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Comic Book Questions Answered – Can Wolverine or Deadpool Starve to Death?

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Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.

Reader Abdelrahman wrote in to ask:

Hi there, I was wondering, if you starve Wolverine or Deadpool, would they actually die? This brings up another question, their healing factor must need energy to heal their wounds, so, does it get this energy from food, in form of calorie? Or does it get it from another source ?

Read on for the answer!

Okay, so here’s the most important thing to understand before we get into this topic. Some of the most basic rules of science do not apply to the world of comic books. The biggest one is that mass can’t just be created out of nowhere. However, we see it happen all the time – the Hulk’s whole deal is that he goes from puny Banner into the huge Hulk. So where does that mass come from? In an attempt to explain stuff like this, comic book writers have often gone to this whole “other-dimensional” reasoning (like the Hulk gains his mass from another dimension), which is just kind of bizarre, right? To explain how something DOESN’T make scientific sense, the explanation involves OTHER DIMENSIONS. But whatever, that’s the default explanation for anything like that. How can Deadpool regrow a hand? He gets the mass from another dimension. Silly? Oh hell yeah, but hey, at least it’s an explanation.

So anyhow, I bring this up because this question really presupposes that this stuff makes sense, and it really doesn’t. However, we CAN answer as well as we can based on what we know.

So let’s take on Wolverine and Deadpool one at a time. We’ll begin with Wolverine.

Wolverine CAN starve. He DOES need to eat. However, as established by Grant Morrison in New X-Men #148 (art by Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning), he has a bit of a way out of this dilemma when put into situations where he is trapped without food…

newxmen148

Again, that doesn’t technically make scientific sense, but hey, it’s what we got. I believe that makes it evident that he DOES need to eat to survive, so yes, Wolverine could theoretically be starved to death if he is deprived of food. I believe his healing powers would make it take a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time for it actually kick in, but it CAN be done.

But what about Deadpool? Read on to find out!

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49 Comments

If Daken can drown that means Wolverine can too. And if Wolverine can drown, he can starve to death.

what’s starving got to do with drowning?

I thought the whole point was that starvation was too slow a process to overcome the healing factor. Drowning can kill Wolverine because it quickly causes brain death, and if he’s kept underwater too long, he can suffer too much brain damage for his healing to fix when he surfaces.

I wouldn’t draw conclusions from these. Deadpool is insane and he could be making this stuff up, or believe it himself. (So that buried room had illumination for a thousand years, otherwise he couldn’t have played games?) And Wolverine could have eaten his own flesh just to drive away the hunger (not a concern for DP who is, well, insane, and besides, could have eaten his own flesh as well – just neglected to mention it). In Civil War, he regenerated from his bare adamantium bones to peak physical health. So if he’s really starving, he can always just burn away his body and he’ll be restored to great shape shortly :D

I don’t have an issue to cite, but I do remember a mid-90s issue of Wolverine (maybe around the time they brought up his past with Maverick and Sabertooth?) where he was trapped and dying in a Russian desert, and he made a point that he needed protein for his healing factor to function. He had to play dead to lure buzzards close enough. ” a little stringy. .. but protein.” Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me remembers bit better.

I think Inner Circle nailed it.

Wolverine’s regeneration looks unlimited. As long as Logan’s brain stay intact in his adamantium skull, he’ll be back. And I’m pretty sure he can’t die of drowning either. He’ll shut down while in water and be back to normal once out of water.

Deadpool simply can’t die, it’s canon.

There was an issue during the Hama/Texeira run where it was established that Logan *did* need to eat the fuel his healing factor to regrow stuff. Of course other stories have since expanded his healing abilities, and unfortunately through the nature of monthlies new extremes of superpowers soon become the standard minimum–but still, he needed it at one point.

given how both deadpool and wolverines powers are to heal from any wound. if they did starve to death odds are they would wind up after time come back as a corpse .plus think the weapon x program proably increased deadpools healing powers so he can’t die from starvation he would proably eat himself. after all dead pool can heal from just his head being around.

Deadpool is cursed with life, he can not die.

There was a story waaay back, when the X-Men were running around with the Starjammers in another galaxy. Wolverine was completely destroyed by some kind of weapon, but one of his cells landed on an alien energy crystal. His healing factor was able to completely regenerate his entire body from a single cell. Don’t think a lack of food is going to end him.

That example of Deadpool surviving for 800 years in a freezer was probably just some bs he was making up. Why not reference the multiple times Deadpool fought Famine and he was reduced to skin and bones, so he can certainly starve. He also did a variation of eating his own flesh trick, but he was feeding his flesh to Fantomex to revive him.

I feel like some column needs to be done about this topic because each time people speak on it out of context:

Logan’s extreme healing capabilities seen during Civil War (where he survives being reduced to just a drop of blood) is no longer a thing. Daniel Way explained how Logan was able to do so (long story but involved the actual Angel of Death), explained why/how it was not the norm/mandate or whatever people tend to think it is, and ended the story reducing it from that level. Since then Logan’s healing factor was roughly back to his 90s levels. It stayed as such up to his death.

I’m not sure why this is even up for debate, they could just slice off a piece of their arm and eat that as a temporary means. (deadpool fed himself to archangel in the dark angel saga)

It’s entirely possible Wolverine doesn’t know the answer himself. Keep in mind, he doesn’t fully understand how his healing factor works (neither does anyone else for that matter). The logical conclusion is that, yes, it needs some kind of fuel just as much as the rest of his body does. Does he get tired? Does he get hot or cold? Keep in mind, also, that he is not immortal. He’s cited several examples of how he can die. I assume starvation is one of them. As for the coming back from a drop of blood thing, yes, that seems kind of ridiculous. Even if that’s possible how do you “regrow” things like old memories and what not? He’s been point blank shot in the head before and come back fine.

I’m reminded of the Atom Man storyline from the Superman radio series in the ’40s. Atom Man was a kryptonite-powered Nazi spy, sort of a proto-Metallo, who could fire powerful kryptonite radiation beams from his hands and could also knock Superman out just from the ambient radiation he emitted. Prior attempts to kill Superman had failed because the Atom Man would deplete his kryptonite reserves before his beams could finish Superman off. So the evil mastermind now employing him came up with a plan to keep Superman captive and weakened by proximity to the Atom Man until he starved to death. The plan failed because the Atom Man didn’t have the patience to stay in a bunker with Superman 24 hours a day for however many weeks or months it would take him to die of starvation.

Kneel Before Bob

February 28, 2016 at 7:51 pm

As loathe as I am to bring it up, Wolverine: The Best There Is establishes that Wolverine does actually require outside mass to help regenerate wounds; though it might just be due to the extent of the damage he’s suffered up to that point (I believe it’s the first part of the second arc). I suppose that eating his own flesh would provide enough raw materials for his healing factor to regrow the wounds and also sustain his hunger, but man… it’s seriously comic book science at work there.

I’m a bit off the train as far as Deadpool’s powers, but wasn’t it established that his healing factor was derived from Wolverine? In that case, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that (comical necessity not withstanding) that his healing factor would at least behave close to the same way? In that case, if Wolverine could sustain himself through a cycle of eating himself, Deadpool should be able to do so as well.

Comics man….

Regardless of this Deadpool was cursed by Thanos with immortality, so even if his body was completely obliterated/dissolved/melted/starved etc etc then he would remain sentient and unable to be with Death (which was the reason that Thanos did it)

Dick move, Thanos. Dick move.

I always thought Wolverine had some extra boost when he re-generated from his skeleton. Similar to Nitro had in Civil War to make the big boom.

Earlier he generated from a drop of blood as well, but then a magical crystal of some kind was involved.

People always forget these facts when complaining about how ridiculous his healing factor has become.
(Not that it hasn’t, but no need to exaggerate it even more)

@Niels van Eekelen: it was ‘Valley o’ Death’, with Logan shot and left for dead on the Russian (or was that Kazakhstan?) steppe. He killed a vulture for the protein. But it was suggested to him by an imaginary angel who was just a part of his own subconscious, so it’s not exactly canon. Like the eat-own-flesh-that-regrows thing, it could have been just a way to drive the hunger away. (That issue also has dreadful art with a few notabls exceptions, like Logan eating the vulture.)

@MaxMatrix: That story DID try to re-set Wolverine’s healing, but failed. It ended with Logan actually trying not to be hurt and showing fighting prowess, and how nice it would have been if it stayed that way. But all other writers disregarded the story and wrote outrageous feats of self-healing again. And well before his death Wolverine lost his healing factor altogether.
Besides, Deadpool’s healing powers vary just as much as Wolverine’s. Certainly nothing else suggests that he can live in an empty room for a milleneum. To survive that, he could have had a pact with Azrael or what, too.

Ah, their healing factors are fueled by one thing: popularity!

The last panel of that New X-Men page…

‘It tastes like lady fingers!!!’ is all I can think of…

@Travis:

Wolverine and Deadpool are basically Tinkerbell. If we just believe in them, they can heal from anything.

The healing made some sense until it was just “I can heal from wounds faster than others can but it still take some time and it still hurts.” I can see someone with an healing factor whose arm get cut off, sawing it back and healing because the tissues heal faster and the healing help avoid infections, but regrowing from nothing it’s quite silly.

Wouldn’t the curse that Thanos put on Deadpool have prevented Deadpool from dying from something like starvation?

Superconnectivity

February 29, 2016 at 6:42 am

Here is a question for you. Does Oldman Logan have an adamantium skeleton? I had believed he did in the original series, but in the recent tale of Oldman Logan vs. Totally Awesome Hulk, he mentions that he has cracked ribs. Was that just an error, or is he no longer Adamantium laced? Thanks. =o)

I do tend to get annoyed when fans want to go too far into scientifically explaining how these crazy powers happen. But I get irritated when something goes against certain scientific laws. Of course, not all of them because I accept flying Superman, etc. But the thought that these people could survive without any sustenance seems a bit much. The super-healing body still needs something to fuel it.

Superconnectivity

February 29, 2016 at 6:53 am

Truth be told I don’t think healing factors make any less sense than any other infinite power. Whether it’s the infinite strength of the Hulk or the Infinite infatiguebility of Boulder, it never really makes sense. Having to eat yourself is kind of weird, but then again, that might have not been necessary either, just something he did to pass the time, and sate the feeling of hunger.

For what it’s worth, it was actually suggested that at least with Wolverine his powers derive directly from a connection to the elder goddess Gaia. Once you factor in a quasi-mystical quality to the power the infinite nature of the power becomes pretty easy to rationalize. One can likely do a similar math with Wade’s connection to the ancient force of Death itself.

As an aside, I also am amused by the absurd amount of sexual tension between Logan and Jean the writers give us. Come on, Jean, does it really help the heat all that much sitting around in your bra? :)

Here’s the thing about Wolverine’s healing factor versus Deadpool’s. All things being equal, Logan’s probably got the better healing factor. However, we don’t often see him push it to the same extreme as Wade’s. The reason being because, quite frankly, Deadpool is dumber and more reckless.

Wade will literally break every bone in his body or cut off a finger to prove a point. Logan’s not that stupid. Likewise, Logan would charge into battle and face an onslaught of machine gun fire, but probably not as a first resort. He’s crazy, but not insane. Wade is way past the latter and has no problem proving it.

The other thing to consider is that we really don’t see Logan lopping off body parts because of the whole Adamantium thing. Having unbreakable bones makes him far less likely to be as demonstrably broken as Wade.

Plus, Logan’s healing factor is probably also doing a decent job of preventing him from dying of Adamantium poisoning. If Logan takes some hard hits then it’s because his healing factor is otherwise occupied. Kinda like how Cable and Stryfe share the same DNA, but Styfe always seems to be more powerful. Nathan’s mega powerful, but his thing is that he’s had to use those powers to keep the T.O. virus in check. Wolverine’s not nearly in as bad shape, but power from his healing factor IS being diverted elsewhere.

Historically speaking, we’ve seen Wolverine pull what Deadpool has, healing factor wise. He’s grown back his entire face after having lost his eyes and just about all of his skin & muscle. We’ve even seen Logan’s healing factor pushed to its most ridiculous when he was both a partial and even full walking skeleton. Logan’s healing factor is ridiculously crazy. A good example can be seen in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MGBKHujo2-Y/UgrsWdLybzI/AAAAAAAAO4Y/IPo7-2ab2ps/s1600/Uncanny+X-Men+Annual+%252311+Page+36.jpg

For those who can’t see the pic, Claremont establishes quite clearly that Wolverine can literally regrow his entire body from a single drop of blood. It’s all a matter of him having sufficient power. He probably couldn’t do this on his own under normal circumstances, but somebody probably could jump start him back to life from a single cell.

Can Wolverine & Deadpool die? Sure. Not just by atomizing them, which would surely work. All you have to do is wait for age to catch up. We’ve seen future versions of Logan & Wade where their powers have kinda diminished with age. They still heal, but much slower.

All of that aside, their healing factors come down to one thing: story. If the writer wants Wolverine to die from a single gunshot then that’s what’s going to happen. If he wants him to be a disembodied head then that’s going to happen to. It’s all up to the writer’s discretion, tbh.

BTW>>> Had to repost. Not sure if the last comment took. Sorry if there’s a dupe

FWIW, they all look like wimps in the face of Madcap’s healing factor. He can literally recover being being blown to bits in a matter of minutes or even seconds.

Yes starvation could kill Wolverine. To heal requires the cells to use energy which is the real problem with starvation. Without enough food his cells would not have enough energy to rebuild themselves and will die off completely.

Healing factors that prevent death make a character so boring! What’s interesting if the guy has no risk? In the panels shown, Wolvey’s claws are sticking through Deadpool’s brain! And yet, he still talks! Not possible with a popped brain. In fact the whole body shuts down…wouldn’t that have caused cell death and stopped the healing factor?

I don’t care how fast they heal, the human body needs it’s muscles to move. When Wolvy gets his muscles severed, but somehow still can run or use his arms while are healing makes no sense. Same with Deapool. If Deadpool can regenerate from nothing, what happens is he loses a limb and cat reattach it? Does it grow another Deadpool? Suppose they toss him in a blast furnace? Would he miraculously crawl out when they turn it off?

These things are why I lost interest in Wolverine after 30 years and never had an interest in Deadpool.

So from what I remember from high school Biology, death of starvation is the result of the body running out of calories to fuel the body’s processes. The reason why humans can stave off death at varying degrees is due to the reserves of unconverted carbs, proteins and fat the body has to burn through. Then there’s dehydration to worry about.

So, uh, yeah. Healing powers are OP on Earth 616. This made my head hurt.

Claremont establishes quite clearly that Wolverine can literally regrow his entire body from a single drop of blood. It’s all a matter of him having sufficient power.

That was due entirely to the magic of the Crystal of Ultimate Vision. In the page immediately prior, Wolverine was killed just by being stabbed through the chest. That body is still lying there dead as the scene you posted is taking place, rather than healing up and giving us the wonder of two Wolverines. You can see it in the left mid-page panel.

Also note that Wolverine still has adamantium in his bones after this story, and you know a healing factor wouldn’t grow a new body that stuff.

I stopped trying to find any reason or rhyme to comic book science a long time ago. It sorta ruins the fun if you think too hard.

I only become concerned if the writers stop following their own rules. For example, if Wolverine manages to fend off 200 ninjas in one issue, taking shuriken and arrow hits along the way, but then dies in the next issue from a blow to the head… well… something’s not right.

I don’t mind if none of the science makes any sense as long as there’s a degree of internal consistency.

I feel that this is why so many people called foul over the whole talking skeleton incident. It’s not that Wolverine has never been burnt down to a skeleton level, partial or otherwise, and survived. It’s just that it is so rare that it really stood out here.

Plus, y’know, he was an animated skeleton in the Ray Harryhausen tradition, which just looked REALLY wrong. Something like having all of his flesh and muscle flayed off his skin might not have killed him, but it would have dropped him on his @$$ for a good long while til he recovered.

I don’t mind that Wolverine’s practically invincible because he’s so much more deeply flawed as a person. It’s kinda the opposite of Superman, who’s kind of a perfect person personality-wise, but has this Kryptonite as his Achilles heel Wolverine’s the flipside, virtually unkillable, but damaged goods on a personal level. It’s more of an internalized weakness with him.

“Even if that’s possible how do you “regrow” things like old memories and what not?”

That’s not the right question; even if we don’t know the process fully, it is safe to say that memories are physically stored in the brain. The question is how does the healing factor “store” the restoration point that is is healing somebody back toward?

All I know is, that trick of Wolvie eating his own flesh would only work if he was outside of Canada. If that glacier was in his home country he’d have turned into a Wendigo, right?

Drowning is relevant because both starvation and drowning are depriving the body of something it needs to survive, not taking damage that can be healed from.

i believe Wolverine resorted to eating slices of himself at once point when starved for food (it would just grow back anyway). In one story, Deadpool was discovered in the future after being locked inside a building for centuries. (i don’t remember the issues for either and can’t look them up at present.)

i believe Wolverine resorted to eating slices of himself at once point when starved for food (it would just grow back anyway). In one story, Deadpool was discovered in the future after being locked inside a building for centuries. (i don’t remember the issues for either and can’t look them up at present.)

Hmm…interesting. I wish you could find those issues to reference. They’d be very handy.

That is some dry wit there, sir.

For a moment I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

i believe Wolverine resorted to eating slices of himself at once point when starved for food (it would just grow back anyway). In one story, Deadpool was discovered in the future after being locked inside a building for centuries. (i don’t remember the issues for either and can’t look them up at present.)

I also believe there was an article on this site once that referenced those very issues. Wish I could look it up and provide you a link to it. It was fairly recent I think.

See now, that bit right there, “I hate you, Wilson”. That’s why I love Deadpool so much. It’s like a meta-commentary. He’s a psycho killer with an even crazier healing power. He out-Wolverines Wolverine – HE is the best at what Wolverine does. But he’s not a moody little SOB with sense of false nobility about it, he’s a proper nut who plays up the Looney-Tunes cartoonish nature of it. He’s like an unconscious Watchmen-Comedian of the Marvel Universe, a parody of Wolverine and the Marvel ‘society’. He’s Wolverine satire, living and breathing in the same world as Wolverine, and often in the same vicinity, and I like to imagine that’s what ticks Logan off so much. He’s like a counterpoint for anyone fed up with the convoluted super-serious pretentiousness of the MU. He’s a release valve.

Deadpool can’t die because Marvel needs him too much.

Oneminutemonkey

March 2, 2016 at 12:13 am

There was a storyline where a second Deadpool was running around, a Frankensteinian composite of various body parts Wade has lost over the years. Just Google “Evil Deadpool.” So yeah, his healing factor is insane enough to create a whole new Deadpool if one puts enough pieces together.

Also, in the infamous ‘crystal story’, Wolverine wasn’t really resurrected from a drop of blood. His body that drop of blood came from actually died and stayed dead, while another was created from that drop of blood. See the linked page somewhere above. Had his wounds been less severe, he would have stayed alive while the another Wolverine would still have been created. And if the crystal had been showered with his blood, a whole army could have arisen, which really messes up the idea of having a soul in the Marvel Universe (did the crystal store a whole load of reserve souls, just in case)?
The whole story (UXM Annual 11?) makes very little sense. No wonder it opens with Logan being blind drunk; probably Claremont had been as well when he wrote it. Alan Davis’ art makes it worth reading, but the story itself… The idea of the Crystal Palace is ripped from Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘The Lion of Comarre’ (or a similar work) and the chief antagonist is a joke. And the twist at the end makes the whole story just plain nonsense.

“For those who can’t see the pic, Claremont establishes quite clearly that Wolverine can literally regrow his entire body from a single drop of blood.”

Uh… no. Not unless you are also claiming that he establishes quite clearly in the same story that Psylocke can turn into a metal woman, Havok can turn into a sun, etc. That story is not intended to be taken literally: the Citadel is not real, it’s more like a dreamscape.

Deadpool would probably om nom his flesh like Wolverine said he did, and like Deadpool did for Angel. BUT he probably can starve to death, because why does he have a need for food at all?

[…] Piper shot a missile at Hive, which just gives him an opportunity to show off his gross take on a healing factor. The SHIELD team evacs using one of the flying elevators they previously used for Inhuman […]

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