The untold truth of Wolverine

If you only know Wolverine from the movies or mainline X-Men comics, you really don't know him at all.

The character got his start from some extremely humble beginnings, but Logan (real name: James Howlett) has grown to be one of Marvel Comics' most popular characters—and a bankable star on the big screen to boot. But even though he's best known for his swagger, there are more than a few weird and embarrassing events scattered throughout his cigar-chomping history.

From bizarre factoids connected to the film universe to strange stories buried deep in the annals of Marvel Comics lore, there's a lot to know about Wolverine. So as Hugh Jackman prepares to say farewell to the live action version of the character after nearly two decades in the role with 2017's Logan, we decided to take a stroll down memory lane for the untold truth of Wolverine.

Let's dig in.

He was once (hilariously) taken out by a 12-year-old girl

Once Wolverine became an extremely popular character in the Marvel Comics canon, he started popping up in a whole lot of team-up books and crossover stories. One often forgotten Marvel series is the excellent Runaways (which is currently in development as a TV series over at Hulu, interestingly enough), a comic that focused on a team of teenage kids who realize their parents are actually supervillains. The kids set off on their own, and get into all kinds of misadventures. One of those missions brought the team into the path of the Avengers (which Wolverine was a member of at the time), and it did not go well for Wolverine. At all.

The Runaways' youngest member, 12-year-old Molly Hayes, is also a mutant. Her power? Super-strength. A whole lot of super-strength. When Molly gets scared that the Avengers want to take her away from her friends, her fight-or-flight instinct kicks in—and she punches Wolverine completely out of the building, with Logan crashing face first into the snowy street outside. The lesson? Don't ever underestimate Molly Hayes.

Hugh Jackman embarrassed himself after landing the gig

When Hugh Jackman landed the gig of Wolverine in the first X-Men film back in 2000, he was woefully unprepared for the role. How bad was it? He didn't even realize a wolverine was a real animal (seriously), so he started studying up on wolves to bring an animalistic quality to his performance. Jackman wasn't very familiar with the comics character, so he just assumed Wolverine was a guy who acted like an animal. To that end, he brought a wolf-esque approach to his first few scenes, leaded director Bryan Singer to ask him to cut it out. Here's what he told Rolling Stone about the embarrassing ordeal: "[Singer] at one point said to me, 'It's a little weird physically. But it's interesting.' And I said, 'Yeah, man, I've been studying wolves and I think if we could bring that to the screen—' and he goes, 'What? You're not a wolf, man, you're a wolverine.'" Lucky for everyone, Jackman killed it anyway—animal confusion or not.

His first appearance was as an adversary for the Hulk

Going back to his first appearance in the comics, Wolverine was actually introduced as an adversary in 1974 as a bit player in The Incredible Hulk #180, with his first full appearance in issue #181. The creative team was looking for a new character to slug it out with the Hulk (he seemed to go through villains pretty quickly, being the Hulk and all), and Wolverine was just the latest challenger at the time. Not only was he not introduced in an X-Men story, he was essentially Canadian super-fodder.

He was supposed to be a one-off, and was never intended to be a member of the X-Men

To that end, Wolverine was never intended to be a team member of the X-Men. The X-Men already had a well-established team at this point, but when the character proved popular from his Incredible Hulk appearance, Marvel decided to bring him back for some new appearances and flesh him out—eventually incorporating him into the X-Men as part of a larger relaunch of that comic series that included several new characters. Following his stint on Incredible Hulk, Wolverine next popped up on 1975's Giant-Size X-Men #1, and the rest is history. Artist Herb Trimpe, who was the first to draw Wolverine for publication, told Film Journal that Wolverine was introduced as a "secondary or tertiary" character "with no particular notion of it going anywhere." Now he's a flagship character. Not bad for a guy who wasn't supposed to live for more than two issues, right?

Hugh Jackman almost didn't play him on the big screen

The casting of Hugh Jackman proved to be the biggest coup for the upstart X-Men film franchise, but it almost didn't happen. The studio really wanted Russell Crowe for the gig, but he declined. After that, Dougray Scott signed on. Scott was all set to play Wolverine in 2000's X-Men, but had to drop out of the project at the last minute due to scheduling. Desperate to fill the role, they singed Jackman (who didn't have the biggest resume at the time) shortly before production was supposed to start. It obviously turned out to be the right move, and Jackman has proven to be the common denominator across the entire X-Men universe.

Spock took him out one time. Really.

Crossovers happen all the time in comics, and over the years, there have been some truly weird ones. Case in point: The Marvel/Paramount Star Trek/X-Men crossover comic event from 1996, which saw Professor X's mutant team meet up with the crew of the Enterprise for ridiculous comic crossover reasons (per usual). Once the X-Men cross paths with Spock, he tries to escort them to a secure location. Wolverine doesn't want to cooperate, and lunges at the Vulcan to knock him out. Sadly for Wolverine, he's not aware of the infamous Vulcan Nerve Pinch. Spock takes Wolverine down (for a few seconds, at least), before Logan jumps back up ready to fight again thanks to his healing factor. In his defense, Wolverine does get the drop on Spock after he's knocked down (and they all eventually work together to take out a common foe). But still, Round 1 went to Spock.

Wolverine's adamantium skeleton weighs 105 pounds

Wolverine was born with bone claws and a near-limitless ability to heal himself, but he was not born with those nifty adamantium claws. Those came about due to Logan's stint in the Weapon X program, where the shady government program took advantage of his healing factor (which kept him alive through the process) to coat his bones with adamantium. According to Marvel's official character bio, all that metal weighs a total of 105 pounds. That's a whole lot of extra weight to lug around your entire life, even if you do have super-strength.

Wolverine is actually really short

Since he's based (loosely) on a wolverine, it's no surprise that Wolverine is actually pretty darn short. According to Marvel, the comic version of the character is a mere 5'3" tall. In the comics, they do a pretty good job of showing that when he's hanging around in a group. Typically, he's the shortest guy in the room. But hey, when you have metal claws, even being on the short side you still demand a good bit or respect. Interestingly enough, while the comic character is short, Jackman is actually a towering 6'2". To make sure we wasn't looking down on the rest of the characters, director Bryan Singer used some classic Hollywood angles to at least try and make the tall leading man look a bit on the short side.

Rumors that he was supposed to be a real wolverine are not true

There's been a rumor going around for decades that the character of Wolverine was originally conceived as an actual wolverine who has mutated into a man. Heck, that alleged origin was actually mentioned in the the DVD extras for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But it turns out it's not actually true. After hearing this "true" story touted for years, creator Len Wein broke silence to officially deny the reports and tell the real story of Wolverine's creation. Here's how he explained it: "While I readily admit that my original idea was for Wolvie's claws to extend from the backs of his gloves … I absolutely did not ever intend to make Logan a mutated wolverine. I write stories about human beings, not evolved animals … The mutated wolverine thing came about long after I was no longer involved with the book."

Wolverine is well over 100 years old

He might look fairly young (unless we're taking about Old Man Logan), but Wolverine has been around for a very long time. This aspect of his story was previously explored on the big screen in the (terrible) X-Men Origins: Wolverine with a flashback montage, and that scene was certainly rooted in the comic canon. Wolverine's exact age is fairly hard to pin down, but he's been around for well over 100 years. Marvel indicates the character dates back to around the mid-to-late 1800s, and he's fought in just about every war that happened between then and now. Along the way, he's mastered myriad fighting styles and served as everything from a spy to a soldier. Despite that longevity, his healing factor does finally start to fail in the future (a story chronicled in the Old Man Logan comics and the upcoming Logan film).

He was the unwanted mascot of a metal rock album in 1993

The 1990s were a tough time for Marvel, and the company was willing to sell off and license the rights to just about anything in an effort to make a quick buck. One of the weirdest entries on that cross-promotion list was the comic publisher's agreement with Earache Records for a Wolverine-themed release of Entombed's Wolverine Blues album. The band apparently was not in favor of the idea, but the record label cut the deal for a Wolverine-themed release to try and generate some mainstream crossover appeal for the album. Along with the music, the Wolverine-themed release also featured a mini-comic bundled with the CD. The promotion didn't find much success, and we'll go ahead and pass on the obvious "heavy" metal joke.

He was (literally) steamrolled by the Punisher

Though he's likely best known for taking out criminals with a hail of bullets, the Punisher has always been one heck of a tactician. So when he set his sights on Wolverine in the dark 2001 Punisher series written by Garth Ennis, he went to extremes to make sure Wolverine couldn't come back after him. The story begins with the two in an uneasy alliance to take out some criminals, but takes a dark turn when the Punisher decides to just get rid of Wolverine, too, and unloads a clip into Wolverine's manhood (healing factor or not, that's gotta hurt) before running him over with a steamroller. For real. Did we mention this Punisher run was really, really dark?

He's the only character to appear in every X-Men film (except for Deadpool, mostly)

Where some comic franchises (See: Spider-Man) have already rebooted three times, the X-Men franchise is still going strong in the same continuity launched all the way back in 2000. Sure, X-Men: Days of Future Past did some housecleaning with the timeline, but it's still the same actors all these years later. But even when the series was prequel-ized with younger actors as part of First Class, the ageless Wolverine was still around. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine starred in the first three X-Men films, plus X-Men Origins: Wolverine and his recent The Wolverine spinoff film. He also played a key role in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and had bit roles in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse. The only film he wasn't in? The recent R-rated hit Deadpool. But even though Wolverine didn't show up, Ryan Reynolds' foul-mouthed mercenary did sport a Jackman mask and make plenty of Wolverine jokes. So he was there in spirit, at least.

Wolverine was invented to appeal to Canadian comic readers

Over the decades, Wolverine has developed a complicated and nuanced backstory that makes him one of the most compelling characters in comics history—but it all started as a marketing ploy to sell comics to Canadians. According to io9, then-editor in chief Roy Thomas asked creator Len Wein to develop a new Canadian character. For inspiration, they looked to two animals popular up north: badgers and wolverines. Thankfully, they went with the latter. The goal was for Marvel to break into the Canadian market, so they introduced Wolverine as a Hulk villain in the hopes that some Canadian readers would get excited to see one of their own take on Bruce Banner's angry alter ego.

For a loner, he's been on a whole bunch of super-teams

Did we mention Wolverine is a popular character in the Marvel canon? When you have a character who sells comics, a lot of writers like to include him in their books. To that end, Wolverine has been in more super-teams than just about any other Marvel hero; according to Comic Vine, the total is an eye-popping 35 different teams. Some of the highlights include: the X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Secret Defenders, Clan Yashida, Department H, Alpha Flight, Department K, Team X, Team Weapon X, Devil's Brigade, the Horsemen of Apocalypse…and a whole lot more. That's a whole lot of team-ups for a guy who typically prefers to work alone.

He's (literally) been sent to hell

When a character has been around as long (and is as popular) as Wolverine, he'll get a lot of stories—and some are weirder than others. One of Wolverine's most creative journeys was the 2011 series Wolverine Goes to Hell, which followed Logan after he is (literally) sent to hell by the Red Right Hand. Along the way, his body is possessed with a demon who aims to kill Logan's friends and loved ones. It's an interesting character study into Wolverine's history, and he spends much of his time in Hell fighting all the enemies he's killed. This story also weakened Wolverine, taking his healing factor down quite a few notches, forcing him to face this harrowing adventure with a weakened power set.

He's currently dead (kinda) in the comics, but there's still a Wolverine out there

Yes, ironically enough, the mainline Wolverine is actually dead these days in Marvel Comics continuity. But that doesn't mean there aren't still a few Wolverines kicking around. After the crossover event Secret Wars, an older alternate-universe version of Wolverine (nicknamed Old Man Logan) winds up in the main universe. He's kicking around in his own solo comic series, and also cameos in several of the ongoing X-Men comic runs, but who's holding down the main Wolverine book these days? That'd be X-23, a.k.a. Wolverine's younger female clone who has pretty much all his powers. Also known as Laura Kinney, X-23 serves as a member of the X-Men and has had her own solo book. But when the main Wolverine died, she took up his mantle (and even donned a variation of his classic yellow costume). You can check out X-23's story in Marvel's All-New Wolverine comic series.