What Are You Looking at, Bub?: Diagnosing Wolverine’s Alcoholism
In nearly every installment of the X-Men movie franchise, Logan/Wolverine has been seen either drinking or smoking a cigar. One could almost say it would not be an X-Men film without his characteristic sass and demeanor when interacting with his fellow superheroes. He enjoys it. There’s no question he enjoys it and is one of the three million Canadians out there that risk illness. He is also one of the four and a half million that could potentially face serious health conditions. This information comes from Dr. Gregory Taylor, the chief public health officer of Canada.
However, he’s as American as any American who is one of the 17.6 million people that struggle with alcoholism. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence notes this represents one in 12 adults in the United States. For Logan, he might find help at luxury detox centers, but he seems to have traits of a high-functioning alcoholic. He seems to be able to continue his work as an X-Man and balance his friendships, relationships, and family lives too. He seems to not think he has a problem either.
It’s fitting that we first meet Logan at a bar in 2000’s X-Men. He is in Alberta and gets into his usual trouble there before meeting Marie D’Ancanto/Rogue. We later find out why exactly he holds all the pain he does in his heart. That explanation takes place across many later different films but most notably, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In this film, we get a deep explanation of who he used to be and what makes the character tick. He was not always someone who had a problem with drinking and needed assistance from luxury detox centers. He was a son once and at another point, he was a soldier.
Logan fought in many different wars across the 20th century alongside his brother, Victor Creed/Sabretooth. What’s fascinating is that Wolverine wasn’t always known as Logan but was James Howlett before he started facing issues in his life. He lost not only the woman he loved, Kayla Silverfox but also faced the wrath of William Stryker, the man who not only put the adamantium in Wolverine’s body but also took his memory.
Toward the end of the film, Stryker shoots Wolverine in the head with an adamantium bullet, the only thing that can pierce him and cause irreparable damage. When we see Wolverine go back and try to rediscover this past in the earlier released, X2, he cannot remember much of his past and requires the help of Charlie Xavier/Professor X to figure out exactly what happened to him. We get further nods to his difficult past that he will never completely remember in X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse.
Ironic enough, the very man who seeks to help Logan, later on, is the very man he used vulgarity at in a bar during X-Men: First Class. Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto are trying to recruit new mutants for their team to stop The Cold War, and they seek out Logan. He tells them quite directly how uninterested he is: “Go f*** yourself.” It’s not very clear where this moment falls within the X-Men Origins: Wolverine origin story for the character but it’s fascinating to think about nonetheless.
When an older Wolverine time travels back into his younger body to prevent the extinction of mutants in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the younger Xavier is not one to forget that moment at all. He repeated the phrase to Logan when the two crossed paths once more in Xavier’s mansion. Earlier, the older Logan had returned to his younger body and had a bottle of alcohol with him in a hotel or motel room. The older Logan may have felt the effects of that alcohol drinking during his interactions with Xavier and the rest of the X-Men throughout that film.
There’s never much of a resolution to Wolverine’s love of drinking. After the initial X-Men trilogy resolves with X-Men: The Last Stand, we find him resurfacing at a bar taking down bear hunters. He enjoys a drink there while he takes down one of the hunters. The fact he drinks to cover up the pain of his seeing what happened to the bears out in the wilderness shows he turns to drinking to null pain within himself. It may be that his drinking overtime has made his depression that started in X-Men Origins: Wolverine worse. He might not have a way to control it.
He could also struggle with anxiety. He may turn to the drinking in order to diffuse the anxiety he feels with having to save people or intervene in different situations as he did with the bear hunters. For Logan/Wolverine, he will likely never seek rehab for his alcohol troubles. However, it would be a fascinating story if he did. Who knows? He could be a much stronger character because of it.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.