For decades, one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes has been the mutant Wolverine. First appearing in 1974’s The Incredible Hulk #180 by Len Wein and Herb Trimpe, Wolverine became an anti-hero when he joined the X-Men and began fighting for the good guys. He has a violent temper, a taste for blood and a need to be alone, but he also has a heart of gold. With his adamantium skeleton, rapid healing and razor sharp claws embedded in each hand, Wolverine became a fan favorite and appeared in countless comic books before appearing in TV shows and ultimately the movies.
Any time Wolverine shows up on screen it’s awesome, but not all Wolverines are created equal. Some of them have been faithful to the comics while others have been completely different. Wolverine has been shown as a deadly serious killer while other shows have made him a clown. Many actors have put a body and/or voice to the Canucklehead, but while some have nailed the hero, others just mailed it in. With 2017’s Logan out on home video, CBR thought we would put the definitive ranking on 15 of Wolverine’s appearances on the big and small screen.
15. SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS
Without a doubt, the worst on-screen version of Wolverine was the first. In 1982, the animated Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends TV show aired “A Fire-Star is Born,” the origin of Firestar and how she gained her powers. It also featured the X-Men, which included Cyclops, Storm, Angel and Wolverine.
Voiced by William Callaway, Wolverine came across as more of a clown than a superhero. Let’s start with the fact that the show gave him an Australian accent instead of a Canadian one. We also were introduced to Wolverine when he used a claw to make a fruit shish-kabob for Firestar. When Wolverine finally gets into a fight with Juggernaut, he gets his claws stuck in a wall and can’t get them out for the rest of the battle. Not his finest moment.
14. THE SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW
In 2009, Marvel produced a comedy-action series called The Super Hero Squad Show, based on stylized action figures from Hasbro. The show featured different Marvel superheroes teaming up to stop a team of super-villains from trying to get pieces of the Infinity Sword to rule the universe. Working alongside heroes like Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Falcon, Wolverine was a reluctant but powerful member. The show was more of a parody of Marvel comics than a faithful adaptation.
Voiced by Steven Blum, the show actually got Wolverine’s attitude pretty nailed down, but the problem is that he was a miniature version of himself with an oversized head, hands, feet and tiny claws. Since it was a family show, he never used his claws to hurt anyone, and was shown as more of a parody of himself.
13. SPIDER-WOMAN: AGENT OF S.W.O.R.D.
In 2009, the motion comic Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. introduced Jessica Drew recovering from having been kidnapped and replaced by a shape-shifting Skrull agent in the Secret Invasion event. She jumps at the chance to get back at the Skrulls through the secret organization S.W.O.R.D. that counters alien invasions to Earth. Following Spider-Woman on this endeavor, the series shows her travelling to Madripoor where she runs into HYDRA, more Skrulls and the new Thunderbolts, all alongside the New Avengers.
Voiced by Jeffrey Hedquist, Wolverine made several appearances in the series as a member of the New Avengers. He didn’t have a lot of action (or movement, given this was a motion comic and not an actual animated show) but Wolverine was his usual awesome self.
12. BLACK PANTHER
In 2010, BET produced its second animated series, a motion comic of Black Panther. The show retold the story of T’Challa in the nation of Wakanda, becoming the new Black Panther after the death of his father. While trying to find his father’s killer, Black Panther faced a group of villains including Klaw, Juggernaut and Batroc the Leaper trying to take over Wakanda.
Kevin Michael Richardson voiced Wolverine in the later episodes of the series, during Logan’s fight with Juggernaut. It was a brief appearance, but Wolverine fighting the unstoppable Juggernaut is always awesome. His claws hacked and slashed while he let loose plenty of attitude. Unfortunately, the performance was limited by the fact that this was Black Panther’s show instead of one focused on Wolverine. Also, the limited animation didn’t do the Canucklehead justice.
11. AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES
In 2010, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes brought a version of the Avengers closer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the small screen. In the sixth episode, “Meet Captain America,” we saw Captain America fighting in World War II, and he briefly met Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos during an attack on the Red Skull’s castle. Captain America ran into a familiar face: James Howlett, who would later become Wolverine.
Voiced by Steven Blum, Wolverine returned in the 23rd episode of season two in costume and working alongside Spider-Man, War Machine, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and the Thing as the New Avengers. Together, they stopped Kang the Conqueror from taking over the world. Wolverine was hardcore in the series, fighting dinosaurs and supervillains with his claws and trading wisecracks with Spider-Man.
10. PRYDE OF THE X-MEN
Marvel’s first attempt at a standalone X-Men TV series came in 1989 with X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. Produced as a pilot that never went to series, Pryde focused on mutant teenager Kitty Pryde as she was introduced to the team. While learning to use her powers, she also became tangled in a plot by Magneto to divert a comet and destroy human life on Earth.
While she was frightened by Nightcrawler, Wolverine ended up Kitty’s biggest enemy on the team as he insisted they didn’t have time for teenagers. Voiced by Patrick Pinny, Wolverine was gruff and angry just like in the comics but didn’t have the affection for the teenager he had on the printed page. Still, he was a good introduction to the character.
9. X-MEN: EVOLUTION
In 2000, the X-Men became a teen drama with X-Men: Evolution. In the animated series, the X-Men became teenagers, all living and working in school while fighting against the Brotherhood and the evil mutants organized by Magneto. The team worked together to learn their powers as well as each other.
Scott McNeill voiced Wolverine as a gruff but relatively kind version of himself. The show didn’t make him a teenager, but they did make him way less violent than the original Wolverine. In the series, he worked hard to train the kids while becoming a father figure to them and his clone, X-23. He also teaches them the importance of non-violence, unlike the comic book Wolverine who loves a good fight.
8. SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
In 1994, Spider-Man (later known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series) began, focusing on Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man and fighting crime while attending college at Empire State University. The show brought revamped versions of Spider-Man’s classic villains like the Kingpin, the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. There were also cameo appearances by superheroes like the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Captain America.
In 1995, “Neogenic Nightmare, Chapter IV: The Mutant Agenda” aired that introduced the X-Men into Spider-Man’s animated universe. Of course, Wolverine made an appearance, voiced by Cathal J. Dodd. Spider-Man went to the X-Men to try to cure a mutation he was going through. Wolverine was distrustful and angry and violent, as per usual. He was a short Clint Eastwood with claws, just how we like him.
7. WOLVERINE: ORIGIN
For decades, no one knew who Wolverine was or where he came from, and that included the writers. His past remained a mystery because it made him cooler and it also let writers play fast and loose with his history. That all changed with Wolverine: Origin, a miniseries written by Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada and Paul Jenkins, and illustrated by Andy Kubert. which was turned into a motion comic in 2013. The story covered how young James Howlett discovered his mutation and evolved from a sickly child into a brutal killer.
Performed by Alessandro Juliani, this was one of the purest forms of Wolverine because it took a critically acclaimed and noteworthy story of the hero and brought it to life. The performance would rank higher if it had been a true animated movie instead of a motion comic.
6. ASTONISHING X-MEN
Marvel Knights is a division of Marvel that produces animated TV shows by animating scenes from the comics in what are called “motion comics.” One of the division’s most renowned achievements was 2009’s Astonishing X-Men, an adaptation of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s acclaimed storyline “Gifted.” In the movie, a controversial scientist claims to have found a “cure” for the mutant gene while the alien Ord plans to destroy all mutants.
Among the heroes of the story was Wolverine, voiced by Marc Thompson, delivering a raspy tone to the brutal story. Wolverine’s dialogue and action were taken from the comic, so it’s a great adaptation, but the lack of smooth and detailed animation weakens the performance. If Marvel had committed to making a full animated movie, it would go a long way.
5. WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN
In 2009, Wolverine and the X-Men put the Canadian mutant center stage when a mysterious explosion caused Professor X and Jean Grey to disappear. The X-Men disbanded until a series of raids by the US government capturing mutants caused Wolverine and Beast to try to bring the X-Men back together again. Wolverine became the de facto leader of the team as they tried to find out what happened to their missing members and prepare for an oncoming war.
This series put the focus on the most popular member of the X-Men, Wolverine. He was forced to abandon his usual loner ways and work together to achieve the dream he always sneered at Professor Xavier for believing in. It was a short-lived series with some great voice work by Steve Blum.
4. HULK VS. WOLVERINE
The 2009 two-part animated movie Hulk Vs. brought the green giant up against two of his oldest enemies and allies, Thor and Wolverine. The first part of the movie involved Wolverine being sent by Canada’s Department H to find the Hulk, a mysterious creature that had been destroying the Canadian wilderness. Wolverine used his heightened senses to track down the Hulk and the two of them fought a fierce battle.
Their fight was cut short by a team of mutants sent by the secret Weapon X organization, and Wolverine had to stop Weapon X from turning Hulk into their own weapon. This Wolverine, again voiced by Steven Blum, was a straight translation of the hero and included more violence and bloodshed than other animated versions of him had shown. Wolverine had all of the attitude from the comics as well.
3. MARVEL ANIME: WOLVERINE
In 2011, Marvel made a big push in the Japanese market with Marvel Anime: Wolverine. In the series, Logan learned his former lover Mariko Yashida was about to marry against her will, forced by her father Shingen Yashida. It was a movie based on a classic storyline from the Wolverine comics, full of action and emotion as the hero teamed up with an assassin and fought his way through an army of ninja to rescue his lost love.
This movie had Wolverine in his natural habitat, the lone samurai up against a dangerous world. With the classic voicework of Steven Blum, this movie showed the true nature of Wolverine, who fought without mercy or hesitation, but also lived with honor and was driven by a desire to right wrongs. He also had some killer combat scenes.
2. X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
One of the most faithful comic book TV adaptations ever was 1992’s X-Men: The Animated Series. The series not only faithfully adapted some of the best X-Men stories for the screen, it also put great care into the way the X-Men were drawn and sounded. Wolverine was among the best handled on the series.
Wolverine was a major character on the main cast, voiced faithfully by Cathal J. Dodd. Wolverine had the surly attitude, mocking Gambit and other team members while showing a deep affection for them deep down. Just like in the comics, Wolverine was a loner who reluctantly spent time with and protected younger X-Men like Jubilee and Morph. The show even got his origin right, adapting the Weapon X storyline.
1. X-MEN AND WOLVERINE TRILOGY
In 2000, the world got to see the X-Men in their first live-action motion debut. The X-Men movie set the standard for superhero blockbusters with a gritty and grounded version of the classic heroes. In the movie, Rogue and Wolverine were taken in for the first time by Charles Xavier, who teamed them up with Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm to form the X-Men. Together, they fought a plot by Magneto to deform world leaders and promote mutant rights.
In many ways, Hugh Jackman didn’t just play Wolverine. He was Wolverine. Okay, there were some ways the Fox Wolverine differed from the comics — he never wore the yellow spandex outfit and there were some worries about Hugh Jackman being too tall — but those all vanished when he popped the claws for the first time.
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