Everyone's favorite snarling mutant is gearing up for his third solo outing right now, with filming currently underway for Hugh Jackman's R-rated Wolverine 3.
Every since Wolverine/Logan was introduced in the pages of The Incredible Hulk back in the mid-'70s, his character has gone on to become perhaps the most popular of the X-Men gang. Through confusing retcons and conflicting origins, he's emerged as one of the few characters who actually have a backstory more or less set in stone, his origins fully explored in Weapon X back in the early '90s.
His backstory has also been explored heavily in the 20th Century Fox films — both in X2: X-Men United and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, as well as this year's X-Men Apocalypse, which featured a pretty impressive Wolverine cameo.
But his famous claws have been a matter of much contention in the comic books over the years, with conflicting information available regarding where exactly they came from. Let's take a look.
How Did Wolverine Get His Claws?
X-Men Origins: Wolverine established that Logan's bone claw and perfect healing mutation was activated during a traumatic childhood incident, with the Weapon X program later giving him the adamantium metal skeleton and the famous metal claws. How close to the comics is this?
When Wolverine was first introduced, he was always in costume with the claws drawn — it wasn't until X-Men #98 in 1976 that it was established that Wolverine's claws were actually a part of his body and not part of his costume.
Then we had to wait until 1982, when the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe was released, to learn whether or not Wolverine's claws were a part of his mutation, or something that had been added to him due to his healing ability. The handbook laid out Wolverine's backstory thusly:
Apparently at the same time that the adamantium molecules were integrated into his skeleton, Wolverine was also equipped with his solid adamantium "claws." The claws are roughly a foot long, the length of Wolverine's forearm. He is equipped with three claws on each of his arms. The claws are connected directly to his skeleton and to his nervous system.
So, there you have it. It would seem that Wolverine's claws are not part of his mutation.
Oh, If Only It Was So Simple
But of course the answer isn't so easy, and it's been more than 30 years since the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe was published. Despite the fact that it's been shown repeatedly over the years that his claws remain when Wolverine's mutant powers are knocked out — such as in Uncanny X-Men #222 (below) — it's not that simple, because comic books.
Weapon X again reinforced the point that Wolverine's claws were additions made to his body as part of the Weapon X program. But then along came Magneto in X-Men Vol 3 #25 — Fatal Attractions — two years later, and freaking ripped the adamantium out of Wolverine's body, because Magneto has no chill.
Wolverine's claws melt away as the metal is removed from his body, again proving that the claws aren't part of Wolverine's mutation. However, shortly after he loses his adamantium skeleton, this happens during a training exercise in Wolverine Vol 2 #75:
Surprise! Bone claws, what's up?
So Wolverine's Claws ARE Part Of His Mutation?
Welcome to the world of retcons. Wolverine Vol 2 #75 establishes that yes, the bone claws are indeed part of Wolverine's mutation, a revelation which comes as a surprise to both Wolverine and the X-Men.
When we get treated to a second round of origins in Wolverine: Origin in 2001, we see the bone claws manifesting for the first time, when Wolverine was just a kid. Further establishing the bone claws as canonically part of his mutation.
The most likely explanation for what we saw prior to this is that the bones are somehow exempt from the effects of Wolverine's mutations. This means that when his mutation is "turned off," the claws remain because they're a part of his skeleton, not a power that exists independently of his body. For example, when Angel has his mutation wiped, his wings don't just disappear, although he is no longer able to use them to fly.
The fact that they melted away when Magneto ripped the adamantium from his body is a bit trickier though. If the adamantium was just coating the bone, the claws themselves should've remained when the metal was removed. This could be explained by the adamantium having somehow "become" the claws themselves, which then grew back after being removed by Magneto.
So there you go, Wolverine does canonically have bone claws as part of his mutation. Perhaps the one thing X-Men Origins: Wolverine got right.
Wolverine 3 is set for a March 3, 2017 release date.