this certainly features them heavily! In 2006, Marvel published a short miniseries starring Wolverine entitled Wolverine & The Black Cat: Claws starring Logan and Felicia Hardy (more commonly found in the pages of Spider-Man comics). The story follows Wolverine and Black Cat (another character with sharp claws, although hers are in her gloves) as they were kidnapped to be hunted for sport. The series also featured Arcade and his girlfriend White Rabbit, along with a few other name drops (including Emma Frost). Put together by Joe Linsner (known for Dawn and Sinful Suzi), Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, the series is a fun (and still bloody!) break from Wolverine’s regular scheduled programming.
It was also popular enough to warrant a sequel. In 2011, the pair picked up where they left off with the (imaginatively titled) follow-up Wolverine & The Black Cat: Claws 2, in which their kidnappers return and Wolverine and Black Cat end up transported to an alternate future. Combining these two favorite clawed characters led to romance, but Felicia Hardy is only one of Logan’s many (many) love interests over the years, and a very minor one at that. Still, it’s a sweet two-part story for the pair.
9. His Claws Hurt
Not simply having them, of course, but releasing his claws is actually painful for Wolverine. It’s because his mutation doesn’t affect the pain that he feels – part of his mutation are the claws themselves, and the other part is his ability to heal inhumanly fast. (There are more elements to his mutation, of course – the enhanced speed, strength, agility and animal instincts that give him the name Wolverine. However, those are not directly related to his claws.)
When the claws shoot out, they are actually slicing through the skin on his hands – we just don’t usually see it because his healing factor takes care of those minor injuries almost immediately. He also is a complete bad-ass, and not the type to stop and whimper about how much it hurts when he is seconds away from kicking some ass. That doesn’t stop him feeling the pain at the moment that they break the skin, though. However, when his healing factor has been weakened in the past, he’s been shown bleeding and in extreme pain when his claws come out (such as in “Fatal Attractions”). This may be why he tends to just use his claws as weapons, rather than as, say, can openers. Ouch!
8. They Weren’t Always Claws
Although we now know that Wolverine’s claws are actually part of his bone structure (and that he has always had them), they weren’t intended that way from the start. In fact, his original creators Len Wein (writer) and John Romita (artist) intended for them to be part of his suit when he was first conceived in the 1970s. In early drawings, his claws are drawn to appear to be coming out of his gloves. They also extend from his wrists, rather than between his knuckles, which makes less sense from an anatomical perspective. On top of all that, several storylines backed up the idea that the claws were not a part of his mutant abilities.
However, this was later retconned, and it was officially revealed that the claws were part of his body in the Official Marvel Handbook. Published in the ‘80s, the book included a description and diagram of Wolverine’s skeletal structure, showing the claws as “pure adamantium” added to his skeleton. At this point, however the claws were still considered to be an addition to his body, thanks to the Weapon X Project. It wasn’t until 1993 that they were shown to actually be part of his skeleton, after Magneto ripped the adamantium out of his body. (More on that later.)
7. His Claws Were Re-designed For The Wolverine
Wolverine and his claws have appeared in almost every single X-Men movie (although he didn’t pop the claws in his cameo in X-Men: First Class), but they haven’t actually been the same claws every time. In the earlier X-Men movies (X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Hugh Jackman wore prop claws that were straight, with only a slight curve at the end to give them a pointed tip. These were re-designed for his second solo adventure, The Wolverine. The new claws were given sharper angles along the sides and toward the end, a change that isn’t immediately apparent, but which can be seen if you look at stills from the films side by side. This change was made so that the claws would catch the light more effectively when filming (otherwise known as “looking cooler”).
As well as the shape change, the new claws came out of a different part of Hugh Jackman’s hand. They were moved slightly lower and closer to the palm, which was done to make them more anatomically accurate. If the claws were real, and were retractable back into the forearm, they would come out lower down between the knuckles. The original film claws came out a little too high up to be as realistic as the new design.
6. They Almost Never Need Sharpening
As bone claws, Wolverine would have sharpened his natural weaponry the same way that animals do – through simple use. In some animals (such as small cats), an outer layer of the claw is shed, which would be an interesting concept for Wolverine – leaving foot-long claw husks all over the X-Mansion! However, his adamantium claws are razor sharp, and appear as blades that rarely, if ever, need sharpening. This is primarily because of the strength of the adamantium – because they are so much harder than anything he is using them against, they simply don’t get dull enough to need a whole lot of maintenance (especially as he is commonly using them against the softness of human flesh).
However, he has been seen to sharpen his claws on occasion, usually against his other claws – although this seems to be more of a habit to get him geared up for an oncoming fight, as blades are usually sharpened by running them against a harder material in order to grind the edge. Presumably, Wolverine would be able to sharpen his claws against a grindstone if he really needed to – or he could cut off his arm and re-grow brand new claws, although that seems a little more extreme!
5. He Can Retract His Claws Individually
Although Wolverine usually releases all three of his claws on each hand at the same time, he doesn’t actually have to. The reason that we usually only see him with all claws either retracted or unsheathed has to do primarily with the fact that it hurts to pop ‘em out (as we saw in number 9). Because of this, Wolverine doesn’t bust out the claws casually, but only when he needs to fight. And in a fight, six claws can do significantly more damage than just one. However, he has been shown in the comics to only unsheathe the claws on one hand at a time, or to have each of his three claws out to a different length (very useful for pinning someone down and threatening them with the same hand!). Presumably, the claws are retracted using his muscles, and extending a single claw is no more complicated than extending one finger while the others are bent.
He has even used a single claw to give people his own special version of the finger (or to reveal to Twitter fans how many more movies Wolverine will be in…). That one is a little more of a rarity though, as shooting his claws out is actually pretty darn painful, and not something he is likely to do just to show how annoyed he is at someone. Unless it’s Cyclops.
4. He Can Re-Grow His Claws
On the very rare occasion that someone was able to snap off one of his claws (see number 3 for why that’s unlikely), he would be able to grow it back, lizard-with-a-tail style. At least, he would in his most recent incarnations (obviously ignoring the fact that he is currently dead in the comics). When Wolverine first appeared in the comics, his powers weren’t quite as developed as they are now, and had someone managed to rip out a claw, it may not have regenerated. Now, although Wolverine’s healing ability was initially not quite powerful enough to regrow whole limbs, as the character developed, so did his powers.
This is a common occurrence in comic books – characters often become more powerful the longer they exist, to keep things interesting for the readers and allow them to take on stronger villains. In recent years, Wolverine’s healing factor has become so powerful that he has been able to come back from almost total destruction, although the more severe the injury, the longer it would take to recover completely. In The Wolverine, he regrows bone claws when they are cut off, reverting to his original anatomy. However, because his skeleton is made of adamantium-beta, which has adapted to fuse the metal with his biology he would actually most likely regrow them as adamantium.
3. They Are (Almost) Unbreakable and Cannot Be Removed
As almost the strongest metal in the Marvel universe, it’s nearly impossible to break one of Wolverine’s claws, which is one of the reasons that he is so deadly. It’s also been suggested in certain storylines that the adamantium that is fused with his skeleton has also begun to connect to his tendons, making it impossible to simply rip one of the claws out of the (comparatively) weaker surrounding tissue. He can essentially never be disarmed.
However, there have been one or two times where someone has managed to come close. In an alternate universe, Gladiator did manage to pull one of his claws out (in Wolverine v Gladiator: Galactic Guardians #1), and in the main Marvelverse, Steve Rogers was able to apply so much force to Wolverine’s arms that he could force them to retract.
Magneto took a slightly different tack in Fatal Attractions, when he used his mutant power to rip the adamantium out of Wolverine’s body in one of the most brutal panels in either character’s history. Technically, it didn’t actually get rid of the claws completely (he just regrew them, along with the rest of his skeleton), but it certainly took him down for a while. Finally, in Fox’s X-Men franchise, the Silver Samurai manages to sever his claws with adamantium swords.
2. His Claws Aren’t True Adamantium
Yes, the first entry on this list stated that the claws are adamantium, but there are actually several different kinds of adamantium in the Marvel comic universe, although they are rarely differentiated. True Adamantium was originally created by Dr. Myron Maclain in the 1940s, although not even he knows exactly how he did it, as he fell asleep at his workbench and woke up to find it mysteriously bonded together! The component parts are still a closely guarded government secret. The metal was created in an attempt to duplicate the metal used to create Captain America’s shield, and True Adamantium is one of the strongest metals on earth.
It’s also ruinously expensive and almost impossible to synthesize, which led to the creation of a slightly weaker form, Secondary Adamantium. Although this is easier, it’s still expensive and complicated, which is why there isn’t more adamantium weaponry in the Marvel Universe. Finally, Wolverine’s skeleton contains a third form of the metal: Adamantium Beta. Adamantium Beta is a result of Wolverine’s healing factor altering the molecular structure of the metal so that it acts as a part of his body. This allows him to regenerate adamantium parts, and prevents the adamantium from interfering with his body’s processes (such as his bone marrow and healing).
1. His Claws Aren’t Stronger Than Cap’s Shield
One of the biggest questions for fans of both Fox’s X-Men franchise and the MCU is, which would be stronger – Wolverine’s claws or Captain America’s shield? The answer is (like most things in the comic-verse), complicated.
Wolverine’s skeleton was originally reinforced with True Adamantium, but became altered by his healing factor to become Beta Adamantium (see number 2), whereas Captain America’s shield is made of Proto Adamantium – an alloy of True Adamantium and Vibranium. Proto Adamantium is the strongest metal in existence in the Marvel-verse, so Wolverine’s claws could not damage it. This makes Cap’s shield one of the very (very) few things in the Marvel Universe that cannot be cut by Wolverine’s claws, no matter how much pressure he puts behind it. The two have even duked it out, and Wolverine’s claws slid off the shield (with what we can only imagine was a sound ten times worse than nails on a blackboard!).
However, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Cap’s shield is made out of pure vibranium (presumably because Fox has the rights to adamantium), and Wolverine’s claws are described only as “adamantium,” without all the detail of the comics. Therefore, if the film universes were ever to come together, Wolverine’s claws could potentially be stronger than the shield. We’ll just have to wait for a rights-sharing deal to find the answer to that one out!
What sort of feats would you like to see Wolverine’s claws pull off in Wolverine 3 and X-Men: Apocalypse? Do you think another actor should don them once Hugh Jackman retires from the character? Let us know in the comments!