|"I'm the best there is at what I do, and what I do best is shamelessly cash-in."|
Wolverine's initial appeal could be attributed to the mystery surrounding the character. No one, not even Wolverine, knew anything about his past, aside from the fact that it was violent and scarring. Similarly, the character was unformed and bits were added to his mythology as he went along (although this at times was to the detriment of his appeal due to boring explanations and an over-examination of his past which removed the mystique). For instance, his claws were initially thought to be attached to his gloves before being revealed as part of his skeleton while his original comic book appearance was supposed to be a one off as a disposable minor villain to fight the Hulk in one issue and be promptly forgotten.
|The Hulk is like, "The fuck?"|
A significant part of his huge popularity is that Wolverine has always had a reputation for being a tough guy even though he routinely gets his ass handed to him, like the time he was ripped in half by the Hulk, who always held a grudge against him for using his comic as a springboard for bigger success and fame,
|"Hulk told him to split!" - The Hulk|
Or that time he forgot that he had adamatium covering his entire skeleton and decided to go up against Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, who can, you know, control metal...
|So... that turned out pretty much as well as could have been expected.|
Or when his nuts got blown off by the Punisher, who has no powers aside from being able to shoot guns and not give a fuck,
|He didn't even do anything to Wolverine's face. It just jumped off when he got shot in the groin.|
And we all remember that time he got taken out by Spock,
|I think you might have lost at badassery when Spock is more hardcore than you and takes you out with a Vulcan pinch.|
Irrespective of whether or not Wolverine deserves his reputation as a badass, this is not the most incongruous aspect of his character and widespread popularity. Despite being close to two hundred years old, possessing six inch claws that extend out his hands, recognised as a known killer prone to beserker rages and psychotic fits due to the considerable tampering with his memories and the mental trauma he has sustained over his his really, really long life, none of the other X-Men think it is weird that Wolverine keeps hanging out with spunky prepubescent girls.
|"I see no reason not to let this man look after 12-16 year old girls still coming to terms with their new-found powers and the growing pains of puberty." - Professor Charles Xavier|
This trend of partnering Wolverine with a quipping teenage girl began with the mini-series Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, which set the precedent for pairing the gruff cigar-smoking homicidal loner with bubbling and awkward young girls in the best buddy cop tradition.
|At this point, it is unclear that Wolverine was even aware that Kitty's power is to become intangible, he just really wanted to stab that guy and she was in the way. Perfect mentoring technique.|
To be fair, some of the girls need direction and Wolverine's rugged approach does seem to toughen them up and set them on their way, or at the very least let them settle on a superhero name and costume,
|Kitty had some identity issues, going from Sprite to Ariel, then back to Sprite before settling on the name, Shadowcat. She also had terrible dress sense but Wolverine's Mentorship Program soon sorted all that.|
During the Nineties, Wolverine needed a foil that embodied the youth of the time, so he hung out with Jubilee since her sparkling powers, skater/Californian girl talk, and tendency to be continually chewing bubblegum were emblematic of the decade.
|Two out of three of her character traits are displayed here.|
Since they relegated Shadowcat to bit parts in the first two X-Men movies, her function as chirpy sidekick to Wolverine was occupied by Rogue,
|"Oh. My. God. I had the sudden realisation that I am just a huge perv and my relationship with these young girls is rather inappropriate."|
Meanwhile in Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, Kitty is all grown up and pretty badass herself, so Wolverine takes Armour under his claw,
|Aw, look! He threatened to endanger her life. How adorable.|
And then, in a moment of clarity so stark that people could not believe that it had not been done before, it was decided that since Wolverine needs a young female sidekick to mentor, and that the only thing better than Wolverine is more Wolverine, his next sidekick should be the teen girl version of Wolverine.
Therefore, X-23 is essentially Wolverine with boobs, complete with an animal-like nature, severe mental trauma due to Weapon X tampering, a killer instinct, and a set of kitchen knives extending out of her hands.
|She only gets two because her hands are smaller, I guess?|
And it's not like the girls are the only ones that get something out of this mentorship program, Wolverine too gains something very special from the young girls he looks after,
|A comedic foil for his double act.|
Pure comedy adamantium.
http://www.cracked.com/article_16403_the-7-most-hilariously-mismatched-superhero-battles.html (see entry #2)
http://www.cracked.com/article_18785_6-comic-book-crossovers-you-wont-believe-actually-happened.html (see entry #3)