As I was working my way through a marathon grading session earlier today, I was struck with an idea for a new series. I’m the type of guy who’s in his own head a lot and, as a result, I tend to over think things too. However, if I’m being honest, not everything I spend my time obsessively thinking about is worthy of the time I devote to it…or really even important at all. So this series will highlight the questions and/or issues that I devote plenty of mental energy to – as I wrestle with all their ins and outs, awash in angst over a solution I just can’t find – when I should probably be thinking about, you know, things that really matter :). Our first topic? Why it’s none other than Wolverine’s claws!
I’ve spent a lot of time in my life thinking about Wolverine’s claws. How couldn’t you?!? The man has razor sharp, retractable bone claws that pop out of the back of this hands and, because they’re (usually) covered with the indestructible metal known as adamantium (as is his skeleton), they can cut through just about anything. As a kid, Wolverine was always my favorite X-Man so I often pretended to be Wolverine when we’d play superheroes. I also had a few Wolverine toys I’d return to often when we’d play with our superhero action figures. So I thought about his claws, and having claws myself, a lot. As an adult, my imagination is still pretty good and sometimes it just wanders off. I’ve written before how, at my last job as a Youth Minister, I’d often imagine popping Wolverine’s claws out of my hands as I’d walk across the parking lot from the church I worked at to the school that was tied to it. I don’t know…there’s just something about imagining claws popping out of your hands that makes life seem richer. I should also add that I imagine having claws pop out of my hands when I think of opening doors or anything really, when I’m walking by poles, anytime I’m watching one of the Purge movies, when I see someone has carelessly parked their car over the line and is taking up TWO PARKING SPACES LIKE AN INCONSIDERATE JERK, if I see someone driving like an asshat, if I ponder the age old question of what it would be like to get in a fight with some imaginary individual when you have claws that pop out of your hands and they just have lame, regular hands or maybe a weapon that isn’t even attached to their hand at all, or if my mind just has a free few moments. Now, I grant that was a bit of a run-on sentence. But I think about having Wolverine claws a lot so I have lots of examples I can list. I could list more…but let’s move on.
Imagining myself with Wolverine’s claws isn’t what’s causing me to be needlessly angsty though. Imagining myself with Wolverine claws is fantastic. Rather the issue is how Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (who I totally love; you can click here to read all about it) and the X-Men movies at large have forever ruined the fun of imagining myself with Wolverine claws. Thanks Hollywood! You ruin history when you poorly and inaccurately tell the stories of our past. You ruin literature anytime you try to adapt it. Now you’ve ruined one of life’s purest and simplest pleasures – imagining myself with Wolverine claws. And try as I might, I can’t get around this problem and I think of it every time I imagine having Wolverine claws so I think of it A LOT. And EVERY TIME it makes me angsty.
You see, when Wolverine was first created by Len Wein, John Romita Sr., and Herb Trimpe (for his original appearance in The Incredible Hulk #180-182), the claws were a feature of his gloves. They quickly became a part of him, housed inside his forearms. First they were placed there by the Weapon X project and later it was adapted so that they were always part of his mutation. As part of him, they were covered with adamantium like the rest of his skeleton. Anyway, the design was always that he had what amounted to metal sheaths on the back of his hands and the claws would slide up and out of those sheaths.
Then along comes Hugh Jackman (who I really do love!), Bryan Singer, and the Fox X-Men films and all of a sudden WOLVERINE’S CLAWS SLIDE OUT FROM BETWEEN HIS KNUCKELS NOW. I’m sorry people but this is a HUGE PROBLEM! Imagining claws popping out of the back of my hands is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from imagining claws popping out of my knuckles. Do you know what the biggest problem is?? It just doesn’t work the same. AT ALL. Imagine high fiving someone with your claws out. If they are on the back of your hand, no problem. They aren’t in line with your fingers. You could totally high five someone with no threat of danger at all. But if they are in line with your fingers and sliding out in between your knuckles then you could totally cut open someone’s fingers with a poorly managed high five. This is unacceptable!
Also, it just looks dumb. Now, I grant they don’t look dumb if your hands are curled into a fist. Then imagining them popping out from between your knuckles still looks totally badass and there is relatively little difference from having them pop out of the backs of your hands. But all it takes is uncurling and extending the fingers and it all looks super stupid. Think of jumping out of an exploding helicopter with your claws already extended (say, you were fighting a super villain so your claws were out (because why wouldn’t they be?? you were fighting a super villain!!) when the helicopter exploded and you had to jump for safety). How silly does it look with your claws coming out in between your fingers like they are extra blade fingers or something?!? I’ll answer my own question. IT LOOKS SUPER RIDICULOUS. Also, how do you even grab on to something in this helicopter scenario to save your life because as your fingers go to grasp it, your dumb claws (which are already out because, as we discussed, in this imaginary situation you were fighting a super villain (so claws out for safety and victory) and had to immediately jump out before you died (or got seriously burned) in a helicopter explosion) cut through whatever you were going to grab.
NOW imagine having your fingers extended and bending them back so they are angled slightly behind the palm of your hand. In this situation these through-the-knuckles claws WOULD BE EXTENDED OUT SLIGHTLY IN FRONT OF YOUR FINGERS. YOUR FINGERS COULD BE BEHIND YOUR CLAWS, CLAWS THAT ONCE CAME OUT OF THE BACK OF YOUR HAND WHERE THEY DID THE SAME THING BUT LOOKED 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 TIMES COOLER. Oh my gosh are you kidding me or something?!?!? Who is okay with this???
Of course I remember that scene in 2000’s X-Men where, looking at Logan’s x-rays, Jean Grey tells Professor Xavier that the adamantium covers his whole skeleton. Then they show the x-ray/computer image of his claws sliding up through his forearm and the knuckles in his hand separating so the claws could come out. Yes, I get that’s all very plausible and arguably more “real world” (ugh…just like their black leather outfits as opposed to their actual comic book costumes) than having them just slide up and out of the back of his hand. I mean, how would they angle up? Does he have to clean the little adamantium sheaths? What about when he didn’t have the adamantium that seemed to make the sheaths? Did the claws just come out of the back of his hand at an angle? These are all questions the claws-from-knuckles approach doesn’t raise. These are also questions I never had in my head before the claws-from-knuckles approach became a thing. Wolverine is one of the biggest, toughest, s.o.b.’s in all of comic history. Do we really need to picture him with his fingers bending back (in a totally normal and natural way that fingers are want to do when you’re stretching them out for various reasons) behind his super cool claws?!? I say NO WE DON’T,
But here’s the problem. NOW I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. Every single time I imagine Wolverine extending his claws or me having my own set of claws popping out of my hands, the imagination trip is derailed right at the start by thinking of where the heck the claws are popping out of. I DON’T NEED THIS!!! Yet here I am. And because the comics now (sadly) seem to more often than not take their artistic/plot cues from the movies (think a needless Civil War II, the Guardians of the Galaxy hunting for Infinity Stones (which used to be called Infinity Gems) in the lead up to Avengers: Infinity War, Thor cutting his hair in The Unworthy Thor because Chris Hemsworth has short hair in Thor: Ragnarök, Quake growing her hair out because Chloe Bennet has shoulder length hair in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Guardians of the Galaxy losing Kitty Pryde/Ben Grimm/Venom because they aren’t in the films, the Defenders reforming around Luke Cage/Jessica Jones/Daredevil/Iron Fist, etc. and so on) Wolverine’s claws have started sliding out from in between his knuckles in the comics too.
Why are we here?? How has life taken this turn?!? I can’t dump the mental image of the claws-from-knuckles no matter how hard I try and because I can’t get rid of it I can’t stop the cognitive dissonance that now pollutes the once simple joy of thinking about having sweet claws popping out of my hands. I don’t know how to reconcile all of this!!!
Ugh…I can’t even. I think I’m going to take some Excedrin and go to bed. This is stressing me out. It’s also making me needlessly angsty (so at least the title’s apropos ). BUT, the claws-from-knuckles approach has become a part of my awareness of the character. AND I think about Wolverine and having Wolverine claws a lot. So this disturbing mental angst is now just a part of my life. Siiiiiiiiiigh…say what you want about the bone claws from the 1990’s but at least they never stressed me out like this.