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12 Best Live-Action Wolverine Moments Ranked

Of all the X-Men, the most iconic is Wolverine, and it's hardly a competition. The true star of the X-Men universe, the adamantium-clawed, self-healing superhero was played by Hugh Jackman in every X-related film in which the character appeared from 2000's "X-Men" onward, concluding his run nearly two decades later in 2017's "Logan." 

As for the character, he was something of a late bloomer. Logan didn't make his first comic book appearance in an issue of X-Men — instead, he tackled the Hulk in "The Incredible Hulk #180" before helping redefine the mutant team a decade after their creation; he's been on the roster ever since.

Wolverine is one of the most complex superheroes in all of comicdom, as well as a fascinating character who has made his way through various time periods, universes, and superhero teams. With the exciting news that Jackman is set to reprise his role as Wolverine (aka Logan, aka James Howlett) in a third "Deadpool" film, it seems like the perfect time to revisit the 17 years of movie history audiences have shared with the tortured hero. 

12. Rejecting Xavier's offer (X-Men: First Class)

Every PG-13 movie gets one F-bomb; this scene is frequently cited as one of the most clever uses of it.

In a brief, less-than-30 second cameo, Logan's appearance in "X-Men: First Class" is not only hilarious, but also an encapsulation of the character's attitude in three words. During what feels like a classic "recruitment" montage in this quasi-prequel, Professor X and Magneto travel across the globe in the 1960s, looking for mutants to join their cause. Among these potential X-Men is Wolverine himself, but none of the three men yet know how closely their futures will be intertwined.

The pre-amnesiac man they find in a bar still goes by his given name of James Howlett, has bone claws instead of metal, and is less of a drifter than the version fans know and love. Nevertheless, he does still love a good cigar.

"Excuse me, I'm Eric Lehnsherr," says one man approaching him; "Charles Xavier" says the other. As they begin their sales pitch, Howlett, barely looking up, says "Go f*** yourself."

11. Wolverine heals Rogue (X-Men)

In the very first "X-Men" film, Wolverine is introduced as a cage fighter in Canada who eventually stumbles upon the young mutant Rogue (Anna Paquin). Logan can self-heal and Rogue can take the abilities of others, but with a catch. Rather than simply absorbing power, Rogue also unintentionally drains folks of their life force, which can kill them if she touches them for too long. Because of their effects on others — Logan's something of a killer himself — the two form a unique bond, with Logan mentoring Rogue, similar to how things play out in the comics.

Of course, Magneto gets wind of Rogue's existence, and tries to use her to power a machine that will turn everyone in New York City — and eventually the world — into a mutant, supposedly putting an end to mutant oppression. As Logan joins Cyclops (James Marsden), Storm (Halle Berry), and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) in the field, the four of them battle against Magneto's brotherhood of mutants, eventually rescuing Rogue and destroying the machine. Unfortunately, the machine has drained so much of Rogue's life that she's left all-but-dead.

This is where Logan comes in; giving her access to his healing factor, he nearly kills himself in the process. It's a beautiful, touching moment which proves above all that Wolverine is willing to self-sacrifice for the sake of others. Healing factor or not, that's pretty impressive.

10. Wolverine battles Lady Deathstrike (X2: X-Men United)

In the original Marvel Comics, Wolverine has a very complicated history with a fellow adamantium-clawed assassin named Lady Deathstrike, as they were both a part of the same Weapon X project. In "X2: X-Men United" however, their complex history is put completely aside in favor of a brainwashed version of Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu). After Wolverine and the X-Men find the mutant children abducted from the X-Mansion at the former Weapon X facility, Logan encounters the man who gave him his claws in the first place: Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox).

In a fit of revenge, Wolverine charges Stryker, but is stopped by his bodyguard Lady Deathstrike, who doesn't give an inch. For the first time — at least, as we see Logan's story unfold on screen — Wolverine fights another mutant with adamantium-laced claws, and they pack a real punch. In fact, it's easy to argue that Deathstrike's metal nails are even more deadly than Wolverine's "knife-hands," especially since she has one on each finger.

This fight goes on for several minutes and only ends when Logan pumps Deathstrike full of liquid adamantium, which immediately solidifies within and drags her down to a watery doom. Not only is this scene a serious step-up from the previous film's Wolverine vs Sabretooth fight, but it's one of the best on-camera Logan battles, period.

9. Warriors through time (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)

One of the coolest scenes in the entire "X-Men" film canon, ironically enough, comes from one of the worst movies: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."  

"Origins" explains parts of Logan's story that films like "X2" only touched upon, including the interwoven backstory he shares with Sabretooth. Half-brothers with a long-standing rivalry (although, this plot point was never again touched on in the "X-Men" movies, aside from a deleted "Logan" scene),  the two have spent generations alongside one another. and unfortunately, many of these generations have been marked by war.

A whirlwind opening sequence depicts young James Howlett, discovering he's a mutant and protected by his half-brother Victor Creed as they run off into the night. From the 1800s on, the brothers stick together through multiple wars — including both World Wars — constantly facing death. This epic opening montage shows the stark contrast between James and Victor, as Sabretooth's taste for blood clashes with Wolverine's reluctant conscience. This is, of course, what will eventually cause a rift between them.

The only thing missing from this moment is an appearance by Captain America, who Logan is known to have fought alongside during World War II in the original Marvel Comics; at the time, Fox owned the movie rights to the X-Men so such a moment would have been impossible. But with Wolverine now joining the MCU via "Deadpool 3," perhaps a flashback could once again defrost Cap.

8. Logan kills Jean (X-Men: The Last Stand)

From the moment he laid eyes on her in "X-Men," Logan fell deeply in love with Jean Grey. Just like in the "X-Men" comic books, Wolverine carried a torch for Jean for years, unable to fully make his move due to her relationship with Scott Summers, but that wouldn't stop Logan from trying. After years of fighting alongside one another, and after her sacrificial death at the end of "X2," Jean returned from the dead in "X-Men: The Last Stand." But she was no longer the Jean Logan once knew.

After killing both Scott and Professor X, and then immediately joining Magneto, Jean — now a new being known as "the Phoenix" — became an unstoppable killing machine determined to wipe out everyone who stood in the way of her new goals. The only way to stop her was to kill her, and since no one else could get close enough, it was Logan's burden to bare. Though this isn't the first time Logan lost a true love, the events of this film would haunt him for years, well into the next few installments of the "X-Men" franchise.

Though it's tragic, this moment proves that Wolverine is willing to put himself, and his love for Jean, over his own selfish desires. By stopping her now, he was able to save many lives. Too bad "Dark Phoenix" did it all over again.

7. The bullet train (The Wolverine)

Years after Jean's death, Logan left the X-Men and went back to his old life of wandering. After receiving an invitation from an "old friend" to come to Japan, he found himself in the middle of a ninja war while protecting Mariko Yashida (Tao Okamoto) — who just so happens to be one of Wolverine's love interests from the comics. After encountering a group of Yakuza assassins on a bullet train from Tokyo to Nagasaki, Logan — whose healing factor isn't working properly — ends up on top of the train where he's forced to fight to the death.

Of course, as he always does, Wolverine wins this fight and saves the girl, but his inevitable win doesn't make the action sequence any less incredible. Using his claws to keep himself from getting caught up by the wind, Logan employs the laws of physics to his advantage — or, maybe he just breaks them — as he slices through these would-be-assassins. Though the train is moving at the highest of speeds, Wolverine manages to make it back inside safely; the same can't be said for everyone else.

Possibly the most underrated "X-Men" film, "The Wolverine" does an incredible job showing the scope and range of Logan's mutant abilities, even with his healing factor on the fritz. Of all his appearances on screen, none of them feel more like a comic book than this one.

6. Logan escapes Weapon X (X-Men: Apocalypse)

Though "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" covered Logan's beginnings in depth, Bryan Singer's "X-Men: Apocalypse" decided to give it another quick go. After Wolverine and the X-Men used time-travel to change the past in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," the events of "Origins" were undone. This change in continuity opened the door for not only "Apocalypse," but also "Deadpool," "New Mutants," and even "Logan," which was a culmination of both timelines since Wolverine somehow retained his memories of the original.

After traveling to a remote Weapon X facility, a young Scott Summers, Jean Grey, and Kurt "Nightcrawler" Wagner hide out from William Stryker and his men, only to unleash their "Weapon X" prototype to dispatch them. In full berserker mode, this brainwashed Wolverine unleashes all his fury upon them in a scene that feels right out of a '90s "X-Men" comic book. For years, fans had hoped to see a comics-accurate Weapon X moment like this on screen, and "X-Men: Apocalypse" — for all its flaws — delivers in this way like no other.

Though Logan wouldn't return again to the mainline "X-Men" movies, his final tender moment with a young Jean Grey helped the tortured hero find some closure, and was a nice send off for the pair given their complicated history. Though, their problematic age gap has never been more apparent than it was here, making their whole love connection a bit uncomfortable.

5. Surviving a nuclear explosion (The Wolverine)

In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, the Allies dropped two nuclear warheads on Japan. As it turns out, James Howlett was suffering in a hole in the ground at a Japanese POW camp at the time, though this hole quickly became his salvation. After encountering a young soldier named Ichirō Yashida, Wolverine saved the boy from the nuke after it began to wipe out everyone and everything around them.

Kicking off the events of "The Wolverine," this moment sparks Ichirō's decision to invite Logan back to Japan, luring him in to steal his healing factor and thus extend his own life. Though it's a shame that Ichirō used his spared life for evil, this scene proves the kind of warm-hearted hero that Wolverine is under all that rough, metallic exterior. If he's willing to get his skin all boiled and melted off for the sake of a complete stranger, there's no limit to what he'd be willing to do for those he loves.

By the third act, Wolverine and Ichirō battle out their differences and finally end the bond between them, though not until after he cuts through Logan's adamantium claws and reveals the bone underneath. Though it's unclear how Logan got to the Pacific front here given that he was last seen with his brother on the Western front in the opening of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," it's such a good scene that it's worth simply going along for the ride.

4. Logan defends the X-Mansion (X2: X-Men United)

Before "Days of Future Past" and "Logan" were released, "X2" was regarded by fans as the best the "X-Men" film the franchise had to offer, and it's abundantly clear why. Diving deep into Wolverine's origins long before his solo prequel was dreamed up, "X2" began unraveling the mystery behind Logan's claws, his memory wipe, and his relationship to Weapon X director William Stryker. It's in this scene that Logan is reacquainted with Stryker — and while they don't interact all too much, it opens Pandora's Box just wide enough for Wolverine to become curious.

Because Stryker wants to use the powers of mutants for his own means, he hires a group of mercenaries to invade the Xavier Institute and kidnap the children while the X-Men are away. Well, most of the X-Men ... Logan, who has often come and gone from Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, is there now and manages, with the help of Colossus, to aid the children in their escape, slicing through armed soldiers along the way. Not only is this one of the coolest moments in the "X-Men" movies, but it also shows Logan's protective side.

Before Stryker could give him the information he wanted, Logan fled with Bobby "Iceman" Drake, John "Pyro" Allerdyce, and Rogue. Though, it wouldn't be long before Wolverine and Stryker would meet again as their fates seem forever entwined ... at least, in the movies.

3. Logan and Victor fight Deadpool (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)

Admittedly, the "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" version of Deadpool has become a running joke, so ill-conceived that Deadpool went back in time to kill said version at the end of "Deadpool 2." But, what is cool is the final climactic battle at the end of "Origins," where Wolverine and Sabretooth team-up to face off against the ultra-powerful Weapon XI — yes, that's what we're calling him. This mute version of Wade Wilson — yes, still played by Ryan Reynolds — is equipped with adamantium sword-arms, teleportation, an insane healing factor, and Cyclops' optic blasts, which makes him a force to be reckoned with. His mouth just also happens to have been sewn shut.

As Logan and Victor work together for the first time in years, they fight hard to overcome this mutant monster and defeat Stryker's one-man killing machine. After deflecting Weapon XI's optic beams, Logan's claws are hot enough to slice through just about anything, and he uses them to cut off Wade's head. As the tower crumbles around them, Wolverine and Sabretooth make peace, at least for about 15 years, when they'll fight again with no memory of the other (and then never meet again).

There are plenty of things about "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" that don't exactly add up, but there's no doubt that this battle between members of the Weapon X program is not only epic but emotional. If you're looking to watch the best Wolverine boss fight ... well, this one's it, bub.

2. Logan confronts Stryker (X2: X-Men United)

Not every climactic moment has to be accompanied by violence, as "X2" reinforces near the end of the film, when Wolverine catches up to a fleeing Col. Stryker. Hoping for some answers, Logan roughs him up a bit, learning that they once worked together and that Stryker "gave him claws." But, once again, Logan's plans to learn about his past are interrupted by the collapsing dam, which threatens to kill all the X-Men, as well as the kids from Xavier's Institute. Choosing to chain Stryker up, he heads back to rescue his friends, proving Stryker wrong about him.

Soon after, Wolverine returns to find a chained up Stryker who shamefully calls out mutants for being no better than monsters. Now calm and collected, understanding exactly who he is, Wolverine walks away from the Colonel and helps the X-Men escape. Stryker presumably dies in the flooding of Alkali Lake, and all of Logan's answers die with him, but it doesn't matter anymore, now that Logan is content with who he is as an X-Man. Though, that's not to say he isn't devastated by Jean's (first) death, which happens soon after.

Although this is technically two scenes, think of them as a Part 1 and Part 2. They're inseparable, and undeniably a turning point for Wolverine as he chooses the path of a hero rather than that of a merciless killer, the kind that Col. William Stryker hoped he'd be.

1. Logan's final battle and ultimate death (Logan)

Honestly, basically all of "Logan" is Wolverine's best moments, at least in some respect. 

Although the 2029 version of the character, burdened with two timelines worth of bad memories and loss, is at his wit's end in this film, it doesn't stop him from being the Wolverine we all know and love when he needs to be. As Logan is slowly dying of adamantium poisoning, he is able to enter his berserker mode at least once more to save the lives of the last generation of mutants in North America, including his daughter, the X-23 experiment known as Laura.

Armed with a drug that boosts his abilities, Logan charges into the fray to defend these little ones from a group of private mercenaries. As he slices through countless bodies, he eventually confronts Professor X's killer: the X-24. A younger clone of Logan, X-24 nearly finishes Wolverine off before Laura shoots him in the head with an adamantium bullet. This kills the clone, but it's already too late for Logan, who spends his last moments holding his daughter's hand, reminding her that she doesn't have to be the killer they made her to be.

As Laura and her friends bury Logan, they resume their quest to build a new home, a new Eden, but not before Laura turns the cross marking Wolverine's grave to the side, making an "X." A fitting end for the most famous of the X-Men.