First appearing in “Incredible Hulk” #181, Wolverine debuts as a deadly force of nature despite his lack of height, taking down the monster Wendigo before turning his sights on defeating the Hulk. In the decades since his first comic appearance, Logan’s animalistic powers are still on display, with Marvel showcasing his unique mutant physiology in combination with his enhancements from the Weapon X Program. As a result, he’s one of the X-Men’s most important members.
One power that’s become increasingly more vital for the hero is his heightened sense of smell. Super-sniffing allows Wolverine to do a wide variety of things, including tracking enemies, protecting those he cares about, identifying substances, and revealing secrets simply by smelling someone or something. So, while his claws and healing factor are impressive, some Marvel fans consider what he can do with his nose allowing for his most special abilities — and with good reason.
Forget Spider-Man’s tingle – Wolverine’s sense of smell protects him from danger
Throughout his comic book, live-action, and animated adventures, Wolverine has shown a keen ability to detect traps and enemies with his super-sniffing. For example, in “Wolverine” #310, the hero realizes he’s killed a clone of Sabretooth and not the real thing after picking up the scent of his longtime rival once he makes his surprise return.
Even when the clone has properties similar to Sabretooth, Logan can tell the difference. In the 2000 “X-Men” film, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) uses his smell to sniff out Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), allowing him to ready his attack and unsheath his claws ahead of the villain before he reveals himself fully. In both cases, Wolverine picking up Sabretooth’s direct scent made him realize exactly who he was facing.
Meanwhile, the very first episode of the “X-Men: The Animated Series” features the titular superteam saving and recruiting Jubilee amid an attack by Sentinels. In a scene where the team is about to walk into a trap, Wolverine manages to sniff them out. A surprised Beast asks, “You can detect the infrared spectrum?” Wolverine responds, telling his fellow mutant hero, “I can smell ’em.” Ultimately, Wolverine can smell potential attackers and threats even if they are not directly in front of him, making his powers key in stopping danger before it happens.
Wolverine’s super-sniff Is the perfect lie detector
Wolverine can serve as a mutant lie detector, specifically when it comes to his shapeshifting foe, Mystique.
In “X-Men” #51 (By Larry Hama, Andy Kubert, Dan Green, and Pat Brosseau), Wolverine meets a beautiful woman at a bar and is invited to her hotel room. Here, the woman emerges as Jean Grey, with Logan immediately telling her to change back, knowing her true identity as Mystique. Wolverine reveals he recognized her right away based on her scent and that he also smells her fear. The clawed hero knows who he’s dealing well in advance.
The comic moment resembles how Wolverine identifies Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) in disguise in the original “X-Men” film. With the X-Men searching for the shapeshifting mutant, Wolverine encounters Storm (Halle Berry). However, after sniffing her, he can deduce she isn’t who she says she is — either by not recognizing her scent as Storm’s or directly distinguishing Mystique’s — leading him to stab her with his claws as she reverts to her usual blue form. Despite the villain’s best efforts, Wolverine’s sniff test is an incredibly identifying tool.
Since he can sniff out Mystique’s true form, he can likely identify any hero or villain in disguise as long as he has their initial scent. He actually pulled off the moves with heroes like Spider-Man, correctly figuring out that he’s also Peter Parker just by his smell. So, if anyone tries to pull a fast one on Logan, they better ensure his super-smelling doesn’t already recognize them. Otherwise, he can easily figure out who hides behind a mask, or in Mystique’s case, using a different body.
Wolverine can sniff drugs without getting high
Wolverine’s smelling powers allow him to sniff out crime — especially when it comes to illicit substances. His drug-sniffing skills are displayed in “Wolverine” #17 (by Archie Goodwin, John Byrne, Klaus Janson, Glynis Oliver, and Jim Novak). In the issue, Wolverine visits Madripoor, where he can smell a shipment of cocaine from a vehicle below despite standing on top of a tall building. Logan ends up jumping across rooftops, tracking the truck by following its scent.
While it’s no surprise Wolverine can smell something from a distance, the comic scene shows how effective this skill can be. He doesn’t get high despite being able to identify the cocaine, as he can pick up its scent without having to sniff any of the drugs up his own nose physically. In this case, the cocaine ends up being an even more dangerous version than it usually is; its experimental nature means those who take it become mad due to it being tainted by a Deviant. The issue shows a flashback of Daredevil dealing with its effects in New York, as a former boxer on the streets ingests the substance and goes insane before dying.