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Who Was the Better Movie Wolf?

The Wolf of Wall Street vs. the Wolf From ‘The Grey’?

(Paramount Pictures/Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Paramount Pictures/Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

The Grey came out in 2011. It’s about a sad man (played by Liam Neeson) who leads a group of less-sad men through the Alaskan wilderness after their plane crashes there. As chance would have it, the crash occurs somewhere within the hunting grounds of a pack of extremely aggressive gray wolves, and so the wolves begin hunting and killing the men, one by one. The wolves are led by The Alpha Wolf, an especially large and unreasonably ferocious wolf who, by any measure, appears to kill out of spite. He is terrifying and possibly a genius, which I suppose are pretty good traits to have if you are a wolf.

The Wolf of Wall Street came out in 2013. It’s about an amoral man (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who leads a group of equally amoral men as they attempt to make fortunes on Wall Street in the ’80s and ’90s. As chance would have it, the leader, Jordan Belfort, was a traditionally trained stockbroker, and so he pairs his training with his hard-sell technique (where he basically just bombards clients with words, pummeling and sometimes shaming them into submission) and an illegal penny-stock scheme, then teaches all of his loser friends to do the same. He is a slickster and a swindler and possibly a genius, which I suppose are pretty good traits to have if you are a wolf on Wall Street.

So the question here is obvious:

Who was the better movie wolf? The Alpha Wolf in The Grey or The Wolf of Wall Street in The Wolf of Wall Street?

That’s what we need to figure out. It’d seem to be a problematic thing, trying to answer a question as nebulous as this one. But it’s not. The way you do it is you break up the question into categories and then select the better of the two for each. Then you just tally up the total, and there you go. That’s how you answer a difficult or knotty question in a tidy, easy way.

(Note: The Alpha Wolf and The Wolf of Wall Street are the two best movie wolves. That’s why I chose them for this. I’m ignoring Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe from Pulp Fiction because he wasn’t a key-enough figure there. His gravity was great, definitely, but it didn’t pull on the actual plot of the movie enough for him to be a serious contender.)

Which wolf was smarter?

There are two ways to look at this category. The first is a traditional view, which means we can just look at who went to what school, because schools are an OK-enough way to get a general idea of how smart someone is.

In this case, the guy DiCaprio’s Wolf of Wall Street is based on graduated from American University, which, even though it sounds super made-up, is actually a pretty good school, so that’s a good mark for him. Compare that with The Alpha Wolf, who did not attend any college (because he’s a real wolf). This category would be an easy win for The Wolf of Wall Street if we measured it this way.

I would argue, though, that we should measure it a second way, which is based less on book smarts than on street smarts (or “wilderness smarts,” I guess).

The Wolf of Wall Street certainly has a high level of street smarts, because “street smarts” is really just a different way to say “intuition and instinct,” and that’s exactly what you need to talk people into giving you their money. That said, The Alpha Wolf very likely has even more intuition and instinct, given that he not only survives living in the emptiness of the arctic tundra, but thrives there.

Think on it like one of those situations where you’re trying to decide which of two point guards is better so you say something like, “Well, if we swapped teams and put Point Guard A on Point Guard B’s team and vice versa, which team would do better?” If we drop The Wolf of Wall Street into Alaska, and then we dropped The Alpha Wolf onto Wall Street, which wolf would survive the longest?

Given that there’s a part in The Grey where Liam Neeson’s character, John Ottway, mentions that it’s nearing 10 degrees below zero, my guess is The Wolf of Wall Street freezes to death before anyone on Wall Street is able to take down The Alpha Wolf.

Winner: The Alpha Wolf

Score: 1–0, The Alpha Wolf

Which wolf caused more casualties?

This is just a numbers-based thing. In The Grey, The Alpha Wolf is either directly or indirectly responsible for six deaths*, possibly seven if you’re of the mind that he was able to kill Liam Neeson at the end of the movie**, and potentially more than 20 if you think it The Alpha Wolf caused the plane to crash***. That’s a max of 20-plus families wrecked. The massive fraud orchestrated by The Wolf of Wall Street in The Wolf of Wall Street, however, affected thousands and thousands of families. Easy win for The Wolf of Wall Street here. He was a hurricane.

*Technically, eight people survive the crash, but one of them dies from crash injuries before the wolves ever show up.

**There’s a quick shot at the end of the credits that shows Neeson lying down, his head resting on The Alpha Wolf’s body. The Alpha Wolf is breathing and so is Neeson, but it’s unclear whether either of them (or both of them) has been fatally wounded.

***The movie starts with Liam Neeson killing a wolf as it charges at some workers. After the crash, one of the guys mentions that wolves are the only animal who will actively seek revenge. So maybe The Alpha Wolf, mad at Neeson for having shot his wolf friend, snuck into the plane hangar the night before the flight, and tinkered with the plane engine? It’s unreasonable, sure, but so is the notion that wolves seek revenge, so who knows.

Winner: The Wolf of Wall Street

Score: 1–1

Which wolf had the most integrity and class?

The first time we get a good, long look at The Alpha Wolf is at the very end of The Grey after Liam Neeson accidentally wanders into the wolves’ den. Neeson is on his knees, looking through the photos in the wallets of the men who’d already died, and he’s crying to himself and whatnot, and then he hears a sound and he starts to look around and he sees bones and a bunch of wolves and realizes he’s in their den. The Alpha Wolf is up on a perch looking down at him as the other wolves surround him. The Alpha Wolf lets loose a growl, and all the other wolves back away. He does so because he intends to kill Neeson himself.

Now, were he just any ol’ wolf, or a wolf of even slightly less integrity and class, he’d have just sprinted in and bit Neeson right in the face. But The Alpha Wolf is real and true. And so he stands there and waits as Neeson prepares himself for battle. He lets Neeson (1) finish organizing the wallets, (2) daydream for a moment about his deceased wife, (3) tape tiny bottles to his hand like a set of glass knuckles, (4) tape a knife to his other hand, and (5) recite a poem from his childhood that reminded him of his dad. That’s respect.

Conversely, one of the first times we see The Wolf of Wall Street in The Wolf of Wall Street he’s using a straw to blow cocaine into a woman’s butthole.

So …

Winner: The Alpha Wolf

Score: 2–1, The Alpha Wolf

Which wolf made it to the end of his movie alive?

As mentioned above, The Grey ends with a quick shot of The Alpha Wolf (likely) about to die. Meanwhile, The Wolf of Wall Street ends with The Wolf of Wall Street acting as a speaker at a sales convention in New Zealand. As much as I’d like to lean the other way, this category has to go to The Wolf of Wall Street. He was the least amount of dead at the end of his movie*.

*I didn’t realize until I was reading about Jordan Belfort while working on this article, but the guy who introduces the movie version of Jordan Belfort at the end of The Wolf of Wall Street is actually the real-life Jordan Belfort.

Winner: The Wolf of Wall Street

Score: 2–2

Generally speaking, which wolf was the better pack leader?

This is going to sound dumb and reductive, but that doesn’t make it any less true: The main point of being the leader of the pack is to lead the pack. So to figure out which movie wolf was a better pack leader, we have to look at how things ended up for the other members of the pack.

In the case of the pack from The Grey, things ended with them not only (a) having killed off all but one of the humans they were warring against, but also (b) having the remaining human (Neeson) totally surrounded and very likely severely wounded. That was the ideal endgame for them. Pretend they had a meeting prior to going after the humans following the plane crash, and pretend that at the meeting they were discussing their strategies and goals and all that. And pretend that, to keep things wolf-organized, they had a big wolf-whiteboard that they jotted down their wolf-notes on. Up in the corner, they probably had written something like “KILL EVERYONE” as their ultimate objective. Their ending was a success.

In the case of the pack from The Wolf of Wall Street, things ended with just about everyone locked up. “I gave up everyone,” The Wolf of Wall Street tells us as we see him sentenced to three years in prison. And you might say, “OK, fine. But what about how The Alpha Wolf sent the omega wolf to test the guys and he ended up getting killed and eaten but The Wolf of Wall Street warned his friend when he was wearing a wire so he wouldn’t incriminate himself?” To that I would say, “Sure, I hear you. But The Alpha Wolf’s job as pack leader is delegating responsibilities, and the responsibility of the omega wolf is to do the most unpleasant jobs. It was the omega wolf’s own fault for dying, really. And let’s not romanticize The Wolf of Wall Street warning his friend because that whole thing started with him having already given his friend up to the feds. So basically it was like if you shove someone out of a plane and then, as they’re falling, you shout, ‘Hey, watch out for the ground’ at them as they plummet to their death. You don’t get credit for that.” That’s what I’d say.

Winner: The Alpha Wolf

Final Score: 3–2, The Alpha Wolf

So, the question again:

Who was the better movie wolf? The Alpha Wolf in The Grey or The Wolf of Wall Street in The Wolf of Wall Street?

In a surprise upset, The Alpha Wolf from The Grey is the better movie wolf.