This publicity image released by 20th Century Fox shows Hugh Jackman in a scene from “The Wolverine.” A raging wildfire known as “The Beast” forced all of Fort McMurray’s 80,000 residents to flee in 2016 and now comic-book fans are lobbying for a statue of another beast to be built as a tribute to the Alberta city’s resiliency. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/20th Century Fox, Ben Rothstein

This publicity image released by 20th Century Fox shows Hugh Jackman in a scene from “The Wolverine.” A raging wildfire known as “The Beast” forced all of Fort McMurray’s 80,000 residents to flee in 2016 and now comic-book fans are lobbying for a statue of another beast to be built as a tribute to the Alberta city’s resiliency. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/20th Century Fox, Ben Rothstein

Wolverine fans hoping for a Marvel-ous tourism attraction for Fort McMurray

  • Dec. 25, 2017 3:56 p.m.

Wolverine fans hoping for a Marvel-ous tourism attraction for Fort McMurray

A raging wildfire known as “The Beast” forced all of Fort McMurray’s 80,000 residents to flee in 2016 and now comic-book fans are lobbying for a statue of another beast to be built as a tribute to the Alberta city’s resiliency.

Wolverine is a fictional character who according to Marvel Comics lore hails from northern Alberta. He’s a mutant with super-human senses and the power to heal from almost any wound.

“I actually think it’s a really cool idea,” said Ashley Laurenson, manager of Nerdvana Collectible, Comics and Hobby in Fort McMurray.

“He’s as tough as nails, from northern Alberta, and can regenerate after taking massive amounts of damage. He seems like a fitting tribute for sure.”

Laurenson, her boyfriend and their very “distraught cat” were forced to leave when the fire ravaged parts of the city.

She said the comic-book store can’t keep Wolverine comics and graphic novels on the shelf for long.

“Fort McMurray has a lot more of a nerdy base of people than a lot of people realize. We’ve got a lot of closet nerds up here,” Laurenson said.

“Some people might think it’s a silly idea, but I know hundreds of people that I’ve talked to in the town who are super-keen to have a Wolverine statue.”

The idea began as a joke when the city of Edmonton was debating whether to help fund a new arena for the National Hockey League Oilers. Resident Brian LaBelle started a petition calling for a Wolverine statue to be built as a way to revitalize the downtown.

His friend Sameer Singh picked up the torch and has set up an Indiegogo page to raise the $85,000 required to build a bronze statue of Wolverine in Fort McMurray.

“When the wildfires … happened last year it had seemed like putting a statue of Wolverine up there seemed like a good way to give back to the community in a way that was beyond just donating to the Red Cross,” said Singh.

“Fort McMurray is definitely northern Alberta. Wolverines — the actual animals — live in northern Alberta and there’s even a Wolverine Drive in Fort McMurray.

“It just sort of all came together in a vision of let’s do something really cool and unique and give back to a community that could use a helping hand.”

LaBelle said it’s not as if famous mascots are anything new and Wolverine could help draw visitors to the northern city.

“There’s the statue of Captain America in the Brooklyn Zoo, a Hulk statue at the Chicago library and a Robocop statue being built in Detroit,” he said.

“I’m sure if there were people in town coming for the Edmonton comic expo or even the Calgary expo, it might be a fun little side trip and see part of Alberta.”

Alberta’s tourism minister likes the idea.

“It’s not surprising that Wolverine’s hometown is Fort McMurray — they are both tough as nails. The people of the Wood Buffalo region have inspired us with the same indomitable spirit and almost superhuman ability to recover from adversity, that they share with their alter ego,” said Ricardo Miranda.

“I look forward to the community’s decision on the project.”

The campaign came as a surprise to Fort McMurray’s mayor.

“Nobody has told me about a Wolverine statue until now. I thought I’d heard about everything,” said Mayor Don Scott.

“My council colleagues, would be pretty keen on seeing exactly what the plan is. There’s a lot of rules … about what’s on roadways and where things are placed, so I’d have to see the overall plan before I could really comment on it.”

Singh acknowledges getting the statue completed could take a while and he would still need permission from Marvel to display Wolverine.

Neither actor Hugh Jackman, who plays the Wolverine character in the X-Men movies, nor representatives from Marvel responded to a request for comment.

An attempt to have a statue of the comic character Deadpool in Regina last year failed. The character, played by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, claimed to be from the Saskatchewan capital during the movie.

— Follow ↕BillGraveland on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches a speaker appear by videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 9, 2021. Grassroots Liberals have overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to develop and implement a universal basic income — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau winds up Liberal convention with election campaign-style speech

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau wound up a three-day Liberal convention Saturday with… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot against Italy at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday… Continue reading

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Non-profit Quebec law centre to aid environmental group targeted by Alberta oil firm

QUEBEC — The Quebec Environmental Law Centre is coming to the aid… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives cite empathy, relationships as ways to help expand their movement

OTTAWA — Conservatives should show empathy with Black residents who say they’ve… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. New Democrats are reconvening for the second day of a three-day policy convention as they look to push past the glitches of the virtual event's opening sessions and rally around keynote speaker John Horgan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
New Democrats reconvene as hiccups, frustrations plague national policy convention

OTTAWA — New Democrats reconvened Saturday for the second day of a… Continue reading

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a joint statement with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his commitment to the Republican Party — and raise the possibility that someone else will be the GOP's next presidential nominee — in a closed-door speech to donors Saturday night, April 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Trump in 2024? He says only that ‘a Republican’ will win

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his… Continue reading

A cruise ship sits docked waiting for passengers to be evacuated in Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Friday, April 9, 2021 due to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)
Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate… Continue reading

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Most Read