Wolverine has endured. The character has two comic-book series, a new blockbuster movie, and his own exhibit at New York’s comic museum 35 years after being introduced as a sidekick. Why has Wolverine had such long lasting appeal? With a dark, mysterious past, and a “penchant for berserker rages, he’s a pastiche of every tough-guy cliché in pulp fiction," writes Grady Hendrix for Slate.
But pop culture’s obsession with loner badasses doesn’t fully explain Wolverine’s appeal. Writer Chris Claremont, upon commandeering the X-Men in 1975, focused on the fact that the X-Men were mutants, and used their persecution to comment on real-life racism. Claremont “made mutants a generic stand-in for all minorities,” with “Wolverine as their Malcolm X”—giving anyone who’s ever felt persecuted a stalwart defender," notes Hendrix. Snikt!