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It's said that Wolverine's Adamantium claws are indestructible. However, when he rubs his claws against each other, it creates sparks. Don't sparks represent damage/chipping?

Are Wolverine's claws truly indestructible?

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    Your logic and sensible thinking have no place when looking at X-Men. I suspect you've given this more thought than every artist and cinematographer who's ever been involved.
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2021 at 16:26
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    @Valorum I don't know, the concept of eyes photon guns powered by ambient light sounds very logical.
    – Clockwork
    Mar 4, 2021 at 13:00
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    I suspect, perhaps disappointingly, that they're as industructible as the current plot requires.
    – BruceWayne
    Mar 4, 2021 at 18:07
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    To what extent are Wolverine's claws indestructible? - All the way to the knuckles, most likely.
    – CodeAngry
    Mar 4, 2021 at 20:12

3 Answers 3

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It should be clarified that there are at least three grades of Adamantium in the comics.

Firstly, there's Proto-Adamantium. This alloy was created by US Government metallurgist, Myron MacLain during World War II, and was bonded with Wakandan Vibranium to create Captain America's shield. MacLain never managed to reproduce this metal though, so it only exists in Cap's shield and is considered the strongest version of Adamantium. (See this answer for more info on Proto-Adamantium.)

Secondly, there's True Adamantium (also known as Primary Adamantium). After creating Proto-Adamantium, Myron MacLain spent decades unsuccessfully trying to reproduce it. Eventually though, his efforts led to the creation of another alloy, True Adamantium, which is considered the strongest reproducible metal on Earth. This is the type of Adamantium which was used to lace Wolverine's bones.

Thirdly, there's Secondary Adamantium. In-universe, Secondary Adamantium is a lower grade alloy which isn't as strong as True Adamantium, but is still far stronger than titanium, and significantly cheaper to produce than True Adamantium, making it more cost-effective for many purposes. Out-of-universe, Secondary Adamantium was created to retcon past instances of Adamantium being damaged, and reaffirm the extreme durability of True Adamantium.

Technically, there's also a fourth type of Adamantium known as Adamantium Beta. When Wolverine's bones were laced with True Adamantium, his mutant physiology apparently changed the metal on a molecular level so that it wouldn't interfere with his production of red blood cells. There's never been any indication that this affected the durability of the metal though, so although the metal on Wolverine's bones is now classed as Adamantium Beta rather than True Adamantium, it doesn't make any practical difference in relation to your question. Adamantium Beta is, as far as we know, equal in durability to True Adamantium.

So far as the durability of True Adamantium goes, the word "indestructible" is used in the relative sense, much as "invulnerable" is for Superman. True Adamantium isn't literally indestructible, since it can be damaged by sufficient force, but the force required is so great that True Adamantium is practically indestructible for most intents and purposes. This is what the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 #1 has to say about the durability of True Adamantium:

True Adamantium is nearly as strong as Captain America's shield, and is, for all practical intents and purposes, indestructible. The degree of impermeability varies directly with the thickness of the Adamantium. A direct blow from Thor's hammer will only slightly dent a solid cylinder of True Adamantium (see Thor). A sufficient mass of Adamantium could survive a direct hit from a nuclear weapon.

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 #1, page 5.

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol. 2 #1 (December, 1985)

For what it's worth, we have seen Wolverine's claws damaged on a few occasions, but always in alternate realities or futures.

Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #160, page 9.

Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #160 (August, 1982)

Death's Head II Vol. 1 #4, page 10.

Death's Head II Vol. 1 #4 (June, 1992)

Galactic Guardians Vol. 1 #1, page 22.

Galactic Guardians Vol. 1 #1 (July, 1994)

The Earth-616 version of Wolverine has taken blows from Thor's hammer and the Hulk, and as far as we know, the Adamantium on his bones wasn't damaged by any of them.

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    I remember an instance in which Magneto removed the adamantium off of Wolverine's bones on a molecular scale (which nearly killed him). Does that count as "damaging", though?
    – Clockwork
    Mar 3, 2021 at 20:04
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    @Clockwork - I believe you're referring to a scene from X-Men Vol 2 #25. Assuming Magneto manipulated the adamantium in more or less the same way a molecular rearranger does, it would mean he effectively bypassed its durability rather than overpowering it. It's still technically damage, but not damage inflicted via sheer force. Mar 3, 2021 at 20:12
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    It's weird that the middle claw gets broken more often than the outer ones, I'd expect it to be the hardest to get at. Wonder why they decided to snap that one.
    – Yann
    Mar 4, 2021 at 8:50
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    @Yann I suppose it feels more satisfying to see the middle one getting broken than the outer ones.
    – Clockwork
    Mar 4, 2021 at 9:22
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Wolverine's claws were cut off by the Silver Samurai during the climactic fight scene of The Wolverine (2013), so no, they're not invulnerable. They regrew, but only as bone.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! I knew which movie you were referring to, so I replaced your vague description with the information that's actually important. Don't worry too much about your poor English: that's why this site supports collaborative editing. Besides, you speak English better than I speak Arabic!
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 3, 2021 at 19:54
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Wolverine does not have super strength ye he cuts through thick steel no problem. Something being sharp means it is able to focus force on a smaller area then something blunt. If his claws were atomically thin while also being so hard and tough then that would explain how he cuts through things. If the edge of his claws are atomically thin,then rubbing them together would squeeze individual air molecules creating compression heating of 1000's of degrees. Keep in mind that a tiny electric spark touching the doorknob is already that hot. The electrons in a fluorescent bulb are much hotter. The sparks are the pressure release of a tiny amount of very hot air. Too small an amount of air to be heard, but enough to be seen.

Then again diamond scratches diamond so it would also make sense that adamantium scratches adamantium.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question was about the durability in general of Wolverine's claws, not specifically about the sparking. If you start with your comment about air compression causing the sparking you should continue with an analysis of other sources of damage, and you need to at least acknowledge that his claws have been broken before.
    – DavidW
    Aug 9, 2023 at 15:17
  • Others went into comic detail. Instead or repeating what others have said I added something novel. Saying that adamantium scratches adamantium is the same as saying adamantium can break adamantium. Aug 9, 2023 at 15:19
  • First, your answer should stand on its own; it needs to be complete enough to answer the question if the other answers get deleted. You also argue that damage is not necessary to create sparks, so you haven't even established that adamantium can scratch itself. You start out hinting "no" but then end with "maybe yes" which doesn't make a very conclusive answer. Further, what about other things breaking adamantium? Vibranium, perhaps? Focused energy? Magic?
    – DavidW
    Aug 9, 2023 at 15:27
  • Vibranium can't break adamantium. Of course it's a maybe. It's a fictional material. I gave 2 possible ways it could spark which ties to it's durability. Just because my answer doesn't have an exhaustive list of encyclopedic knowledge doesn't make it insufficient. Aug 9, 2023 at 16:36
  • Do you have some evidence for your "compressed air" assertion? I would be asking myself: Do Wolverine's claws really have an edge thickness of one atom? Would oxygen or nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere be stuck between them instead of being pushed to one side as they approached? What does temperature mean for individual molecules? How much energy would actually be imparted? Would a single molecule or atom produce enough photons with enough energy for humans to see them in a high-light environment if it received that much energy?
    – Adamant
    Aug 9, 2023 at 16:45

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