Indefinite Claws: Six Little Things that Changed the Marvel Universe

Warning. This post contains spoilers for X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men, X2, X-Men 3, Wolverine: Origins, X-Men: First Class and possibly X-Men movies that haven’t even been made yet. Read at your peril.
So I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past, fell in love and we are getting married in the spring. Honestly, really enjoyed that movie. My favourite of the X-Men franchise so far, and probably my favourite comic book movie of the year. Now, I said “favourite”, not necessarily “best”. Captain America 2 had a tighter script, whereas DFP will have your brain swerving like an articulated truck driven by a drunken monkey to avoid all the plot holes. And I’m not even talking about the inevitable stuff that comes with a time-travel story, as I mentioned in the Meet the Robinsons review there is really no way to do a “travel back in time to save the future story” that makes logical sense. No, this is just basic inconsistencies with how different mutants’ powers work, and seriously bad science. And yet, I enjoyed this movie so much, even more that Cap 2. It moves around at a great clip, there’s some great gags and character moments and it has one phenomenal prison escape scene and also one of the most flat out jaw-dropping effects shots I can remember seeing since I don’t know when. Also, there’s James McEvoy, rapidly becoming one of my favourite actors, giving an absolutely beautiful performance as a young, embittered, broken Charles Xavier that I honestly think would be getting Oscar buzz if it was in a movie with fewer giant flying robots. But there’s a question that’s raised by the movie’s ending that I want to talk about, and to do that I need to spoil pretty much everything about the movie. It concerns six little things that completely changed the entire Marvel universe, and many would argue for the worst.
I refer of course, to Wolverine’s claws.

Alright, you all know Wolverine right? One of the most famous superheroes in pop-culture. Canadian mutant with enhanced senses, heals really quick, metal skeleton and razor sharp claws. He’s one of Marvel’s top tier characters, and also the youngest, being created not in the forties or sixties but in 1974. Wolverine was introduced as an antagonist for the Incredible Hulk, and then was brought into the second, multinational iteration of the X-Men where he quickly became a breakout star. At the time, Wolverine was unique, a snarling, foul-tempered anti-hero who didn’t play nice with others. Other Marvel teams had had their loose cannons before (The Thing in the Fantastic Four, Hawkeye in the Avengers) but they were mostly harmless hotheads. Wolverine seemed genuinely dangerous. And then there were the claws. Instantly iconic, undeniably cool looking and really, really, really dangerous.
You'll put someone's eye out.

You’ll put someone’s eye out.

The Irish Times did this feature called “A History of Ireland in 100 Objects” where they would do an article every week on a different artefact, starting with a 7,000 year old Stone Age fish trap and finishing with a decommissioned IRA weapon, using the history of these objects to tell the story of the entire nation. If you did something similar with the Marvel Universe, Wolverine’s claws would represent a pivotal turning point. You see, unlike say, Spiderman’s webbing or Captain America’s shield, it’s very hard to find a non-lethal way to use razor sharp unbreakable metal claws as a weapon. Given their nature, it was pretty much inevitable that Wolverine would eventually kill somebody, and he did. And then he did it again. And then a bunch more times. Basically, Wolverine became the first major Marvel hero to routinely resort to lethal force and his popularity led to a darkening of the whole Marvel universe and I would argue the DC universe as well. Wolverine is patient zero in what is called the Dark Age of Comics, that cursed era of brooding, angsty, sociopaths, masquerading as heroes. Claws were ubiquitous. Cigar use increased exponentially. The haircut situation was grim.  Every team in the nineties had “a Wolverine”, and if they were written by Rob Liefeld they most likely had five or six. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the claws themselves. Where did they come from?
Wolverine’s skeleton was coated in unbreakable adamantium by a shady government operation that wanted to see what would happen if someone had an unbreakable skeleton and also couldn’t create red blood cells or lymphocytes. And for a long time, it was assumed by fans that Wolverine got the claws as part of that experiment. The limited series Weapon X, which showed the experiment itself, seemed to back that up. When Wolverine is abducted he tries to fight off his attackers by punching them and doesn’t seem to have the claws, which only appear after the adamantium is bonded to his skeleton. But then much later, in X-Men #25, the adamantium is ripped from Wolverine’s bones by perennial X-Men foe Magneto.
“My GOD I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing this sooner!”

“My GOD I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing this sooner!”

It was then revealed that the claws are actually bone, and part of Wolverine’s natural anatomy which has been the consensus ever since. So, why am I bringing this up? Well, let’s go back to Days of Future Past. So the plot of the movie involves the X-Men of the future, who are losing a genocidal war against the robot Sentinels (because there are no good futures in the Marvel universe) sending Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to the nineteen seventies to his old body to change history. So, Wolverine wakes up in his old body in a time when that hairstyle is actually in fashion and quickly discovers that his claws are now bone. See, in the movies, Wolverine got the adamantium later on from a military guy called William Stryker. This was all covered in X-Men Origins: Wolverine which I’ve just saved you from having to watch. Here’s the tip jar.
Ahem. Whatever you feel is fair.

Ahem. Whatever you feel is fair.

So, wacky time travel hijinks ensue  that results in history being changed and Wolverine waking up back in the present where Xavier’s school is thriving, Cyclops and Jean Grey (who died in X-Men 3) are still alive and basically everything is gravy. The movie then flashes back to the nineteen seventies, where seventies Wolverine, almost dead after the final battle, is being taken into custody by William Stryker.
Aha! Says the audience. So, now Stryker is going to experiment on Wolverine and give him the adamantium claws thereby creating the Wolverine we know and love.
"Oh! I see! So everything’s wrapped up in a neat little package!"

“Oh! I see! So everything’s wrapped up in a neat little package!”

But then, in a final twist, Stryker’s eyes go yellow, showing that he’s not actually Stryker but Mystique in disguise!
Ah..huh? says the audience. Wait a minute, that doesn’t make any sense! Does that mean that it was Mystique, and not Stryker who actually grafted the adamantium onto Wolverine? Why would she do that? (In the movies, Mystique is not a villain but a morally ambiguous hero who is actually working to prevent mutant experimentation so this would make no sense for her character). The only logical explanation is that Mystique is here to rescue Wolverine and set him free. So…does that mean Wolverine never gets his adamantium claws? Does the Wolverine in the new, all-gravy future still have bone claws? As I watched it I thought that Bryan Singer had goofed, and that in his attempt to give the audience one last twist, he’d actually created a massive plothole. But now I think this is actually a clue as to what we can expect in the next X-Men movie. In fact, I’m willing to bet money on it.
See, after that final scene there is of course the mandatory post-credits stinger.
Okay, seriously, if you’re an X-Men fan and haven’t seen this movie yet, stop reading now, because this is the biggest spoiler of them all.
Okay, so the final post-credits sequence shows a desert, presumably in Ancient Egypt where a young man stands before a massive crowd who solemnly chant “En Sabah Nur” while he builds Pyramids in the distance with his mind. And over the young man’s should, four figures watch ominously in the distance. Who is this young man? En Sabah Nur is this guy:
Note: Not actual size.

Note: Not actual size.

Apocalypse. The ultimate X-Men villain. Baddest of the bad. He’s a nearly omnipotent, immortal mutant who has a habit of recruiting mutants to be his “Four Horsemen”, those four figures we see in the distance. Now, remember how I said that Wolverine lost his adamantium in the comics? Well, he eventually got it back. Because he was brainwashed by Apocalypse into being one of his horsemen and had adamantium re-bonded to his skeleton. So in answer to the question: does Wolverine now have bone claws, the answer is “Yes”.
But if If they’re going where I think they’re going, not for very long…

43 comments

  1. That’s a great theory! I agree that they purposefully left the ending ambiguous regarding if new-present-day Wolverine had bone or metal claws.
    I saw another Four Horsemen theory that included the four mutants that Mystique saved from the Vietnam camp: Havok, Toad, Ink, and… whoever the fourth one was. They match up pretty well to the traditional Horsemen: Havok/War (“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”), Ink/Pestilence (what with his radioactive power), Toad/Famine, and Fourth Guy/Death. They may have all gone their separate ways, but who knows?

  2. Dammit, I have to wait to read this until I see Days of Future Past. May go tonight. It’s really your favorite in the franchise? I can’t see it topping X1 or X2 for me

  3. Is it funny that even though I haven’t seen the movie, I know about the post credits scene because I work at a movie theatre and had to watch it over and over? People wanted to stay, and I have to clean a theatre. Thanks a bunch, audience.

    In all seriousness, when I saw the desert, I intantly knew who it was, and was constantly saying to myself “Oh god, not him.” over and over. It was a big suprise to say the least.

    Though if we’re getting him in there, then we might as well have Archangel as one of the Horsemen, since the stuff I’ve seen him in–the animated series, the video game X-Men Legends 2, Rise of Apocalypse–always have him as a Horseman. Either way, I’m really anxious to know what’s going to happen.

    The problem I have with this: I read in an article that the next Wolverine movie is going to be the last time Hugh Jackman will play the title character. He’s 99% sure of it. So when it comes to this next movie, if he keeps to his word, either Wolverine isn’t going to be in it, try to talk him into playing the role one more time, or get someone else to play him. And frankly, there isn’t any other person who can play that role than Jackman himself, so I hope he stays for one more X-Men film.

  4. So far, Apocalypse has not been done very well outside of the comics, except for the original X men TV show from the 90’s. He is one of the baddest villains ever, so confident, so unstoppable, that his goal isn’t the death of anyone, its their domination. To his mind, he is a god, immortal, unstoppable, and we are all just weaklings that should worship him. His four horseman are also powerful, but even they are nothing compared to the power of Apocalypse.

    Personally I’d like to see the next movie with him in it. We know a few things,

    1) Jean Grey is alive and well with the power of the Phoenix inside her. As far as I know, the Phoenix and Apocalypse have never fought. I read the book for X3 once, and it said the Phoenix has ultimate power, and I think she may be more powerful than Apocalypse. Problem though, fighting her in the book meant your power went ultimate. Xavier when he fought the Phoenix was so powerful, he was connected to everyone on the planet without Cerebro. Wolverine healed all wounds as fast as he was wounded, making him able to withstand her dissolving attack and allow him to stab her. This could be interesting.

    2) Wolverine likely doesn’t have his claws. Proof, in X1, his camper was a clawed up mess. In DoFP, his room was immaculate, meaning he may have never went through the process that gave him nightmares.

    Feel free to disagree, but these do seem to be facts. Personally, I’d like to see the Phoenix fight Apocalypse, because if I remember the book right, it wasn’t until Jean was almost fully grown that Xavier put the memory and power blocks on Jean, and altered the memory of everyone who knew what power Jean really had. It was also stated in the book, that the Phoenix is actually the next step in evolution, past mutation, which makes it an interesting situation.

    Thoughts anyone?

  5. OK, now I’ve seen it and I liked it. Best Xmen movie since X2. But holy bejessus did they destroy the continuity of the movies. By my reckoning, every Xmen movie except for First Class and Days of Future Past has now been wiped from the timeline, all because of SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS Jean Gray being alive at the end. If she’s alive, then X2 and X3 never happened because she dies at the end of X2. The Wolverine also doesn’t happen because so much of that movie hinged on Wolverine mourning Jean’s death. I’m considering X1 to be retconned as well because of how closely it is tied to X2 and X3. And Origins, well that one was godawful and no one cares if it was retconned.

    I’m curious, what effect were you referring to specifically?

    1. SPOILER The stadium. Although, minor niggle. The day after that the headline would not be “MUTANT SAVES PRESIDENT” but “HOLY FUCKING SHIT MUTANT DROPS FUCKING STADIUM ON THE WHITE HOUSE WE ARE ANTS TO THEM FUCKING ANTS!!!!”

      1. Yeah, I didn’t really buy that resolution. I guess you could argue that it made them realize that not ALL mutants are evil, but still you’d think they’d be absolutely terrified of Magneto

    2. I don’t know, alot of people are saying that X1 and X2 and First Class are canon and X3, Origins, and Wolverine are non-canon thanks to DoFP, I think for Singer, ONLY the ones he co wrote or directed are canon.

      1. Having thought about it some more, I think the case here is that the events of X1, X2, X3, and The Wolverine are canon, but they got wiped from the timeline and so now only Wolverine remembers the events of them. So they happened, but they are now irrelevant to the future movies, which honestly pisses me off

      2. Lobo, well,at least X3 and X Origins don’t matter and aren’t part of the canon, honestly, many people probably don’t consider X3 and X Origins part of the same universe even before DoFP.

      3. I was already of the view that first class had wiped x3 (because it shows Magneto and Xavier falling out and Xavier being crippled long before they met Jean) and Origins (different Emma Frost) from continuity.

  6. I was thinking occasionally throughout about how they were going to give wolverine back his adamantium skeleton and had that a-ha moment when Striker fishes him out, followed by the “huh” when it was Mystique. So thanks for clearing that up.

    The biggest WTF for me was not explaining why we are seeing Patrick Stewart’s Xavier at all. That body was obliterated. A friend of mine came up with sound reasoning, but there was no explanation in the film. His reason was it was just a projectection Xavier was showing everyone from some other body. But how his consciousness lives at all in another body when his powers are part of a genetic mutation to his non existent body is beyond me anyway.

    I don’t think the lack of claw marks in a bedroom of Wolverine’s after X2 (or the point in an alternative timeline) are a sign of much as he has been treated by Xavier for his rage and trauma issues a lot by that point.

    1. Only issue with that is that when he’s transferred into the other guys body he shouldn’t have his powers anymore. His abilities come from his X-gene which he’d no longer have if he was now in a regular human’s body. I honestly just don’t know. The only explanation I can think of is that X-3 was already in a different continuity from the Sentinels future and only some of the events (like Jean and Scott’s death) actually happened.

    2. Oh, and I just realised. X-3 was already wiped from continiuity by First Class, because it showed a much older Xavier and Magneto meeting a young Jean Grey when Xavier could still walk, but now thanks to First Class we know that couldn’t have happened.

      1. Yeah what happens in x-3 and whether it links to the other films is way up in the air. I think “Phoenix happened, cyclops died, human-mutant relations reach all time low” could be all that links X2 to DoFP.

        The scene in X3 does show Xavier mentally communicating from that other body though, so it does hold up somewhat. For the record I think that is really silly for the reason we both stated, powers are in his body (x-gene), body gone, no powers. But it probably should be further, no body should mean no Xavier at all, they just wanted a twist.

        Again despite having seen the cartoon a lot as a child, I only remember Apocalypse as a big armored bad guy. What would have prevented him from being supreme overlord of Earth up until now if he is as powerful as you are all saying?

        This series has gone on way longer than it was ever intended to. I hope Apocalypse ends it all. Give it 5 years (ideally longer, but there is no patience with these properties) and go for a reboot, with a shorter, angrier wolverine who is less of a central character.

      2. Apocalypse, a brief history.

        Apocalypse was abandoned as a baby due to his gray skin and blue lips, however he was saved by Baal and raised with a group of tribal nomads who believed in survival of the fittest. El Sabah Nur, as he was called then quickly became one of the tribes most powerful warriors, and attracted the attention of Pharaoh Rama-Tut, a time traveler from the future. Rama-Tut wiped out the tribe, except for Nur and Baal, but Baal was severely wounded and died of his wounds after showing Nur alien technology hidden in the cave. Nur posed as a slave, infiltrated Tut’s city and was discovered by the beautiful sister of the General of Tut’s army. Enraged, his mutant powers fully realized and he named himself Apocalypse.Rama-Tut realized his mistake, and fled, and Apocalypse then used the advanced technology to enslave the General. Apocalypse discovers advanced alien technology, which he uses to transform and enhance himself. Apocalypse now enters states of suspended animation, while he waits for mutants to become more common, leaving his descendents to act in his stead while he sleeps.

  7. Aaah, the X-Men franchise and the word “continuity”. Seldom have I seen a film series be so faithful to it’s comic book origins in the not so good way. Maybe I’m just spoiled by Marvel and it’s strict iron-hand control of their plot, but even if Fox makes entertaining Marvel movies I just cannot even attempt to care for their continuity. Way I figure it everything but the new Singer directed movies may as well be discarded at this point, feels like that is the path of lesser headaches.
    Any hoo. The theory being drafted that Apocalypse may draft Toad, Ink, that one with the quills and pitch-black eyes and Wolverine (while attwmpting to inject him with Adamantium again because references) sounds pretty neat, but that’s only because that one at least sounds like it makes sense. Having read up on the series Age of Apocalypse it certainly sounds like it could be a rethread of this one- time travel (except Bishop is key this time around instead of Kitty Pryde), changing a bad future, massively convoluted backstory and battle… but reding up on Apocalypse that was apparently far from hia first appearance. So I am quite puzzled as to what syory Fox will write here: actually adapt Age of Apocalypse, another time travel story, or just go with something like “Apocalypse awakens in the 80′s” (that’s what the movie is speculated to take place) “and starts tearing shit up and has to be stopped by Magneto and Xavier”. Though as complex as that sounds, it will be fun to see Magneto tackle what is essentially a Mutant Social Darwinist.

  8. My take on this new timeline is that parts of X1 and The Wolverine will still happen. X1 because Wolverine and Rouge have to get to the school somehow, and The Wolverine because Yashida will still seek out Wolverine. It’s too early to say how Wolvy will get the claws, so Origins and X2 are up in the air. That also means The Wolverine is up in the air, I guess, because we don’t know what Wolvy will be up to at that time in the new timeline. And if Jean is still alive then X3 is totally out.

      1. I saw her twice in the movie, she’s in the first scene, as the scavenger with the torchlight who’s skulking around, and then at the end with Bobby. You can always find her by that streak of white hair she has.

  9. DoFT was, in many ways, Professor X’s story, and I’ve got a good feeling this next movie will be Magneto’s; it could show his ideologies and arrogance challenged against a virtually omnipotent being who believes not all mutants are created equal.

    The first thing I thought of upon hearing Apocalypse was going to be the main villain was the possible movie introduction to Cable. An X-Factor film is allegedly down the pipeline, and the presence of Apocalypse (As well as, presumably, Mr. Sinister), would be a great opportunity to introduce him into the franchise.

    Just one little worry I have with that. I agree with Göran Isacson up above; Age of Apocalypse, while a pretty interesting “What If?” story, really wouldn’t work as a movie plot coming right off of DoFP. That said, Cable’s original introduction in the comics, as a man sent to the past to prevent the future, might seem like a retread of old ideas to casual audiences. Whatever it will be, I’m nonetheless excited with whatever direction they go for.

    Here’s another idea: A Mystique spin-off movie, possibly depicting her as the leader to the Government-controlled mutant team Freedom Force.

      1. X-Force, right, I always mix those two up.

        A solo Deadpool movie has been floating around for years now, but I haven’t heard anything definite. Last I heard there’s a script for it, and Ryan Reynolds is still totally on board with a more faithful adaptation (I recall him once saying he’s hoping Deadpool will narrate his own movie trailer).

  10. Mouse. not really, I’m not the biggest Deadpool fan, but I find his comic book version to be more fun and interesting than a boring generic final boss, besides they’re scrapping that origin anyway.

  11. I’d argue that the death of Gwen Stacy darkened the Marvel and DC universes more than Wolvie claws. :p Speaking of which, what did you think of THAT movie?

  12. True. Gwen’s death proved the mortality of the characters in these worlds, even the major ones. Wolverine’s claws put an emphasis on that. A lot.

    Btw, you should watch the Amazing Spider-Man reboot movies. They are incredibly flawed, but I think you’ll really like Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in them.

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