What do you think of when you think Wolverine? Claws. Adamantium. “snikt”. Cool hair and sideburns. And maybe white tank tops. But there’s much more to Wolverine than meets the eye. His powers extend far past the adamantium claws that shoot from his hands. In fact, we did some digging and discovered a plethora of overlooked superpowers belonging to Marvel’s most popular mutant that fans probably never even knew about. It turns out that Wolverine’s healing factor provides him with countless abilities that Wolverine only rarely shows off. And knowing Marvel, there’s probably at least another ten that they’ll reveal themselves within the next decade.
Looking through all of these powers, we couldn’t help but think it was a bit excessive. Wolverine appears to be essentially invulnerable. Combine that with Wolverine’s infamous record of surviving the most insane things, and you get a guy who’s practically unbeatable. But we know that couldn’t be true. So, we also gathered ten of Wolverine’s little-known weaknesses. From magical swords to metals that nullify his healing factor, it turns out that there are plenty of creative ways to kill Wolverine if his enemies so choose to. Here are ten underappreciated powers and ten major weaknesses of Wolverine.
20. SUPERPOWER: SHAPESHIFTER DETECTION
Among Wolverine’s set of super senses is enhanced smell. Readers often glimpse this superpower in action whenever Wolverine is using it to track an enemy down — or on at least one occasion, his own dismembered body parts that are scattered about. However, it also offers the unique benefit of detecting shapeshifters. Considering how many shapeshifters there are in the X-Men universe, this is no small advantage.
Plenty of panels in X-Men comics have shown Wolverine’s nostrils in action. And sometimes he’s sniffing out shapeshifters. Because Wolverine can recognize people by their scent, he can spot a shapeshifter in disguise. It’s one reason Mystique has a much better chance of screwing around with the X-Men whenever Wolverine is not around. The other reasons are detailed below.
19. WEAKNESS: ADAMANTIUM INFECTION
It turns out that Wolverine has an immanent vulnerability. One of the many hidden facts revealed about Wolverine throughout the years is that the adamantium implanted in him by Weapon X is actually poisonous. As if Wolverine doesn’t have enough reasons to hate Weapon X. For the most part, Wolverine’s natural mutant powers, including his healing factor, help to cancel out the steady secretion of poison by the adamantium.
However, the poisoning becomes a serious threat whenever Wolverine’s healing factor is sidelined. At one point, Wolverine lost his healing factor and nearly succumbed to the effects of the adamantium poisoning. Beast had to synthesize a drug to counteract the poisoning. Unfortunately, there was no Beast around in Logan to help the hero as he dealt with the decaying effects of the poison.
18. SUPERPOWER: NIGHT VISION
In addition to enhanced hearing and smell, another super sense of Wolverine’s is enhanced vision. He can see across vast distances with perfect clarity. Combine this with his other enhanced senses, and you have one heck of a hunter. But another, less touted ability of Wolverine’s is his natural night vision.
He shares the ability with his arch nemesis, Sabertooth. Unfortunately for Wolverine, the latter gets most of the recognition for this power. But Wolverine’s night vision is nothing to shove under the rug. Besides being incredibly helpful, the power reminds of what kind of creature Wolvie is. Wolverine’s casual ability to see in near pitch black further bonds him with his namesake and reminds us of the animal nature at the core of his mutant powers.
17. WEAKNESS: DROWNING
Wolverine’s healing factor offers him a plethora of benefits, including near invulnerability. However, it doesn’t cover everything. And at times, it can even work against Wolverine and actually cause more harm than good. One way it can do this is if Wolverine drowns.
Wolverine can stay underwater for extreme lengths of time, but he’ll eventually drown. Oxygen deprivation leads to dying cells. Wolverine’s healing factor can kick in and produce more cells — but these cells too would die of oxygen starvation. Wolverine’s healing factor would just prolong his suffering. Eventually, he’d go into cardiac arrest and his heart would stop pumping blood. And that’s how you kill a Wolverine. Honestly, you’d think more of his enemies would try this low-cost cost method to putting him down.
16. SUPERPOWER: SUPERHUMAN ENDURANCE
Another highly underrated superpower of Wolverine’s is his superhuman endurance. When it comes to stamina, this mutant is off the charts. Think of an ultrarunner — those guys and gals that run a 100 miles at a time — and then apply it to Wolverine’s bulky frame, and you get one heck of an athlete.
Most of Wolverine’s superhuman endurance springs from his healing factor, which allows him to push his body beyond its limits on a consistent basis. Over time, the process of breaking his body down and building it back up makes him a more efficient and durable mutant. Wolverine also has an extraordinary lung capacity, allowing him to hold his breath for long periods of time and indulge in the occasional underwater brawl. And a good thing too, because as we’ve noted, drowning is one of the few ways to do Wolverine in for good.
15. WEAKNESS: LOSING HIS HEAD
We have Professor Xavier to thank for providing us with one of the few known ways to kill Wolverine. In Excalibur #100, the Xavier Protocols are revealed — a group of fail-safes that Xavier threw together just in case one of the X-Men went rogue. And let’s face it, that’s a pretty common phenomenon.
Xavier offered a perversely well thought out and brutal way to kill Wolverine in those very Protocols. “His head would have to be severed, and removed utterly from the vicinity of his body to prevent swift flesh and nerve regrowth.” So, not only would Wolvie have to be decapitated, but his head would have to be moved very far away. Apparently, nobody in the “Old Man Logan” storyline did their homework on this one.
14. SUPERPOWER: PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALING
Wolverine has lived a long life, full of all kinds of trauma. He’s fought in both World Wars, was experimented on by Weapon X, and has seen more than his fair share of friends and lovers die in front of him. And this is just what we know about Wolverine so far. New things from his past are continually unearthed, making us wonder how anybody can walk around with so many traumatic memories. It turns out that Wolverine has a power to compensate for his trauma.
Wolverine can use psychological healing, a type of offshoot of his healing factor. The mutant can intentionally suppress traumatic memories. He does this through what he calls “mental scar tissue,” a process where he covers traumatic memories, giving him a fresh start.
13. WEAKNESS: SENSORY OVERLOAD
As previously mentioned, Wolverine’s senses are enhanced across the board. He’s got enhanced vision, hearing, smell, etc. But super acute senses aren’t without their downsides. In fact, sensory overload is one Wolverine’s most overlooked weaknesses and it’s one that could arguably do the most damage.
For example, Hulk has been known to take advantage of Wolverine’s acute hearing. The most notable instance of this is in The Incredible Hulk #340, where the Hulk uses his thunderclap technique to devastate Wolverine’s eardrums, allowing the Green Goliath to gain the upper hand. Whenever Wolverine is against an enemy with ear-splitting powers, his best bet is to incapacitate them as quickly as possible. However, because of Wolverine’s healing factor and high pain tolerance, sensory overload is far from being a debilitating weakness for him.
12. SUPERPOWER: SUPER STRENGTH
Super strength is such a common superpower in comics that we often don’t even stop to distinguish between who has it and who doesn’t. Some instances of super strength are obvious and well-documented, like Spider-Man and Captain America. But others fly under the radar as it does for Wolverine.
Wolverine is carrying around an adamantium skeleton day-in and day-out, and those things aren’t light. The estimated 100 pounds of adamantium has placed tremendous demand onto his muscles, forcing him to adapt and grow superhumanly strong. That, on top of his pre-existing supernormal strength due to his mutant powers, and you have a veritable case of super strength. It isn’t uncommon for Wolverine to uproot and swing trees as if they’re baseball bats. Once, Wolvie even lifted 955-pound Ursa Major and flung him at the wall.
11. WEAKNESS: CARBONADIUM
Carbonadium is among the strongest alloys in the Marvel Universe, only behind vibranium and adamantium. The alloy is highly radioactive and has proven to be able to slow the healing abilities of mutants. The advantage that it has over metal like adamantium is that it’s more malleable.
It was introduced in X-Men Vol 2. #4 as a product of the Soviet Union. In the issue, we also met Omega Red, a killer who had a history with Wolverine, and the Soviet Union’s answer to Captain America. The Soviets had implanted retractable carbonadium tentacles into Omega Red, ensuring that the villain would be a serious threat for Wolverine for years to come. It’s also worth mentioning that carbonadium has killed Wolverine before. In Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #3 Deadpool decapitates Wolvie with a carbonadium blade.
10. SUPERPOWER: LIE DETECTION
If it isn’t enough that Wolverine is essentially invulnerable and immortal, and is basically just better at whatever you can conceive of, you can also get nothing past the guy. Thanks to his multiple super senses, he can figure out secret identities, devious plans, and dirty secrets like it just aren’t fair.
Secret identities aren’t safe around him. He’ll match the scent of the superhero to the secret identity and vice versa. As for the more everyday type of lying, Wolverine can use a combination of his enhanced senses. He can sense if a person’s heartbeat accelerates, notice the instant they begin to perspire, and catch onto the slightest shifts in the tone of a person’s voice. No wonder he has a history of espionage.
9. WEAKNESS: MASTERS OF MAGNETISM
Wolverine’s numerous abilities provide him a rare edge over other mutants. As previously stated, he can detect shapeshifters. He can also utilize a combination of his super strength, super senses, and super endurance to go toe-to-toe with almost any mutant the X-Men come up against. But Wolverine couldn’t have worse luck when it comes to Magneto.
It’s a problem when one of your team’s greatest assets is easily incapacitated by your team’s arch-enemy. And that’s just the case with Wolverine. Wolverine is walking around with a 100-pound adamantium skeleton — which is magnetic, by the way. Before X-Men #25 Magneto would usually just toss Wolverine out of the way. However, during this issue, the master of magnetism opted to rip the adamantium out of Wolverine in what has to remain one of the most brutal images in X-Men lore.
8. SUPERPOWER: EXTREME TEMPERATURE RESISTANCE
Whether it be frigid temperatures or incinerating heats, Wolverine has proven his ability to brush off nearly any weather extreme. It’s safe to say that Wolverine is among the elite minority of superheroes to survive having every inch of his flesh burnt off. During the Civil War era, Wolverine hunted down the human explosive known as Nitro. Nitro blew himself up, burning Wolverine down to his skeleton. As ridiculous as that is, we aren’t sure if it’s crazier than what happened in Daniel Way’s Venom #9. In that comic, Wolvie survives a nuclear blast!
Wolverine has also been shown to be able to endure the intensely cold weather. He’s slept nude in subarctic conditions and has shrugged off the occasional frozen body part like a real animal out in the wild.
7. WEAKNESS: DE-AGING
Thanks to his healing factor, Wolverine ages at snail’s pace. Wolverine was born in the mid-19th century and still looks like he’s in the physical prime of his life. Now, you’d think that on top of this, de-aging could only feed the extraordinary length of Wolverine’s life. But that isn’t the case.
In Wolverine: Killing Made Simple, Wolverine reveals some of the ways that he could die, including de-aging. Wolverine describes the torturous result of parts of himself getting smaller while his adamantium skeleton remains the same, saying, “it’ll burst through my skin, dislodge my organs, and even if I live through that… then I’ll start to heal. My skin will grow apart from my bones, maybe through them. My brain will be too small; it’ll roll around in my skull.”
6. SUPERPOWER: ANIMAL EMPATHY
Wolverine’s first appearance was in the Canadian wilderness when he squared off against the Hulk in a brutal fight out in the forest. From that moment on, readers got the sense that this mutant had a distinct animalistic side to him, which couldn’t be said about most other Marvel superheroes and mutants.
Along with his namesake and his heightened senses, Wolverine finds commonality with the animal kingdom through his often forgotten power of animal empathy. His animal empathy allows him to sense the emotional state of other animals. However, this doesn’t come as too much of a shock after we’ve talked about his ability to detect lies, which utilizes the same measurements. Of course, this doesn’t make Wolverine an advocate for PETA or anything. He loves to hunt.
5. WEAKNESS: SUFFOCATION BY ADAMANTIUM
Wolverine has technically died on several occasions. He’s had his heart ripped out and had been murdered in multiple non-616 canons. However, the only time he was killed and managed to stay dead in the Marvel 616 was when he died from suffocating under a shell of adamantium.
The Death of Wolverine storyline followed a healing factor-less Wolverine as he chased down Cornelius, the head scientist behind the Weapon X program. The story culminated in Wolverine heroically sacrificing himself for Cornelius’ latest test subjects. Wolverine prevents the adamantium from being injected into the test subjects but spills over himself in the process. The hot adamantium hardens into a shell covering Wolverine. Despite the story spoiling the ending, few could’ve predicted the unique way that Marvel killed off one of their trademark mutants.
4. SUPERPOWER: CONTAMINANT IMMUNITY
Wolverine’s healing factor is the gift that keeps on giving. De-accelerated aging? Check. Psychological healing? Check. Extreme temperature resistant? Check. What are we missing here? Oh, that’s right — the ability to drink as much as he wants without becoming intoxicated like some of us after a rigorous weekend bender. And any X-Men fan will know, this is definitely a power that Wolvie takes advantage of.
But that’s not the only thing entailed by contaminant immunity. Wolverine’s healing factor also provides him with virtual immunity to all kinds of drugs, poisons, diseases, and viruses. So, not only is Wolverine perpetually in the prime of his life but he also never gets sick. And even the adamantium poisoning that’s steadily secreted into his bloodstream is nothing against his tireless healing factor.
3. WEAKNESS: MURAMASA BLADE
To briefly recap, Wolverine must watch out for: large bodies of water, Carbonadium, vats of liquid adamantium, masters of magnetism, and really high-pitched sounds. The only thing that’s missing? A magical sword with shards of people’s’ souls integrated within it.
The legendary Japanese swordsmith, Muramasa, created two of these soul-imbued blades. The first was known as the black blade, and it belonged to him. The second is what it’s popularly known as the Muramasa blade. It was gifted to Wolverine after his wife, Itsu, died at the hands of the Winter Soldier. And it’s a good thing whenever the blade is in Wolverine’s hands. The sword contains a piece of his soul, and he once told Captain America that it’s “the only thing in the world that can put me down for good.”
2. SUPERPOWER: BERSERKER RAGE
With a superpower name like “berserker rage,” it’s unclear why any villain would attempt to screw with Wolverine. Berserker rage is Wolverine’s ability to shift into a feral mode whenever he’s backed against the wall. In this state, he has no control over himself. He’s a killing machine without the slightest sense of a moral code.
The tremendous benefit of this ability was made evident in the X-Men’s clash with Mister X. Mister X was a telepath who’d broken through Wolverine’s mind so that he could predict Wolverine’s next moves. Of course, he wasn’t expecting Wolverine to unleash his berserker rage. Flung into a berserker rage, neither Wolverine nor his foe were able to predict what he’d do next, adding Mister X to the long list of mutants that Wolverine could dispose of with ease.
1. WEAKNESS: BERSERKER RAGE
Berserker rage isn’t all roses. In fact, it’s an ability of Wolverine’s that causes him considerable remorse after he realizes just how out of control he was. As useful as berserker rage can be, it also carries the greatest capacity to backfire. Wolverine can’t control when berserker rage is initiated, but when it is, nobody is safe.
When in this feral mode, Wolverine behaves in a subhuman way. He’ll slaughter his enemies in the most brutal ways imaginable, and occasionally wound teammates in the process. When his normal state of consciousness returns after the carnage, he’s overcome with regret. Despite berserker rage saving Wolverine’s life and the lives of others, it’s responsible for some of his most traumatic moments. Luckily, he has psychological healing to help him out.
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