When Len Wein co-created Wolverine back in 1974, the character had only a single superpower and it wasn’t even really much of a “power” at all. He was based on the fact that real life wolverines often get into fights with much bigger animals and more than hold their own. So Wein’s take on the superhero Wolverine was that he would be able to scrape with the best of them. Along with the special adamantium claws in the gloves of his costume, Wolverine’s power was then that he was able to hang tight in fights. Essentially, his superpower was “scrappiness.”
When Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum took over the character in the pages of X-Men, they did not do much more with the character, besides revealing that his claws were part of his body. Then John Byrne joined X-Men, and he and Claremont slowly took that “scrappy” idea and extrapolated on it. They theorized that it must mean that he has a healing power that allows him to hang in there with bigger foes. Once the healing factor was established, Wolverine’s superpowers have grown in leaps and bounds ever since, as have his other powers. Only recently, in fact, for his new series, Return of Wolverine, writer Charles Soule revealed that now, Logan can somehow “heat up” his claws, making them all the more ludicrously powerful. While we wait for that new development to be fleshed out, here are 20 other weird things about his powers!
20. HAD A DEAL WITH DEATH
Over the years, Wolverine has often suffered some pretty terrible injuries. However, they typically had been kept within a relatively realistic standard, outside some exceptions that involved magic. For instance, when Magneto pulled all of the adamantium out of his body, it really seemed as though Wolverine’s body might be too taxed from the injuries to recover. Everything changed, though, during Civil War when Wolverine essentially survived a nuclear blast, as the supervillain Nitro charged up on Mutant Growth Hormone and increased his explosive capabilities to the point that Wolverine’s body was reduced to his skeleton.
He re-grew his body around his skeleton, which doesn’t make scientific sense.
The writer of that story, Marc Guggenheim, decided to explain how Wolverine essentially came back from the dead. He revealed that Wolverine had met the angel of Death himself on the battlefields of World War I and Logan managed to defeat him. That forced the Angel to cut a deal with Logan. Every time that Logan died, he would be allowed to fight the Angel again. If Logan won, he would be allowed to return to the land of the living. Logan always won. Things changed when Wolverine lost a piece of his soul to a villain. He cut a deal with the Angel to get the piece of his soul back in exchange for their deal ending. That is how Wolverine was able to die in Death of Wolverine.
19. MEMORY SUPPRESSION
During House of M, the X-Men and the Avengers got together to decide what to do with the Scarlet Witch, who had a mental breakdown during “Avengers Disassembled.” There were all sorts of options on the table, even possibly killing her. In an attempt to protect his sister, Quicksilver convinced the Scarlet Witch to alter reality so that mutants would now be in charge of the world. Part of the Scarlet Witch’s process was to try to make this new reality palpable to the Avengers and the X-Men by giving each of the heroes their fondest desire in this new world.
In the case of Wolverine, that was for him to finally remember everything that had happened to him in his life. You see, his healing powers work in such a way that they actually suppress traumatic memories to protect him from them. On top of that, government agencies also messed with Wolverine’s head to give him fake memory implants of past events that did not occur. For instance, he remembered growing up as a child among a pack of wolves and that was not a real memory. The Scarlet Witch’s plan backfired, though, because Wolverine’s restored memories allowed him to remember that this world was not the way that it should be.
18. HAS HIS OWN KRYPTONITE
As noted earlier, superhero science really does not make any sense. You just have to lean into it and accept whatever absurd notions that they throw into the comic books and just go along with it. After all, if you can believe that a man can fly, why not believe that ruby red quartz glasses can somehow absorb powerful force beams? Or that a man could create intricate ice slides with nothing to support them? Similarly, once you have bought into Wolverine and his indestructible adamantium skeleton, it does not take a whole lot of extra imagination to believe that there somehow exists a metal that is the opposite of adamantium.
Carbonadium is, in effect, like kryptonite for Wolverine.
In a lot of uses, Carbonadium is simply just a cheaper version of Adamantium that the Soviet agent known as Omega Red was formatted with years earlier when he faced off against Logan’s band of government operatives known generally as “Team X.” With Wolverine specifically, though, Carbonadium is used to halt his healing powers. If Carbonadium is inserted into his body, he loses the ability to heal, due to some sort of strange radiation that is emitted by the metal. It makes Omega Red a formidable foe for Wolverine.
17. CAN’T BECOME A WEREWOLF
In X-Men: First Class #10, Wolverine came across a mysterious woman who found herself instantly smitten with the short Canadian hero. She seduced him but he was shocked to learn that she was a werewolf! She scratched him and he became a werewolf, as well, joining her in her pack. The only thing that prevented the “Wolfed out” Wolverine from trying to kill Kitty Pryde was the arrival of Jack Russell, Marvel’s longstanding Werewolf hero.
Wolverine found himself under the sway of “the pack,” and he noted some interesting comparisons between his life as a werewolf and his so-called “berserker rages.” Being a werewolf was a lot like being a berserker rage, except that he could process it easier, while still being under the control of his pack leader. Luckily for Kitty Pryde’s family, who were the targets of the werewolf pack, in the middle of the climactic battle of the storyline, Wolverine found himself reverted to his normal self. Yes, shockingly enough, Wolverine’s healing power does not just deal with normal illness, but it can also cure you of lycanthropy! Apparently, in the Marvel Universe, the process of turning into a werewolf is a traditional biological transformation as opposed to a magical one.
16. CAN’T BECOME A VAMPIRE
It is one thing to establish that werewolves within the Marvel Universe are simply an odd biological transformation, but it is a whole other deal to try to establish the same thing with vampires. This is because vampires have been firmly established to be a magical occurrence within the Marvel Universe. For instance, in a famous early 1980s storyline in the pages of Doctor Strange after the long-running Tomb of Dracula series came to an end, Doctor Strange successfully used the Darkhold to eliminate almost all vampires on Earth through the use of a spell.
Yes, Wolverine can heal from magic!
So this is not one of those “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” types of things. This is just flat out magic. That is why it is so shocking that Wolverine’s healing power can still heal him from vampirism! In the storyline, “Curse of the Mutants,” the X-Men went to war against Dracula’s sadistic son, who had taken over from his father as the king of the vampires. Wolverine’s healing powers were hampered using nanobots, weakening him so that he could be turned into a vampire. When the nano-bots were de-activated, Wolverine slowly but surely cured himself of his vampirism.
15. STRANGE HAIR GROWTH
A confusing aspect of Wolverine’s abilities is when, exactly, did his body decide to lock itself into no longer aging? He has looked the same for at least 100 years, but obviously he aged into that look, since he wasn’t born looking like a middle-aged man. So why did his aging stop at that point? Why not as soon as his powers kicked in when he was a little kid? Or if not then, why not when he was finished with puberty? What made it so that he locked in at this precise look?
Not only did it lock him at a specific time in his life, it also bizarrely locked him in with a strange haircut. Wolverine, you see, has a distinct hairstyle that his hair will always grow to match. In a storyline in the early 1990s, Wolverine had to go undercover, so he shaved off his hair. By the time the issue was over, it was already almost grown back to his original look! The even stranger thing about Wolverine’s hairstyle is that he is not even the only person in the Marvel Universe with it! The Daredevil villain, the Owl, also has a similar look up top.
14. SPECIAL MENTAL SHIELDS
In the world of superheroes, it is almost seen as a slap in the face if no villain ever tries to brainwash you and bring you to their side of the fight. Wolverine had two major times where the bad guys kidnapped him and turned him evil. There was the time that Apocalypse had Wolverine captured and given his adamantium back so that he could serve as Death of the Four Horsemen. Then there was the time that the Hand and Hydra killed Wolverine and resurrected him as a loyal follower of Hydra. In the case of Hydra, when he was freed from their control he literally went out and killed every last living member of Hydra to revenge himself.
Wolverine caused a whole lot of drama while he was a member of Hydra!
He also sought to help keep himself from being brainwashed in the future. Wolverine’s healing powers had always served him well when it came to damaging his brain, but they do little against attempts to brainwash him; so instead, Wolverine was taught to put up mental barriers himself by Professor X. Currently, you would have to be stronger than Emma Frost to get past Wolverine’s barriers.
13. STILL FEELS PAIN
Certainly the most dramatic change in the depiction of Wolverine’s powers over the years has been how much damage that Wolverine can suffer before he can’t heal himself. There is a famous moment in “Days of Future Past” where Wolverine is killed in the future when a Sentinel blasts him to smithereens. Once he recovered from being effectively nuked in Civil War, however, there doesn’t seem to be any injury to which Wolverine cannot recover!
Once that new healing level was established, the area where writers differed came in the level of pain that Wolverine feels when he is injured. You see, as established by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Wolverine’s healing powers just help him heal. They don’t take the pain of his injuries away. As a result, Wolverine goes out of his way to avoid bodily harm. Since the late 1990s, though, it seems like many writers handle Wolverine like he is impervious to pain, with how often he will invite injuries to himself! A famous example is the cover to Wolverine #121, part of Warren Ellis and Leinil Francis Yu’s famous “Not Dead Yet” arc, which shows Wolverine triumphantly riding his motorcycle right into a hail of gunfire!
12. EVERY DROP OF BLOOD IS “WOLVERINE”
Our DNA is present in every drop of our blood, hence why people can tell whether someone was at the scene of a crime based solely on whether traces of their blood were there. The same basic idea is present in Wolverine’s blood, but taken to an insane degree! You see, Wolverine’s healing powers are present in every drop of his blood and so is a complete set of Wolverine’s generic matrix. What this means is that if you had enough power, you could theoretically grow Wolverine back to his normal self from just a single drop of blood!
A single drop of Wolverine’s blood landed on the magical crystal, and that was enough for Wolverine to win the day.
This is mostly a theoretical issue, but it became an actual plot point in X-Men Annual #11 (by Chris Claremont, Alan Davis and Paul Neary) when a powerful villain named Horde forced the X-Men to go through a magical maze to gain a prize at the end that will give its bearer omnipotent power. No one had ever succeeded before, as the maze tempts anyone who enters it with their heart’s desire. Wolverine is the only hero to reach the end, but then Horde showed up and killed him. A single drop of Wolverine’s blood, though, landed on the magical crystal and that was enough for Wolverine to win the day. He gained omnipotence and reverted everything to the way it was before they entered the maze.
11. CAN HOLD BREATH FOR A LONG TIME
It is fascinating to see how writers have taken the concept of a healing power and extrapolated all sorts of abilities into it. For instance, we mentioned earlier that Wolverine has super strength. There is a theory that suggests that his strength is specifically derived from his healing powers, as a result of his muscles never getting normal wear and tear. Thus, they just get stronger and stronger until he effectively has super strength. That is the general idea behind the fact that Wolverine can hold his breath for an exceptionally long period of time. His lungs never strain because of his healing powers.
However, it is important to note that we rarely see Wolverine use this particular power and that is because water is one of Wolverine’s biggest weaknesses. After all, one of the only realistic ways to kill Wolverine is to drown him. He is carrying 400 pounds of metal in his body, after all, so there is always the risk of being pulled under. Then, no matter how long he can hold his breath, the air is eventually going to run out and he could lose brain function by being deprived of oxygen.
10. FEELS PHANTOM PAIN
If you have ever had a terrible toothache, you know that your brain has a very interesting way of dealing with nerve pain. Your brain will, in effect, shut down your access to the memories of what the pain felt like. You have a memory that it hurt and you can recall the pain in a general sense, but the specific memory of what the pain felt like is erased from your memory by your brain. One area, though, where the brain fails people is with “phantom pain,” where people with missing limbs can still feel their lost arms and legs, likely due to some issue involving the central nervous system.
Logan not only experiences the pain from the initial injury, but he also feels phantom pain from injuries that he suffered much earlier.
Well, in the case of Wolverine, his body might erase his memory of really traumatic life experiences, but it is really bad when it comes to protecting himself from re-experiencing the injuries that he has suffered over the years. The way his healing power works, he not only experiences the pain from the initial injury, but he also feels phantom pain from injuries that he suffered much earlier. In X-Men Unlimited #12, Stuart Moore and C.P. Smith did an excellent job with a story showing the actual process that Wolverine goes through when he heals from really bad injuries, and it is not a pleasant experience for the hero at all. He often needs to meditate to get through the difficulty of the process.
9. WALKING LIE DETECTOR
While Wolverine’s healing factor is his most prominent one by far, he does have a few other superpowers. The most obvious one is that he was born with sharp bone claws that pop out of his forearm that were later bonded with adamantium to give him the ability to cut through nearly any object. The second notable power is that he has, for lack of a better term, “animal senses.” This likely explains his speed and agility, although again, that is an area where his healing power might have played a role in keeping his body in tip top shape. It also gives him a wide variety of talents like being able to track people by their scent.
In fact, his sense of smell is so powerful that even when Mystique changes her shape completely, he can tell who she is just by her scent. His scent and enhanced hearing also allows him to become, in effect, a walking lie detector, as he can tell when someone is lying just by listening to their heartbeat. This is similar to how Daredevil uses his Radar Sense to do the same thing, which gives you an idea of how amazing Wolverine’s senses are. What’s interesting, though, is that Daredevil has been fooled by pacemakers before when someone’s heartbeat is steady, despite lying. We wonder if Wolverine would have the same problem or not.
8. WAS ONCE PHOENIX
During the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, the amount of characters who have been hosts to the Phoenix Force increased by a lot as Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus and Magik all merged with the Phoenix. That made a character being a Phoenix host feel a lot less special, but when it happened to Wolverine in Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine, it was still a big deal! That miniseries (by Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert) saw Spider-Man and Wolverine transported through time. They ended up in an altered version of the future.
It was revealed that a piece of the Phoenix Force had taken root in Wolverine and he turned into a Dark Phoenix.
The Earth was practically razed to the ground by Doctor Doom, who had taken over the body of Ego the Living Planet. Before he died, Beast of the X-Men created a special weapon known as the Phoenix Gun. The gun contained a bullet with the Phoenix Force in it that could be used to take Doom down, but whomever fired the bullet would be consumed by the Phoenix Force in the process. Spider-Man and Wolverine fought over the right to make the big sacrifice and Wolverine “won.” Spider-Man then used a Cosmic Cube to bring Wolverine back to life. Later, though, it was revealed that a piece of the Phoenix Force had taken root in Wolverine and he turned into a Dark Phoenix version of himself! At the end of the series, time reverted to its state before the time traveling began.
7. PART OF A “WOLFPACK”
During one of the strangest stories in Marvel history, Captain America was transformed into a werewolf after stumbling upon a small city of lycanthropes. The bad guys in the town were drawing more werewolves there, as well, to build their numbers, and even ended up attracting other “wolf” themed characters like Wolfsbane from X-Factor and Feral from X-Force. Interestingly enough, Wolverine was not one of those wolf-like mutants who was drawn to the town. He was involved in the story, but he only showed up in the area because he was investigating a werewolf attack and tracked the killer to this town.
We bring that story up because a decade or so later, it turned out that Wolverine actually was part of a specific sub-class of mutants, known as Lupines. Not only were Lupines all wolf or cat-like mutants, but Wolverine was part of an even smaller subset of this group known as “ferals.” These were lupine mutants who often went into similar states like Wolverine did when he went into his “berserker rage.” Now, for the first time in history, Wolverine had a specific reason why he had so much of an anger management problem! This story has mostly been ignored since then, though.
6. WAS ONCE IRON FIST
While being a host of the Phoenix Force has gotten less special over the years, being the Iron Fist has remained a rare honor. Yett, somehow Wolverine actually got to temporarily gain the powers of the Iron Fist in a notable storyline in Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immomen’s New Avengers run! The story opened up the second volume of the series and it dealt with the ramifications of Doctor Strange having to abdicate his title as the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. You see, after besmirching his title by using dark magic one time too many, Strange had to give up the name, as well as the powerful magical talisman known as the Eye of Agamotto. After a series of characters fought for the title, the victory ultimately belonged to Brother Voodoo, who became the new Sorcerer Supreme.
Eventually, the heroes decided that their only way to stop Agamotto was to pool their powers and give them all to Wolverine!
However, Agamotto himself grew disappointed with Strange’s actions, so in a twist, the famous former defender of Earth led a demonic invasion of the planet! Doctor Strange was his main target, so Agamotto possessed other members of the New Avengers to attack Strange. Eventually, the heroes decided that their only way to stop Agamotto was to pool their powers and give them all to Wolverine! He now had Iron Fist’s chi, which made him a formidable magical fighter. In the end, though, Voodoo sacrificed himself and the Eye itself, to defeat Agamotto. Wolverine lost his extra powers as they returned to his teammates.
5. SUPER STRENGTH
Something that often gets overlooked is just what it means, practically, to have an entire skeleton bonded with a metal like adamantium. Adamantium is not a light metal and thus, the fact that Wolverine is covered in the metal likely means that he weighs well over 400 pounds. So when you see Wolverine in some awesome fight with a bad guy where Wolverine is moving like an expert martial artist, realize that he is doing that while dragging 400 pounds of skeleton around with him.
That is why Marvel has slowly but surely revealed that Wolverine is super strong. In a fight with the Winter Guard, Russia’s superhero team, Wolverine picked up the extremely heavy Ursa Major (who can transform into a giant bear) and just threw him like he was nothing. We have also seen Wolverine break through heavy duty chains with his strength. Heck, just the fact that he is able to stab through nearly everything suggests that he must have the strength to puncture the bad guys with his claws. Wolverine certainly doesn’t appear to be super strong, but it might also just be a case where he spends so much energy carrying his skeleton around that it holds him back in other areas.
4. CAN’T GET SLOSHED
As noted earlier, there are a number of unintentional side effects caused by Wolverine’s healing powers, like his hair always returning to its default state. Probably the side effect that Wolverine hates the most is tied to the fact that his healing factor gives him an effectual immunity to poisons. That obviously comes in handy a lot, like the famous X-Men story where the whole team was poisoned except for Wolverine and Rogue, who had a low-level healing factor herself courtesy of the powers she absorbed from Carol Danvers. It is less handy when Wolverine goes drinking, though, as his powers treat alcohol as a poison, so it eliminates its effect from Wolverine’s system as soon as it can.
This makes it extremely difficult for Wolverine to get wastey-waste. He has to essentially keep drinking nonstop just to keep himself slightly buzzed. This is a major issue when he wants to drink to forget, like on the anniversary of him being stood up at the altar by his fiancee, Mariko Yashida. This is likely why his body has developed the ability to suppress his painful memories, as he cannot get rid of thos memories through drinking. This power is particularly amusing when he goes out drinking with people who don’t have healing powers.
3. ASGARDIAN MAGIC CLAWS
One of the more dire situations for Earth’s superheroes occurred in the crossover event, Fear Itself. In that story, Odin’s secret older brother, Cul, also known as the Serpent, was freed from a prison that Odin had placed him in thousands of years ago. Cul’s return also released seven hammers upon Earth. Each of these hammers contained the souls of Cul’s children, known as “The Worthy.” Powerful superheroes and super villains were drawn to the hammers, which then transformed the wielders into super-charged versions of themselves.
The result is Wolverine rocking out some magic claws made out of the same material as Thor’s hammer!
Things were so bad that Odin literally just cut off contact from Earth, figuring that the only chance Asgard had to stop Cul was to first allow him to destroy the planet. Iron Man pleaded with Odin to at least give them weapons to help fight off Cul. Cul was powered by fear, so the better his army did, the stronger he became. Odin ultimately agreed to allow Iron Man access to the Asgardian foundry and their supply of magical Uru. Iron Man created a number of special weapons that were able to stem the tide against Cul’s forces, while in turn breaking the spell of fear. Wolverine was one of the heroes involved, and he was somehow given Uru claws to replace his Adamantium ones! The logistics of such a move is more than we can figure out, but the result is Wolverine rocking out some magic claws made out of the same material as Thor’s hammer!
2. INSULATED FROM THE COLD
Going all the way back to the beginning of our look at Wolverine’s powers, let us again remind you that, when all is said and done, Wolverine’s powers still do not always make a lot of sense. An area in particular where there are some huge leaps of logic is how Wolverine’s body deals with the freezing cold. We have established that Wolverine’s healing factor allows him to recover from injuries, but he still feels the pain of the injuries in the process.
However, at the same time, Wolverine’s powers also give him an interesting insulation against extreme weather conditions. So Wolverine can be exposed to below zero weather conditions and still be able to work fine. You would think, though, if his body has altered itself so that he does not feel the ill effects of the cold, that it would take a similar approach to him feeling the effects of, say, bullets or blunt force trauma. That has not been the case, though, so this is just one of those areas where there is not a logical consistency to Wolverine’s powers. It’s almost as if he is a fictional character whose abilities have been developed by dozens of different writers over the course of 40 years…
1. HIS POWERS COMPLETELY DEFY PHYSICS
In the early 1980s, Marvel Comics released the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. What was so interesting about this series was that it attempted to explain the superpowers of every Marvel character scientifically. The only problem, of course, is that you cannot explain superpowers scientifically as they almost all make zero physical sense. For instance, Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk. Where does that extra mass to form the Hulk come from? This led to the hilarious conceit that pretty much all superheroes are transferring mass or energy from another dimension to power themselves up. That is sadly the most reasonable explanation for where all of this extra mass and/or energy is originating. Similarly, Wolverine re-grows body tissue, but from where? Where does his skin come from?
In New X-Men #148, he explained that he once survived by just eating pieces of his own skin, which would then heal over. However, that defies the laws of physics, as well, as he can’t possibly be replenishing his energy with his own body. However, when it comes to comic book superheroes, you simply have to go in assuming that things aren’t going to actually make sense. Wolverine can grow tissue out of thin air because, well, he just can, okay?
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