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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Wolverine: broken character

DC Comics doesn’t understand one important thing about superheroes. Their poster boy, Superman, while interesting on an academic level, is too invincible to be exciting. You can’t outrun him, you can’t be stronger than him and you can’t even shoot him. You don’t stand a chance unless you have some rare kryptonite, and he would probably just pick up some lead to block it anyway. Superman not only beats you, he gives you lead poisoning.

That’s why I have always preferred Marvel Comics. Their characters are fallible— they can be defeated. Spider-Man’s victories are always hard-fought. At the very least, Marvel’s heroes are plagued by moral quandaries and major character flaws, especially the X-Men.
As a kid, I always thought Wolverine was one of the coolest X-Men. He has claws! Unbreakable claws! He can heal faster than the average person! He can make yellow and blue spandex look not horrific! (That last one, I think, is his real mutant superpower.)

But now I realize that Marvel’s gone too far. Wolverine is becoming invincible.

He definitely didn’t start that way. Wolverine wasn’t one of the original X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in September 1963. He debuted 11 years later in an issue of “The Incredible Hulk” as a stocky little superhuman agent of the Canadian government, which is quite cool. He joined the X-Men a year later, bringing along amazing spandex and a mutual but unfulfilled crush on Jean Grey, girlfriend of team leader Cyclops (a.k.a. the one with laser eyes).

In the late 70s, when he first appeared, his healing power was limited to merely an accelerated healing of small wounds.
But as of last June, he was able to regenerate his entire body (bones and all) after being caught in a nuclear explosion. He has also grown about a foot taller and is no longer an ugly, stocky, angry little Canadian man with claws. He’s invincible.

How do you defeat a mutant with a skeleton of adamantium (the only thing stronger than adamantium is Captain America’s Vibranium-alloy shield) who is able to recover from a nuclear bomb blast? You don’t.

There are other Marvel characters like Jean Grey who could literally destroy the entire world if she felt like it. She’s an Omega-level mutant, but she still dies. Yes, she comes back eventually, but she can actually die. Wolverine once had his skeleton ripped out by Magneto. But it doesn’t kill him, he recovers rather quickly, and then is revealed to have claws of bone. It doesn’t seem like Wolverine can actually die. Ever. This is annoying.

Then there are minor characters who could also destroy the world, but thankfully aren’t invincible. Take Gambit. In “Uncanny X-Men” #313, he charges a ship’s anchor, which Storm then throws at the Phalanx, blowing the Phalanx to pieces. Gambit’s power could evolve to the ridiculous heights of Wolverine’s power, but it doesn’t. He’s fettered by the limits of magical realism. Why isn’t Wolverine?
Video games have this concept when a character or a weapon is basically impossible to defeat, giving one side an annoying and insurmountable advantage. It’s a “broken weapon” or a “broken character.” It’s fine that Wolverine has become one of Marvel’s flagship gruff antihero characters, but the fact that he’s becoming the only important and invincible X-Man is totally unfair.

Mutants are already cooler than us normal people, what with the mind reading and the explosions and the powers of flight. So why does Wolverine need to be invincible? Why do any of them need to be invincible? If there’s anything I’ve learned at Grinnell, it’s that flaws and vulnerabilities make people more interesting. Wolverine these days is just an invincible joke.

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  • A

    AcFeb 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    In English, our class is learning how to research and debate. Because my English teacher is awesome, instead of making us pick a historical event or person, she’s letting us do Marvel super heroes. Each group is assigned a hero they must argue is the best. One person researches their candidate (my group’s is Iron Man) and everyone else in the group must research one of the other five (Wolverine, Captain America, Thor, Spider Man, and Hulk). Naturally, I chose Wolverine because he’s my favorite. Anyways, the whole point of this paragraph is that I have spent every English class period since the start of the year researching Wolverine, so I do know quite a bit. Wolverine isn’t invincible.

    •He’s a bad swimmer.
    •He doesn’t get along well with others.
    •His claws can’t come out unless his wrists are completely straight.
    •He can’t fly.
    •He is savage in his nature.
    •Wolverine is not completely immortal; If his injuries are extensive enough especially if they result in the loss of a vital organ, large amounts of blood, or his physical form, he can die.
    •The Murmasa Blade greatly reduces the effectiveness of his healing powers.
    •When the adamantium is either bonded or removed from his skeleton he regresses to a mindless, ferocious state.

    See Wolverine isn’t invincible. Granted, some of those weaknesses are better than the others but whatever.

  • H

    HernMar 9, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Completely agree. Wolverine is not likable unless he is beatable. No one is.