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Ways to defeat Wolverine

Whether he's fighting alongside the X-Men, facing off against bad guys in his own comics, or snikt-ing up the big screen, Wolverine is often presented as an unstoppable badass. He's shot, stabbed, and sizzled time and time again, but his crazy mutant healing factor keeps him coming back for more. Among casual fans of the character, this has led to the rise of the idea that he's almost impossible to kill.

This is, of course, absurd: even in the world of tights and flights, a character is only as interesting as their vulnerabilities, and Wolverine has more than a few. In fact, over the years, Marvel Comics have given readers several ways to kill Wolverine. Some require ancient cosmic magic and some just require shoving him in the right direction. Intrigued? Here, then, are just a few of the ways to defeat Wolverine.

Extreme Incineration

One of the ways to defeat Wolverine was revealed by the classic "Days of Future Past" storyline. In very broad strokes, the plot is similar to the movie adaptation, showing readers a dystopian future filled with Sentinels, all caused by an assassination led by Mystique. However, unlike the later movie, the comic features an older Kitty Pryde transporting into her younger body rather than Wolverine, meaning that the clawed Canuck is free to have his own weird misadventures in their bleak future.

These misadventures include being completely and definitively killed by a Sentinel. How's that work, exactly? Unless there are some other factors at work (such as the infamous issue where alien technology regenerates him from one drop of blood), Wolverine has to still have a body to regenerate. It's possible to do enough structural damage that there's nothing left—such as when a Sentinel straight up incinerates Wolverine. Why hasn't this happened to him inside the main continuity? Aside from the only thing stronger than adamantium being plot armor, most bad guys end up shooting Wolverine with bullets, weaker lasers, and so on, giving his healing factor time to tackle these much smaller injuries.

Drowning

While it would take a certain measure of strength to contain him in water long enough, drowning would definitely kill Wolverine—and some of his rivals have considered it. In a memorable issue of Ultimate X-Men, Sabretooth tries to drown Wolverine while talking about how his healing factor doesn't really have a way of fixing a suffocated brain, meaning that even if Wolverine's body were to somehow survive, the man left behind would be brain dead.

Before Sabretooth could truly test his theory, Wolverine stabbed him in the junk, leaving "death by drowning" in the realm of the theoretical. This was later confirmed, though, when Wolverine was forced to kill his evil son Daken by drowning him. Daken had the same healing factor and power set—which means Wolverine himself should be susceptible to the same method.

Decapitation

As the leader of the Uncanny X-Men, Professor Xavier hasn't been without fault. From faking his death to creeping on Jean Grey to sending teenagers into warzones with bright yellow spandex, he's been kind of despicable on more than a few occasions. One of the weirder Xavier moments came from the revelation that he has an entire collection of so-called Xavier Protocols—detailed plans to kill his students and other mutants. While this may or may not be unreasonable in a world filled with mind control and clones, it does mean that readers could see Professor X's plan for Wolverine: decapitation.

Not just any decapitation would do, though. Xavier theorized that immediately after Wolverine's head was removed, it would need to be taken far away from the body to keep them from growing back together. That might sound outlandish, but one of Wolverine's weirder defeats came from being ripped in half by the Hulk. Once he figured out where his lower half had gone, he climbed a mountain with his claws to get there, and his body was able to regenerate back together.

Throw the Hulk against him

Speaking of the Hulk, his fights with Wolverine have been a part of Wolverine's story since the character was created—in fact, Wolverine was meant to be a villain for the big green giant. In his introductory comic, Hulk was eventually able to knock Wolverine out with a mighty punch. As mentioned above, the Ultimate Comics universe has shown that a sufficiently pissed-off Hulk can just rip Wolverine in half. And in one of Marvel's classic What If? Comics, Hulk is able to break Wolverine's neck and kill him with a mighty blow before his healing factor is able to help him. All of this adds up the fact that the Hulk remains one of the best ways to defeat Wolverine. Of course, the constant problem with this idea is the relative impossibility of controlling or containing the Hulk, but hey, nothing's perfect.

Take out his healing factor

It's a little on the nose, but one of the primary ways to defeat Wolverine is to find a way to turn off his healing factor—which is actually easier than it might sound. The Marvel Comics universe has characters such as Leech, who has the mutant ability to cancel the powers of other mutants. Similarly, the X-Men have tangled with enemies that have the ability to use enhanced prison cells, special shackles, or other unique technology that could make Wolverine as vulnerable as anyone else to injury and death.

It's also possible to simply overtax Wolverine's healing factor and make him more vulnerable that way. This has happened in a variety of ways in the comics, from the time that Magneto tore all of the metal out of his body to the time Cassandra Nova destroyed all the tissue on Wolverine's arm. In each case, his healing factor had to go into overdrive in order to not only keep him from dying, but restore his mangled body to its original state. And in each case, he was more vulnerable afterwards (for instance, he created a bloody mess when popping his bone claws for the first time, as his body wasn't able to stop the bleeding in time), and an opportunistic supervillain attack might have been able to kill him.

Cut him with the Muramasa Blade

Wolverine's had countless wacky adventures from one side of the world to the other. During one of these jaunts, he acquired an artifact known as the Muramasa Blade—a sword created especially for Wolverine, and like Wolverine, it has the ability to cut through almost anything on Earth. It also possesses a property that has been useful to Wolverine but also poses quite the danger to him: it mostly negates healing factors.

How does that work? Through its own weird magic, injuries that are dealt with the Muramasa Blade are very slow to heal, even for fast healing factors like those possessed by Wolverine and Sabretooth. There are incidents where Wolverine has sustained injuries from the sword and it's taken days to heal from the kind of wounds that would have taken only minutes if they came from a different source. Wolverine himself has claimed that the sword is the only thing on Earth that is definitively capable of killing him, and while that claim is very debatable (it's almost like he doesn't read his own comics), the Muramasa Blade's lethal properties are backed up by the highest Wolverine authority.

Rip his heart out

Another way to kill Wolverine is to rip out his heart, though that's certainly easier said than done. This was established in the somewhat infamous Uncanny X-Men Annual #11. In this issue, Wolverine and the rest of the X-men tussle with one of the lesser-known X-Men villains, a weird alien named Horde who forced the X-Men to fight through weird visions that represent their inner fantasies. When Wolverine is able to resist, Horde simply tears Wolverine's heart out as a grisly trophy, killing him.

So why is Wolverine still running around after this issue when he definitively died? This is where the infamous part comes in, as a single drop of blood lands on an alien crystal that has the power to super-charge mutant abilities. Because of this crystal, Wolverine is able to regrow an entirely new body. It's important to note (and even the Wolverine in this issue notes) that this was only possible because the crystal shifted his healing abilities into overdrive. Despite how crystal clear this is, there are fanboys who, decades later, insist that Wolverine can still regenerate himself from a single drop of blood.

Use the Punisher

As the delightful Jon Bernthal demonstrated so well as Punisher in the Daredevil television show, the violent vigilante mostly sticks with fighting street-level bad guys such as the mobsters responsible for the death of his family. In one of Marvel Comics' weirder alternate universe events, though, he has an entirely different motivation. In The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, his family is not killed by the mob, but instead dies when they're caught in a fight between the evil alien Brood and a collection of Avengers and X-Men. Frank Castle blames the heroes for the death of his family in this story and becomes the Punisher to kill them all, including Wolverine.

How does he do it? Spiritually, it's similar to Wolverine's death at the hands of a Sentinel in "Days of Future Past." Punisher overpowers Wolverine in hand-to-hand combat and then throws the mutant into an electrical transformer, which ultimately burns all of the flesh off his body. Once again, the character must have something to regenerate from, and the catastrophic loss of tissue meant there was nothing left but a shiny metal skeleton.

Get him to sacrifice himself

One of the more "outside the box" ways of defeating Wolverine comes from relying on his willingness to sacrifice himself to save others. This was demonstrated years ago in the "Fall of the Mutants" storyline, which involved the X-Men quickly getting way out of their element as they fought chaotic mystical enemies, including the one known simply as the Adversary. It turned out this villain was unleashed by the mutant Forge when he used magic he didn't understand, and it ended up killing nine of his friends.

The Adversary's magic threatened the entirety of Dallas, Texas, and the X-Men sussed out that Forge had to get rid of this demon using the exact spell he used before...and that spell has the exact cost in lives that it had before. Thus, the X-Men present, including Wolverine, willingly sacrifice their lives to save the city and, potentially, the entire planet. The only reason this wasn't their final chapter is that the goddess Roma decided to reward the nobility of their sacrifice by bringing them all back to life, albeit far away where they could be kept secret from the world. By taking the right hostage or simply threatening enough human lives, any given villain can persuade Wolverine to kill himself in the name of the greater good.

Use the Infinity Gauntlet

Another way to defeat Wolverine is to use something that can defeat pretty much anyone: the Infinity Gauntlet. In the Marvel Comics universe, just as in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos is obsessed with obtaining this all-powerful bauble. Once he wielded the universe's most dangerous fashion accessory, his powers were only limited by his imagination, and he ended up defeating Wolverine in a rather creatively bizarre way. Rather than a dramatic fight filled with cosmic blasts and supervillain monologues, Thanos simply used the powers of the Gauntlet to transform Wolverine's unbreakable adamantium bones into a "spongy rubber band," causing the mutant hero to crumple into a helpless pile of flesh. So there you have it: a surefire way to defeat Wolverine. All it takes is a relentless, seemingly endless quest to gather some of the most powerful artifacts in the universe. Someone should have told Thanos that "really big laser blast" or "electric transformers" would also do the trick.

Virus from the Microverse

Another on the list of more implausible ways of killing Wolverine involves getting him really sick. In the mainstream Marvel continuity, Wolverine ended up being infected by an intelligent virus from a place called the Microverse. It essentially turned off his healing factor and, just like that, he was vulnerable to injury and death. His body was examined by some of the finest minds in Marvel, including Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, however, they were unable to find a way to reverse the virus or restore Wolverine's healing factor, and he decided to spend his final days getting some closure—which meant ending the life of Dr. Cornelius, one of the main Weapon X scientists that experimented on him. Wolverine, even without his healing factor, was still able to kill Cornelius, but he ended up being coated in liquid adamantium. Once it hardened, Wolverine suffocated and died—at peace with his life, and with enough time to watch a final sunset before passing away.