James Howlett, a.k.a. Wolverine is without a doubt one of the most famous X-Men from Marvel’s famous franchise of the same name. Wolverine is a mutant and a member of Professor X’s X-Men, but also one of the most powerful mutants in the franchise. But, how powerful is he, actually?
According to the standard Mutant Power Level Classification of Marvel’s Earth-616 (Prime Earth), Wolverine is a Beta-level mutant, which means that he can actually pass off as a human, but only if not observed very carefully.
The X-Men are one of Marvel’s most famous franchises. They first appeared in the comic book The X-Men #1 (1963) and were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the pioneers of Marvel Comics’ franchises.
The franchise is centered around the eponymous X-Men, a group of mutants, i.e., humans with special abilities activated by the X-Gene. The premise is focused on the relations between the mutants and the humans, but also between the X-Men themselves. Whereas Professor X leads a group of heroic mutants that want to coexist with humans and help them, his former friend and rival, Magneto, thinks that the humans would destroy the X-Men if they could, which is why he considers them to be an enemy.
The X-Mane have also fought a plethora of cosmic foes, some of which have been villains in other Marvel franchises. The franchise has become very popular among the fans and the critics, and it led to the development of several movies, TV shows, and video games based on the franchise. The X-Men have also crossed over with other Marvel characters, most notably the Avengers.
Now that you know the basics, let us discuss the topic of our article – Wolverine.
Who is Wolverine?
Wolverine is the superhero/mutant name of one James Howlett, a fictional superhero/antihero appearing in Marvel’s X-Men franchise. Wolverine is also know as Logan and Weapon X.
He was created by Roy Tomas, Len Wein and John Romita Sr. and made his first full appearance in The Incredible Hulk #181 (1974), after having had a cameo appearance in the preceding issue of the same comic. Wolverine is a typical antihero, although most incarnations show him as being a superhero and a member of the X-Men, despite him having a very unorthodox approach to fighting crime and the status of mutants in the world.
Wolverine’s origin story involves a lot of blood and tragedy. He was born as James Howlett in Canada during the 1880s, as the son of John and Elizabeth Howlett; he was actually the illegitimate son of the groundskeeper Thomas Logan, which explains one of his aliases. Although his creators weren’t sure on which origin story to pick for him, the contemporary Marvel canon states that Wolverine first manifested his powers when bone claws appeared from his hands after his father had killed John Howlett as a retaliation for the latter sending him away after he had been falsely accused of rape. He used the claws to kill Thomas Logan, avenging John Howlett’s death, but now knowing that he was actually murdering his own father.
He then became a soldier and mercenary, fighting in both World Wars and living a solitary life in between. He was recruited as a member of the infamous Team X and given false memory implants. He managed to break free from the fabricated reality, but was ultimately kidnapped and turned into a test subject for the Weapon X project. During this captivity, adamantium was inserted into his body, which augmented his powers and made him the famous mutant he is today. He managed to escape and regain his humanity with the help of some friends. Later on, he was recruited by Professor X as a member of the X-Men and the rest is – history.
Wolverine soon became one of the most popular X-Men and a fan favourite not just among Marvel fans, but also comic book fans in general. He is one of the rare X-Men characters to get his own, solo series of comic books. He also appeared in a number of derivative materials, the best known among them being the X-Men movie franchise, where he was played (in all iterations) by Hugh Jackman.
Mutant Power Level Classification
Mutants in the X-Men franchise are classified based on the level of their powers and how much they resemble humans. There are several systems of classification within the Multiverse, but we are only going to discuss the one used on Earth-616, the primary Earth in Marvel’s Multiverse. The primary system of classification on Earth-616 is based on Greek letters and contains a total of six groups. The groups are:
- Alpha level mutants – the first group is named after the Greek letter alpha (Α) and includes those mutants who are completely human-like and who can fully control their powers. They are usually very skilled and are great fighters, but have the ability to fully control their powers and generally look like humans so they are very difficult to detect. Professor X is the most famous and the most powerful Alpha level mutant, with Rogue also being a good example, but only after she learned how to control her powers. As a result of all these facts, Alpha level mutants have no limitations placed on them.
- Beta level mutants – named after the Greek letter beta (Β), this group contains mutants that are generally human-like at first glance, but will contain some trait – more or less visible – that will distinguish them from regular humans. They also cannot fully control their powers in the way that they cannot hide them or “turn them off” when needed. They could pass as humans in most occasions, but they have to watch out for the revealing element. Cyclops is probably the best example of a Beta level mutant since he cannot turn his power off. Gambit can control his powers, but he has red eyes, while Rogue initially couldn’t have direct contact with anyone else, despite being completely human-like.
- Gamma level mutants – the third group is based on the third letter of the Greek alphabet, gamma (Γ), and includes mutants who have a high degree of control over their powers, but are visually so distinctive that they cannot pass as humans without disguise. Nightcrawler is the best example from this group, but also Raven, who has to use her shapeshifting abilities pass of as a regular human.
- Delta level mutants – the Greek letter delta (Δ) is used to describe the fourth group of mutants. Delta level mutants can usually pass of as humans, similarly to Alpha and Beta level mutants, but either don’t have complete control over their powers or their powers are not outwardly manifested. Delta level mutants can go for years without even realising that they have powers. The best example is Domino, whose power is pure “good luck”, manifesting itself in high-adrenaline situations as a leniency towards her in such situations, meaning that she’ll avoid a bullet in a dangerous situation.
- Epsilon level mutants – the last group that follows the ordering of the Greek alphabet, using the letter epsilon (Ε) as a basis, and the criteria used above. Epsilon level mutants are, usually, useless in combat, since they either have no powers at all, or have powers that they cannot use in combat. Still, they are mutants and like Gamma level mutants, they cannot pass of as humans without disguise. Morlocks, a group of Epsilon level outcasts who live in the sewers, are one example, with Tommy of the Morlocks being their best-known member.
- Omega level mutants – the last group is not actually based on the above used criteria, but rather on the power the mutants in the group have; that is why they are called after the last letter of the Greek alphabet, omega (Ω). These mutants are so powerful that they can cause complete and utter destruction, which is why the humans are afraid of them and they are usually under special supervision. The supervillain Magneto is the most famous Omega level mutant, with Storm of the X-Men being another prominent example. One could also argue that a full-power Jean Grey (Phoenix) could also be classified as an Omega level mutant.
It is important to note that these classifications are not set in stone, since mutants tend to evolve as time goes by, discovering new powers and abilities, which could lead to their reclassification. Now, let us summarise the groups in table form:
Which class does Wolverine belong to?
Now that we’ve explained the classification system, let us see where Wolverine would go.
Based on everything we know about him and his powers, Wolverine would undoubtedly be classified as a Beta level mutant. Why is that so?
As far as being human-like is concerned, Wolverine can easily pass of as one at first glance. Not just that, he doesn’t even have any external revealing traits, so you wouldn’t notice him not being human just by looking at him. What he does have is an extra set of bones and muscles in each forearm and adamantium in his body, which means that an X-Ray would reveal hat he is not a human. Wolverine often used this to his advantage, hiding successfully among humans for almost 150 years.
The second element (control over one’s powers) is a bit tricky when Wolverine is concerned. Namely, although Wolverine can summon his blades at will, there are a lot of situations where he cannot control them coming out, as they react to danger, anger and stress. In such situations, Wolverine usually cannot control them and they will come out by themselves, which is a trait of Beta level mutants. The same goes for his healing abilities, since he cannot decide not to heal himself because he wants to – his body will do it regardless of his wishes.
And this is why Wolverine is a Beta level mutant and a rather typical example of one.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!