If you follow YouTube and social media at all, then you’ll know that there’s been a meme based on Rupert Murdoch’s upcoming adaptation of the X-Men movies for some time now. Since its first appearance over a month ago, the “Wolverine meme” has been a frequent topic on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. In case you’re wondering, the “Wolverine” memes are based on characters from the X-Men films; specifically, Wolverine, one of the first comic book characters to be adapted into a major motion picture.

The Popularity Of The Meme

Since its January 9 debut, the “Wolverine meme” has been a popular topic on YouTube, with the most popular videos currently hovering around the three minute mark and garnering millions of views. Not only that, but fans have taken to using the hashtag #wolverine and #wolverinememe to discuss the latest developments and highlight popular moments in the movies.

In the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, we get an idea of just how influential the X-Men meme has been on the internet. In an article about the upcoming X-Men films, Disney CEO Robert Iger boasted that “The ‘Wolverine’ meme is probably the most prominent of all the memes that we’ve seen.”

What Is The ‘Wolverine’ Meme?

The “Wolverine” meme is pretty self-explanatory: it’s a humorous depiction of Wolverine, the one-eyed, claw-handed mutants from the X-Men films. The character was first introduced to film audiences in 2000’s X-Men, starring Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Since then, the character has appeared in every X-Men film and will be reprising his role in the upcoming Wolverine movies.

While much of the internet has been focused on the upcoming X-Men films this year, gamers have actually been discussing an even older game that was released in 2015: Activision’s Battlefield Battlegrounds. In the game, players assume the roles of various mutants, each with their own set of special moves and characteristics. This content is what inspired the “Wolverine” meme.

Where Did It Start?

Although the “Wolverine” meme is based on the upcoming X-Men films, we can’t forget about its origins. As with most memes, the character first appeared on TikTok (formerly known as TikTokU) as a standalone clip, tweeted out by user @jimmywinter_ with the hashtag #wolverine. Later that day, other users would jump on the trend, replying with their own humorous takes on the iconic Wolverine character.

In fact, it was an older video from YouTube user @popsike involving user @jimmywinter_ and @itsjustinsteven that started it all. The video, uploaded in April 2016 and titled “Popsike’s Game Plan”, features a silhouette of a man against a purple background while a voice-over lists off various plans to increase subscribers on TikTok.

The character caught on quickly, inspiring several variations, including “Wolverine Evolution”, “Wolverine Unboxing”, and “Wolverine My Face”, as well as countless others. While the characters mostly appear in silhouette, many users have used computer graphics to add some facial hair and wrinkles to the mix, as well as some colorful outfits to signify that it’s the Halloween season. In fact, many of the memes feature Halloween-themed text, which appears in a typeface associated with comic books and Halloween films. The text is often accompanied by a graphic featuring a skull and crossbones, which is a popular image among graphic designers and meme creators.

Why Does It Matter?

Why should you care about the “Wolverine” meme? The answer is pretty simple: because it’s funny. Like many memes, the “Wolverine” meme started and was popularized on TikTok before making its way to other platforms. Now that it’s been picked up by the mainstream media, people are starting to take it more seriously. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s any less funny.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, director James Wan acknowledged that “The ‘Wolverine’ meme is probably the most prominent of all the memes that we’ve seen,” though he didn’t seem quite as amused by it as we are. In a related interview with the New York Times, producer Simon Cowles said that the character had become “a symbol for an entire generation”. This might explain why the “Wolverine” meme is starting to trend on TikTok even now, despite its history on the platform: it’s reaching a wider audience than ever before and continues to be relevant even after all of this time. More and more people are figuring out what makes the character so special, which is likely why he continues to be a popular topic on social media platforms like TikTok and why game developers are attempting to cash in on the craze (more on that later).

A Trend On TikTok And Instagram

While the “Wolverine” meme started on TikTok, it’s recently started to trend on other platforms as well. On Twitter, user @hahaha_ posted a video entitled “Wolverine Meme” on January 9, which has been seen by millions of people and has spawned several variations, including:

  • “Wolverine Vs Hulk”
  • “Is This The End Of The ‘Wolverine’ Meme?”
  • “Wolverine Getting Larger Each Video”
  • “The Unofficial ‘Wolverine’ Meme”
  • “An Animated ‘Wolverine’ Meme”
  • “Black Panther Vs Wolverine”
  • “Who Is The Real ‘Wolverine’?”
  • “Do You Like The ‘Wolverine’ Meme?” (This one’s pretty self-explanatory)

The trend has also made its way to Instagram, where @jordanpennell posted a series of photos on January 11 featuring various incarnations of Wolverine. While most of his followers probably know what’s coming, his Instagram caption teases, “Did you think I was joking?”, giving us a hint that he’s found a way to make money off the trend:

The most popular videos on TikTok feature the characters in humorous poses, like this “Wolverine” parody from @michaeltomchack, where the character stops traffic with a well-placed scare:

The character’s popularity stemmed from his versatility – he wasn’t just a killing machine as depicted in the movies – and interesting backstory as a clone of Wolverine introduced to the comics world in 1995. The character possesses the ability to heal quickly, making him both durable and lethal, and has been played by several famous men, including Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. While the “Wolverine” meme was initially created for laughs, there’s no denying the influence that the character has had on the internet.