I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice – A Character Study of Wolverine

remember when wolverine was cool?Logan. James Logan. James Howlett. Weapon X.

The Wolverine.

As far as Marvel heroes go, few hold our imagination as much as Wolverine does. Why? It’s a good question.

We like the mystery of him – the unknown past. Except, they’re finally working on revealing and telling that story in the comics. When, during House of M, Scarlet Witch gave all the heroes what they wanted (so they wouldn’t fight back), she gave Wolverine his memories. So there goes the mystery.

He can’t really die, it seems, so even in the most ridiculous situations, we’re pretty sure he’s making it out alive. So while we know he’ll always be around, there’s a bit less suspense when he’s around. Although, this also means Wolverine tends to get into the most ridiculous – and therefore interesting – situations. And after all, the same can be said of Deadpool, and his popularity is growing.

What is he really? Hero? Anti-hero? Barely contained villain? Let’s explore!

The Ronin

Of course, what has me thinking about writing about Wolverine right now is the trailer out for The Wolverine. This is honorable Wolverine – the man he tries to be. Wolverine strives to be a samurai, to be an honorable man. In his mind, this is who he wants to be Wolverine wants to be a hero.

However, he is much closer to a Ronin – a wandering, leaderless samurai. Because when he’s doing his Ronin thing, he’s on his own, trying to find himself, being a loner.

The Berserker

the berserker But Wolverine kind of needs people around. Too much of just himself… well, deep within him (okay, not so deep maybe) is a Berserker personality, a force of chaos and ferocity. A killer. Maybe the best killer – instincts, senses, unkillable, healing, weapons… Watch out for him.

For instance, in the recent Wolverine and the X-Men spin-off short story, Alpha and Omega, had a telepathic mutant hide away Wolverine’s consciousness – but he did not count on the fact that the Berserker would still be inside Logan’s body. And it came for him. So, lesson learned: be careful of Wolverine, there’s a monster inside.

The Mercenary

And some people take advantage of this monster. Weapon X, the best of a group of killers, is generally how it’s told. Most recently in the first Wolverine stand-alone movie, and theoretically the lead-in to The Wolverine. Well, I wonder about this… Will The Wolverine be between Origins and X-1, or will it be Wolverine looking for himself, post-X-3? I kind of hope for the latter. I think everyone needs a palate-cleanser after that one.

Wolverine spends various time in these sorts of villainous, black ops, mercenary groups.  However, he does not want to end up this man. I think, more than anything, the person inside of him that he sees, is Sabertooth. And this is a fact Sabertooth constantly reminds him of.

The Hero

So Wolverine strives instead to be a part of the sorts of hero groups that can help steer him in the right directions – to try to do and be good. He’s a solid X-Man (in the comics, as well as, say, in the recent movies), and has even spent the last several years in the comics as an Avenger. Too bad the movie rights don’t exist for us to see that on screen!

The Headmaster

headmaster loganIn fact, he has ended up so much of a believer in Professor X’s dream that he is now the one running the school – training young mutants to be heroes in the future. Wolverine. Not the person really that anyone could or would have guessed would be the one running that show looking ahead in the past, but really, with looking at his many facets, it makes sense. He wants to be that man, he is a believer. Just interesting that Cyclops has gone such a different path, really.

I’ve talked about Wolverine and the X-Men previously, and I still recommend it. Wolverine, hijinks, humor. Currently, they’re in the Savage Land – Wolverine and the students. Seems safe, right?

The Vigilante

But with his background, there’s no way people would let Wolverine be. Also, he seems not to sleep. Seriously, he’s in like ten comics right now. At night, for a while, he was running a secret X-Force, for instance. One where they occasionally ran across interdimensional boundaries, traveled in time, fought Apocalypse. Things you do as a secret X-Men force, right?

The main future they found, unfortunately, was one where their actions led to the whole world basically being enslaved by them. And Wolverine was not the one who pulled the plug on it. They could have pulled society apart.

The Mentor

wolverine and shadowcatSo maybe Wolverine shouldn’t always be the one making the large-scale decisions. Maybe he’s not the best leader. Instead, some of his best work has been as a mentor to young mutants. For instance, the X-Men animated series I grew up with started with Wolverine and Jubilee. X-1 started with Wolverine and Rogue. And in even earlier days – and retold more recently in Wolverine: First Class – it was Wolverine and Shadowcat.

And he’s a good mentor. Shadowcat has even joined him at the school, as the headmistress. Wolverine can teach, and may even pull off being headmaster. He may lead to the generation of Marvel heroes our kids will be reading about. And, what’s fun about Wolverine is he’ll still be around with them.

The Apocalypse

But even as we see a glimmer of a hopeful future for him, part of what we discover in Uncanny X-Force is that, with Apocalypse defeated in the Age of Apocalypse, there is a new Apocalypse, taking on the cosmic force and being a general ultimate baddie. And it’s none other than old Weapon X himself, Wolverine. He becomes the super villain, and begins to take the world back over. Not okay. And Apocalypse was hard enough to stop… how do you stop Wolverine?

Final Thoughts

For the most part, I’ve tried to only hit on things that have been going on within the last decade, though I touched on a couple of older things. Wolverine has kept getting more interesting, by somehow being all things to all people. For villains, he’s a lost brother. For the government or secret forces, he’s the ultimate agent to recruit. For the heroes, he has become, somehow, a leader, but even moreso, a teacher.

So, when I was trying to place characters within alignments, Wolverine was one I could not place. Instead, I think I have considered aspects of Wolverine that cover just about everything. Good and evil, lawful and chaotic, Wolverine has done just about everything in his time. So, is he a true neutral character, moving where the times take him? Taking on the role Marvel needs from him most? Maybe. In the comic Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, Deadpool says that Wolverine’s mutant power isn’t his healing factor – it’s his popularity. And that isn’t very far from wrong.

the nine alignments of wolverine

Comics pictures from the Marvel App.

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8 responses to “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice – A Character Study of Wolverine

  1. I do believe that The Wolverine takes place after X-3, and I’m pretty certain it’ll lead directly into Days of Future Past, which is why Fox was so hot into locking Jackman into that film — and they’ll use the time travel aspect of the story to reboot the entire franchise and get a somewhat fresh start.

    Great overview of Wolverine. I realized he recently surpassed Batman as my favorite comic character, because it seems like he’s one of the few ones who have actually substantially grown. When I was younger, of course it’s the no-holds-barred aspect of the character, but now that I’m older, I appreciate that Logan realized he has a lot he feels he needs to make up for, and maybe he can’t always blame others for the situations he found himself in and the sins he committed — he’s been manipulated, to be certain, but you can’t always shrug your shoulders and say “not my fault”.

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    • I agree, when I was younger, I feel like I saw Wolverine as the popular-for-no-good-reason character. When I saw he was headlining the X-Men movies, I was concerned. But then, Hugh Jackman can act, and they did a great job with the character.

      I am excited for The Wolverine a lot, and it’s going to do a lot with the character I hope. Days of Future Past should have Wolverine in it, too, older and trying to hold the world together. Another aspect of Wolverine, I suppose, that I didn’t include above. So I’m rambling. Go Wolverine.

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