VALDOSTA — For movie-goers, Wolverine is Hugh Jackman: The star of three past “X-Men” movies, a cameo in a fourth X-Men movie, a spot in next year’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” his own “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “The Wolverine” opening this week.
Sadly, the movies stripped away one of the fundamental essentials of Wolverine’s character: The mystery. After 30 years of no definitive origin, Marvel Comics felt it had to give Wolverine a history before the movies did. In 2009, the movies gave Wolverine a definitive past with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which was a critical dud and not a favorite with many fans.
Wolverine was at his most popular when people didn’t know exactly where he came from, how old he might be, or why he had steel-encased bones and claws. Even more appealing, Wolverine didn’t know either.
Readers learned almost nothing about him on his first appearance. He pops up at the end of “The Incredible Hulk” No. 180 following a battle between the Hulk and a Bigfoot-like Wendigo in Canada. In 181, Wolverine and Wendigo battle the Hulk. In this issue, readers learn Wolverine is tough, works for the Canadian government, has razor-steel claws, and a penchant for wearing a blue-and-yellow striped costume.
Other than that, readers learn nothing more about Wolverine. No other name. No glimpse of the face behind the mask. Nothing. And he disappears as one of many odd characters introduced to battle the Hulk during this era of “The Incredible Hulk’s” 1970s history.
However, a few years later, when writer Chris Claremont revamped the X-Men as an international team of mutants, he included Wolverine as one of the new teammates.
In the “X-Men,” Wolverine was a murderous wild card. His fellow X-Men did not trust him.