Wolverine Was Never Intended to Be a Mutant (or Join the X-Men)

Wolverine was first introduced some 47 years ago within the closing moments of The Incredible Hulk #180, and in the decades since, has become one of Marvel's most recognizable characters. Some might even place him as one of the most popular comic book characters ever created. While he's often synonymous with Professor X and the X-Men, Wolverine wasn't originally intended to join the superhero group. In fact, even after he was created and released to the public, there were never any plans on him becoming a mutant.

"The idea was always that he'd be a hero, but I didn't think that far ahead," Wolverine co-creator Roy Thomas tells us. "I just figured toss him out there and see what happens. I called in Len [Wein], told him the name, the fact he's Canadian, and he's short because a wolverine's a small animal."

Then, a need arose to market Marvel books to international communities. Al Landau, a publisher that sold Marvel pages abroad at the time, suggested coming up with a team made up of international superheroes. That's when Thomas started to work on formulating Giant-Size X-Men alongside Stan Lee and a few other executives. Suddenly, Wolverine found himself as a member of his very own superhero team.

"I used that excuse because I wanted to bring back the X-Men," Thomas says. "I said, 'Yeah we should do that with the X Men, have one or two old members bring in a bunch of new guys.'"

He adds, "My idea is they were going to be in a ship... I mean, I never told anybody this...but my idea in my head was they'd be in some ship inside a cloud hovering over this place and that place looking for mutants and so forth. And it was just a different version of what they actually did."

Thomas says he told his idea to Lee and got an instant approval. From there, Thomas assigned writer Mike Friedrich and artist Dave Cockrum to the issue. Before long, however, Thomas left his post atop Marvel Editorial and was replaced by Wein. Wein then appointed himself as the writer to work alongside Cockrum.

"Luckily he [Wein] brought in two other characters of mine because I'd always been interested in foreign characters becoming superheroes, the Banshee and Sun Fire, and then made up a bunch of new ones," Thomas adds.


He concludes, "Cockrum was very inventive in that way, as was Len. All of a sudden, a book that was supposed to break even in this country and make money abroad, suddenly over the next couple of years, did a lot better than break even in this country. But that's what happens when you get a good idea and then a good creative team."