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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What is the core of Wolverine’s appeal?

MTV.com today has a cheatsheet for newcomers and fans alike to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s mostly production-nerd stuff: behind-the-scenes tidbits, trivia about the cast, why some characters ended up in the film the way they did… stuff like that.

But it got me thinking: If you wanted to introduce a friend who was complete X-Men virgin to the universe, how would you sell that friend on Wolverine? It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve seen this new movie already or not: I’m just talking about the character in general. Why does he resonate so strongly with so many people, so much so that he was the logical choice for the first character from the previous gang’s-all-here X-Men movies to get his own movie?

What is the core of Wolverine’s appeal?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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  • Jurgan

    Wolverine’s never really been my cup of tea, anyways. I’m not much for the ultra-violent “heroes.” But he hit big in the 80’s, when EXTREME VIOLENCE was the way to go (this trend became even worse one Image Comics arrived). Back then, people were intrigued by these angry antihero types, though I’m not sure exactly how violent he is (I don’t think he’s as bad as the Punisher, for instance). Why did he remain popular while others never hit it so big? I think a lot of it had to do with the mystery. You had this character who was very screwed up and you knew nothing about his past. People kept reading to try to find out more. Like many comicbook plots, though, this got dragged out. A few years back there was the “Origins” miniseries, which I read, and I’m still not convinced they really answered that much. Now the movies are going the same way, with the hopes that those who watched the X trilogy have been captivated enough to want to know more. That’s my hypothesis.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Yeah, he’s an archetype. He’s Shane, he’s the Man With No Name, he’s Mad Max.

    I don’t find him particularly appealing, personally. He’s not my favorite character of the franchise. But he’s an almost obligatory stock character.

  • Wolverine is popular because:
    1) He was mysterious. Amnesiac victim unable to remember his past, leaving fans to ponder if he was once truly evil or wholly good (fans are nowadays complaining that every new Marvel writer working with Logan keeps creating all these “true story” backgrounds that are never acceptable).
    2) Whatever happened in his past was cool sh-t. He lived life as a soldier, a samurai/ninja, a brawler, a midnight gambler, maybe even a fry cook. Who knows, maybe there was a period in 1962 when he worked as an art professor at Hudson U.
    3) He was the Bad Boy to Cyclops’ Boy Scout in that almost-love triangle with Jean Grey.
    4) He doesn’t apologize for uncivil behavior. He was a beer-drinking cigar-smoking skirt-chasing street brawler during a time (70s) when most heroes were still drinking root beer and saying “Gosh, Plasty, that’s illegal.”
    5) He’s played by Hugh Jackman. Stop drooling, we got the point, MaryAnn. If he became the next Doctor Who your tongue would fall out (somewhere Dougray Scott is cursing that he had to re-film scenes for Mission Impossible II).
    6) Along with his not apologizing for uncivil behavior was also his not apologizing for brutal violence, going so far as to kill opponents from time to time, crossing a line very few heroes would ever dare.
    7) That for all his rudeness, violent behavior and borderline psychosis, he’s actually good with kids (his team-ups with Kitty Pryde come to mind).
    8) There’s something about having metal claws COME OUT FROM BETWEEN YOUR KNUCKLES that just seems so damn cool.
    9) Fastball specials. Not that there’s anything wrong with them.
    10) Only superhero that could wear yellow spandex and not get laughed at.

  • hdj

    Wolverine core is that he’s a hero but he’s not. Batman and Superman, they don’t really kill anyone, but he does. He’s the guy on the X-men that, if he didn’t join the team he’d be a villain, at one point he was a villain. He’s the X-man who does all the dirty work.
    He’s got all this Anguish that builds the whole x-man, mutant thing to a extreme level, where other mutants really don’t have the dark or difficult past as Wolverine had. Most people in Wolverines past whither you were his friend or were in love with him, your probably dead, because his past always comes back to haunt him.

    Plus hes the anti-boy scott that Cyclops is, he drinks, smokes, doesn’t turn the other cheek, short tempered, doesn’t shave often, the ultimate guys guy

  • hdj

    Boy scout* , boy scott, Scott summers, whatever kinda works ether way

  • bamm

    As Colbert would say…


  • S

    Generally I find this question breaks down pretty easily by gender: Most guys think Wolverine is beyond awesome. Most women say “eh” (except when it gives them the opportunity to ogle Hugh Jackman…) I’m a woman who digs X-Men, but Wolverine is not as compelling to me as some of the other characters.

  • Paul

    Ditto everything PaulW said, with a little more. Wolverine is the ID and Scott Summers is the Superego. Maybe that makes Dr. X the Freudian Ego, I don’t know. Wolverine is the part inside the tamed, civilized man that wishes he could just kick the crap out of the boss he has to put up with to bring home the bacon, or the school boy who wishes he could beat up the school bully. Sure, the other heroes and heroines beat up bad guys, but Wolverine’s the expression of rage, the guy who doesn’t care much about what other people think, and don’t we all wish we really didn’t care what other people think, even knowing that caring is what holding society together?

  • Hasimir Fenring

    I’ve got a different tack on Wolvie. I think it’s his utter confidence in what he does. I read somewhere that Americans admire competence so much that they’ll even love a competent villain. (Hans Gruber, anyone?) I think it works with Wolverine. He’s not angsty like Cyclops, aloof like Storm, or flashy like Gambit. He does the dirty job when it needs doin’, clean and simple, no muss and no fuss. He doesn’t panic or get caught up in ‘What does it all mean?’, and he never worries that he’s not good enough to get the job done.

    Competence. It does that for ya.

  • AJP

    I think that Wolverine’s stature plus his suite of powers also make him attractive. Wolverine (in the comics anyway) is a small guy – he’s supposed to be 5’3″ or something like that. He’s the little guy who can still fight it out because you can’t hurt him. And then he’ll stab you with his claws. Plus he gets away with smoking, drinking, swearing, and being crude. And has the attractive popular girl secretly in love with him and torn between him and the handsome leader.

    What picked on high school kid wouldn’t identify with Wolverine? He’s like a walking adolescent fantasy.

  • Pedro

    [Chester A. Bum mode /ON]


    [Chester A. Bum mode /OFF]

  • Pen Dragon

    Card-carrying snob here: I like Wolvie because he’s such a good representation of the duality of man. He’s good with kids, he’s kind to small animals, he’s honest to a fault, and is unfailingly loyal even to people he’s supposed to hate (like…all the X-men, really) but then there’s an animal side to him that no one wants to mess with, and that he can’t really control.

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