Wolverine is one of the most beloved comic book figures – especially for Canadians, who can claim him as their own – and his trademark is, obviously, those incredible claws. Other superheroes have crazy powers that allows them to do all sorts of things, but somehow, the simple built-in weapon that Wolverine has been enough to enthrall fans for years.
Part of the reason Wolverine is so well liked is because he’s, well, kind of normal – apart from the claws. He was born an average guy, his parents aren’t some kind of gods or goddesses, and he can’t change the earth with his insane powers. He’s just great in a fight thanks to those killer claws, and manages to heal himself far quicker than the average person.
While there’s plenty of interesting facts about Wolverine himself, let’s be honest – at the end of the day, he’s really nothing without his signature weapon, his claws. So, how did they come about? Is it true that they’re really part of his skeleton? Can they destroy absolutely anything? There are a ton of questions that people have about his complex claws, and there are plenty of fascinating answers.
Here are 15 things you didn’t know about Wolverine’s claws.
15. They’re Part Of His Skeleton
Okay, okay, we know – they weren’t always a part of his skeleton. Once upon a time, they were just attachments on the gloves that went with his uniform, essentially a handy weapon he could carry around with him. We’re not going to go into all the details about when they were just bone claws and when they were adamantium, and when they emerged, and whether or not they were there since birth or not, and whether or not he was meant to be a human with strange powers or a mutant hybrid, because Wolverine’s story is actually weirdly complicated and full of contradictions. However, one truth remains – Wolverine’s claws as we know them now are very much a part of his body. They’ve been amended so that they’re a bit shorter than his forearm, which means they could believably fit in his body when they weren’t drawn, and he basically has a weapon on his body 24/7.
14. It Hurts To Withdraw Them
Wolverine unleashing his claws is an entirely different thing than a regular character pulling a sword out of his holster – after all, they’re literally coming from within his body. However, it’s even tougher than you might think. You know the particular “schlikt” sound that the comic books include whenever Wolverine extends his claws? That isn’t just a fun sound effect – that’s the sound of his claws literally ripping through is flesh. Wolverine’s super-fast healing powers mean that those wounds almost immediately heal, so he’s not left with raw, wounded hands, but he still feels every ounce of pain from that process – and it sounds incredible painful. In fact, in some cases within the comic books, when his healing powers are diminished due to some reason, Wolverine actually screams and bleeds when he’s releasing his claws – before any actual fighting takes place. Yikes. We’ve got to admit, while the claws are insanely cool, having a sword or external weapon like that seems a lot less painful.
13. They Were Originally Part Of His Suit, Not His Skeleton
The comic book universe is filled with differing storylines, and writers are constantly tinkering with characters, changing details here and there, adding a bit more information to explain something that happened many issues ago, etc. Wolverine’s claws are kind of like that. Now, we know that they’re part of his actual, physical body, that the bone or adamantium (whichever version you’re reading about) has actually fused to his skeleton. However, back in the 1970s, that change hadn’t yet been made – instead, Wolverine’s claws were said to simply be part of his suit, attached to his gloves rather than his skeleton. That’s quite the feature for a simple pair of gloves! Claws attached to your gloves would certainly be a useful weapon to have in any battle, and the length of the claws makes them fairly impressive. However, claw-gloves are in no way as cool as having actual claws attached to your skeleton.
12. They’ve Received A Lot Of Hollywood Redesigns
The people who make props in Hollywood are without question incredibly talented – after all, they’re tasked with bringing something to life that most have only read about or seen in a comic book illustration. Particularly with the rise of CGI and similar technologically advanced features, it can be tempting to simply take the short cut and add in a cool weapon after the fact – but that’s not what they did with Wolverine’s prop claws. In the earlier X-Men films, Wolverine’s claws were fairly straight – they had a bit of a curve at the end, but they were kind of like knives at the ends of his fingertips. Scary, yes, but not exactly wolf-like. However, in The Wolverine, and several subsequent films featuring everyone’s favourite antihero, his claws were redesigned to be more curved, and repositioned on his hand to make them look a bit more believable and natural, and audiences loved the new look.
11. He Doesn’t Need To Worry About Sharpening Them
Wolverine’s claws are essentially a set of really crazy knives, and knives need sharpening every now and then, right? Well, not quite. Back when Wolverine still had the bone claws, he sharpened them like real animals do – simply by using them. When he snagged his sweet adamantium claws, they didn’t need sharpening – that’s because adamantium is one of the strongest metals in the comic book universe, and are a harder metal than the majority of things he would ever use them on. Occasionally, he makes the sharpening motions with his claws, scraping them against one another as someone would do to sharpen knives, but that’s more a gesture to look tough and get mentally prepared for battle than something that is actually necessary. Now, the question is, if another metal ever emerges that is stronger, or comparable to adamantium, will his killer claws require sharpening? We can only wait to find out.
10. He Can Release Them Individually
When those claws come out, Wolverine is rarely seen without all of his claws extended – but that’s not because he has to extend them all at once. In fact, Wolverine can control his claws to release them individually, which is a great way to threaten an enemy or introduce an element of danger before things escalate. If he’s not going full out in battle, he can also choose to release the claws on only one hand, giving him more flexibility to use his other hand for other weapons or even just to get a better grip on his enemy. And finally, he can even release his claws to different lengths – it’s like a customizable weapon! Given that the claws are part of his actual skeleton, it makes sense that he has more control over them than you might have over a simple weapon that you pick up and put down, but nonetheless it’s pretty cool how flexible he can get with his claws.
9. They Aren’t Pure Adamantium
Even something as seemingly simple as a metal becomes extraordinarily complicated in the Marvel universe, because why would comic books want to make things easy? Basically, there are several forms of adamantium – “pure” or “true” adamantium is obviously the toughest form of the metal, and that’s the product that was created when individuals in the universe were trying to replicate Captain America’s shield. The “pure” form of adamantium is not only difficult to make, it’s also very expensive. So, they came up with an alternative – something known just as “secondary adamantium,” which has a lot of the same qualities but is easier to mass produce. And then, finally, we get what Wolverine has, which is known as “adamantium beta.” Basically, Wolverine’s claws are made out of a type of natural adamantium that is able to work with his healing powers and allow him to regenerate adamantium claws. It’s kind of the best of both worlds!
8. On Screen, They’ve Alternated Between Bone & Adamantium
The difference between bone and adamantium claws is very obvious visually – bone looks like simple animal claws you would find in nature, and adamantium looks like an awesome, sharp weapon that takes claws to a new level. So, the individuals in charge of how Wolverine looks on the big screen have to be careful about when they use either material. In some of the earlier movies, such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, audiences initially see Logan with bone claws, because his story is traced back to the 1800s. Then, once the Weapon X project is involved in Logan’s life, audiences see the shiny adamantium claws. And the claw material is even used to add drama to the on-screen action – in The Wolverine, after the Silver Samurai villain manages to sever Wolverine’s adamantium claws, he regrows the bone claw alternative quickly and manages to deal with another villain, Yashida. And then, in X-Men: Days of Future Past, because he travels back in time to a period before he was involved with the Weapon X project, he’s obviously sporting bone claws. So, his claws aren’t just a weapon – they’re also a way of tracking where in his life Logan is on screen.
7. They Got Their Own Mini-Series
Wolverine’s claws are definitely one of the most iconic weapons in the comic book world, but a weapon itself does not a hero make – right? Well, while Wolverine could have been given a different weapon or skill in place of his claws, there’s no doubt that the claws are pretty cool – that’s why they got their own mini-series. That’s right – in 2006, Marvel decided to publish Wolverine & The Black Cat: Claws, which follows Wolverine and another character blessed with some crazy claws, Black Cat (although hers aren’t fused to her skeleton like Wolverine’s are – they’re just in her gloves). And, it was so popular that it spawned a sequel, the simply titled Wolverine & The Black Cat: Claws 2. The series doesn’t really compare to some of the more iconic issues featuring Wolverine, but for those who are interested in his signature weapon, they could be a fun diversion to check out.
6. They Can Be Regrown
Wolverine’s claws are nearly indestructible, and totally deadly, but that doesn’t mean that they can never be destroyed. Granted, it’s a fairly rare and specific scenario that would need to happen for one of his adamantium talons to get snapped off, but it could happen. And, if it does, Wolverine doesn’t need to worry about being robbed of his signature weapon forever – his healing ability is so insane that he’s able to regrow entire limbs when the need arises, and that includes his claws. This isn’t something he was always able to do – in his earlier years, when his powers were still solidifying, he would not have been able to fully regrow them. Since he grew stronger and got those crazy adamantium beta claws, he no longer needed to live in the fear of someone snapping off one of his claws in a freak accident and leaving him unarmed for life. He could simply grow those claws back.
5. He Rocked The Bone Claws For Decades
Given how often Wolverine is depicted with the adamantium claws in recent memory, it can be easy to forget all about the bone claws, or to just view them as a temporary measure he had to go through until he snagged the adamantium version. However, in reality, Logan had the bone claws from their first appearance when he was a child all the way until they were enhanced with adamantium – decades later! So, while it may seem like he’s always had the shiny silver claws, he actually rocked the organic bone claws for years and years before then. Every hero and villain is constantly evolving and getting stronger, honing their skills, and working on being the best they can be – Wolverine’s claws are just like that. While the bone claws were certainly an impressive weapon, his adamantium claws give him a little bit of an edge in battle – and who wouldn’t want that?
4. People Are Forever Fighting About How They Play Into His Origin Story
By this point, it probably comes as no surprise that there are different stories about how Wolverine’s claws came to be in different comics and storylines – the comic book world is somewhat infamous for all the retcons. In Wolverine Vol. 2 #75, readers find out that the bone claws Wolverine originally had are an inherent part of his mutation – something that is surprising to Wolverine and the X-Men at the time. Later, in Wolverine: Origin, readers learn that the bone claws manifest for the very first time when he was a kid. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Wolverine’s claws were shown as being a part of his body rather than merely part of his gloves, something that had nothing to do with his mutation storyline. Are you confused yet? Let’s just say that while Wolverine’s claws are obviously an inherent part of his Wolverine-ness, the way they came to be is a big old twisted mess of storylines.
3. Adamantium Is Derived From The Greek Word For “Untameable”
True Wolverine fans will likely know all the details about his bone claws and his adamantium claws, but you may be able to surprise even the biggest fan with this fun tidbit regarding the metal that makes up his signature weapon. The name of the metal that Wolverine’s claws are constructed from, adamantium, is derived from the Greek word adamastos, which means “untameable.” That’s right – the comic book world’s favourite wild wolf has claws crafted from a metal whose name translates to untameable. How cool is that?! Sometimes, the names of items and elements in fictional worlds are just a made-up combination of letters that the writers think sound cool. However, understandably, it can be tough to come up with crazy names off the top of your head all the time, so writers will often look to other languages in order to get some inspiration and craft names that actually have a bit of a meaning.
2. They’re Almost Indestructible
Given all that we know about adamantium, the metal that Wolverine’s claws are made out of, it only makes sense that his claws would be very, very difficult to break. And yes – it’s true that it’s nearly impossible to break his claws. Note we said nearly impossible. While there’s absolutely no way Wolverine’s claws would simply get chipped or snapped during the course of battle, there have been a few instances where they’ve been damages. First, in Wolverine v. Gladiator: Galactic Guardians #1, Gladiator managed to have an impact on Wolverine’s claws by literally ripping one of the claws out of his tissue. Ouch! Magneto took things to a new level in Fatal Attractions when, with the help of his mutant powers, he ripped the adamantium out of Wolverine’s body and temporarily disarmed him. Even in those cases, though, Wolverine managed to regrow his claws – although the bigger the trauma, the more time it takes for him to heal, even with his mutant powers.
1. They’re Not Stronger Than Cap’s Shield
When you have so many super-strong characters in a universe, it can be tempting to want to compare them to one another, and that includes their choice of weapons. Two of the strongest weapons fans know of are Wolverine’s claws, obviously, and Captain America’s shield. So, in a battle, would one of them come out on top? Well, it’s complicated. In the way the comic books describe it, Wolverine’s claws are comprised of adamantium beta, while Captain America’s shield of made of proto adamantium – an alloy of pure adamantium and vibranium. In that case, Wolverine’s claws would not be able to damage the legendary shield. In the way both characters have been presented on film, however, Captain’s shield is described as being made of pure vibranium while Wolverine’s claws are said simply to be made of adamantium, without making any distinctions between the different types. So, if the two ever duked it out on the big screen, Wolverine could potentially have the upper hand. See? We said it was complicated.
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