Wolverine may not be the absolute best-known superhero in the world, but he's certainly one of the top ten. This feral mutant has been a mainstay of the X-Men comics since the '70s, and he was part of the franchise that ushered in the current superhero movie renaissance: 2000's X-Men.
Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine on screen for seventeen years, and for many, this on-screen portrayal has become synonymous with who Wolverine really is. However, there are definitely some things that the movies mixed up, and a few more that even comic book fans get wrong from time to time -- and we're not just talking about those black leather outfits he's been forced to sport. In anticipation of Jackman’s final appearance as Logan on the big screen, (and yes, it really, really is his final appearance!) we’ve rounded up a few of the most common misconceptions about this fan-favorite mutant.
Here are 15 Things That Everyone Gets Wrong About Wolverine.
15 His Height
Hugh Jackman is over six feet tall, so it’s not too surprising that most people who have been watching his version of Wolverine for the past seventeen years think that the character is, too. However, in the comics, Wolverine is actually one of the shortest superheroes around. According to official Marvel character guides, Wolverine is only five foot three inches – significantly shorter than almost all of the other major X-Men. He is also supposed to be very stocky, rather than being lean like Jackman (who may be insanely ripped, but is definitely not as over-the-top bulky as the original Wolverine is supposed to be).
Many comic fans have commented on the height difference, however. Jackman even revealed at SDCC 2013 that when he tried to cosplay his own character, he was told that he was too tall! “I got dressed up in my Wolverine costume this morning and walked around San Diego. And not one person stopped me. One person said ‘Not bad.’ Another said ‘Too tall.”
The height difference is one of the few nitpicks you'll still hear from fans about Jackman's performance, and if Fox ever decided to recast the character, choosing a height-appropriate actor could be the most straightforward way of differentiating between the two live-action iterations.
14 His Looks
While we are on the subject of the physical differences between comic-book Wolverine and Hugh Jackman, there's no denying that Jackman is far more classically handsome than Wolvie. Comic book Logan is a feral mutant, who has spent chunks of his long life actually living wild in the woods. He’s stocky, short, hairy, and, well… kinda ugly. Although the comic book portrayals have becoming increasingly prettier (to echo the on-screen version), Wolverine was never intended to be a handsome man.
Of course, this is not a surprising change – the vast majority of live-action adaptations of comic book characters make them significantly more attractive. That’s the Hollywood effect, where everyone in movies and TV is young and hot, even the ones who are supposed to be ‘plain’ or ‘ugly’ (*cough cough* Ugly Betty). Most casual fans may now think of Logan as a ruggedly handsome, Jackman-esque guy, but comic book purists will always think of him with a little bit of a Cro-Magnon vibe.
13 The Pain He Feels
Everybody knows that Wolverine is a certified badass, and maybe that’s why a lot of people seem to believe that he doesn’t actually feel pain – or at the very least, that it doesn’t hurt to unsheathe his claws. The reality is that, although he doesn’t show it, he feels it every time those claws burst through the flesh of his hands.
His mutant powers give him the ability to heal from (almost) any injury, but they don’t affect his ability to feel pain at all. He does have some extra durability, thanks to his powers, and those berserker rages also presumably help him to block out all pain (or sensation, or awareness in general), but that only helps in the heat of a fight. That means that any time he pops a claw to do something small (or to give someone his own personalized version of the finger), he feels a blade slicing through the flesh and skin of his hand, and he doesn’t even wince. Now that really is badass.
12 His Relationship To Sabretooth....
Wolverine is far from the only feral mutant in the Marvel universe, and the second-best-known feral also happens to be a regular enemy of Wolverine’s: Sabretooth. Also known as Victor Creed, Sabretooth joyously gives in to his animalistic powers -- unlike Wolverine, who works to control his. Beyond this primary difference, the two are remarkably similar, with a near-identical healing factor and respective sets of sharp claws (although Sabretooth’s are like animal claws, not forearm-length bone claws like Logan’s).
Possibly because of these similarities, many fans believe that Wolverine and Sabretooth are actually related, usually considered to be brothers. This was also the basic premise of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which cemented this misconception for many people (one of the film's many sins). In truth, the two are not related at all. Sabretooth is significantly older than Wolverine (he fought in the Colosseum), and at one point, the writers actually considered making him Wolverine’s father. Sabretooth even told Wolverine this was the case at one point, but a paternity test debunked his claim immediately after.
11 ...And Sabretooth's Origins As His Nemesis...
Sabretooth is generally considered to be Wolverine’s arch-nemesis (although Wolverine actually has a lot of different nemeses), but he wasn’t originally going to be. Sabretooth actually first appeared as the enemy of another well-known Marvel character (who is about to make his live-action debut this year): Iron Fist.
Sabretooth made his first appearance in 1977, in Iron Fist #14. Here, he was a ‘freebooter’, a mercenary willing to do anything for cash, who dumped Iron Fist in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies and left him to die. It wasn’t until the Mutant Massacre event of 1986 that Sabretooth crossed over into the X-Men comics full time to become an official X-villain. He’s also not always been all that villainous. At various different times throughout the years, he has worked alongside Wolverine (for the Weapon X project, among others) and other heroes, and he even reformed entirely to become one of the good guys at one point.
10 ...And Sabretooth's Murder Of His "Wife"
Many fans remember this key moment in Wolverine’s relationship with Sabretooth -- that time when our hero came home to find that Sabretooth had brutally murdered his lover, Silver Fox. This one is a little bit complicated, which is why so many seem to get it mixed up. It did appear that when Wolverine was living a peaceful life with Silver Fox in a small town in Canada, Sabretooth had found them and slaughtered her.
However, this wasn’t actually the case -- Silver Fox survived the attack, and later reappeared, alive. She joined Team X, alongside Wolverine and Sabretooth, and discovered with them that their memories had been tampered with. The team hunted down the man responsible for their altered memories, and found Aldo Ferro on his private island, where they attacked him. It was at this point that Sabretooth actually did kill Silver Fox, but only because he was being mind-controlled.
9 How Long He's Been Popular
Many fans believe that Wolverine has always been an widely beloved character in the Marvel universe… and looking at his immense popularity in the live-action universe, the animated universe, and even the past several decades in the comics, it’s easy to see why! That's why it may come as a major shock to many that Wolverine had a bit of a rocky start in the comics, and he was almost cut from the Marvel universe entirely.
Wolvie first appeared in 1974 and joined the X-Men in 1975, but generally wasn’t considered as ‘exciting’ as the rest of the established team. He has a complex backstory, and the creative team at Marvel considered dropping him quite soon after he joined the team. Luckily for Wolverine fans, John Byrne intervened to make sure the feral mutant stuck around. The beloved writer/artist Byrne is Canadian himself, and he fought to keep Wolverine in the X-Men because he didn’t want to see one of the only superheroes from the Great White North end up in the trash can.
8 His Status As The Only Major Canadian Superhero
Speaking of his status as a Canadian, many fans also believe that Wolverine is the only major superhero from our neighbor to the north. His provenance is well-established, with a lot of his backstory taking place in various locales in Canada, and his Origins comic establishing his place of birth as Alberta. However, Logan is far from the only Canadian superhero, or even the only major one.
There is actually an entire Canadian superhero team, called Alpha Flight, with several Canada-themed superheroes in it. There are also uber-Canadian heroes like the hilariously named Major Mapleleaf. These guys are, however, definitely on the lesser-known end of the spectrum.
There is at least one other Canadian hero who is a heavy-hitter for Marvel, though, and he might even be more popular on the big screen: Deadpool. Deadpool does have a convoluted backstory made unreliable by his insanity, so we can’t be sure exactly where he was born, but he is a confirmed Canadian citizen (with a passport and everything), and is at least as well-known as Wolverine.
7 His Constant Loneliness
Wolverine is certainly a grumpy old man in a lot of ways, and he spends a lot of his time trying to keep people at bay to protect himself (and them). This gruff exterior -- and the lack of one clear soulmate over the course of his comic history -- has led many fans to think of him as someone who is always alone, but that is patently inaccurate. Wolverine has fallen in love multiple times throughout his comic history, and lived with women for long periods: from Rose, after his power first manifested, to Silver Fox, to Mariko, to Storm…Wolverine has had plenty of relationships, without counting his long-standing love for Jean Grey. He’s even got a wife and kids at the start of the Old Man Logan comic.
Romance aside, Wolverine has been a mentor to more than one young mutant (especially Jubillee, X-23, and Kitty Pryde), and had led several teams over the years. He may not be the friendliest of mutants, but he’s far from the outright loner that some believe him to be. His laundry list of close pals can further attest to that fact.
6 His Weight
Although Wolverine isn’t generally considered to be particularly light, he’s usually assumed to weigh around the same as any human of his size and build. However, this fails to take into account (or willfully ignores) the weight of the adamantium grafted to his entire skeleton. The adamantium alone weighs over a hundred pounds, putting Wolverine’s total weight at just over three hundred pounds (that’s 136 kilos, for our European readers). Despite this, his increased weight is rarely mentioned, and never alluded to in the films.
There are several occasions where something that he sits on should bend under the incredible weight of his skeleton, and in Days of Future Past, he should feel hugely different when he's transported back to a time where he had no adamantium in his body. This issue has been debated at length by fans, with many commenting on the fact that his ability to take on this added weight with no apparent effort shows just how strong he is, physically, as well as how powerful his healing factor is (to constantly deal with the effects of having a hundred-plus-pound skeletal graft).
5 His Mutant Power....
After seventeen years on the big screen, Wolvie’s mutant power should have been thoroughly explained, but the details of his mutation remain one of the most common misconceptions about the character. Wolverine’s mutation does not give him metal claws, nor is it limited to his claws and healing factor alone.
Wolverine’s original mutation includes bone claws (although early comics actually made these part of his costume, rather than his skeleton) and a powerful healing factor, true, but also includes several other impressive superpowers. As a feral mutant, his senses are enhanced. He has super-strength, super-durability, and enhanced sight, hearing, and smell. His sense of smell is actually so strong that he can track with it like an animal. He also has the ‘power’ to launch himself into uncontrollable berserker rages in battle. The adamantium that he is known for is not a part of his mutation, but was grafted onto his skeleton by the Weapon X project.
4 ...And The Times He Hasn't Had It
Many believe that Logan has always had the healing factor that he is known for, but this is actually untrue. He has lost his healing factor repeatedly in the comics over the years, and since we’ve previously done a run-down of all the different times that Wolverine has lost this power, here are some of the highlights. He didn’t have it as a child, or at least not until the full range of his mutant abilities kicked in. (He was actually quite sickly when he was young.) His healing factor can be burned out when Wolverine suffers an injury so severe that even he cannot cope with it. It can be slowed almost entirely with the use of Carbonadium (which the Weapon X project made bullets out of), and can be affected by power-draining mutants. His healing factor has also been damaged or temporarily knocked out by nanites, viruses, and parasites and a ‘mutant cure’. In short, this healing factor may be incredibly powerful, but that doesn't mean Wolverine is invulnerable.
3 His Immortality
Perhaps because so many people believe that Wolverine cannot lose his healing factor, there is a general misinterpretation of this power as being the same as immortality. In a lot of ways, it makes sense. When his healing factor is up and running, we’ve seen Wolverine recover from the kind of injury that would mean certain death for almost anyone else -- like when he was run over by a steamroller! His healing factor certainly makes him near-immortal (and he is hundreds of years old), but he can die, just like anyone else, if it is somehow lost.
In fact, Logan is currently dead in the Marvel universe. His healing factor was burned out by a nanovirus, and in Death of Wolverine, he ended up covered in liquid adamantium after a battle, which slowly hardened around him, and he died. Of course, there’s still a Logan in the Marvel comics, thanks to some alternate-reality jumping by Old Man Logan, but this should remind any fan that Wolverine may be old, but he’s not truly immortal.
2 His Intelligence
Wolverine has a reputation as a big dumb brute, which probably comes from his animal instincts and feral tendencies. As a general rule, the kind of man who runs off into the wilderness and hunts with animals from time to time isn’t usually associated with high intelligence. However, this common perception is demonstrably false, as Wolverine has shown his smarts time and time again in his years in Marvel Comics.
He is a brilliant tactician, trained in multiple forms of combat, and able to lead his team strategically whenever he's called upon to do so. He is also what's known as a polyglot, having learned to speak a huge number of languages during his travels, and his willpower and intelligence make him resistant to most telepathic attacks. At one point, Forge was monitoring his brainwaves (and other vital signs) while in the Danger Room, and described it as “equivalent of an Olympic-level gymnast performing a gold medal routine while simultaneously beating four chess computers in his head”. So yeah, Logan ain't no dummy.
1 His Gender
The majority of casual or movie fans believe that there is only one Wolverine, and that his name is Logan… but true Marvel fans will know that this isn’t the case, and that the current Wolverine is actually a woman. After Wolvie died (as we mentioned earlier), his character name became a legacy title, passed down from the original Wolverine (Logan), to his successor, Laura Kinney, aka X-23.
A genetic replica of Logan himself, X-23 was created with his genetic material (and a little extra thrown in) and trained as a killer, before eventually escaping and finding her way to the X-Men. Now, she has donned the Wolverine costume and taken up the name in honor of her former mentor. This is especially important now that Hugh Jackman is hanging up his claws for the X-Men cinematic universe, and X-23 (Dafne Keen) is being introduced. Could she become his successor on the big screen as well as in the comics?
What other facets of the character do you think casual Wolverine fans mix up the most? Let us know in the comments.