The Physics of Wolverine

I hope you’re hungry…Righto Mate! Fresh off his guest appearance in Deadpool, we have Hugh Jackman, aka Logan Howlett, aka “Wolverine” of X-Men fame. Wolverine has a few notable powers, namely that his skeleton is fused with Adamantium, a fictional metal alloy from the Marvel universe that is nearly indestructible and defies most common physics related laws. Once it’s formed from it’s parent alloys, it sets to an extremely stable alloy within 8 minutes of combination, and once set it can never be modified again regardless of force applied or temperature changes. It has a memory in that even if it were to be liquefied, it would re-form and re-bind to its parent regardless of any number of factors. In lay mans terms, this means that even if someone exposed the adamantium coated skeleton of Wolverine, applied an extremely high temperature to melt the resin, and then watched it melt off, it would T-1000 itself back onto Logan’s bone, through any healed flesh that may have filled in the gap. Without Wolverine’s healing factor, he wouldn’t have survived the implementation of the coated skeleton in the first place, and on top of that, inside your bones is where things like red blood cells are formed, among other life-requirement stuff is done, so if you had a Wolverine skeleton, even if you could survive the procedure, you’d be dead. Wolverine is dead.


Now, about that healing factor. The average human male burns about 2500 calories a day just by being alive, and as such, you need to consume 2500 calories if you wish to maintain your current weight. Dropping too far below that caloric intake for too long means you’re dead from starvation, and going above means you’ll roll down hills instead of walk down them. Since our boy here seems to be in pretty good shape, we’re going to have to up our numbers. Michael Phelps, the USA’s gold star (and gold medal winner) of swimming has been reported to intake 10,000 calories per day and he maintains or exceeds Wolverine’s current build, so let’s assume for the time being, Wolverine needs to intake 10,000 calories per day to maintain his physique. This would include an extensive workout to keep those dreeeaaaaaamy abs and biceps.

Once thing that’s often glossed over that I (didn’t) find with my research is how many calories Wolverine must burn to heal such grievous wounds such as getting bisected or getting demolecularized by Jean Grey. It is well documented that Wolverine feels the pain of any injury, and over the course of his comic book life, said healing factor has increased in speed from “a few days for major trauma” to “a few minutes for major trauma”.

When you exit surgery at a hospital for almost anything, the hospital usually gives you special meals high in protein and fat so that your body can utilize that and heal faster. These almost always have an increased level of calories per meal, so one would assume that since you don’t gain weight in the hospital (in most cases, you lose), then a 2500 calorie diet is more like 2000 calories of hospital food, and 500 calories burned and “dedicated” to healing. If you’re losing 20% of your calories to heal over the course of 5 days, an average post-surgery stay time at North American hospitals, and if Wolverine can heal a bisection in roughly 1 minute (according to the latest Wolverine movie), then he’s burning 2500 calories a minute while healing.

Even DC’s The Flash has highly specialized bars that he eats to maintain the caloric burn while he’s speeding along, and one would assume that Marvel’s Quicksilver also has to do such body maintenance, so during a 20 minute battle, 15 of that 20 minutes better be Wolverine scarfing down McDonald’s Big Mac’s by the dozen (~550 cal, each).

Many have argued that the healing factor itself is also healing the dying, malnutritioned cells if Wolverine himself doesn’t eat more than the 10,000 calories, and while comic book science says that could work, real life science says no dice. Wolverine is deador at least 500 pounds overweight with a heart condition..

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The last thing we’re going to rip out of the hearts of the fans of Wolverine is his heightened senses and seemingly super human strength. Having lack of senses has not killed anyone to date, unless a third party action occurred (blind man walking into oncoming traffic, etc.), so we can also assume that having heightened senses could only further reduce the chances of accidental death. It is safe to assume that Wolverine is OK with having excessive senses of smells and other senses. While we’re on the subject, according to the Marvel Strength Scale, Wolverine is in an undefined scale of strength ranging from 800-4000 pounds (~360 – ~1800kg). The problem we can already see is that Wolverine himself has an exceptionally heavy body thanks to his lovely Adamantium accessories (claws) and skeleton. The best source I could find for his weight was 1,300 pounds (~590 kg), so his muscle structure is already at a linear scale of roughly 25% used. A 590kg animal is roughly the same as a fully grown adult Black Bear, and Black Bear’s have been known to rip apart metal trash cans and tear doors off cars, so we know that it is possible for someone on Earth to weigh that much and still be alive, so… Wolverine is OK.

I think that’s the first time I’ve used the green text in any of these Superhero Physics posts.

Jeff Wilton

Jeff is the founder and owner of Everyday Science Stuff. ESS is a one man operation, with the core belief that all education should be served without crippling debt tuition, without revenue generating ads and without any restrictions of any kind such as paywalls, forced login and account creations, geographical restrictions, and so on.

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