Wolverine has claws to cut anything, but if I had a knife, even one made out of adamantium, and tried to hold it against a car coming towards me, or a moving airplane, my arm wouldn't be strong enough to cut, and would instead be pushed back.

See the 3rd law of Newton.

How does Wolverine manage to slice through such large, heavy objects without getting knocked back by the momentum?

  • <comments removed> Take the discussion to chat, or flesh them out enough so that they're answers.
    – user1027
    Aug 27, 2014 at 23:12

1 Answer 1


You seem to be confusing force with momemtum. Newton's 3rd law states:

When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body

But force is mass * acceleration. So the force exerted against Wolverine's body will be due to the acceleration (or deceleration) of the object that he is cutting.

So let's take a look at an example. In this video at 1:55 Wolverine cuts through an army vehicle while riding his motorbike.

Because Wolverine's claws are so sharp (due to Adamantium being the strongest material known to man) the army vehicle doesn't actually slow down (very much) so little force is actually exerted on Wolverine, hence why he isn't thrown backwards. In fact, the vehicle barely moves until Wolverine hits the tyre.

  • 5
    Yes, you just need to understand pressure. Pressure is calculated by force / area. This is why you can slice a tomato with a knife relatively easily, but to do it with a brick would require more force. The surface area of a blade edge is limited by the material's strength. As adamantium is incredibly strong, it would be able to create a blade that is tremendously sharp (i.e. have a very small surface area). This means that very little force would need to be applied to cut through things. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure
    – Moogle
    Aug 27, 2014 at 17:10
  • 1
    Just in the name of @Einer's Suspension of disbelief I'll accept. But I'm still not convinced. Thanks all. This was constructive.
    – Magno C
    Aug 27, 2014 at 17:14
  • 5
    If the Katana was sharp enough, you would be able to. However the level of sharpness will determine how much force is exerted back onto the blade. The sharper the blade, the less force rebounding. Now let's take your example. When you chop a medium girth tree, you feel some force pushing back on you. This slows you down, and thus reduces the pressure. However there is still enough pressure to cut through. Whereas a large tree will take longer to cut through, and therefore will slow you down more. Eventually slowing you down so much that the pressure is too low to cut through.
    – Moogle
    Aug 27, 2014 at 17:33
  • 5
    @MagnoC try an experiment yourself. Cut through a tree with a katana, and see how much force you felt in your arm. Now swing a baseball bat into the tree at the same speed, and see if you felt more or less force. I guarantee it will be a lot more.
    – Moogle
    Aug 27, 2014 at 17:34
  • 1
    What about friction on the sides as it passes through? This comes to mind: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BarehandedBladeBlock
    – bdimag
    Aug 27, 2014 at 21:43

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