If there’s any Marvel hero who can challenge Deadpool or Spider-Man in the popularity department these days, it’s Wolverine. That’s why it’s fitting that the ol’ Canucklehead is joining Spidey in getting a big-budget action game from the folks at Insomniac.

That’s right — things are looking up for Wolverine in games and movies again. Aside from the Insomniac Wolvie game that’s in the works, Hugh Jackman is also returning to the character, joining Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool & Wolverine, which will finally properly unite the two heroes. In the MCU to boot! We just got our

Children of the Atom also featured many voice actors from X-Men: The Animated Series, including Cal Dodd as Wolverine. The result was a best of all worlds approach, where Wolverine finally looked as good as he sounded.

Children of the Atom and various follow-ups like X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom also showed fans a Wolverine completely unleashed, with no limitations on his deadly fighting abilities. If anything, Wolverine was so badly overpowered in X-Men vs. Street Fighter that he had to be nerfed for Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

While you couldn’t play as Wolverine in every level, at least you weren’t limited in how often you could unsheathe his claws. 

Wolverine would make one final appearance on the SNES in 1995’s Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems. Here, Capcom repurposed the eye-popping sprites from the fighting games to create a more traditional side-scrolling action game. While you couldn’t play as Wolverine in every level, at least you weren’t limited in how often you could unsheathe his claws.

The X-Men Go 3D

With the X-Men arcade games nailing the look of the Marvel Universe in 2D form, the next challenge was translating that look to 3D. It wasn’t easy.

First up was X-Men: The Ravages of Apocalypse, which was essentially a mod of the original Quake released as a retail game. While the game boasted a wider color palette than Quake ever did, the crudely animated, blocky character models didn’t exactly scream “X-Men.” It didn’t help that the single player mode had gamers control a generic grunt mowing down endless waves of X-Men clones, rather than controlling Wolverine and friends directly.

Things went quiet on the Wolverine front for a few years, but the arrival of the first X-Men movie helped reinvigorate the franchise’s gaming prospects. 2000’s X-Men: Mutant Academy became the first 3D X-Men fighting game, and naturally, Wolverine was one of the playable fighters. Considering the limitations of the aging Playstation hardware, the game did a reasonable job of replicating the look and feel of the late-’90s X-Men comics. Dodd even returned to voice Wolverine again.

Wolverine’s Revenge didn’t entirely succeed in putting gamers in Wolverine’s boots, sadly. The punishing difficulty, combined with a strange reliance on stealth mechanics over hacking and slashing, made them feel like anything but an immortal superhero. Wolverine’s hunched, animalistic animations may have looked great for the time, but the controls left much to be desired.

Wolverine’s Revenge didn’t entirely succeed in putting gamers in Wolverine’s boots, sadly.

The Rise of X-Men Legends

For many X-Men fans, the franchise hit its gaming peak with 2004’s X-Men Legends. This action RPG allowed players to control a team of four heroes, battling the Brotherhood and leveling up.

Visually, two elements set legends apart from the crowd. The game drew inspiration from Marvel’s Ultimate X-Men comic rather than the traditional X-books, meaning the X-Men were decked out in sleek, modern black and gold costumes. The characters were also cel-shaded, echoing the comic book-inspired approach of the Ultimate Spider-Man game. Wolverine himself was voiced by Steve Blum, who would go on to reprise the role in the animated series Wolverine and the X-Men.

Naturally, the game featured both the voice and likeness of Hugh Jackman, along with several other movie mainstays. The game also made some notable attempts at depicting Wolverine’s powers, including a regenerating health meter and a berserker rage mode that activates whenever Wolverine takes too much damage.

That game wound up serving as a rough prototype for Wolverine’s next – and easily best – solo game. 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine served as an adaptation of the movie, albeit with a greatly expanded plot that added in major characters and subplots.

More importantly, X-Men Origins: Wolverine finally hit on the perfect formula for making players feel like Wolverine. The ferocious combat was heavily inspired by God of War, taking full advantage of Logan’s unbreakable claws and healing factor and ensuring players were never limited in how often they used them. Thanks to the processing power of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, players could even see Wolverine’s battered body deform and tear apart in real time.

While the main character model in X-Men Origins is based directly on Jackman, the game also included several alternate costumes drawn directly from the comics. If not for Deadpool & Wolverine, this might have been the clsoest we ever got to seeing Jackman don the classic comic book costume.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine finally hit on the perfect formula for making players feel like Wolverine.

The Modern Wolverine Games

Sadly, X-Men Origins: Wolverine sets up a sequel Activision never delivered, and things have been fairly quiet on the X-Men front in recent years. Unless you count Silicon Knights’ disastrous 2011 game X-Men: Destiny, and we’d rather not.

Wolverine has appeared in a number of Marvel games following his last solo outing, often voiced by Steve Blum. 2011’s Marvel vs Capcom 3 and 2019’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 both stand out because of their attempts to pair detailed, modern graphics with a comic book aesthetic. While not strictly cel-shaded, the art styles in both games emphasize heavy black lines and shadows. The now-defunct online RPG Marvel Heroes also deserves a nod thanks to its sheer number of alternate costumes available for Wolverine and his fellow heroes.

But if things have gone quiet on the X-Men front of late, Wolverine himself is due for a big comeback. He’s set to return in Marvel’s Wolverine, a Playstation 5-exclusive action game developed by Insomniac. We don’t know much about the scope of the game just yet, but the teaser trailer showcases a gritty, blood-soaked version of Wolverine enjoying himself in a seedy Madripoor bar. If Marvel’s Spider-Man is any indication, we can probably expect a brand new interpretation of Wolverine’s classic costume alongside dozens of familiar suits.

Which of Wolverine’s many video game appearances is your favorite? What costumes do you want to see in Marvel’s Wolverine? Claw your way down to the comments and let us know, bub.

For more Wolverine fun, find out how Deadpool & Wolverine is setting up Avengers: Secret Wars and see what to expect from Marvel in 2024.

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.