There’s a simple undeniable fact of the universe we live in: we all take Wolverine for granted. The star and scene-stealer of more movies than you care to admit, the hero of comic books and cartoons since the early 1970s, the guy you probably had on a bed-sheet set, sleeping-bag, or pair of pyjamas at some point, Wolverine has always been there for us. More than Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, and Iron Man, Wolverine is a constant in our lives that never changes. Hell, in movies he’s been played for the past 17 years by the same guy in a genre that barely even existed when X-Men came out in 2000. He’s ageless, unchanging, consistently awesome, hilarious, deeply flawed, and we wouldn’t have him any other way.
To celebrate Logan, the brilliant send-off to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine that none of us wants to believe is the end, we’re taking a look at the things that you just didn’t know Wolverine could do. Sure, he may have been around forever and you may intimately know every crease of his blue and yellow uniform, but we’re willing to be there’s at least 17 Superpowers You Didn’t Know Wolverine Has.
Perhaps it comes with the territory of being part animal that explains Wolverine’s superhuman senses. But that doesn’t make them any less cool or intrinsic to who he is as a superhero – even if you don’t often think of these powers as being essential. As it turns out, one of Wolverine’s most incredible powers is one that is rarely depicted, and maybe that’s just because it would be boring to show a five minute montage of Wolverine smelling things in an X-Men movie.
Nonetheless, Wolverine’s sense of smell and hearing especially are so strong that much of his everyday hero duties depend on these powers. Since this particular power differs from what many mutants in the X-Men team have, Wolverine is often called on to hear sounds that no one else can and to sniff out enemies that may be miles away. With the ability to pinpoint an enemy and sense incoming danger before any human (and most mutants) can, this power ensures that Wolverine and his team remain protected and have critical advantages that an enemy wouldn’t have. So maybe the next X-Men director should include that sniffing montage after all.
You can be the greatest superhero in the world with the power to destroy entire planets, but it doesn’t exactly mean much if you’re sidelined by the common cold. As it turns out, one of the most important powers that a hero (or villain) can have is the ability to resist diseases and the side effects of certain drugs. Not getting poisoned and being able to save the world even if someone coughs in him face may not be Wolverine’s sexiest powers, but without them he’d essentially be the aliens from War of the Worlds; brought down by the flu and dead in a matter of weeks.
It’s busy work being a hero, and while everyone knows about Wolverine’s amazing healing powers, not a lot of people consider just how run down you’d get constantly saving the world from destruction. That’s why Wolverine relies on his body’s ability to counteract toxins and diseases in his system to keep him going. No ordinary human disease can affect him, and even the most lethal poisons or drugs would need to be consistently pumped into his bloodstream in order to see a response.
The only sidenote to this power may, however, rest in Logan’s Canadian heritage. Like any good Canadian he may start to get a little drunk after about 10 or 20 Molsons. Hence his now classic cameo scene in X-Men: First Class when he sat in a bar and told Charles and Erik to… well, you know.
An interesting side effect of Wolverine’s most well-known powers – that is his super-strength and super-healing – is that the rest of his body chemistry has changed as a result. It’s not just that Wolverine can punch an enemy really hard and then mend a broken bone in mere minutes, but rather he can do those things over and over and over again until the enemy has gotten tired and gone home. Yep, Wolverine just doesn’t quit.
Thanks to his increased healing factor Wolverine’s muscles don’t tire or wear down, and his body is resistant to the toxins that a body produces when overworked. That means that Wolverine has the stamina necessary to exert himself at superhuman levels for hours on end. Add to that the fact that Wolverine’s agility, reflexes, and athletic skills are enhanced well-beyond even the most adept superheroes, and what you have is a badass fighter that you most definitely shouldn’t pick a fight with.
After decades of comic books, cartoons, and movies, we’ve taken it for granted that every superpowered-person can fight like the world’s leading expert in combat. Hell, even Iron Man – a guy who was just an alcoholic CEO before he built himself a super-suit – can get down and dirty with his fists. So while Wolverine can of course punch, kick, and (especially) claw as good as anyone else, one of his most underrated skills is just how much those punches, kicks, and claw-attacks hurt.
As a result of Wolverine’s skeleton being pure adamantium, every single time his fist lands a punch the recipient of that punch is getting a fist-full of one of the densest, rarest medals in the universe. Every single blow from Wolverine lands with the full force of an Adamantium hammer, bringing with it enough concussive force to knock out even the strongest opponent. If you add to that the fact that Wolverine is an expert in countless fighting styles thanks to his travels all over the planet, what you’re left with is a guy whose skeleton is unbreakable, whose strength is nearly unmatchable, whose force is unstoppable, and who one time carried a concert grand piano up a cliff he was climbing, because, yeah, he’s that cool.
As it turns out, even when Wolverine is sitting on the couch watching Netflix and enjoying some downtime he’s using a little-known superpower. And while we’ve seen how useful Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton can be in combat, the bad part about being filled with a rare heavy-metal is the fact that you’re constantly being poisoned. Yup, adamantium is pretty toxic to your blood stream, and it’s just an everyday fact of Wolverine’s life that his body is constantly working to not shut down.
Let’s be clear: the adamantium Wolverine has in spades helps him out a lot. It helps him in combat, it allows him to withstand huge amounts of trauma, it makes his claws look incredibly cool when they pop out of his fists. But at the same time the adamantium is constantly killing Wolverine, forcing him to always be healing himself and the damage that the adamantium wreaks on his system. In fact, one time Wolverine’s healing powers became inactive, and the only way for Wolverine to survive was for Beast to synthesize a drug that would continually counter the poison that the adamantium left behind in Wolverine’s system. So yeah, this power is a pretty important one for old Wolvie because it helps him, you know, not die.
One power that’s technically an offshoot of superhuman-healing but in reality is a whole other thing is Wolverine’s ability to supress his memory. In this case we’re happy that Wolverine has this power, because after all the crap that he’s been through, it’s nice to know that he has the power to wipe it all away and start fresh.
Over the centuries that Wolverine has been alive his life hasn’t exactly been a happy one. While all superhero stories are tragedies in some sense, it could be argued that Wolverine’s story is more tragic than most. Simply put, being forced to save the world with all the trauma floating around in his head would at the very least cause some distraction, which is why it’s good that he can block out past psychological trauma. This power works by his healing-powers creating scar tissue to cover over the trauma center in his brain, and while that may not be the most scientific method of memory suppression, the good news for Wolverine is that it works. Any distress he’s been through can be covered over, and Wolverine will live to fight – and be tragically tortured – another day.
If a nuclear bomb were to detonate somewhere near any of our favorite superheroes, the cold hard truth is that most of them would be dead. Iron Man’s armour wouldn’t save him, Spider-Man’s webslinging would be useless, Captain America’s shield wouldn’t do much for radiation poisoning… It’s safe to say that the Hulk would be one of the only well-known heroes left standing. Well, the Hulk and Wolverine.
When Wolverine first debuted in the 1970s his accelerated healing only worked to fix a little cut, scratch, or small wound. But by the time the crazy 80s rolled around, comic writers were looking to grab readers with outrageous panels, and so of course Wolverine’s power increased. While he soon was able to recover from bullet holes and regrow limbs, it still often took a long time. Of course, that eventually got boring and during the 90s Wolverine sported a new healing ability that would regenerate pretty much any part of him within seconds. And that leads us to this; Wolverine can stand in the middle of an atomic detonation and survive, pretty much unscathed. Sure, it may not feel good, but he’ll heal himself on up and get along with his day, maybe just a little more pissed off than usual.
When you think of Wolverine you often think of brute force and claws, right? He’s named after a vicious animal, and that’s pretty much what he is. He’s hairy, he’s violent, he’s crude, but as it turns out he also makes for a damn good spy.
James Bond he may not be – and it’s still up for debate how well he can pull off a tuxedo – but Wolverine is as well trained in the art of espionage as anyone else in the Marvel Universe. Having participated in covert operations over the years and had his clawed hand in many of the turning points of history in the past few decades, Wolverine is no stranger to the spy game. While you may not think of him as Black Widow or Nick Fury, he’s actually worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fury over the years in his neverending quest to save the world, bring peace to the mutant race, and be left alone to smoke cigars and grumble in resentment.
Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Henry Pym, Bruce Banner: these are the smartest minds in the comic book world. But in the same way that Wolverine A.K.A. Logan A.K.A. James Howlett is a master spy, he’s also highly intelligent – and not just in that bookish sciencey Marvel way. As opposed to being born a genius and dedicating his life to science like the rest of his Marvel peers, Wolverine acquired his knowledge simply by being alive for a very long time.
As a world traveler who has – as he’d say – seen a lot of s*** over the decades, Wolverine has amassed enough knowledge to make even the brightest minds jealous. Not only does he have a deep understanding of worldwide culture and history, but Wolverine also has a world-class mental capacity to focus. Once described as having the mental state of “an Olympic-level gymnast performing a gold medal routine while simultaneously beating four chess computers in his head,” it’s safe to say that Logan has brains as well as brawn.
Perfect eyesight is a boring fact of everyday life for someone like Wolverine, but the thing that we assume never gets old is his ability to see anything – even in the darkest dark. A power that comes along with being able to see clearly for miles, Wolverine’s night vision is something that he shares with Sabertooth; though the latter gets all the credit and hype when it comes to seeing in pitch black conditions.
It seems that night vision has sunk to the bottom of Wolverine’s powers list over the years, and while much of how it works is shrouded in mystery it’s still an important part of who he is. Able to spot enemies in complete darkness and adjust his eyes accordingly, Wolverine may look like a normal human on the outside, but this power just further confirms how much of his mutant DNA is shared with the animal that has given him his name.
Another benefit that comes with traveling the world for decades and living intimately among various cultures and people all over the planet; learning all sorts of languages. And yeah, lots of people are multi-lingual and they’re not considered superheroes, but maybe they should be. Because it’s not like Wolverine is speaking Spanish, Lakota, Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Arabic, Japanese, Thai, Fillipino, Italian, Persian, Korean, Vietnamese, French, German, and Portuguese for fun – he’s doing it because it helps him survive, and in some cases, kill.
Yep, when a superhero knows a ton of languages it’s considered a superpower, because they use their language skills for superhero reasons. So the fact that Wolverine speaks 18 languages is an insanely cool one. Whether he’s surprising an enemy by eavesdropping on them or communicating with innocent people that he’s trying to save in a remote village, all of Wolverine’s learned languages have come in handy at one time or another in his long life. That’s why being a linguistics expert like Wolverine is certainly something that we can all imagine wanting – if not as much – almost as much as having retractable adamantium claws.
It may seem strange that someone such as Wolverine with a weapon built into his skeleton would be a weapons expert. It may seem even stranger that someone such as Wolverine who lived in Japan and mastered martial arts as well as nearly every other fighting style on earth would be a weapons expert. Yet here we are, and as it turns out Wolverine has a seriously killer power that involves knowing almost all there is to know about guns and blades.
While it’s rare to see Wolverine handling a firearm, as a superhero Wolvie knows that it’s useful to fight fire with fire – and that sometimes involves shooting some seriously bad guys in the face. So while Logan prefers blades and is adept at handling nearly every type of bladed weapon, it’s useful that his arsenal of superpowered skills includes being able to wield a weapon – be it a pistol or sword – like it’s nobody’s business. If practice makes perfect and superhuman reflexes also makes perfect, then both of those things in unison ensure that whatever weapon Wolverine finds in his hands is going to be handled with quick, efficient, deadly purpose.
It’s always useful as a superhero to have superpowers that counter other people’s superpowers. It’s a great way to ensure that you don’t get caught up in some nasty superhero-on-superhero violence. That’s why this power of Wolverine’s is particularly useful, because as a member of the X-Men he’s constantly running into other X-Men that are gifted telepaths and psychics. So, yeah, it’s a good thing Wolverine can’t be caught dead with someone like Professor X or Jean Grey messing around inside his head.
Thanks in part to the scar tissue that gunks up his brain and protects him from mental trauma, Wolverine’s mind can’t be probed in the same way that other humans’ and mutants’ can. Adding to that is psionic shields implanted in his mind by Xavier, as well as the fact that his healing factor is so strong it just bounces out any psychic probing that tries to burrow itself into his mind. What all these things add up to is a stellar defense against even the strongest psychics, allowing Wolverine to control his own destiny and keep his arsenal of powers strictly under his own control.
When you’re a mutant tasked with saving the world from nefarious mutants or just your ordinary, everyday supervillain, it’s tough to stay on top of the powers that you encounter every day. For example, most bad guys have powers that make them particularly good at hiding, disappearing, blending in, or (in the case of mutants) shape-shifting in order to escape. Enter Wolverine’s superior tracking ability and what you have is a power that enables Wolverine to find even the hardest to find villain.
By relying on his acute sense of smell, Wolverine is able to track an enemy by the most microscopic particles of scent – no matter how long the scent has been left to dissipate into the natural environment. By behaving like a certain breakfast cereal mascot and following his nose, Logan is able to accurately track down even the toughest of targets – such as a mutant that has since shifted into a completely different form. As this power of Wolverine’s demonstrates, sight is no match for smell, and no matter who you are or what powers you use to hide, Wolverine will always find you.
By now – after reading this list of powers – it should be pretty clear that you don’t want to get on Wolverine’s bad side. Aside from his ability to out-fight and out-smart you, he also has an answer for pretty much any other superpower you may be able to throw at him. But as if none of that was enough, as an added bonus he can also tell when you’re lying, so don’t try that either.
Through his heightened senses and impressive training, Wolverine has amassed the skill to become a human (okay, mutant) lie-detector. By deeply concentrating on what someone is saying to him – or even what they’re not saying – Wolverine is able to detect even the most trace amounts of panic in someone’s presence. Whether he’s hearing a change in heartbeat, smelling sweat on a person’s skin, or listening for a subtle change in tone in someone’s voice, Wolverine is perfectly tuned to sniff out a lie and pounce on it. So, yeah, just another reason why there’s no beating Wolverine – at anything. Ever.
Imagine being made out of Kryptonite if you are Superman’s greatest foe. That’s essentially what Wolverine can do considering that his skeleton is pure adamantium; one of the rarest elements on the planet. The only problem with this power is there’s not a ton of bad guys with a weakness to adamantium, but when Wolverine stumbles across one, woo boy, the work pretty much does itself.
Seen in an episode of the X-Men Animated Series, there was once a time when Wolverine was kidnapped by the Reavers and forced to watch as an alien called the Spirit Drinker was unleashed upon the world. Of course, half-hour cartoon logic dictated that the alien would have an adamantium weakness, and as a result Wolverine had to do nothing more than just kinda, you know, exist for the alien to be brought down. What it all amounted to was a pretty cool power whereby Wolverine’s body turned into his deadliest weapon; too bad it’s too rare to be a regular thing.
Like a cornered animal, Wolverine’s coolest and most under-the-radar power is his ability to lapse into an uncontrollable rage and shred any enemy that has the misfortune of being near him. Deadly and totally unstoppable, Wolverine’s berserker rage powers often come out in close combat; whether he wants them to or not. And if you think that sounds horrific and not at all like a thing that a superhero should be doing, you’d be right. Wolverine himself despises this power and spends a large amount of his time regretting the “berserker” moments of his life, though he does credit them with saving him on multiple occasions.
In this state, Wolverine loses total control and essentially turns into a feral animal that can’t be stopped. He loses his own mind and self-control and counts on his instincts to get him out of trouble. Despite Logan’s personal code of honor that he tries to adhere to at all times, his berserker rage powers follow no such code. This was particularly useful in the case of Wolverine’s fighting of “Mister X,” a telepath who somehow broke through Logan’s mind and was able to predict his next moves. Of course, as is the theme on this list, Wolverine had an answer to that by going “berserker” and thus not even knowing himself what his next move would be.
When in this berserker rage Wolverine has no problem with taking lives, although he often wakes up and regrets everything he has done in his rage; no matter how many lives, including his own, this power may have saved.
Which of these powers were you most surprised to learn that Wolverine has? Are there any that you’d particularly hate to be on the other side of? Let us know in the comments!