The Marvel Universe is filled with villains that have really fascinating backstories ranging from botched lab experiments to fabled curses that can turn people into monsters. The Wendigo, a mythological monster who roams around the Canadian woodlands, is one such enemy.
The Wendigo is a curse created by Steve Englehart and illustrator Herb Trimpe that turns mankind into monsters if they commit cannibalism. These heinous monsters then go on to assault everybody who is in their way, even feeding on their victims. Wendigos have superhuman strength and incredible regenerative abilities, making them extremely difficult to vanquish. Let us investigate their origins and learn more about this cursed beast that has claimed many lives.
He fought Hulk in his first appearance
Wendigo was first introduced in the Incredible Hulk Comics [issue 162] in a segment titled ‘Spawn of the Flesh Eater.’ The comic begins with Hulk in Canada, as he travels around the country in search of his friend ‘Betty Ross’. In the meantime, the Canadian Prime Minister brainstorms ways to get rid of the Hulk. He summons Hulk’s longtime nemesis ‘General Ross’ and gives him permission to set up a base in Canada and extradite the Hulk to the U.S.A.
Meanwhile, Hulk wanders around the woods as he tries to remember the exact purpose of his visit. As he ponders over the reason for his visit, Hulk hears a faint voice asking for help. The voice says, ‘Help Me! Please Somebody- My Name is Paul Cartier, and I Need Help’. While Hulk tries to figure out the source of this voice, he is cornered by a bunch of hunters who start shooting at him. Though he is confused, Hulk decides to retaliate when a young lady approaches him and demands to know what he has done with her brother.
We learn that the lady is ‘Marie Cartier’ and she is looking for her brother Paul who has been captured and possibly killed by a monster named ‘Wendigo.’ Marie had confused Hulk with Wendigo and was anxious to find Paul. Hulk explains that he is not Wendigo and promises to look for Paul and bring him back to her.
Hulk sets out to find Wendigo, and he doesn’t have to search for long before the monster himself appears before the Hulk. While Hulk asks Wendigo about Paul, the beast hurls himself at Hulk and tries to fight the superhero. In the meantime, Hulk notices a man crawling up from behind a rock and rushes to help him. The man warns the Hulk that Wendigo is a man-eater, and is just about to eat him.
Hulk mistakes the young man to be Paul Cartier and launches into an attack on Wendigo. However, he finds that Wendigo is a difficult opponent who cannot be easily overpowered. Wendigo leads Hulk towards the cliff-end, and Hulk loses his balance as he falls off the cliff. The monster then even flings the young man off the cliff, and Hulk regains his balance to save ‘Paul’ from falling to his death.
While Hulk makes sure that ‘Paul’ is alright, Wendigo runs away, and Hulk loses track of the monster. He then returns to Marie Cartier, but she tells him that this man is not Paul. It turns out that Hulk mistook ‘Georges Baptiste’ to be Paul, but in reality, Baptiste was just Paul’s friend.
Baptiste regains consciousness and tells them that they got into an accident while hunting. Paul and Baptiste were hunting along with their friend, Henri when they were attacked by a pack of wolves. Henri got critically injured, and the trio sought shelter in a cave. They were trapped without any supplies inside as the wolves were lurking right outside the cave’s entrance.
As time passed, Henri’s injuries worsened, and he soon died right before their eyes. Since going out was not an option, Georges and Paul stayed in the cave with a dead man for many days. However, on the fourth day, Paul could not go without food anymore, and he resorted to cannibalism and ate Henri’s dead body. The curse of Wendigo dictates that any man who resorts to cannibalism will end up turning into a monster. After eating Henri’s body, Paul faces the same fate as other cannibals and turns into Wendigo himself.
Once again, Hulk sets out to find Wendigo and is determined to help Paul break the curse. When he comes face to face with Wendigo, The Hulk hears Paul’s spirits call out to him. The spirits tell him that Paul can feel his mind dissolving and that he will soon be entirely under Wendigo’s control. Hulk tries to fight the monster, but he soon realizes that Wendigo matches his level of strength. After struggling for some time, Hulk accepts that he could not do anything to save Paul from the curse, and Wendigo runs away into the wilderness.
Exploring the origins of Wendigo
Wendigo is not a single monster but rather a curse that has turned many different beings into monsters. The curse was created by the Northern Gods ‘Inua’ to prevent people from practicing cannibalism. The curse has Canadian origins, and it turns any person who feeds on other humans into the monster known as the ‘Wendigo.’ As the Wendigo, the person then wanders around the forests in Canada in search of more humans to eat.
Wendigos also have supernatural strength, and they often cross paths with mutants and superheroes such as the Hulk, Wolverine, and even Nightcrawler.
Paul Cartier’s Wendigo had escaped the Hulk, and he later faced Wolverine as well. However, he was cured when the curse passed onto ‘Georges Baptiste’ who then became the Wendigo. In this monstrous form, Baptiste fought against the X-Men, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine.
For years, many beings appear as Wendigo across the Marvel Universe. These monsters have created a lot of trouble for other heroes such as Peter Parker, Red Hulk, Captain Marvel, etc.
Wolverine facing the Wendigo
Wolverine has come across Wendigo on many occasions, and one of these encounters was published as a one-shot comic in 2010. The story begins with a film crew who has set up base in the Canadian forests to shoot a documentary on the Wendigo. While their shoot progresses, the lead actress wanders away to take a phone call when a gigantic monster creeps upon her. Her crew tries to warn her, but they are caught off-guard as the monster attacks her. The Wendigo then reveals himself, and the team watches from afar as he hits her head and beheads her. He then attacks the crew, and an entire day passes before the police discover their bodies.
Meanwhile, two of the crew members, Gordon and Jimmy, manage to escape the Wendigo, and they describe the events of the previous night to the authorities. However, the police refused to believe their story and firmly believed that the attack was caused by a serial killer in animal fur. The men offer footage from their documentary as evidence, and the police look into the recordings to find some clues.
The recording begins with Gordon talking about recent sightings of the Wendigo and all the people who were rumored to have turned into the monster. Most recently, the lumberjack ‘Luc Lemay’ was the last person to have turned into the Wendigo after Georges Baptiste and Paul Cartier. While Gordon continues his report, a third member of their crew named Andre claims that he has spotted Wendigo’s fresh tracks.
He further points out Wendigo’s feces on the snowy ground and claims that the monster must not be more than an hour away. As the recording continues, the men look for the Wendigo and eventually call it a night. They retreat to their tent when a member of their team, ‘Mike’, pulls a prank on them by dressing up in a Wendigo costume. While they laugh over it, the real Wendigo appears and attacks Mike.
As the police observe the footage in detail, they notice a strange figure in the background and point it out to the two men. Gordon says that he forgot to mention that a ‘short hairy guy with claws cut the Wendigo’s arm off,’ which is how they were saved. Jimmy adds that they could not get a good look at the creature, as they left the forest as soon as they could. On closer inspection, we learn that it was Wolverine who had appeared in the dark woods upon hearing the commotion caused due to the monster. Wolverine fought the Wendigo, and the X-Men managed to rip off one of his arms.
The police later find the arm that was ripped off from Wendigo’s body, and they run tests on it to find the real identity of the monster. They are shocked to discover that it was indeed Luc Lemay’s fingerprints on the ripped arm. They conclude the case by declaring that Lemay was a serial killer who wandered the forests of Canada in an animal costume. Though Wolverine defeats the Wendigo, he does not declare his presence in this comic and makes a quiet disappearance after ensuring that the monster has been controlled.
Wendigo, as seen in mythology
The Wendigo was a myth that originated from the beliefs of the ‘Algonquin people’ and was widespread across the U.S. and Canada. Though there were different variations of the legend of Wendigo, or Windigo, the most common one connected this monster to the practice of cannibalism. The Algonquin-speaking tribes believed that any human who indulged in this practice became a Wendigo. These myths and legends were established to make sure cannibalism remains a taboo and no one in their tribe practices it.
The Wendigo legend was also the basis for the medical term ‘Wendigo psychosis,’ which studied the relationship between cultural practice and psychosis.
In a typical mythical tale, the Wendigo had a skeletal figure covered in white or ashy grey fur. Its eyes were bloody and pushed back deep into its socket, and the creature reeked of decay and death. In some legends, the Wendigo does not have any fur, and its body is covered with blood all over. The creature was described as a tall demon with a large head, fangs instead of teeth, and hands and legs that tapered into sharp claws. The Wendigo also had twisted, disfigured lips and their tongues were a deep shade of blue.
What makes the Wendigo a deadly enemy?
Though Wendigo is not a highly intelligent monster, he is an extremely powerful being who has defeated many superheroes and mutants.
The Wendigo is typically around 10 feet tall and possesses unmatched physical strength. He has a very thick skin that cannot be penetrated even with high-caliber bullets, as his muscle tissues are a lot stronger than that of a human. He has claws sharper than a knife, and these claws can pierce through almost any surface. The Wendigo cannot be easily overpowered in physical combat, as he possesses self-healing properties that help him recover at a quick pace.
He cannot be killed in combat and can only die if his heart is removed from his body. The Wendigo’s heart holds a lot of his powers and can transfer these powers to the next person who eats it.
In some versions, The Wendigo can spread its curse by biting other humans and turning them into Wendigos.
Appearing in various animated shows
Various versions of The Wendigo have appeared in movies and shows across the Marvel Universe. Wendigo appears in the animated ‘Incredible Hulk’ series as the main antagonist in the episode ‘And the Wind Cries…Wendigo!’. This version of Wendigo was a Native American warrior who had been cursed after resorting to cannibalism. Wendigo had captured The Hulk’s friend ‘Betty Ross’ and the superhero joined forces with Thunderbolt Ross to defeat Wendigo. In this series, the curse of Wendigo vanishes after Hulk defeats him, and the monster soon returns to his human form.
Wendigo also appeared in the ‘Wolverine and the X-Men animated series. This version of Wendigo could spread its curse by biting other people and was the result of an experiment gone wrong. Wendigo appears in the episode titled ‘Wolverine vs. Hulk,’ and he was captured by Wolverine and Hulk as the two came together to defeat this monster.
He appeared in an episode of ‘Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.’ that was set in Canada and explored Wendigo in his natural habitat. In an episode titled ‘Wendigo Apocalypse,’ the agents come across Wolverine after a Wendigo attacks the X-Men.
Wendigo also had appearances in other animated series such as ‘Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and ‘Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors.’
A clan of Wendigos made an appearance in the animated ‘Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes Unlimited’ film, where the pack of Wendigos fought both Iron Man and Hulk.
Paul Cartier’s version of the Wendigo was also set to appear in the unproduced ‘X:Men: Fear the Beast’ movie. This version was inspired by Cartier’s transformation into Wendigo, and this villain was supposed to be the main antagonist of the film.
To conclude, Wendigo is quite a powerful creature and has a lot of myths and legends surrounding him. Though he has fought against popular characters such as the Hulk and Wolverine, he remains to be an underrated villain. He has proved his strength on more than one occasion, and we hope to see more of him in future adaptations!