10 Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About Wolverine
Next year, Marvel’s mutant superhero known as Wolverine will turn 40. That’s four decades of stories. Four decades of being one of the most popular comic book characters on the planet. Four decades of amazing comics and more than a few lousy comics. And, of course, four decades of trivia.
With ‘The Wolverine‘ in theaters this weekend, it’s time to look back over the legacy of the most recognizable and popular X-Man of them all. You can’t be the main subject in five major movies and hundreds (thousands?) of comics and not generate an absurd amount of fascinating information (and there’s no way anyone can know everything about this character.) So, without further ado, here are 10 things you didn’t know about Wolverine.
Russell Crowe Turned Down the Role in 'X-Men'
Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine for so long and has become so intrinsically tied to the part that it's tough to imagine anyone else popping the Adamantium claws. But he wasn't the first choice. Heck, he wasn't even the second.
'X-Men' director Bryan Singer first offered the part to Russell Crowe, who turned in down flat. He then went on to cast Dougray Scott in the role. Three weeks into filming, Scott was forced to jump ship due to scheduling conflicts and Singer cast Jackman at the literal last minute, taking a big chance on the mostly unknown Aussie actor. Fate just has a way of making things work, huh?
James Cameron Wanted to Bring Wolverine to the Big Screen
Although director Bryan Singer would kickstart the superhero movie revolution with 'X-Men' and 'X2,' he was only one of many filmmakers who tried to get a movie about Marvel's mutant heroes off the ground over the years. He succeeded where countless others failed...including Oscar-winning director James Cameron.
The man behind 'Titanic' and 'Avatar' toyed with the idea of directing a X-Men movie, taking meetings with Stan Lee and renowned Marvel writer Chris Claremont. Heck, development went far enough to produce this piece of Wolverine concept art! Although Cameron dropped the project (to pursue an ill-fated Spider-Man movie), his number one choice for the role of Wolverine was...Bob Hoskins. For real.
Wolverine Was Almost a Badger
Wolverine is such an iconic character and his name so ferocious that it's hard to imagine that he was almost based on a completely different animal. When writer Len Wein was asked to create a superhero to help with Marvel's sales in the Canadian market, he decided to base his new creation on an animal that called the Great White North its home. He eventually narrowed it down to "Wolverine" and "Badger." Thankfully, he went with the former. Can you imagine a character named Badger slashing up ninjas?
Wolverine's Claws Were Originally Part of His Gloves
When writer Len Wein and artist John Romita created Wolverine in 1974, they had no idea he would become so popular and that his backstory would become so detailed and extensive. Although he came into the world almost fully formed in terms of costume, the true nature of his powers and abilities would come into focus over the years. Case in point: although Wolverine had his retractable claws from panel one, Romita and Wein both figured that they were part of his gloves, a weapon that he uses in conjunction with his actual mutant power, his healing ability. Over the next few years, it was revealed that the claws were part of Wolverine himself and the rest is history.
'Sin City' Creator Frank Miller Coined Wolverine's Catchphrase
"I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn't very nice." If you've always thought that Wolverine's catchphrase was a little dark, that's because it comes courtesy of a master of gritty comics. These now-famous (at least among comic fans) words were coined in 1982 during a miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, which helped redefine Wolverine and transform him into the character he is today. So if you want to know why he's such a grumpy, mean mutant whose catchphrase sounds like something out of an old film noir movie, you can blame the fact that the man behind the 'Sin City' series had a hand in his early stories.
Wolverine Was Introduced In an Issue of 'The Incredible Hulk'
If you think Wolverine was a member of the X-Men the moment he was created, you'd be gravely mistaken! In fact, everyone's favorite immortal mutant didn't even debut in the pages of the X-Men comics...he first showed up in an issue of 'The Incredible Hulk'! He was initially intended as a one-off character, a super-powered Canadian agent for the Hulk to face off against...and he almost stayed that way. Then Wolverine was recruited into the X-Men in 1975's 'Giant Sized X-Men' #1 and became part of the official team line-up in 'X-Men' #94, where he played second fiddle to the rest of the cast. Of course, it was only a matter of time before he started showing up in nearly every comic Marvel published for the next several decades.
Marvel Almost Dumped Wolverine Because He Wasn't Exciting Enough
When Wolverine first joined the X-Men in 1975 (see above), his position was shaky at best. Without the complicated backstory that has come to define him, he wasn't as exciting as the rest of the established superheroes, leading to the creative team behind the title to consider dropping him from the roster. However, artist John Byrne intervened.
As a Canadian, Byrne didn't want to see one of Marvel's only Canadian characters thrown out of their most popular series. Byrne's intervention saved the character and led to Wolverine becoming the icon he is today.
Wolverine Was Originally Designed as the Son of Sabretooth
Right now, Wolverine's origin is carved in stone. (Until the next time Marvel decides to change it.) Countless issues have gone into his backstory, exploring his childhood, his involvement in the Weapon X program and so on and so forth. It's all a little too complex to completely recount here, but if you've seen the movies, you know the drill. However, Wolverine dabbled with a few strange origin stories over the years, all of which have been changed or outright ignored.
First, there's the legend that Wolverine was, at on point, intended to be the result of blending human and wolverine DNA, making him a lab experiment instead of a mutant. (Writer Len Wein has debunked this rumor, saying that Wolverine was never intended to be a mutated wolverine cub/human hybrid.) Secondly, there was John Byrne's pitch that Wolverine was extremely old, and that the even older X-Men villain Sabertooth was his father. Although the "extremely old" bit stayed around, Sabertooth transformed into an old rival instead.
Wolverine Once Became a Noseless Monster
In 'X-Men #25,' the villainous Magneto did the unthinkable: he pulled the adamantium right off of Wolverine's bones. This disturbing development led to one of the most maligned storylines in X-Men history.
Free of the stuff that made his bones unbreakable, Wolverine finds his himself mutating. His healing ability grows faster. His senses grow sharper. He becomes more vicious and feral. His nose, uh, goes away.
Although Wolverine would soon return as his normal self, he spent the better part of a year as a noseless monster, using his bone claws instead of his traditional Adamantium claws to dispatch foes. The story of how he got his metal skeleton back is so dumb and complicated that it's best left in the '90s where it belongs.
Bryan Singer and Darren Aronofksy Almost Directed 'The Wolverine'
The hunt to find a director for 'The Wolverine' is an epic story filled with all kinds of highs and lows. The sheer number of people who said "No" to the project allows for countless hours of imagining what could have been.
After the disappointment of 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine,' the studio offered the project to original 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer, who passed. Hugh Jackman then recruited his 'The Fountain' director, Darren Aronofsky, who spent several months developing the project. However, Aronofsky eventually bowed out, not wanting to move to Japan for over a year to make the movie. After that, Jose Padhila, Doug Liman, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Romanek, Justin Lin, Gavin O'Connor, Guillermo del Toro and Gary Shore were all considered before James Mangold got the gig.