In the first scene of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is set in 1845, James Howlett (Wolverine) witnesses his father's death and that activates his mutation. Logan runs away with his brother, Victor. Then we are shown a montage of the two brothers fighting in a bunch of wars (American Civil War, World War I & II and the Vietnam War) before the rest of the movie.

My question is, why did Logan become 30 year old-looking and then suddenly stop ageing? In the Civil War part (1860s) he looks just like in the rest of the movie, which means he aged normally for 20 years after his mutation was activated and then suddenly stopped. How does this make sense, even if he is "ageing, just very slowly"?

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    Because that’s how his entirely fictional powers work. Oct 21, 2016 at 20:07
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    Remember that Wolverine's apparent slow aging is only side-effect of his healing factor. If his healing factor interprets the effects of aging as damage, then the factor will 'heal' those signs of age away. Normal adolescent growth, on the other hand, would be registered as the body doing exactly what it is designed to do, so his healing factor naturally doesn't stop this kind of aging since there's nothing to repair.
    – David H
    Oct 21, 2016 at 20:15
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3 Answers 3


Jean Grey answers this question in the first X-Men movie:

Dr. Jean Grey: "His mutation. He has uncharted regenerative capabilities, enabling him to heal rapidly. It also makes his age impossible to determine. He could very well be older than you, Professor."

Now for the biology of the aging process itself... it's divided up into two factors. There are programmed factors, which is essentially things like growth, life stages, and development, dependent on species. Then there's damage related factors like environment or unstable genes. We as humans mature and reach peaks in our 20s. Any additional years tacked on afterwards is just a fully matured organism decaying.

Now let's go to 1800s before our medical advances of today. Average human life span was 38.8 yrs old, yet people didn't mature physically any slower or faster. It was still humans reaching physical peaks and being fully physically matured in the 20s, no sooner or later, but since we didn't have the advances in medicines that we did, serious diseases would either kill us off, or take a physical toll on our body, AGING it so to speak. Today our average life span is in the 70s, yet we are fully physically matured in our 20s, no sooner or later. We just slowed the damage-related factors by a lot to extend our years past our biological peak.

Now take Wolverine who is essentially still a human, and would go through same growth periods and life stages. When they say he has slowed aging, they don't mean his cells actually physically produce and grow at slower rates. They say he has slowed aging because he doesn't have to worry about damage-related factors. Whenever any damage is done, it's instantly healed up, and his body doesn't have to go through damage-related stress aging. It's equivalent to our medical advances increasing our life spans, and a 40 year old today compared to a 40 year old from the 1800s would be perceived as having aged slower because of that.

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    The "average life expectancy at birth was in the 30s" thing was because of drastically higher infant mortality, not faster aging. People who survived to be 20 would be expected to live much longer than 19 more years.
    – wyvern
    Oct 22, 2016 at 2:19
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    It was still humans reaching physical peaks and being fully physically matured in the 20s, no sooner or later, but since we didn't have the advances in medicines that we did, serious diseases would either kill us off wrong. People that reached 20+ years were very likely to live up to 60/70 years or more exactly like modern humans. There were plenty of old people low age expectancy wasn't due to illnesses when people got old. The issue is that only a fraction of people reached 20, and since the average is computed over all people this includes the incredibly many infant deaths.
    – Bakuriu
    Oct 22, 2016 at 7:18

Obviously Wolverine’s slowed ageing is entirely fictional, so it can pretty much work however the authors want it to.

But, in general: Wolverine’s main mutant ability is his “healing factor” — his body will very rapidly repair damage that would be fatal to humans. As such, I don’t think the ageing we see him do in Origins is particularly surprising.

From childhood through to adulthood, it’s probably more accurate to describe him as “growing”; his body is increasing in size. Whereas once he’s fully grown, the damaging impacts of ageing would kick in, and be repaired by his healing factor, making his appearance remain consistent for a long time (whereas a human without any special powers, or my rigorous moisturising routine, would start to appear older).

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    Yes. Aging into adulthood is generative. Around mid 20s to 30s it becomes degenerative, so when regeneration would be start to maintain appearance.
    – user31178
    Oct 22, 2016 at 17:52
  • @CreationEdge: one of them gen-degen things eh. Oct 22, 2016 at 18:19

Fact that he regenerates doesn't have anything to do with normal growing. Every creature (including those almost immortal) grows to reach their full maturity which includes increasing size. In simpler words, he stopped being boy, because his body wanted to grow to full potential and produce offspring and humans stop maturing somewhere around 25-30 when the brain stops developing.

The aging is something completely different:we age because our cells damage themselves with time and they start to fail (funny enough, some cancer cells are immortal). With Wolverine having such amazing regenerative powers it's not surprising that he looks still like at his peak after that 170+ years

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    Boo, change of title spoiled my answer
    – Yasskier
    Oct 21, 2016 at 20:36

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