Comics
Published May 8, 2024

Wolverine's Adamantium Skeleton, Explained

How did Wolverine get his adamantium skeleton? Discover Logan's history with Weapon X, the moment he lost his adamantium, and more here!

When Wolverine first joined the X-Men, his mutant teammates assumed his metal claws were part of his gloves—but whenever Logan popped his claws, he gave his fellow X-Men a glimpse of his adamantium skeleton, a painful souvenir from his time in the Weapon X Program. 

Although Logan was not born with his unbreakable metal skeleton, it helped make him one of the most formidable fighters in the Marvel Universe and turned his claws into lethal weapons. However, Logan's skeleton has also factored into some of his most devastating defeats, and it's caused more than a few problems for the X-Men over the years, too. 

Now, let's take a closer look at Wolverine and go under the skin to break down his tortured history with his adamantium skeleton, as well as the way it still causes trouble for the X-Men today.

WHAT IS ADAMANTIUM?

Adamantium is an artificial metal alloy that is indestructible and capable of cutting through almost any substance. Inspired by the legends of Hercules' adamantine mace, Doctor Myron MacLain tried to create an unbreakable metal during World War II. His initial efforts involved vibranium and resulted in proto-adamantium, the alloy that makes up Captain America's shield. His subsequent efforts led to the creation of true adamantium, the incredibly rare and incredibly expensive metal that covers Wolverine's skeleton and his naturally occurring bone claws. 

Although adamantium can be liquified at extreme temperatures, it is remarkably resilient and can only be altered on a molecular level after it cools. Adamantium's only weaknesses are unique cosmic or mystical forces, like the enchanted Muramasa Blade and Antarctic vibranium, which can dissolve all metals.  

In its various forms, adamantium has been used by several heroes and villains throughout the Marvel Universe beyond Wolverine. Adamantium debuted as an indestructible outer plating for Ultron in AVENGERS (1963) #66 by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith. Sabretooth also had adamantium bonded to his claws and skeleton, while Logan's foes Cyber and Solem have adamantium-coated skin. Logan's children, Laura Kinney and Daken, both wield adamantium claws, and villains like Lady Deathstrike, Bullseye, Doctor Octopus, and Hammerhead all have adamantium fused into their bodies as well. 

HOW WOLVERINE GOT HIS ADAMANTIUM SKELETON

Wolverine received his adamantium skeleton from the Weapon X Program, as detailed in the iconic MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS: WEAPON X epic by Barry Windsor-Smith. Weapon X is the Canadian-operated offshoot of the Weapon Plus Program, a government operation dedicated to creating super-soldiers like Captain America. 

With the backing of the ancient mutant mastermind Romulus, a scientist called Professor Thornton captured Logan and the other members of Team X, a retired squad of mutant spies, for experimentation in the Weapon X Program. Using a procedure devised by Doctor Abraham Cornelius and Carol Hines, Weapon X coated Wolverine's skeleton in adamantium in a grueling process that, coupled with intense brainwashing, pushed him into a mindless, almost feral state. 

In addition to helping him survive the bonding process, Wolverine's mutant powers interacted with adamantium in a few unique ways. When the metal bonded to his bones, it created a new alloy called adamantium beta, which remains indestructible but allows his bone marrow to carry out its normal bodily functions. The adamantium also overloaded his healing factor, which kept him from devolving into a more animal-like state. 

Weighing roughly 100 lbs., Logan's adamantium skeleton also reinforced his musculature, which offers him some super-strength and enhanced speed. Since Wolverine's claws are a natural part of his skeleton, they were also coated in adamantium, and Logan briefly developed the ability to conduct heat through them years later.

HOW WOLVERINE LOST HIS ADAMANTIUM SKELETON

After Wolverine established himself as a central member of the X-Men, he faced one of his most harrowing defeats when Magneto used his Omega-level mutant powers to rip all of the adamantium out of his body. During the "Fatal Attractions" crossover event, Magneto generated a worldwide electromagnetic pulse, which killed thousands of humans. 

As the X-Men confronted the Master of Magnetism on his space station, Wolverine slashed at Magneto to stop him from killing Quicksilver in X-MEN (1991) #25 by Fabian Nicieza and Andy Kubert. In response, Magneto ripped all of the adamantium from Logan's body on a molecular level. This agonizing process completely overwhelmed Logan's healing factor, and Jean Grey had to telekinetically hold his body together while Professor X telepathically held his mind together. 

Once his body healed, Logan devolved into a more feral state and painfully learned his claws were bone when he popped them for the first time since Magneto's attack. As Logan tried to outrun his increasingly feral instincts, he fell into the hands of Genesis, Cable's evil son. 

To make Wolverine his servant, Genesis tried to give him a new adamantium skeleton in WOLVERINE (1988) #100 by Larry Hama and Adam Kubert. However, Wolverine consciously rejected the procedure to save a nearby Cannonball. With his healing factor in overdrive, Wolverine reverted to an animal-like appearance and savagely killed Genesis and his followers, the Dark Riders. With help from Daredevil allies Stick and Elektra, Wolverine slowly regained his humanity and usual appearance.

HOW WOLVERINE REPLACED HIS ADAMANTIUM SKELETON

With just his bone claws and healing factor, Wolverine returned to the X-Men until he got his adamantium skeleton back from an unlikely source: Apocalypse. While in space with the X-Men, Wolverine was captured by Apocalypse and replaced by a Skrull imposter. 

As the fake Logan carried on with the team, the real Wolverine was tested by Apocalypse, as revealed in WOLVERINE (1988) #145 by Erik Larsen and Leinil Francis Yu. Apocalypse made Wolverine battle Sabretooth, who had a full adamantium skeleton, for the right to be his new Horseman of Death. To stop Sabretooth from getting that kind of power, Wolverine viciously attacked his rival and maneuvered around his adamantium skeleton. 

Once that fight was over, Apocalypse placed Wolverine and Sabretooth in a giant machine that broke down Sabretooth's adamantium on a molecular level and transferred it to Wolverine. Additionally, Apocalypse put Logan through a brainwashing process that turned him into his loyal servant, Death. 

On Apocalypse's orders, Wolverine tested his new adamantium by making him fight the Hulk, kill his Skrull imposter, and face off against the X-Men. However, Jubilee, Psylocke, and Logan's other close friends in the X-Men helped him overcome his mental programming. 

HOW WOLVERINE'S ADAMANTIUM SKELETON HURT HIM

Without his adamantium, Wolverine's healing factor almost turned him feral—but without his healing factor, Wolverine's adamantium almost killed him. After concluding that mutantkind was too dangerous to live, the High Evolutionary once built an energy field that neutralized mutant powers around the world. 

As the X-Men came to terms with the loss of their powers, Wolverine revealed he was experiencing advanced stages of adamantium poisoning and became visibly ill in X-MEN (1991) #99 by Alan Davis, Terry Kavanagh, and Brett Booth. However, the X-Men resolved that crisis quickly, and their powers returned. When Wolverine lost his healing factor again years later, he took medicine designed by Beast to stop the poisoning. 

Even with his healing factor, Wolverine's adamantium ocassionally becomes more of a liability than an asset. When an older version of Wolverine from another reality spent some time in the Marvel Universe, his healing factor began fading and made him more vulnerable. After consulting Doctor Cecilia Reyes and Shaman, this Logan learned the adamantium in his body was breaking down and overwhelming his healing factor with toxins in OLD MAN LOGAN (2016) #46 by Ed Brisson and Damian Couceiro. Although the Regenix compound gave him temporary relief by replicating his healing abilities, Logan's condition would have killed him within a year if he had not died fighting Sabretooth back in his home reality.

WOLVERINE'S ADAMANTIUM SKELETON SENTINELS

When the mutants of the world came together to form the nation of Krakoa, Wolverine began leaving duplicates of his adamantium skeleton all around the Marvel Universe. As the dream of Krakoa became realized, Professor X and a group of young X-Men called the Five developed a procedure that allowed them to pool their powers together to effectively raise the dead. 

Whenever a mutant died, the Five would generate a cloned body for them, and Xavier would telepathically replace their mind from a regularly updated backup copy. As a member of the X-Men and X-Force squads that regularly went on hazardous missions, Wolverine experienced this process of death and rebirth several times, and he inadvertently left several of his adamantium skeletons behind around the world.  

While Krakoa may have lost track of Logan's spare adamantium skeletons, the anti-mutant organization Orchis did not. After collecting the discarded skeletons, Orchis fused them with Sentinel technology to create Sentinel Zeroes in X-MEN (2021) #23 by Gerry Duggan and Joshua Cassara. Although Wolverine's bones gave them an indestructible frame, the rest of their circuits were as vulnerable as any Sentinel's, and the X-Men could destroy them with energy-based attacks. However, they still serve as a stark reminder of how dangerous Wolverine's adamantium claws can be in the wrong hands.

Want to read more about Wolverine and his incredible adamantium skeleton? Join Marvel Unlimited for instant access to 30,000+ comics on the Marvel Unlimited app or on the web, with digital issues spanning Marvel Comics classics to ongoing series!

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