In X-Men Origins: Wolverine,

Wolverine is shot through the head with what appears to be a vibranium bullet by William Stryker. He remarks that the brain will grow back but the memories won't.

So the projectile penetrated the adamantium skull and damaged the brain. Adamantium is an inorganic substance. It will survive anything that would otherwise destroy the rest of Wolverine's body. But if anything (such as vibranium) manages to damage the adamantium, it is not covered by Wolverine's healing abilities.

Does this mean that Wolverine has an Achilles' heel on his forehead? If so, how did he take a bullet to the exact same spot in X-Men: United (at Ice Man's home)?

3 Answers 3


Wolverine's bone structure was molecularly infused with adamantium. Though this is a comic book, and thus subject to comic book realities, molecular infusion is a real process, albeit a very experimental one.*

The ORNL researchers validated the properties of this remarkable surface treatment that Deininger describes as "an implantation that anchors a nanofilm." Blue and others call it a "molecular infusion, or implantation, surface treatment," or MIST.

The surface treatment contains 3-nanometer crystallites that plug the thin oxide film into the grain boundaries of a bulk material's surface, making the material extremely resistant to wear so it lasts longer. ORNL researchers measured the dimensions of the crystallites that make the ultrathin film adhere extremely tightly to the surface. No other "coating" has particles this small that bind to a surface.

This is alternatively referred to as metal infusion surface treatment. Thus, this process does not supplant the bone, but rather adhere to it. In real life, this is only been a process applied to inorganic substances, but I'd imagine that the process would have similar properties, i.e. the bone would still be there, just not the adamantium.

Therefore, Wolverine has a hole in the plating, not his skull. And considering that the full properties are not known, it is possible that this is not even the case, i.e. is the infusion at a level that over time the plating would migrate over the hole with the bone structure? It's not clear.

*Ref: ORNL review

  • The last paragraph is the best possible answer in my view.
    – HNL
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 3:28
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    In the comics, Wolverine grows back the adamantium. The event where TNT blows him up during the Civil War arc comes to mind. Wolverine is completely atomized, but his adamant structure is back after he eventually heals. Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 15:13
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    Any references to how the bones (they are living tissue) are kept alive? Or is Wolverine walking on hollow adamantium shells filled with the crumbled remains of his former bones? Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 8:11
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    @AaronDigulla - I would assume it has something to do with the fact that he has an exceptionally aggressive healing factor working.
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 16:34
  • @JaredTritsch When I read that Civil War comics, my understanding was that the adamantium structure wasn't damaged, because it's made of (near-indestructible) adamantium. Then Wolverine heals and grows back around the adamantium.
    – Stef
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 15:19

There are several points to this:

I think your reasoning is sound, so yes, he should have a bullet hole (or rather two because he was shot twice).

But the holes are probably small: A blunt bullet would have fragmented without penetrating his skull. So it didn't but damaged his brain by ricochetting inside the skill a couple of times.

This also matches with his reaction: He heals pretty fast and he retains his ability to talk (if all memories were gone, he'd also left his childhood education: Speech, potty training, social behavior, knowledge how money and the world works)

As for Achilles' heel: Yes but if you don't hit in exact the same spot with a bullet that has the same or lower diameter, you won't be able to try again. Therefore, he should be pretty safe.

He should also be able to feel the hole through his skin and given his survival skills, he could probably avoid being shot in the exact same spot again by turning his face at the moment a shot is fired.

PS: In the first XMen movie, we see an X-Ray of Wolverine. At that time, he had been shot, so there should have been bullet holes visible. Images, anyone?

PPS: A much more simple explanation would be that the script writers didn't know about Wolverine's origins at that time and how he came to lose his memories.

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    Well, as for feeling the hole - surely normal bone would grow back, just not the metal?
    – jaketmp
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 11:34
  • That depends on how the process really works. My understanding is that the bone's calcium structure was replaced with adamantium. If it was only covered with a thin layer, then the bone would grow back through the hole punched into the adamantium layer. How heavy is adamantium? Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 14:42
  • In as far as the statement "But the holes are probably small...", entry wounds for bullets are small. Exit holes - usually not so much. Especially in the case of a frangible bullet.
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 15:33
  • My argument is that the bullet can't fragment because then it wouldn't have pierced his skull in the first place. It either cuts through (-> andamantium is not enough to change the shape of the bullet) or the bullet breaks apart outside the skull. Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 15:47
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    Was there anything to confirm the Bullet definately entered his skull? Considering the alloys were of similar density, could the impact trauma not be enough to severely damage Logan's frontal lobe, causing him to lose memory function, without actually entering the skull itself? Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 23:10

I don't think that the bullet penetrated that far. Bullets typically kill via shock rather than penetration, and vibranium is well known for storing and releasing kinetic energy via vibrations. More likely, the bullet proverbially rang Logan's bell by creating a shock wave that reverberated through the soft tissue of his brain, damaging the structures within. His regeneration factor eventually caught up and repaired the damage, but the memories couldn't be rebuilt from that template. He probably later popped the bullet back out of his forehead and thought nothing of it since he no longer had that memory of having been shot.

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