Folks, I’ll keep this brief-ish because it doesn’t deserve too much of anyone’s time. There have been rumblings on the internet (that’s code for “I saw at least one blog and/or tweet about this”) that we should be wondering whether Wolverine (aka Logan), a super strong and frequently brooding mutant character from Marvel’s X-Men franchise, is or is not circumcised.
In a piece on The Inverse, Emily Gaudette writes that it’s a “harder question to answer than you might expect,” adding:
The issue of whether Wolverine is circumcised is made complicated by his tumultuous childhood in Canada, his mutation manifesting in his adolescence, his numerous forced surgeries, and the exact properties of his natural healing factor.
This also suggests several follow-up questions. First, were non-Jewish Canadian children routinely circumcised in the late 1800s? Second, would Wolverine’s healing factor, which manifested around the time he turned 13, reverse older “injuries,” including the removal of his foreskin? Third, what can we infer from studying other mutants, specifically Laura, who was constructed in a lab using Wolverine’s DNA?
While I normally find joy in film analysis that borders on fanfic (you know, questions like “Do you think Kathleen and Joe stayed together for more than five years after the events of You’ve Got Mail ended?” and “Do you think Marv and Harry got out of prison after the events of Home Alone 2 and murdered Kevin?”), I draw the line at asking such introspective questions of the mutants in Marvel movies.
This particular stance is emblematic of my larger problem with recent comic book adaptations, which is that I’m always annoyed by attempts to make the superheroes “more realistic.” To me (someone who admittedly doesn’t even read the comic books or graphic novels, oops), the joys of screen superheroes lie in the fantastical simplicity of their most superhuman qualities—like Wolverine’s ability to heal. I don’t want him to be more like me—what with my dumb, fragile human emotions and countless imperfections—I want him to be extremely unlike me! I want to watch him get shot hundreds of times in a single scene only to miraculously heal his wounds just in time to deliver a final, bloody attack on pure evil!
I want his powers to be both reliable and reliably high-concept. Wolverine? Oh, he heals himself. This means all scars and injuries, past and present, were healed when his body revealed itself as mutant. At least when he was young and virile—when his powers were at their peak. Why? Because it’s his power. Why is it his power? Because he has it. I do not need further explanation for something that will never ever ever make actual sense in order to find pleasure watching him slay villains onscreen.
At one point in Logan, we see a young mutant with the same superpower (don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything) heal from their wounds almost immediately after being hurt. Skin grows back. The young person’s body fixes itself. And if it happens to skin on one part of the body, it stands to reason that it happens to skin everywhere else. So! Based on that moment alone, the answer to Gaudette’s question is clear: Wolverine has foreskin. Either he was never circumcised to begin with, or he was before his powers made themselves evident in adolescence (or whenever the the “mutant” genes in him came alive), during which his body healed itself of all scars/wounds.
Why must we make a movie about a mutant named Logan—who gets extra powerful after injecting glowing green shit into his veins and whose best friend is a bald magnet man—more complicated than it has to be?