This summer, everyone’s favorite mutant will once again be making his way to the big screen, this time as the star of his own movie. One could argue that Wolverine was the star of the previous three X-Men movies anyway, but this time his name is actually in the title as X-Men Origins: Wolverine hits theaters on May 1st, 2009.
Wolverine may be the best there is at what he does, but what he does best is often quite confusing. He’s at least one hundred years old and has been the subject of plenty of brainwashing and memory implants over the years. Needless to say, he probably has just as hard of a time keeping track of his life story as comic book fans do. With that in mind, Mania has compiled a handy little reference guide to help newcomers and longtime fans keep things straight.
First Appearance: Marvel Comics Presents #72
First Movie Appearance: X-Men
Last Seen: Underwater at the end of X2: X-Men United
The Weapon X program is a clandestine government operation that specializes in turning participants (both willing and unwilling) into living weapons. They are the ones responsible for bonding adamantium to Wolverine’s bones and subjecting him to various forms of mind-control.
In the comics, Weapon X is conducted by a branch of the Canadian government known as Department K and is part of a larger organization known as Weapon Plus, an American organization responsible for a variety of superhuman soldiers including Captain America. I don’t recall the earlier X-Films going into quite so much detail and I’m sure that the Wolverine movie will simply leave it at “a secret government operation”.
On an interesting side note, the words “Weapons Plus” can be seen on the cold storage containers from which General Ross retrieves the super-soldier serum in the Incredible Hulk film, creating a connection between the X-Films and the new Marvel movie wave of Iron Man, Hulk and upcoming Thor, Avengers and Captain America. So even though we’ll likely never see the X-Men and the Hulk sharing a film, the Marvel Universe has been established on the big screen. Cool.
Real Name: James Howlett, aka Logan
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk #180
Played By:: Hugh Jackman
First Movie Appearance: X-Men
Last Seen: Saving the world from Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand
With enhanced senses and a healing factor that allows him to survive even the roughest battles, Wolverine would be a formidable opponent even without his razor sharp adamantium claws. The same unbreakable metal was bonded to his entire skeleton in an experiment that a normal human would never have been able to survive in an attempt to create the ultimate killing machine. It worked.
The diminutive mutant began life as James Howlett sometime near the end of the 1800s, the pampered son of rich Canadian plantation owners. When his mutant powers and bone claws manifested themselves, he began a life full of hardships that would eventually lead him to see more war and death than the average person would see in ten lifetimes. At some point he ended up in the Weapon X program and began a lifelong rivalry with Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth.
Real Name: Victor Creed
First Appearance: Iron Fist #14
Played By: Liev Schreiber
First Movie Appearance: X-Men (Played By: Tyler Mane)
Last Seen: Getting blasted off the Statue of Liberty by Cyclops in X-Men
Imagine Wolverine without the restraint or moral fiber and you’ve pretty much got Sabretooth. He’s got the same healing factor and enhanced senses and while his claws and fangs may not be laced with adamantium, he more than makes up for it with his savagery and killer instinct. Wolverine is known for constantly struggling to keep his inner beast in check, but Victor Creed has embraced the animal within. Little concrete evidence of Sabretooth’s past exists save for his longstanding hatred of Wolverine which may or may not stem from their time serving together in the Weapon X program.
Sabretooth has long been considered the yin to Logan’s yang in the Marvel comics, but has only made one other appearance on the silver screen: in the first X-Men movie. In that film, he was depicted as little more than Magneto’s stooge. It was actually a bit of a slap in the face to a character known just as much for his cunning as his bestiality. It appears this situation will be ameliorated in the Wolverine film and we’ll see a version of Sabretooth that is a little closer to his comic counterpart.
First Appearance: God Loves, Man Kills
Played By:: Danny Huston
First Movie Appearance: X2: X-Men United (Played By: Brian Cox)
Last Seen: Chained to a rock by Magneto as Weapon X is flooded in X2
The depiction of William Stryker in the X-Men comic books and the William Stryker of the X-Men film franchise are two distinct individuals with one commonality: an unequivocal hatred of mutantkind.
When God Loves, Man Kills was written in the early 1980’s, televangelists were all the rage and Stryker was shown as a reverend whose hatred of mutants was born from religious fervor. When the story was adapted for the second X-Men film, televangelists were no longer a hot-button topic and Stryker’s backstory was altered to make him a military scientist who has gone into defense contracting. He is also shown to be involved with the Weapon X program and as the man responsible for giving Wolverine his adamantium claws.
Huston compares his character to a racehorse breeder who rears his mutant experiments like children but abandons them when something goes wrong.
Real Name: Wade Wilson
First Appearance: New Mutants # 98
Played By:: Ryan Reynolds
Imagine crossing Wolverine with Spider-Man and you’ve got Deadpool. Known as “the Merc with a Mouth”, he’s a wisecracking killer-for-hire with a healing factor and a penchant for sharp objects. Cursed with an abusive upbringing and terminal cancer, Wade Wilson joined the Weapon X program and was given a regenerative healing factor extracted from Wolverine. Wilson’s cancer was cured but he ended up disfigured and mentally unstable.
The comic book version of Wade Wilson is known for his sense of humor and for breaking the fourth wall, acknowledging that he exists in a comic book. I think it’s safe to say we won’t see Ryan Reynolds winking at the camera and referring to himself as a fictional character, but I’m sure the trademark sense of humor will remain intact. He wouldn’t be Deadpool without it.
Real Name: Remy LaBeau
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #266
Played By:: Taylor Kitsch
First Movie Appearance:: None, although his name is clearly shown in Stryker's mutant database in X2: X-Men United
Gambit is a professional thief from Louisiana who possesses the mutant ability to charge objects with kinetic energy. He typically utilizes playing cards for this purpose and throws them with a level of skill that would put Rick Smith Jr. to shame. He is also quite skilled with a staff. Whether or not his bo staff skills would put Napoleon Dynamite to shame is up for debate.
Gambit seems to be the character who was introduced when Wolverine started to become less mysterious and more of a father figure than a bad boy. LaBeau was every bit the untrustworthy rapscallion that Logan was back in the day. He has no real connection to Wolverine’s past but he’s been a popular character since his first appearance and his potential for a spin-off film is undoubtedly why he’s appearing in this film.
Real Name: Silver Fox (that one was easy enough)
First Appearance: Wolverine vol. 2 #10
Played By:: Lynn Collins
When Wolverine gets drunk and weepy at a karaoke bar and sings “To All the Girls I’ve Love Before”, Silver Fox’s name is near the top of that list. At the dawn of the 20th century, this Canadian Blackfoot Indian shared many a happy time with a frontiersman known only as Logan. Until Sabretooth raped her and killed her on Logan’s birthday. So, it should come as no surprise why Wolverine has more than just a little bit of a grudge with Sabretooth.
Years later, Silver Fox turned up alive and brainwashed as a member of the Weapon X team. She seemed to possess a healing factor of some sort and apparently had no memory of her prior experience with either Logan or Victor Creed, as the three worked together on Team X. It is Safe to say that this triangle will likely be the focus of the film.
Real Name: Fred J. Dukes
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #3
Played By:: Kevin Durand
When The Blob doesn’t want to be moved, nothing can move him. It’s as simple as that.
Fred J. Dukes is a former carnival performer who was recruited to be an X-Man but turned it down, choosing to join Magneto’s Brotherhood instead. He looks like a big fat guy, but its part of his mutant power. The guy can create some sort of mono-directional gravity field rendering himself virtually immovable. His skin is bulletproof and has withstood cannonballs. He’s impervious to laceration and can’t get frostbite either. Most wish their body fat could do that, or anything useful.
Real Name: Christoph Nord
First Appearance: X-Men #5
Played By:: Daniel Henney
An excellent marksman and hand-to-hand combat tactician, Agent Zero (aka Maverick) is another former member of Team X. He’s got a pretty sweet mutant power too.
Agent Zero possesses the ability to absorb the kinetic energy of an impact and then release it as energy through an acidic enzyme secreted by his fingertips. This enzyme can counteract healing abilities, meaning that Wolverine’s famous fast-healing act don’t mean diddly to this guy. Scary.
Real Name: uhhh… John Wraith
First Appearance: Wolverine Vol. 2 #48
Played By:: Will.i.am
Rounding out the members of Team X is John Wraith, a teleporter. As with the other members of the team, he ages slowly and is proficient in hand-to-hand combat.
In the film, Wraith will be portrayed by musician Will.i.am, who reportedly was keen on playing a character with the same abilities as Nightcrawler. Don’t know whether or not the man can act, but he does look sweet in that cowboy hat.
From what we’ve seen in the trailers, it looks like these characters are only the tip of the iceberg. There seems to be a young mutant shooting concussive blasts from his eyes (Cyclops) and a young lady who appears to be Emma Frost. A quick IMDB check indicates that both of these characters are listed in the credits along with someone named “Weapon XI”. One of the coolest things about the X-Movies is all the background stuff indicating a larger universe, and it looks like the Wolverine flick will contain many of the same notions. It will be interesting to see which mutants are in the background that didn’t get their names in the credits.
As with any comic to film adaptation, these bios should be taken with at least a small grain of salt. History has shown us that the people creating the X-Franchise don’t always pay close attention to the details when it comes to character histories and personalities. It wouldn’t be surprising to see some, if not all of these characters tweaked in some fashion.