The second in our continuing series Comic Questions is asking the questions that comic book fans are afraid to ask. We'll be pointing out the gaping flaws in logic in some of the most beloved figures and concepts in comic books. Why? Because it's kind of funny. This week, we look at the length of Wolverine's claws.

Let's make it clear: Wolverine is a great character. The idea of a guy with unbreakable, razor-sharp knives that he can pop out whenever he wants is awesome. But let's ask the question that needs to be asked: how does Wolverine bend his arms?

The idea is relatively simple. Wolverine has three indestructible metal blades (commonly called "claws") sheathed inside each forearm. When he wants to pop them out, muscles attached to the claws force them out from the back of his hands. When he's done, he pulls the claws back into his arm again.

But according to comic book lore, each claw blade is twelve inches long when extracted. You also have to add on a couple inches that stay inside the arm to keep the claws stabilized, giving the total length of each claw fourteen inches. The average male's forearm is the same length as his foot. Given the fact that Wolverine is 5'3", and he doesn't have enormous fourteen-inch feet, we can assume his forearms are not fourteen inches long. That means his claws wouldn't fit entirely inside his forearm, so part of them would have to be inside his elbow and bicep. That also means that whenever he bent his arms, the ends of his claws would tear out of his forearms and/or elbows. I guess that wouldn't make for a very good comic, Wolverine running around with his arms sticking straight out.

UPDATE: Added some pics from the comics to prove the point.


Mauricem said...

LOL Maybe he's Popeye in his secret identity? When they made X-Men they actually had to shorten the blades, which is why in the scene where he pins the guy to the wall the blades don't go all the way to the wall.

comicbookandmoviereviews said...

The usual answer to this question is - with great difficulty - just as he has in this issue - http://www.comicbookandmoviereviews.com/2011/08/wolverine-13.html

Nick said...

Actually those metal things commonly drawn on wolverines gloves when hes in full costume are actually a part of his physiology and the only reason he isn't always shown with them on his bare hands is because of the drawers' inconsistencies. Anyways these adamantium stubs are part of wolverines mutation. They are on top of the spots where each of his claws protrude from his hands when extended. There isn't any part of the claw that remains in wolverines hands when they are fully extended save a centimeter or two. The job of these stubs is to lock the claws into place so as to prevent them from being ripped out. Therefore 12 inches would be about right as there is no "few extra inches" left in his hand.

Ttandc Hotmail said...

Don't go by the lore, it is inaccurate to the point of stupidity.I would say they would be closer to 9 inches.

Ttandc Hotmail said...

Don't go by the lore you see on these websites. If you want the right information then read the comic ;) I think they were said to be around 9 inches.

Nigel Mitchell said...

If the claws are nine inches while extended, then you still have to add a couple inches to stabilize them while extracted. That's 12 inches, still way too long to fit in his forearms. Thanks for playing, though

Nigel Mitchell said...

You thought wrong. The comics have never stated how long the claws are, and the length depends entirely on the artist. Bianchi has drawn the claws longer than Wolverine's WHOLE arm.

Ttandc Hotmail said...

No, that's 9 inches including 2 inches that stay within his wrist

Nigel Mitchell said...

If Wolverine's claws were kept at a consistent 7-6 inches extended, that would solve the problem. It would look pretty stubby, but it would be accurate. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I added some more pics to the post to show how enormous comic artists typically draw his claws. Much longer than 6-7 inches. You can see in the pic on the right, Wolverine's claws are drawn longer than his head.

As for his forearms, all we can do is go by how they actually look in the comics. Which is normal, if not smaller than normal human length, given how short Wolverine is supposed to be.

Ttandc Hotmail said...

The problem is that many people try to understand the workings of fictional ideas. Add into that fact that artists interpretations, ESPECIALLY in comics, tend to exaggerate everything. It's like trying to work out how Cyclops's optic blasts work or how Iceman's power works. Unless the creator of said character has actually shown how things work you can either accept the idea that they do work or not. We can talk about how they might work in our own reality but trying to make judgement calls on artists that are payed to make things look more interesting by exaggerating their works is a pointless effort in my opinion. If we are talking about the real world, then in order to get those 12 inch claws, then regardless of how tall he is, his forearm would have to be at least 12 inches from elbow to wrist, as the claws would not be running parallel to the bones but on a slight incline ( which I have seen in the comics ) would give the extra room needed to sheath them properly. But lets face facts, only the creators of these characters have the right to explain how their creations work not us ;)

The pictures you put up don't show the forearm that the claws are coming out of either so it's kind of hard to say HOW exaggerated the claws have been in those pics. Plus artists also use close-up effects that would also make the claws appear longer than usual.

Example here
We all know that spider-man's hand is not bigger than his head but in doing so it gives the close-up effect that makes it appear as though his hand is closer to your point of view than the rest of his body.

Nigel Mitchell said...

The reason I chose that middle pic is because it's not really an exaggerated angle. Wolverine is holding his arm pretty much sideways. You can just compare the length of the blade with his hand, and you can judge how long it is. You don't see his forearm, but again, it's not like Wolverine is known for or commonly drawn having unusually long forearms. Perspective is something to consider, yeah, but I'm not really talking about specific images. I'm talking about how Wolverine is commonly drawn - with massively long claws, and a short, stubby body. This whole post was just about asking the question. Maybe the claws are actually hinged at the base. Maybe they collapse. Maybe his forearms hold an alternate dimension where the claws go when they're not being used. My point is, this issue is never addressed in the comics. The fact that the artists exagerrate his claws is the problem, not the answer. Marvel should get them together and say, "Draw his claws 6-7 inches, period."

You're right about overthinking things, but that's kind of my point. Check out my other article, "how does Spiderman stick to walls," for more geek rage.

As for flawed perspectives in comics, check out our article on broken-backed superheroines to see some more examples of bad artwork.

Ttandc Hotmail said...

Cool :) I see your point now ;) Thanks for your replies. It's true that each artist has their own style ( as they call it ). All us readers can do is reply to Marvel on wether they employed a winner or a dud ;)

turdpipe said...

I'm glad I'm not the only person who has wondered this. The forearm wasn't the troubling part to me, though. It's the wrist. I'm not a big fanboy or comic book expert but didn't his claws come out of the back of his hand? That would mean that his wrist would be immobile when his blades are sheathed, right?

Rallo Tubbs said...

You have ruined this character forms

orion pax said...

a few things your forgetting hear, first his claws don't stay in his wrists, many times they show him with bent wrists, second adamantium is ridged and indestructable, it doesn't need 2-3 inches to stabolize anything.
as i understand it, his claws pass thru his rists and lock into adamantium laced strucktures in his hands, you can see the 3 metal protrusions on the back of his hand when out of uniform. this could house as little as 0.5 inch and still provide suport.
that said, the 12 inch length is improbable but it's a comicbook


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