When you think of superheroes, do you conjure up images of hip hair styles? Probably not. Usually when it comes to the spandex clad characters of the comicbooks, the colorful costumes are the first thing to pop into someone’s mind. But then there’s Wolverine, a merry Marvel mutant whose look without his classic outfit is just as eyepopping as when he’s wearing it! The reason for his recognizable reflection is all because of his now iconic hairdo. It’s hard to imagine Wolverine without his mutton chops and slicked back werewolf-meets-Elvis haircut, but did you know this integral aspect of the character was almost left out of the movies?
Wolverine first appeared in the pages of The Incredible Hulk #180 back in 1974 (in a last page cameo appearance for all you stickler comicbook collectors out there). He went on to become a massive hit and an integral part of the X-Men superhero team and family of X-titles. After a few decades of popularity in comics and animated television series, Twentieth Century Fox gave the greenlight for the first big screen adaptation of the X-Men, of course featuring Wolverine. The flick was a huge success that spawned numerous sequels and spin-off movies.
Current Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige was just a lowly Associate Producer back in 1999 when the first movie about mutants was being filmed for a summer 2000 release. He recently sat down with The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter Podcast” to talk about his experience working on one of the early big superhero movie franchises. During the convo he told a scintillating story about how actor Hugh Jackman almost didn’t have Wolvie’s famous coif.
According to Feige, the tale unfolded like so: “I believe it’s taken on a life of its own in recent years. The very first day that he came out on set and his hair was… not Wolverine hair. In later movies, it almost didn’t matter because Hugh Jackman was Wolverine. Just the same way in the first Thor movie, we wanted Chris Hemsworth to have that long blonde hair. By Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth is Thor, so cut the hair. It doesn’t matter. It mattered in the first X-Men movie, but it wasn’t happening and the only reason it wasn’t happening was the fear of it looking silly or goofy. I even think that Avi [Arad, Producer] happened to call and say it was going good, but the hair wasn’t great. So, I said let’s check it out and we came down and looked at it and Bryan [Singer, director] and we went in the hair and makeup trailer and kept going and going and going over it. You can tell now that it was of a time, but it was unquestionably Wolverine’s hair.”
The first time comicbook readers got to see Logan’s furry face without his mask was in Uncanny X-men #98 as drawn by artist Dave Cockrum back in 1976. It’s here that his hairy look and distinct widow’s peak became just as synonymous with the character as adamantium claws and calling everyone “bub.” It’s hard to believe that if not for Kevin Feige going to set that day, ole’ canucklhead’s greasy locks might never have made it to the silver screen. It seems like a fun little piece of anecdotal trivia, but Feige’s respect for comicbook source material, and his unflinching embrace of its sometimes-silly aesthetic, has undoubtedly led Marvel Studios to the unbridled success that it enjoys today.