There are two fundamental comics to understand the origin of this popular character from Marvel. In chronological order, the first one is Weapon X (Barry Windsor-Smith, 1986). Those who understand about this stuff say that with this comic it’s more important how the story is told than the story itself, for it is very simple: a man we only know is called Logan is kidnapped and tortured physically and mentally. As a result of the experiment, his bones are covered with indestructible metal and his mind is subjected to a so painful agony that it is erased his memories and even any remains of humanity are erased. It is reduced to its primary animal instincts. Obviously, such a creature cannot be controlled or kept in custody…
The second comic about Wolverine’s origins is, who guessed, Wolverine:origin (pencil by Andy Kubert, story by Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas and Paul Jenkins, 2001). The story, narrating the childhood and youth of that poor bastard kidnapped in Weapon X, starts at the ending of the 19th century and it’s more a rural drama and Jack London style (although absolutely not for childs) adventures. There’s nothing heroic here or in Windsor-Smith’s work.
What is clearly stablished by both visions about the character is that Wolverine is not the classical hero made himself. He’s not even a hero. His character is molded, his actions are conducted, his own existence is determined, by other character’s actions or omissions. With Wolverine, the cause-effect equation is at its highest level. Everything around him is pain, violence, uncertainty and distorted values. And so he reacts.
Although he started as a secondary character (his first appearance was in Incredible Hulk #180, 1974), he’s one of the most complex, respected and more depeloved character, by authors as relevant as John Romita Jr. or Frank Miller.
It’s sad, but there isn’t very much of this in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood, 2009)