Making sense of the X-Men timeline can be complicated, but when you focus just on Wolverine, the story gets a little easier to follow. From his bloody origin tale to his fateful final movie, here’s Wolverine’s cinematic story explained.
The first chronological glimpse we get of the boy who grows up to become Wolverine is in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where we learn that his name isn't Logan at all. It's James Howlett. Logan is actually the surname of the man who murders James' father in 1845, which causes James' mutation to activate, pushing bone claws out from between his knuckles. Enraged, James kills Logan, only to almost immediately learn that the man was actually his biological father.
Young James flees his home along with his half-brother, Victor Creed, who possesses the same mutant healing ability as James. That healing factor not only makes the boys practically impossible to kill, but also slows their aging, keeping them looking relatively youthful as they fight side by side through every major war over the next hundred years. In 2013's The Wolverine, we see that he spent some of this time in a Japanese POW camp in 1945. While he's there, James saves the life of Japanese officer Ichirō Yashida from the bombing of Nagasaki, an event which will prove important many years later.
In X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, soon to be known as Professor X and Magneto, find themselves up against Nazi mutant Sebastian Shaw and his team of superpowered henchmen. Realizing they'll need some help to bring Shaw down, the duo uses Cerebro to find new mutants and form a team of their own, so in a zippy montage set in 1962, they recruit a handful of young mutants who wind up as the, well, first class of X-Men.
Not everyone is eager to join up, though. When Erik and Charles walk into a bar, a cigar-smoking James Howlett tells them that he's not interested, using some language that insured the movie would be a hard PG-13. Keep watching the video to see the entire Wolverine story finally gets explained!
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James Howlett | 0:14
Hard pass | 1:23
Team X | 2:05
Becoming the Wolverine | 3:01
A school for the gifted | 4:06
The search for memory | 5:12
The ultimate sacrifice | 6:21
A trip to Japan | 7:30
The timeline gets complicated | 8:31
Still Weapon X | 9:48
Last of the mutants | 10:44
A vision fulfilled | 11:40