Thanks to Marvel and Fox’s wildly successful new film Logan, the nearly 200-year-old mutant has been the subject of much examination. Many critics have discussed the impressive length of Hugh Jackman’s career playing Weapon X, but few have really gone deep into Wolverine’s anatomy.
We know the basics: Logan’s romantic experiences with Rose and Jean Grey, his history in Japan, and his relationships with his surrogate father Xavier and his sort-of daughter, Laura. We know how he got his adamantium from Alkali Transigen, and we know that the insidious metal fused to his skeleton slowly eats him alive in Logan.
We do not, however, know whether his penis’s foreskin is intact. And it’s a harder question to answer than you might expect.
The issue of whether Wolverine is circumcised is made complicated by his tumultuous childhood in Canada, his mutation manifesting in his adolescence, his numerous forced surgeries, and the exact properties of his natural healing factor.
This also suggests several follow-up questions. First, were non-Jewish Canadian children routinely circumcised in the late 1800s? Second, would Wolverine’s healing factor, which manifested around the time he turned 13, reverse older “injuries,” including the removal of his foreskin? Third, what can we infer from studying other mutants, specifically Laura, who was constructed in a lab using Wolverine’s DNA?
A Quick Review of Logan’s Childhood
According to Marvel canon, Wolverine was born James Howlett in 19th century Canada. Wolverine’s mutation — his rapid healing factor and bone claws — manifested just in time for him to kill one guy and injure another. After running away, James “Wolverine” Howlett changed his name to Logan, which he went by until his death in 2029.
In 1876, the Encyclopedia Britannica defined circumcision as a religious act carried out by Jews, Muslims, the Ancient Egyptians, and assorted tribes around the world. In 1910, the same updated edition changed its circumcision definition from a strictly religious one to a “surgical operation which is commonly prescribed for purely medical reasons.”
That means that across the Western world, circumcision became a mainstream procedure over a period of only 34years. Unfortunately for curious Marvel fans, James Howlett was born during that period of cultural shifting, so there’s no telling whether his wealthy parents would have elected to have him circumcised. However, historical accounts say that circumcision was practiced earlier than its rise in popular culture by the British royal family, which Wolverine’s wealthy Anglo-Canadian family would likely have wanted to emulate.
Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the Howletts did have their son circumcised. How would that have manifested once he turned out to be a mutant?
Could a Healing Factor Have Reversed Very Old Wounds?
Wolverine’s natural healing factor, which works at the cellular level to reverse any damage done to his living tissue, has been analyzed by real-life scientists and engineers in recent decades. There’s even a synthetic material in the works, inspired specifically by one engineer’s love for Wolverine comics.
Since circumcision is technically a wound, it’s possible that Wolverine’s foreskin would have grown back when his healing factor appeared, which happened when he was a young teen. But that raises another question: Did the sudden arrival of instant mending retroactively regenerate foreskin, even though it was a wound from over a decade ago?
It’s hard to know, because they never address old wounds in his origin story. And perhaps, after 11 or so years, circumcision is no longer a wound, but a long-ago amputation.
Wolverine has had sex with approximately 33 different Marvel characters across comics, including Jean Grey, Storm, several women during his time in Japan, and even Hercules in an alternate comic universe, and not one has ever described his penis in a way that’s useful to our investigation.
What About Other Mutants?
Perhaps because Laura, aka X-23, is a young woman and not a grizzled old dude like her father, many, many fans have conducted lengthy online discussions about her hymen and whether it would “grow back” due to her healing factor once sexual intercourse punctured it. This investigation, though it runs parallel to the quest to discover the nature of Wolverine’s penis, forgets two obvious caveats. First, the hymen is not, contrary to popular belief, a solid sheet of skin protecting a woman’s cervix from invading penises.
The hymen has a porous texture, and is slightly torn, rather than punched through or “popped” upon sexual intercourse or extreme physical activity. Second, that Laura spends her entire childhood flipping through the air and slicing adult men to pieces, she’s a fine candidate for having destroyed her hymen purely through movement before reaching puberty. That said, because Laura was constructed in the Transigen lab, she receives her mutant powers much earlier than natural-born mutants, as evidenced in both her comics and Logan. That means her body has continuously been healing itself from birth, rather than beginning to do so around age 13, which means that there’s a better chance that her body is constantly healing the hymen.
So What Do We Know?
Considering his background, it’s likely that Wolverine was circumcised as an infant. His healing factor could have allowed his foreskin to grow back in the moment before he killed the Logans, depending on whether a circumcision is a wound, and if the healing factor has retroactive purview. The fact that we got an R-rated Wolverine film that never mentioned Wolverine’s second foreskin means we’re not likely to see it mentioned in the X-Men universe.
Logan is currently in theaters.
Photos via Marvel Entertainment