When the second generation of X-Men debuted as a team in Giant-Size X-Men #1, one of the new mutants introduced was Kurt Wagner, who would take on the codename of Nightcrawler. Unlike some mutants, Kurt’s appearance had been altered by his genetics since birth. He was born with indigo coloured skin, pure yellow eyes, pointed ears, three fingers on each hand, three toes on each foot, and a pointed tail. His mutant ability is the power to teleport short distances, which leaves behind a cloud of smoke and the smell of brimstone. Despite his devilish appearance, Kurt is one of the most friendly and outgoing members of the X-Men. He has the personality of a wannabe Errol Flynn, coupled with a pious devotion to his Catholic faith.
Nightcrawler has been one of the most popular members of the X-Men since his introduction. He has been used by many different writers and portrayed by numerous actors. As such, Nightcrawler has had a long, complex and sometimes contradictory life. We are here today to look into the strange history of the X-Men’s blue elf. From his demonic origins to his connections to Star Trek.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Nightcrawler!
15. Nightcrawler Was Originally Going To Be A Demon
The concept of Nightcrawler’s character is that he looks like a devil, but is actually a really nice guy. He always has to endure a negative first reaction from people, simply for how he looks. Over time, it was also established that he was a deeply religious figure as well, which contrasts with his physical appearance.
In the beginning, Nightcrawler was actually intended to be a demon from Hell.
Nightcrawler was created by Dave Cockrum. The idea for him came about while Cockrum was serving in the Navy. He was discussing ideas for superheroes with his wife during a storm. Nightcrawler was intended to be the sidekick of a character called the Intruder. Instead of being a mutant, Nightcrawler was going to be a demon who was sent to perform a mission on Earth. When he failed the mission, he decided to stay and become a superhero, whilet hiding from the wrath of his demonic employers.
14. His Absence From The Later Movies Was Explained
Nightcrawler was absent from the first X-Men movie. This was rectified in the sequel, where the movie opens with an incredible scene of Nightcrawler trying to assassinate the President. It was later revealed that Nightcrawler was being controlled by Colonel Stryker, and was actually a good guy all along. He helps the X-Men for the remainder of the film.
When X-Men: The Last Stand was released, Nightcrawler was nowhere to be seen. His absence was not mentioned in the film and the character would not return until the series was rebooted in X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s known that Alan Cumming (the actor who played Nightcrawler) did not want to return, due to how uncomfortable the lengthy process of applying the prosthetic makeup was for him.
Nightcrawler’s absence from the movies was actually explained in X-Men: The Official Game. After experiencing the violent lifestyle of the team, Nightcrawler decided that he did not want to be an X-Man. He returned to Germany, though the story left it open for him to return.
13. He Was Going To Be Jewish
One of Nightcrawler’s most defining character traits is his faith. He is a devout Catholic, whose religious beliefs became more prominent in the screen adaptations (like in the X-Men animated series and the 2nd film).
Nightcrawler’s faith was not always so defined. All that had been established originally was that he had was raised among the Romani, by a family who practised witchcraft and sorcery. In the beginning, Chris Claremont had wanted to make Nightcrawler a Jewish character. He was shot down by pretty much everyone else who was working on the book at the time. The first problem was timing. There weren’t many German Jewish people of Nightcrawler’s age following World War II. The team also had another Jewish member, with Kitty Pryde. Nightcrawler’s religious beliefs helped to make the team more diverse. The fact that Nightcrawler was a Catholic who also happened to look like the Devil became a huge part of his character.
12. He Was Almost A DC Character
There have been many instances where companies have passed on individuals and ideas which have later become massively successful. Books like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were passed over by many different publishers and agents, who presumably haven’t stopped kicking themselves since 1997. WCW fired Steve Austin, shortly before he became the biggest drawing WWF champion of all time.
DC pulled the same move with Nightcrawler. Dave Cockrum originally pitched Nightcrawler to become a new member of the Legion of Super-Heroes (and a proposed off-shoot of theirs, called The Outsiders). Nightcrawler was rejected because the editor thought he looked silly.
11. He Was Sent To The Hell Of Dante’s Inferno
Nightcrawler was abandoned by his mother as an infant. He was taken in by Margali Szardos, who happens to be one of the most powerful magic-users in the Marvel universe. She raised him in the circus, alongside her own son and daughter (Jimaine and Stefan). Nightcrawler was trained to be an acrobat, with the circus acting as a front for his bizarre appearance (most people assumed it was a costume).
After Nightcrawler escaped from a rival circus owner (who wanted him for his freak show), he sought out his foster brother in Germany. After discovering that Stefan had been killing innocents, Nightcrawler tried to stop him. As they fought, Stefan fell on his own blade and died.
Convinced that Nightcrawler had murdered her son, Margali sent a present to the Xavier Academy on his birthday. When Nightcrawler opened it, he was transported into a copy of the Hell from Dante’s Inferno. The X-Men called upon Doctor Strange, who helped them enter the false underworld, so they could launch a rescue mission. Nightcrawler’s teammates fought against the demons and tortures of Hell in order to save their friend. In the end, Margali learned the truth and Kurt was allowed to leave.
10. His Daughter From Another Mother
In 2001, someone at Marvel had the idea to mix X-Men and Quantum Leap. This lead to the creation of Exiles, a series about a group of characters from various different Marvel universes, who had been displaced from time and space. They were formed together as a team and sent on missions to various different points in reality. It was their job to stop anything that might damage the multiverse as a whole.
One of the members of the original Exiles lineup was Nocturne. She is the daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch from an alternate universe. She looked like a female version of her father but had powers similar to those of her mother. Nocturne could fire Hex bolts and possess the minds of others.
9. He Once Beat Dracula
The X-Men once fought Dracula. The concept alone is pretty ridiculous, but the details of the fight are downright silly.
Chris Claremont had a bizarre fixation with making villains fall in love with Storm. During his run, characters like Doctor Doom, Arkon and Loki all fell for Storm. Dracula also desired her, to the point where he almost transformed Storm into a vampire, in order to become his new bride.
The X-Men hunted Dracula down and engaged him in battle. Due to the sheer amount of vampire movies in existence, the team were aware of all of Dracula’s weaknesses. In order to capitalise on this, Wolverine unsheathes his claws into the shape of a cross. This does not work, however, as he lacks faith. Due to his fervent belief in God, Nightcrawler puts two sticks together and brandishes them at the vampire. This badly wounds Dracula, forcing him to rely on his magical ability to summon lightning, in order to keep the team (and Kurt’s cross) at a distance.
8. He Was Stronger Than He Ever Realized
Nightcrawler’s main mutant ability is teleportation. He can travel over small distances, but the amount of times he can do it depends on his stamina. Repeatedly teleporting drains Kurt’s health. Doing it with another person is possible, but this will strain him even further. Kurt can safely teleport anywhere that he can see. It is possible for him to teleport into areas that are outside of his vision, but this is riskier. If he messes up the distance, then he could end up fused into a wall.
As Kurt’s powers carried a certain level of risk, he never over-used them outside of an emergency. He never learnt the true extent of his powers until his own death. In the “X-Men: Second Coming” storyline, Nightcrawler is killed while trying to save Hope Summers. Bastion puts his arm into the space where he knows that Kurt will teleport. Using the last of his strength, Nightcrawler manages to teleport Hope from Las Vegas to San Francisco.
7. His Father Was Almost Mystique
Nightcrawler is the son of Mystique. She abandoned him as a child, due to his demonic appearance. Mystique’s shapeshifting ability allowed her to blend in with society. Her baby presented a liability and she left him to be found by the Romani. The two would reunite during the “Days of Future Past” storyline, where the connection between the two was first teased.
Mystique was not always intended to be Nightcrawler’s mother. She was going to be his father, with Destiny (another member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants), being his mother. Mystique was supposed to have impregnated Destiny while in the form of a man.
A relationship between Mystique and Destiny had long been hinted within the X-Men comics. It was Chris Claremont’s idea, but it never came to pass. Marvel might have been reticent about confirming a homosexual relationship between two main X-Men characters, at least at that point in time.
6. His Father Is A Demonic Mutant
The question of the identity of Nightcrawler’s father was not answered until 2003. It turns out that Mystique entered into a relationship with Azazel, a demonic mutant from the days of the Bible.
Azazel is a Neyaphem. These are a group of demonic mutants that opposed an angelic society of mutants, known as the Cheyarafim. The Neyaphem were banished to another dimension by their enemies. The only one who could escape was Azazel, due to his mastery of teleportation. He would travel to Earth for brief periods of time, in the hope of impregnating a woman. He hoped that their children might have the potential to free his people. Azazel actually fell in love with Mystique, who shared his affections. He was forced to abandon her and their son, in order to protect them from the Cheyarafim.
Fans of the X-Men movies will most likely recognize Azazel as the red-skinned mutant who works for Sebastian Shaw in First Class. He has the same teleportation powers as Nightcrawler, though no connection between himself or Mystique is made in the film.
5. His Family Is Way Bigger Than He Ever Realized
Nightcrawler spent most of his life with adopted families. The first was the Szardos family, who cared for him since he was a baby. His second family is the X-Men, whom he has been a member of for a long time.
It took Nightcrawler many years to learn the truth of his other family members. Mystique has a son with Sabretooth, named Graydon Creed. Nightcrawler is the half-brother of Creed, who happens to be a regular human. Graydon Creed would go on to lead many different anti-mutant groups, due to his resentment of his parentage.
Creed isn’t Nightcrawler’s only sibling. There are two more half-brothers from Azazel’s side of the family. Like Nightcrawler, they are both mutants with demonic traits. They are known as Abyss and Kiwi Black.
4. He Hunts Escapees From The Age Of Apocalypse
One of the most popular X-men storylines was “The Age of Apocalypse” event. Professor Xavier’s son, Legion, went back in time in order to kill Magneto, before he could screw up Xavier’s dream. Legion’s plan backfired, however, when he accidentally killed Xavier instead. This created a new timeline, where Apocalypse had taken over America, and only a team of X-Men led by Magneto can oppose him.
It was later established that the Age of Apocalypse reality became its own separate universe. As such, several characters from that world managed to make their way into the regular X-Men comics. One of these was Nightcrawler, who made it his duty to hunt down those who sought refuge in this reality. He managed to kill two of the escapees (Iceman and Blob) but has yet to find the other known two (Sugar Man and Dark Beast).
3. His On-Screen Debut Happened In A Spider-Man Cartoon
It took until X-Men: Evolution for Nightcrawler to truly become part of one of the screen adaptations of the X-Men.
Nightcrawler was one of the main characters in the Pryde of the X-Men pilot. Unfortunately for him, that show was never picked up. The X-Men cartoon of the ’90s did feature him in several excellent episodes, but he never became a full member of the team. Nightcrawler has only appeared in two of the X-Men films. The lengthy process of applying the makeup for the role is likely to turn off a lot of actors, despite how popular the character is.
The first ever screen appearance of Nightcrawler didn’t even happen in an X-Men production. He guest starred in an episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, called “The X-Men Adventure”. Firestar is auditioning to become a member of the X-Men and must face the challenges of the Danger Room. What they don’t realize is that a villain named Cyberiad has taken control of the mansion. The X-Men must team up with Spider-Man (and his amazing friends) in order to escape.
2. He Was Once The Bearer Of A Magical Sword
One of the prominent members of the New Mutants was a girl named Illyana Rasputin. She was the sister of Colossus, who was trapped in a hellish dimension by a powerful demon, named Belasco. Under Belasco’s tutelage, Illyana became a powerful sorceress. She was able to conjure a magical blade from her own life energy, which she named the Soulsword. The sword had the ability to disrupt magical energy and to harm supernatural creatures (including some mutants).
The Soulsword was passed on to several individuals, as Illyana was reverted to being a child and, later, killed by the Legacy Virus. The Soulsword passed on to Daytripper of Excalibur, who hid the blade within Nightcrawler’s being. During his time as the bearer of the Soulsword, Nightcrawler was able to wield it in battle. This had the side effect of attracting unwanted supernatural attention, as the Soulsword was coveted by many powerful beings (like Mephisto).
1. The Crew Of The Enterprise Worked Out How Nightcrawler’s Powers Work
The X-Men and Star Trek have crossed over on several occasions. This isn’t even counting the fact that Professor Xavier and Captain Picard are played by the same guy. There was an X-Men/Star Trek crossover comic released in 1996, where the team met up with the Kirk-era Enterprise crew. While completely dumb, the comic is worth reading, just to see Wolverine get taken down by Spock (using a Vulcan nerve pinch) and for the realization that both groups have a Dr. McCoy.
It wasn’t just Kirk’s Enterprise that had the pleasure of meeting the X-Men. There was an X-Men/Star Trek crossover novel released in 1998, called “Planet X“. This time, it was Picard’s crew that encountered the X-Men.
When Geordi La Forge analyzes Nightcrawler’s ability to teleport, he discovers that he cloaks himself with verteron particles when he uses his power. These are the same kind that is contained within wormholes (like the one discovered outside of Bajor in Deep Space Nine). Every time Nightcrawler uses his powers, he is actually creating a small wormhole, through which he can travel.
So yeah, it took one of the Federation’s finest engineers to work out how Nightcrawler’s powers work.