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"I'm the best there is at what I do. And what I do isn't very nice."—Wolverine
Wolverine is a Marvel Comics superhero, known for his association with the X-Men; sharp, indestructible claws; managing to be in many places at once; having quite a few tropes named after him; and for being very, very popular. At times he's been the most popular Marvel Superhero, which led to his tendency to... um... show up everywhere.
He first appeared in Incredible Hulk #180 (October, 1974), making his true debut in the next issue as an adversary until the two teamed up to fight the Wendigo. Both issues were written by Len Wein and drawn by Herb Trimpe, though John Romita, Sr. is credited with the original design of the character. Wolverine would go on to join the X-Men the following year, with his true origins remaining ambiguously buried in a mishmash of false and real memories for decades, as his popularity skyrocketed. He would gain his own miniseries, and then his own title, and then his own cartoon, and then...well, then he was kind of everywhere...and still is.
- The self-titled Wolverine.
- His second series titled Wolverine - The Best There Is.
- Uncanny X-Force which shows the missions of his ultra-secret killing squad.
- The miniseries Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, and later his own, self-titled mini.
- Origin, detailing his youth.
- Wolverine: Origins, which spun out of House of M and explores Wolverine's past.
- Wolverine: Weapon X.
- Old Man Logan
- And many, many, many, many, many, many, many cameos, and gratuitous appearances across comicland.
Wolverine is the Trope Namer for:
- Fastball Special: This is Logan's nickname for the attack where Colossus picks him up and throws him claws-first at enemies.
- Wolverine Claws: Natch; the term's since come to represent pretty much any weapon featuring multiple blades sticking out from the hands like Logan's claws.
- Wolverine Publicity: Logan's made so many gratuitous appearances that Marvel's actually lampshaded it at least once; see the page's pic and writeup for more details.
He also provides examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Those pointy things sticking out of his hands.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: Wolverine has enough similarities to Batman that one could make this argument.
- When Marvel and DC collaborated to produce "Amalgam Comics," combining their characters for fun, Wolverine and Batman fused to become "Dark Claw."
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Wolverine might seemingly fit the Animal Abilities-type at first glance since he has enhanced senses and claws but those are very generic animal traits. Not to mention, his claws pop out of the back of his knuckles which is not found in the animal kingdom. Then you get into his metal skeleton, Healing Factor, and the fact that his blue, yellow, striped costume does not resemble a wolverine at all. He's more along the lines of the Animal Alias type.
- Anime Hair + Hotblooded Sideburns: Logan's standard look since his introduction, the former at its most extreme during Adam Kubert's run as artist of the self-titled comic in The Nineties. In the newer works his hair tends to be more realistic.
- Annoying Arrows: Logan, once needing to get a small child to safety through a bunch of archers, chose to block them with his body and keep going. It worked, though he wasn't in very good shape at the end.
- Anti-Hero: A Trope Codifier for superhero comics.
- From the first issue of his self-titled series, in the middle of a huge battle with cutthroat slavers:
Logan (internal dialogue): I'm an X-Man. [...] With them, killing is a last resort. With me, it's second nature. I take the world as it is, and give better than I get. Come at me with a sword. I'll meet you with a sword. You want mercy. Show a little first. [...] Some of those folks died fighting...some praying...some accepted their fate...some cursed it...some begged for their lives...most were terrified. Details don't matter. What's important is that they died. And those scales have to be balanced. In kind.
- Although his place has varied between III to V in the comics, the cartoons and movies consistently portray him as a Type III.
- Arch Enemy: Sabretooth.
- Art Shift:
- From Logan's first appearance through the 90s, the following were pretty consistent:
- - He was short, homely, and very hirsute.
- - His claws came out of the backs of his hands behind his knuckles (see the page pic).
- - The claws were either drawn as being thin blades (especially in Frank Miller and Jim Lee's art) or rounded or roughly rounded with really sharp tips, like true animal claws, especially in the 80s and sans adamantium.
- Ever since the X-Men movies, the following have been pretty consistent:
- - He's more handsome, less hairy and generally more of an average height
- - The claws come out directly between his knuckles and have the heavier knife-shaped appearance
- Artistic License Biology:
- Aside from the issues with lacing Logan's bones with the adamantium, some depictions of his skeleton (especially in the Weapon X miniseries) have long adamantium sprues sticking off his bones from the injection ports, which would play havoc with the muscles around any part of his body that he tried to move.
- Most artists make Wolverine's claws so long that, if fully retracted, at least part of the claw tips would be inside his hands, meaning he wouldn't be able to flex his wrists without shredding his hands from the inside.
- The X-ray of Logan's arm in the first movie shows the claw implants pushing his forearm bones far enough apart to dislocate them from his wrists.
- Ascended Extra:
- Logan was originally supposed to be a one-off Hulk villain. It didn't quite turn out that way.
- His archnemesis Sabretooth used to be a minor Iron Fist villain.
- The Atoner: One of the reasons given for Wolverine appearing in so many titles is that after regaining his memories, he felt so guilty over all the nasty stuff he did in his past and the fact that his son is basically just as bad a person in the present as he used to be that Logan feels compelled to try and do as much good as physically possible though he feels as though he can't ultimately make amends. Of course, this doesn't really account for all his appearances before he got his memories back and learned he had a son...
- Audible Sharpness: SNIKT! (with the adamantium) and SCHLIKT! (without)
- Backstab Backfire: In the final issue of the "Kitty Pryde & Wolverine" limited series, Logan had defeated Ogun and brought him to his knees. He spared Ogun's life and began to walk away alongside Kitty. Ogun produced a knife and rushed at the two of them from behind. Wolverine noticed it in time to tell Kitty to use her phasing power, causing the knife to pass harmlessly through her. He then stabbed Ogun with his claws, killing the villain.
- Badass: Widely accepted as the baddest-assed mutant of all. He's on the very short list of people who'll jump into battle with an enraged Hulk without hesitation. During his "no adamantium" days, he even squared off against Juggernaut and didn't bat an eye.
- Badass Beard: If it goes beyond his usual Perma Stubble, its likely to become this.
- Badass Biker: Logan is this in general. It becomes a plot point in one issue of the first self-titled series when a paranoid, drugged-up murderer stops by Logan at a traffic signal. He starts eyeballing Logan, and freaks out because he can see that Logan isn't one to be messed with.
- Bash Brothers: With Colossus
- The Berserker: Both his fighting style and his mental state when he loses control.
- Berserk Button: And not a hard one to press, either. Just getting him wound up seems to suffice. Hurting people that he cares about is an even easier way to get him to shred you.
- Betty and Veronica: Logan was the Veronica to Scott's Betty in relation to Jean. Originally this was just to give fans a reason to care about the then-new character, who'd yet to achieve his now-legendary popularity. It's since taken a life of its own, and some fans act like it's the defining aspect of both Scott and Logan's characters.
- Oddly enough, the whole Jean/Scott/Wolverine triangle pretty much started as a retcon. It was at most hinted at back in the day, but in the late 80s it was retconned up in a big way.
- The Big Guy: Defied. Despite having all the characteristics, being muscle-bound, hairy, Badass and everything, he is actually shorter than most of his friends and foes, the latter often calling him "runt" to insult him.
- Big Brother Mentor: To Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, and now X-23.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Not only Logan, but X-23 (two claws in each arm, one in each foot) and Daken (three claws in each arm, arranged differently than Logan's)
- Blessed with Suck: His powers come with a number of drawbacks.
- Those claws of his hurt when they pop out of his hands. A new wound every time he does it, thanks to his Healing Factor.
- One issue of X-Force graphically highlighted this fact, with Wolverine repeatedly popping and retracting one claw while stewing over something...and a small spurt of blood with each SNIKT!
- During the time without the adamantium, he had to keep his hands constantly bandaged to deal with bleeding from the holes made by the claws...and the pain was a lot worse because there was no Healing Factor (see the trope below). He still kept it up, though...
- Those claws of his hurt when they pop out of his hands. A new wound every time he does it, thanks to his Healing Factor.
(Jubilee and Logan are talking)
Logan: I pop 'em out a few times a day. Keeps the channels open...like pierced ears.
Jubilee: Did it stop hurting?
- Also, from the first movie:
Rogue: When they come out...does it hurt?
Logan: Every time.
- In the Weapon X standalone story, the metal chutes his claws extend through are surgically implanted in his hands because of the damage the claws did the first time he extended them.
- The adamantium may keep his bones from breaking and make his claws that much more dangerous, but it actually slows down his healing factor; X-23 grouses to him at one point that he heals too slowly. The reason for this was recently Ret Conned, but it still applies. Then again, the healing factor is depicted so inconsistently that this might as well not apply anyway.
- In one story which featured the X-Men fighting the Brotherhood on Muir Island, Mystique threatens him with a weapon that will deactivate his healing powers and explains that his adamantium bones will poison and kill him quickly if she uses it.
- His enhanced senses may sound cool, but most people would probably crack up from having to process that level of constant sensory input 24/7.
- Body Horror: Logan's spiky, freakishly distorted body in the fever dream-like memories of his handling by the Weapon X program, as depicted in Weapon X and his self-titled series. Also, the depiction of Magneto ripping the adamantium out of his body in X-Men #25.
- In the followup issue of his self titled series, he'd go on to have a nightmare about the above incident. Which was just as bad, only Magneto was now vaguely satanic...
- Canada Bub
- Carpet of Virility: And he sports it so well!!
- Cartwright Curse: Wives, fiances, girlfriends, girlfriends he hadn't been dating for years but happened to hook up with again. Dating Logan 9 times out of 10 will result in your horrible death.
- Catch Phrase: "Yer choice, bub. Yer funeral."
- And of course who can forget: "I'm the best there is at what I do. And what I do isn't very nice."
- Cock Fight: Logan has a special place in his heart for Jean Grey. Cyclops knows it, and does NOT approve. Just like Logan doesn't approve of Jean with Scott but bears with it for the sake of Jean. Not that it ever stopped them from squabbling and sometimes physically fighting about it because, in Logan's words "Cyke doesn't deserve a woman like Jean!".
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: These days, you can pretty much tell what team he's working with at the moment by the color of his uniform. Blue and yellow means he's acting heroic and working with the X-Men and/or the Avengers, dull gray and black means that he's doing X-Force work (and you should probably get out of the way).
- The Cowl: Subverted. Wolverine has been called "Batman, sans the subtlety".
- Dark and Troubled Past: And how.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Depending on the Writer: The absurdity of Logan's Healing Factor seems to rest on who happens to be writing him at the moment.
- Determinator: Logan is one stubborn son of a bitch. Even when badly hurt, he'll shrug it off and just keep coming at you until one of you drops. Unfortunately for whoever he's fighting, this will inevitably give Logan the time he needs to heal.
- Distaff Counterpart: His current sidekick X-23, who's literally his female clone made from an incomplete DNA sample (the Y chromosome was damaged, so they doubled up on the X).
- Dragon Lady: Lady Deathstrike, Tyger Tiger.
- Dub Name Change:
- He's known as "Lobezno" ("Wolf Cub") in Spain and "Pantera" ("Panther") in some places in Latin America. Arguably Justified in that the Spanish name for the wolverine is "Glotón", which means "Big Eater" and might cause people to think his mutant power is eating stuff.
- French translators were faced with the same problem: French for "Wolverine" is "Glouton", which has the same meaning as its Spanish transparent counterpart, so for a very long time (until Panini got Marvel's right from Lug), he was known as "Serval" (a big African cat with a great sense of smell), then they simply stopped translating his name. Another publisher (Arédit) did call him "Le Glouton", though.
- The same problem in Italian has been solved by...not translating his name.
- In other parts of Latin America he is known as "Guepardo" which is Spanish for Cheetah but since "chita" is also Spanish for Cheetah few make the connection avoiding the idea that his powers might be about speed.
- Evil Counterpart: Sabretooth
- Exposition of Immortality: Wolverine's Healing Factor means his age is hard to pin down. The recent films have placed his childhood in 1845, and the Wolverine: Origins comic also put his early years in the 19th century, though 35 years later, in 1880. Both spend time exploring his earlier life; firmly placing the character in a time period at least 120 years earlier than the on he currently lives in.
- The Fog of Ages: Part of the reason why so much of his past is a mystery. It's indeterminate how much memory has been erased and how much he simply forgot.
- Friend to All Children: Wolverine gets a new teenage sidekick about once every decade or so, like Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, and Hisako "Armor" Ichaki. They usually go on to be badasses. He also gets along famously with Katie Power for some reason, and once in a great while a writer remembers he has a foster daughter, Amiko.
- In fact, his big blowup with Cyclops in Schism came because he absolutely did not want the kid X-Men to lose their innocence by being soldiers for the mutant cause, even if said kids were willing to help with the fight. He went on to reopen Xavier's old school after the event in order to give them a safe haven.
- Genius Bruiser: One of Logan's biggest strengths is his mind. He's been around for well over a century and has spent quite a bit of that time taking in information.
- Good Is Not Nice: Yes he's more-or-less a heroic guy, but unless you're his daughter or some other kid he's taken under his wing, it's better he ignores you.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: His adamantium helps mitigate the damage but still....
- Go to Alias: Wolverine uses the identity of "Patch" (wearing an eyepatch), a mercenary, when he acts undercover in the Far East.
- Half the Man He Used To Be: In Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, the Hulk rips Logan in two at the waist. Not only does Logan survive, he crawls up the mountain he's on to find his legs.
- Healing Factor: Logan is arguably the Trope Codifier.
- Averted during the "no adamantium" arc; the stress of trying to heal the massive trauma of having the metal ripped out of his body overloaded the healing factor and killed it for a few months of story time. When it finally came back, without the adamantium to slow it down, it essentially overclocked, allowing Logan to at one point completely recover from being run over in a matter of seconds but slowly causing him to revert to a more bestial state. This was taken to an extreme when Genesis tried to re-implant the adamantium. Logan's body explosively rejected the adamantium, and when he was fully healed he was a monstrous subhuman.
- Chris Claremont, in particular, is very careful to avert, invert, subvert and otherwise keep this trope from giving Wolverine the effective immortality that he has had of late. In one issue, Wolverine is poisoned and badly stabbed by the Silver Samurai, and it's implied that he's risking his life to let Rogue absorb his healing powers because he is so badly hurt. In another issue, Mystique demonstrates that a slit throat will kill Wolverine before his healing factor has a chance to kick in it's being played with there, though, because it is one of Arcade's replicants being killed, and Arcade may not know the full extent of Wolverine's powers.
- Arguably an Unbuilt Trope. His Healing Factor has several drawbacks (as stated above under Blessed with Suck), one of the most harrowing of which is the fact that anesthesia of any kind will not work on him except at ridiculously high dosages. Thus there is an element of deconstruction present before the trope was fully codified.
- X-23's healing factor, having never had to deal with a skeleton full of adamantium, is fast and powerful enough that she can reattach severed limbs almost instantly; she uses this at one point to escape from Kimura.
- Heroes Want Redheads: One of Logan's defining personality traits, first with Rose from Origin, then Heather Hudson, and especially Jean Grey.
- Huge Guy Tiny Guy: He's 5"3" while his archenemy Sabretooth is 6"6".
- I Have Many Names: James Howlett, Logan, Weapon X, Wolverine, Patch...
- Iconic Item: The claws, the extended browpieces of his costumes' cowls, the permanent amount of stubble.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of Logan's signature moves, when he's not slicing you to ribbons. He's also on the receiving end occasionally.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Sabretooth. Very disturbingly so in Deadpool's Weapon X storyarc.
- Implacable Man: Together with his Healing Factor sense of smell and sheer determination, nothing short of Galactus is going to stop him from tracking someone. And even then only for a little while.
- Informed Ability: His martial arts prowess. 9 times out of 10 we only see him wildly flailing his claws around, something which requieres no skill. Wolverine cant seem to make it out of a fight unscathed and is very dependant on his healing factor.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Kavorka Man: He's a really short, hairy guy with cigar breath and weird hair. He's never without some hot woman or another after him. It's also been repeatedly stated or implied that he smells bad and rarely bathes.
- The Lancer: Usually takes this role in whatever team he happens to be on at the moment.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Played straight for a long time. Up until Daken came around, it was only ever implied that Logan had any kids (specificallly, Gahck's baby sony Erista in the 1990 one-shot "Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure", and Alpha Flight's Flex). The trope was finally averted in two story arcs:
- In the "Wolverine Goes to Hell" arc, part of the emotional torture he undergoes is seeing all his shames and regrets paraded out in front of him, including the undisclosed multitude of children he sired and never cared for.
- See Offing the Offspring below.
- My Suit Is Also Super: Very much averted; his costumes (and more often than not, his street clothes) are constantly being destroyed.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: Well, he really came in the 70s, but went on to fit just fine in the 90s, and beyond.
- No Name Given: The only name he had for years was Logan. It was never specified whether this was a first or last name (his driver's license actually read Logan W. Logan).
- Odd Friendship:
- One of his best friends is Puck, a Canadian midget whose power is to throw himself at things.
- He's also good friends with Nightcrawler, who is about as different from Wolverine as Superman is from Lobo, aside from their mutual love of beer.
- Offing the Offspring: The Red Right Hand, a group of former victims or friends and families of some of Wolverine's Mook Horror Show battles, collected and trained a group of Wolverine's unknown offspring to be used as enforcers, then informed him of their lineage after he had already killed them.
- One-Man Army: In the 1990's cartoon.
- Opposite Sex Clone: X-23, aka Laura Kinney.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Bloodscream isn't technically a vampire, but a guy who was cursed by a witch to live forever with a blood thirst. The only cure, of course, is Logan's blood.
- Papa Wolf: Regarding Jubilee and Kitty Pride, most notably, but young girls in general bring this out in him. God help you if you do anything to harm them...
- Perma Stubble
- Pet the Dog: Logan gets this from Lady Deathstrike in one issue during the "no adamantium" arc, when she realizes the metal's gone.
(Logan retracts his claws, letting Deathstrike see him bleed from the holes in his hands)
Deathstrike: But your healing factor-
Logan: It's pretty much used up. As good as gone.
(Deathstrike hesitantly brushes Logan's forehead with one finger)
Logan: (internal) For the first time in years, she reaches out to touch me...and the touch is gentle.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Logan's 5'3". This contrasts him more with his enemy Sabretooth who is 6"6".
- Platonic Life Partners: With Psylocke.
- Popularity Power: Uh, well, he beat Lobo. LOBO. THE GUY WHO FIGHTS ON EVEN FOOTING WITH SUPERMAN. Yeah, it was later handwaved that Lobo took a bribe to lose, but still...
- The IRL reason he lost is because the winners were determined by readers' votes, and Wolverine got more.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Subverted. Whilst he is indeed very manly by traditional definitions, and a killer, Logan himself has significant ethical reservations about killing per se and he strongly condemns the killing of innocents. Indeed, his Catch Phrase of "I'm the best there is at what I do, and what I do isn't very nice" was originally meant to express his own self-doubt about the morality of his actions. In short, Logan rejects the trope even if he technically fulfills its requirements. Of course, some members of his fanbase do believe this trope and conveniently forget Logan's own rejection of it.
- Really 700 Years Old: Wolverine's healing factor prevents him from aging. He was born in the late 1800s.
- Rebellious Spirit: In most continuities he's clearly an anti-authoritarian loner. Subverted in Wolverine and the X-Men owing to Logan and Scott's exchange of roles. Averted in X-Men: Evolution, where Logan's a Drill Sergeant Nasty combat instructor. Even in the mainstream canon these days, he's now school headmaster.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated:
Nightcrawler: Where have you been, Logan?
Wolverine: Dead. But I got better.
- Required Secondary Powers: Invoked. Early on, the writers (correctly) realized that storing metal blades under your skin and having a metal-plated skeleton would require superhuman healing powers to prevent a slow, painful death from infection and/or blood poisoning...which is the only reason Wolvie got his metal claws and skeleton in the first place. As explained in his backstory, Weapon X's scientists decided to line Logan's skeleton with adamantium because they knew that, with his healing factor, he was one of the few people on Earth that could actually survive the process and put the add-ons to practical use.
- Retcon: Wolverine's claws were originally bionic implants...until Magneto pulled the adamantium off his skeleton, revealing that he had been born with bone claws that were infused with adamantium like the rest of his skeleton. This led to part of the Art Shift above regarding the claws' appearance.
- Retractable Weapon: His claws popping in and out of his hands.
- Rogues Gallery: Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Bloodscream, Cyber, Geist, Roughouse, Omega Red, and the Silver Samurai. Two of the rogues were killed by Wolvie's Anti-Healing Factor Vorpal Katana made from the the dark area of his soul while Cyber succumbed to carbonadium poisoning, which can be fatal to Logan as well.
- His son Daken seems to have taken up Sabretooth's role.
- Shoot the Dog: Subverted. In the issue mentioned under Badass Biker above, Logan sees the killer as a rabid dog and can't bring himself to kill him, having flashbacks to trying and failing to put down a rabid pet dog when he was young. The killer is shot dead by a female police officer; in talking with her, Logan reveals at the end of the issue that Silver Fox took the gun from him and shot the dog herself.
- Sidekick: Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, then Jubilee, then Armor, then finally X-23.
- Smoking Is Cool: Prior to Joe Quesada vetoing it, Wolverine smoked cigars due to his healing factor preventing/undoing any physical harm it would cause (when he temporarily lost it, he had to quit).
- Steve Blum: If Wolverine gets into an animated/video game media of the recent ages, the man will be called to voice Wolverine.
- Sociopathic Hero:
- Much more so in his post-Claremont 1990s->early 2000s appearances than today. The last few years he has turned much more sympathetic since joining the Avengers and caring for the wellbeing of his students.
- His daughter/clone X-23 is closer to this, which Logan is trying to help her with.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Wolverine has become a signature example of the trope.
- Super Senses: A side effect of the healing factor is that all of Logan's senses are superhumanly keen.
She can mask herself, but not her smell.
- Tame His Anger
- Those Wacky Nazis: Geist.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Pretty much all his relationships involve this trope.
- Token Anti-Heroic Teammate: On the more traditionally-heroic Avengers, he serves this role.
- Ubermensch: He lives by his own morals and does not care what others think about his morality...which has no restraints against killing in certain situations. Thus he fits the trope's requirements of rigidly sticking to a morality that many others often consider at least debatable. See the quote under Anti-Hero above.
- On the other hand, he is loaded with self-doubt and plagued by intense guilt about his past, and if he wasn't effectively Immortal he might be suicidal. He sticks rigidly to his morality not because he believes it is the best or most ethical, but because its an anchor to his humanity, knowing that there are still lines he hasn't crossed yet and that he has some traces of goodness in him. He agrees with the people who question his morality; he follows it anyway because its a compromise between the man he is and the man he wants to be.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Wolverine's gone through several costume changes, although most of them have been based on the costume in the page pic or his iconic brown/tan costume from the '80s and '90s.
- Unobtanium: The adamantium coating Wolverine's bones is a very rare commodity. When a villain wanted to give it back to him after he lost it the first time, the metal had to be stolen from another person using adamantium at the time...as his skin.
- Unstoppable Rage: Whenever he goes into Berserker mode. Which tends to happen a lot.
- Villain Protagonist: In the flashbacks of Wolverine Origins.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Whenever he's with Cyclops and Gambit. Does this a bit with Spidey too.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Whenever he's not in costume (and sometimes when he is!), his clothes will be removed or destroyed in some fashion, nine times out of ten.
- Wall Crawl: By poking his absurdly sharp claws into surfaces and climbing.
- Why Am I Ticking?: Recurring character Elsie Dee is a little girl, who unbeknownst to Elsie, is actually a robot full of bombs.
- Wife-Basher Basher: "Oh that TEARS it Bub!! You may beat into me all you want, but if you hit the lady you're gonna have to answer to THE WOLVERINE!!"