The Claws Come Out- Wolverine as the MVP of Super Heroes


wolverineI had to write a paper for a course I’m taking…

about super heroes….

I’m winning at this adulting thing.

Here’s the article….

Wolverine is the single greatest and most important super hero in the history of comic books. How could a statement that is so seemingly based on subjectivity be true? Simple. Wolverine provides a flexibility and interconnectivity that few characters can claim. His combination of skills and experiences make him a fulcrum that has helped develop a generation of fandom and financial success for Marvel and the comic book industry as a whole.

When Marvel launched Wolverine: Origins, there was an interesting concept that they were working with. They took a character whose origin story was widely (and I would argue purposefully) unknown. One of the most exciting things that fans have always enjoyed about the Wolverine story is the lack of a perfect origin story. We all know the story of Jor-el’s son and Thomas Wayne’s boy, but the story of Logan was always shrouded in secrecy. One of the most exciting things that Marvel and DC have done throughout the years has been the “reboot”. While some would argue that characters like Batman and Spiderman have been reimagined too often, there is no “reimagining” of Wolverine because the character has been so loosely defined in the first place.

This uncertainty has allowed Marvel to introduce pieces of Logan’s background story without committing to any one storyline. This has meant the flexibility to allow various artists to work on the character over the years without fans feeling as though an artist or writer have been untrue to the “origin story”. This continuity flexibility has allowed Marvel to make bold strides in the story and, gauging audience reaction, decide to abandon storylines as they see fit. While there is a generally accepted history of The Wolverine, artists and writers have taken artistic and historical license on a number of occasions. While characters like Superman and Batman have a very specific and understood and accepted place that they come from, the murkiness of his backstory interests fans in a way that the certainty of Krypton or Gotham never could.

Possibly more important than Logan’s history are his abilities. For years, before I read comic books “seriously”, I believed that Wolverine’s abilities were his adamantium claws. In fact, I would guess that if you asked the average person to name Wolverine’s power, more than 50% would say his claws. And more than 50% of them would be wrong. Wolverine’s power lies in his ability to heal. While he also has the ability to hunt and track like an animal, incredible superhuman senses and his handy-dandy claws, (which are in fact made of bone), these abilities are secondary to his healing powers. It is these powers that made him able to withstand the surgery to bond the adamantium, for which he has become famous, to his bones.

Why are these powers important? Well, as has been pointed out, super heroes are an effort for creatives to explain out the possibilities of science. Kal-el comes from a technologically advanced planet and Bruce Wayne bought (and depending on the storyline, designed) a very nice belt but it is Logan that is the ultimate combination of people and science. Logan’s inherent abilities make it possible for him to become The Wolverine. He is not born a superman. He is no the son of a god. He is a man with a gift who is made better by science. This concept of the melding of man and science or man and machine has become a tenet of science fiction and comic book mythology alike.

Not only do Wolverine’s powers seem possible, if not probable, finding their basis in human history and genetics, but Wolverine is made further human through a series of flaws. In stark contrast to Clark Kent’s “mild mannered” demeanor, Logan is gruff, bordering on loathsome. He is, simultaneously, the peak of human possibility combined with the depths of human fallibility. Wolverine is, like The Incredible Hulk, the man in black. He is a “bad guy” at heart who happens to do the right thing, often in direct opposition to his animalistic urges, proving that each of us is capable of greatness, even though we may be deeply flawed.

Stan Lee wanted Wolverine to be the face that launched a thousand ships as the first of a series of Marvel movies. While that ultimately fell on the shoulders of Blade, Wolverine is the connective tissue that brings Marvel’s universe together. He’s been a member of both of Marvel’s most heralded super hero teams, X-Men and The Avengers, proving his importance to the brand and to the genre. Wolverine’s co-creator, legendary Marvel Artist John Romita Sr. told Film Journal International that when he first saw Wolverine’s claws come out in the film version of X-Men, he “nearly humped out of his chair.” When the artist who created a character, decades later, is still excited and stirred by his character’s growth and exploration, he knows he’s done something right. And in the case of John Romita Sr and co-creator Len Wein, who were provided with nothing more than a name, “That was all I would usually get from Stan [Lee] or other editors—they would just give me a name”, what they did right was create the greatest super hero in the history of comic books. In the words of our blue and yellow clad, diminutive hero, “I’m the best at what I do. And what I do…is so terribly pretty!” – Astonishing X-Men Volume 3 #15,