The Ultimate Universe version of Wolverine had a lot in common with its main counterpart, but it never lived up to its heroic legacy.
Created with the goal of modernizing some of Marvel’s most popular characters, the Ultimate Universe made some pretty drastic changes to well-known characters. From classic Avengers like Hank Pym to otherworldly cosmic threats like Galactus, Earth-1610 wasn’t afraid to go the extra mile when it came to revamping classic characters. A Marvel icon that was drastically different from his counterpart on Earth-616 was Wolverine. Despite having a similar origin to the classic version of Logan, this new iteration had a much meaner streak and was much more selfish, to the point that many times he was more of a villain than an anti-hero.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Like its counterpart in the main continuity, this version of Wolverine was extremely durable. It was revealed in the Definitive origins Brian Michael Bendis and Butch Guice miniseries that while serving in WWII as James “Lucky Jim” Howlett, he was arrested by the United States Army for looting a war zone. Treated like a captive guinea pig, he was experimented on until he became Mutant Zero, the first of many mutants from the Definitive Universe.
After years of escaping and being captured by various groups, James was finally kidnapped and recruited into the Weapon X program, where his mind was erased and adamantium was grafted onto his skeleton. Working for Weapon X for years, James was tortured, dehumanized, and treated like little more than an animal … or a weapon.
After finally escaping the show’s control with the help of Nick Fury, James spent time as an assassin, working with Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy for nearly two years. It was during this time that James first encountered the X-Men on the pages of Ultimate X-Men by Mark Millar and Adam Kubert. Hoping to end Xavier’s dream, Erik sends Logan to infiltrate his rival’s school and team with the goal of killing Charles and sabotaging the team from within. During his mission, he seduces 19-year-old Jean Gray to further establish himself as a member of the team.
Although he begins to believe in Xavier’s dream after falling in love with Jean, he doesn’t come clean until the two of them are in bed together, just before Magneto attacks Washington DC with the intention of assassinating the president on television in alive. While trying to redeem himself by trying to eliminate Magneto single-handedly, he is finally subdued by his former leader.
Wolverine seems serious about turning a new page when rescuing his new Weapon X teammates, but takes a big step back when Professor X sends him, Cyclops, and Kitty Pryde on a mission to the Savage Land. While Xavier sent the two men together to overcome their enmity, Wolverine takes the opposite approach.
When disaster strikes, and Cyclops is left dangling off the side of a cliff, Logan not only fails to lift him, but drops him, presumably to his death, so he can regain Jean’s affection. When Cyclops finally returns to the team after surviving Logan’s betrayal, he hits Wolverine point blank, but gives him one last chance and allows him to stay with the group when he sees that Logan is legitimately trying to turn the page. This leads to new attempts at Logan’s redemption.
While he tries to stay straight and tight from that point on, he’s still willing to cross lines that others won’t, even going on a mission for Nick Fury and SHIELD to assassinate the Hulk after Bruce Banner survived execution for his. crimes. During their confrontation, Banner taunts Logan by revealing that Fury has the Ultimates ready to kill Logan if he ever betrays the X-Men, showing what a threat this Logan really is. Banner and Logan finally resolve their differences and confront Fury, but not before Wolverine seriously injures Betty Ross in her She-Hulk persona and risks dozens of innocent lives by confronting Banner on a plane that they later end up jumping out of.
Even when a later version of this Logan travels back in time from the future as the ultimate version of Cable to prevent the rise of Apocalypse, this future Logan brutally defeats the other X-Men, proving just how ruthless he could be even in his attempts to heroism. And when half the X-Men become addicted to the power-enhancing drug Banshee, Wolverine slices through Colossus’ heart when he takes on his alloy ally.
While this version of Logan may not have been fully redeemed prior to his death at the hands of Magneto during Ultimatum by Jeph Loeb and David Finch, the Ultimate Wolverine’s mantle is redeemed thanks to Logan’s long-lost son Jimmy Hudson. While the mainstream version of Logan is best known as a gruff but noble samurai warrior, Ultimate Wolverine truly was the best at what he did, but nothing he did was very pleasant.
KEEP READING: X-Men: Why Ultimate Gambit Never Joined Team Marvel
Harley Quinn proves she’s STILL DC’s most underrated hero
About the Author