Nightcrawler: Who is the Swashbuckling Saint?

The X-Men’s BAMF

Nightcrawler:I hope you weren’t planning on dying out here, mein freund, not when we’ve whiskey to be drunk and pirates to be stabbed.”

Amazing X-Men: The Quest For Nightcrawler

A mob chases a demon through the streets. Accusations fly as they run.

It was seen in a burning buildingit snatched up children fleeing the flames.. it drinks blood and eats souls...

More rumors fly, fueling their fury. Torches blaze as they corner the demon in the town square.

The villagers gape at its appearance. Fangs, blue fur, a pointed tail, and soulless yellow eyes. They scream prayers at God, drowning out the demon’s muttering. Clouds part and a winged shadow covers the square. The villagers see a statue of their protector, the Archangel Michael, silhouetted against the full moon. The demon screams and vanishes in a cloud of brimstone. They’ve done it! The demon is back in Hell, where it belongs!

Until. The demon reappears on a nearby rooftop, unseen and unharmed. He thanks God for helping him fake his death and prays for the villagers to be forgiven. Nightcrawler takes one last look at the celebrating mob and teleports again.

Nightcrawler is one of the most popular X-Men. He has a monster’s face and a hero’s heart. So who is he? How did he join the X-Men? Is he a Mutant or something more? Let’s find out

Heaven-sent: Nightcrawler’s Backstory

Nightcrawler: “In that moment, Charles Xavier gave me the most precious gift of all…a chance at life. For this, I shall eternally remain in his debt.

Excalibur #107

Nightcrawler debuted in Giant Size X-Men #1 in 1975. He was created by Len Wein and David Cockrum, who envisioned a demon trapped on Earth reluctantly joining The Legion of Superheroes. Cockrum later introduced Nightcrawler in X-Men and changed him to a fun-loving swashbuckler.

Kurt Wagner was born with blue skin, yellow eyes, and a pointy tail. His mother was married to Baron Wagner, but fled an angry mob led by him that thought she and Kurt were demons. She dropped Kurt into a river, where he was carried to a Roma sorceress named Margali Szardos.

Margali raised Kurt in a traveling circus, where he became a famous acrobat. Audiences believed his demonic features were a costume, but became violent when they learned it was not. Professor X saved Kurt by mind-wiping the angry mob. A grateful Kurt agreed to join the X-Men and used his stage name Nightcrawler as his new identity.

Nightcrawler was given a holographic “image inducer” to hide his mutation and blend in with humans. His circus-born antics were a hit with the X-Men, though he slowly revealed a more religious, introspective side.

Prodigal Son: Nightcrawler’s History

Mystique: So there’s your truth, son. I didn’t want you! Still sad for me?”
Nightcrawler:…I will beg God to bestow His grace on me, that I may learn to forgive you. Then I will ask Him to bestow His grace on you, so you might forgive yourself.”

X-Men: the Animated Series “Bloodlines” (Season 4, Episode 14)

Kurt’s world changed when he met Mystique and saw that they shared the same skin and eye color. Margali confirmed that Mystique was his birth mother. Writers couldn’t agree if she mistakenly abandoned him or acted out of spite after being exposed as a Mutant. While pained by her absence, Nightcrawler found familial love in his adopted sister, Rogue.

A Mutant with similar appearance and powers named Azazel later bedeviled The X-Men. He led a band of demonic-looking Mutants and claimed to be Nightcrawler’s father. He wanted Kurt to lead them in battle with a group of angelic-presenting Mutants, but Nightcrawler refused and fought Azazel often.

Nightcrawler recently reunited with Mystique, who had worked through a mental block. She realized that dropping him as a baby was accidental and that the trauma had made her believe it was on purpose. More importantly, she is in love with a woman called Destiny and took Azezel’s form years prior to impregnate her. Mystique is Nightcrawler’s father, not his mother. The revelations allowed parent and child to reconcile.

Fight Like a Devil: Nightcrawler’s Powers and Personality

Nightcrawler: It does not take a priest to see you and Rogue’s souls touch in every gaze.
Gambit: “…Ain’t the touch she be lookin’ for…
Nightcrawler:Ha, you Americans! So theatrical! Life is all violins und close-ups! I blame soap operas. Just marry ze belle and be done!
Gambit: Scoundrels like me, we don’t get no white-picket reward. We too busy for love…too busy sinnin’.”
Nightcrawler:There is no love without sin, for love is best measured by what we forgive.”

X-Men ‘97 “Remember It” (Season 1, Episode 5)

Nightcrawler can cling to walls, blend into shadows, and has a prehensile tail. He is an acrobat and swordfighter par excellence who often teleports mid attack, like a glitching Errol Flynn. Between his tail and agility, Nightcrawler can triple-wield swords.

“”Bamfing” is Nightcrawler’s signature trick. He disappears in a cloud of brimstone, travels through a dimension implied to be Hell, and reappears elsewhere. The other dimension is painful for any of his passengers, making teleportation a useful weapon and a handicap that prevents him from teleporting wounded allies out of danger. Nightcrawler fears teleporting into an object and won’t use his power without line of sight visibility or a clear mental image of the destination. 

Nightcrawler is a fun-loving swashbuckler who is quick to flirt with unattached frauleins. He is one of the most religious X-Men, serving as a confidant and comforter when his allies need a shoulder to lean on.

The Actors Who Play Nightcrawler

Stanley Jones – Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Neil Ross – Pryde of the X-Men
Adrian Hough – X-Men: the Animated Series, X-Men ’97
Brad Swaile – X-Men: Evolution
Liam O’Brein – Wolverine and the X-Men
Alan Cumming – X2: X-Men United
Kodi Smit-McPhee – X-Men Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix, Deadpool 2

Didya Get All That?

A furry, religious, Errol Flynn

Image: Nightcrawler (voiced by Adrian Hough) in Marvel Animation’s X-MEN ’97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

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