With one phrase, “If you really want to tangle with someone, why not try your luck against The Wolverine” one of comic books most revered characters made his debut.
In 1974, the comic book world didn’t know that it needed a big overhaul. It had chugged along for 35+ years and seemed to be doing just fine. That is until Wolverine showed up.
Wolverine took the traditional hero, turned him upside down and reinvented what it means to be the “good guy”.
He came with razor sharp claws, a healing factor that made him practically invincible, a berserker rage that could set him off at a moment’s notice and a “not give a f@ck” attitude that was desperately needed.
Wolverine didn’t fit into the prototypical heroes of the time. He wasn’t Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman or Spider-Man, all of whom lived the American Dream and stood up for what is right. He was brash, unapologetic, stalky, crude, drank beer, smoked cigars, and didn’t follow anyone’s agenda but his own.
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t as though Wolverine doesn’t care about his teammates or isn’t a team player. That is the farthest from the truth. It was that he employed a different way of achieving his goals. This usually involved doing whatever was necessary to survive.
Over the course of time, he has developed as a character and become a teacher to the students of the Jean Grey School. Yes, you read that right, he is leading a bunch of mutants who haven’t yet found their way in life.
Does this make sense?
I would argue, perfect sense. Who better to teach them to control and use their abilities for the betterment of mankind than someone who has witnessed the best it has to offer and the worst it has to offer?
Think about it. Wolverine is reportedly over 100 years old. Where else could the students get that kind of life experience?
Unlike many other “heroes”, Wolverine has had the opportunity to repeatedly look into the mirror and battle a version of himself. His arch-nemesis, Sabretooth has shown him what could happen if he were to let go of his human nature and become the animal that resides inside. With no concrete number as to his age, Wolverine and Sabretooth could very well have been fighting for longer than you or I can imagine.
Wolverine has a tolerance for pain that is unmatched. On one occasion, Wolverine had his adamantium skeleton ripped from his body by Magneto. If you think that the once or twice a year check-up with your doctor is difficult, imagine having your skeleton removed from your body.
Maybe it is his continual pursuit of love that people have come to love?
He has been romantically linked to Jean Grey, Mariko Yashida, and Silver Fox. Tragically, he often finds himself picking up the remains of his relationship from a coffin. Could it be this that has kept his popularity so high? Can it be so simple that we feel sorry for him?
Perhaps, it happened when Hugh Jackman was called upon to take on Wolverine in what are now the iconic X-Men Movies (minus The Last Stand. That was terrible).
Jackman was perfect. From his demeanour to his hair style, he hit everything exactly how fans all over the world would want. Sadly, Jackman will only be reprising the role one more time in what could be the best of all portrayals.
It wouldn’t be a stretch today to say that “heroes” like Deadpool, Spawn or even Judge Dredd might not exist if it wasn’t for Wolverine. Yes, Wolverine is overhyped and yes, he makes far too many appearances in comics, but his place in history is undeniable.
So why Wolverine?
That is still up for debate and probably won’t ever be answered. All I can hope is that we see more of him and that the writers never changed his origin so that he always remains Canadian, like me.