Between his unique appearance, cool powers, and introspective nature, Kurt Wagner, AKA Nightcrawler, may be one of the most underrated characters of all comic history. Writers seemed to use his faith as his main defining characteristic in the movies, completely neglecting the sharp, insightful mutant with the surprising leadership qualities that fans know from his days with Excalibur.
It’s fair enough to say that there are so many different worlds to choose from in the multiverse that writers went with the most popular version of Kurt, but they didn’t have to create drama between him and Angel to create the apocalyptic angle they were looking for in Age of Apocalypse. On the contrary, Nightcrawler has so many skeletons in his closet that he could have his own movie.
Some moments, like the time he lusted after Meggan when he worked with Excalibur or even the time he changed from and older to a younger version of himself in X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, are tame enough, but what about the time he dated his sister?
From being a homophobic jerk to having unlikely children with various women to even betraying his team, Nightcrawler has plenty of material for several movie installments or therapy sessions: take your pick. With so many different ones to choose from, here are the 16 Most Insane Nightcrawler Moments.
16. He Was The Antichrist
He certainly looks the part, but most fans were pretty surprised when a fringe group made Kurt appear to be the Antichrist. It was bad enough that he was dubbed a demon for so many years, but when Kurt decided to become a priest, it backfired when the world saw him as quite the opposite.
A fringe anti-Catholic group helps him along the way because they want him to replace the Pope and be seen as the Antichrist, which is what happens when everyone sees his blue-black skin, glowing eyes, and cloven-like appendages– not to mention his demon-like tail. The group also uses him to help deceive followers of the Catholic faith into thinking that they have been “raptured.” Instead of purple kool-aid, they got the fuzzy blue demon.
Throughout much of his history, Nightcrawler does follow his faith pretty closely. At one point, he actually enters Heaven. He doesn’t fully engage in the heavenly host, feeling as if he still has unfinished business to attend to, and he ends up defending Heaven from an invasion led by the demonic warlord Azazel, whom many know because…
15. His Creation Was Part Of The Plot Of A Neyaphem Warlord
Debuting in 1975 in the Giant Size X-Men issue #1, Kurt was originally supposed to be a demon himself. This is understandable, since his very creation was part of the plot of the demonic warlord Azazel, who is also his father. The idea was to have him come to Earth as a disgraced demon who failed at one of his missions, but writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum took him into another direction.
Azazel hooking up with Mystique sounds about right, but it wasn’t a singular romantic rendezvous. The demon had a plan to impregnate lots of women on Earth in order to escape the brimstone dimension. It’s a lousy plan, and Azazel is not a father figure by any means, but he does at least rescue his son from the rive from which his mother tossed him.
He doesn’t bother to raise him, however, and passes Nightcrawler on to one of his servants to serve as his caregiver. Even though Kurt does discover that his father had left to protect both Kurt and his mother, it still doesn’t soften the animosity he feels toward the demon.
14. He Was Homophobic On Earth-1610
When Kurt treated Colossus poorly when he came out to him, it broke many a heart. One would think that after all of the ostracizing and abuse that Nightcrawler had encountered as a mutant, he would be against any kind of discrimination. But when his good friend Colossus came out to him, Kurt behaved out of hate, telling his friend that he was basically going to burn in Hell for being gay. He even went as far as to say that his friend was dead to him.
Some could say that due to his faith, Kurt had no choice but to harbor this belief, but given the treatment he had already suffered and the fact that plenty of Catholics still support gays and lesbians (or are even homosexual themselves), he really had no excuse for his bigotry. He did make up with Colossus eventually.
13. He Fought Actual Demons
How ironic is it that the X-Man who is often accused of being a demon himself has fought actual demons? Granted, he is half-demon, but it’s almost a slap in the face when Nightcrawler faces actual demons with the X-Men after a lifetime of being dubbed one himself.
Not only does he battle his own father in a pretty impressive showdown, but in Uncanny X-Men, he is given orders by Storm to find out what happened to over a dozen children who were murdered at a hospital. During the mission, he faces 14 demons that are possessing people. Along with the help of Shadowcat and Amanda Sefton, Kurt is able to face the demons and ensure they are sent back to Hell.
Demons aren’t the only supernatural beings that Nightcrawler has come up against. He’s also fought against ghosts and zombies in different issues. Of course, he’s also been a zombie himself in one of the most WTF universes ever created by Marvel, the Marvel Zombies series.
12. He Had A Prank War With Colossus And Wolverine
During what could’ve been the mutant frat house event of the century, Nightcrawler teamed up with Colossus and Wolverine on a trip to Europe in the story known as “Divided We Stand.” The plot lightens up the comic for a bit after Professor X is thought to be dead, as the trio apparently issues a prank war on one another.
This is really not a group that readers would peg as pranksters, making it even more hilarious to imagine. As close as Wolverine and Nightcrawler are, not to mention as close as Nightcrawler and Colossus have been, the pranks also seem more brotherly in nature.
As much as we wish we could watch X-Pranks Nation on YouTube, only one prank was revealed to readers: the time that Wolverine messed with Nightcrawler’s image inducer. Transforming Kurt into Angelina Jolie is hilarious enough, but Colossus is then caught on camera with his new “girlfriend,” too! Unfortunately, we have to imagine what the rest of the pranks might have been.
11. He Had A Daughter With Scarlet Witch On Earth-2182
In an alternate universe, Nightcrawler became a parent with Scarlet Witch, who already had plenty of issues in previous parenting roles. Nevertheless, they share a strong bond together, and their daughter Talia, also known as Nocturne, became a pretty cool character.
Talia killed Scott Summers when he attacked the mansion during a stint with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, served on both the Exiles and New Excalibur teams, and appears in over 400 comics. Like her dad, she has the powers of agility and clinging to walls, but she also inherited some gifts from her mother, such as telepathy and possession.
Kurt also a daughter with Amanda Sefton named Blue in Earth-811 and a son called T.J. Wagner with mutant Kymri in The End, but Nocturne is by far his most beloved child– at least by fans. Blue only appears in five comics and T.J., who shares the same initials as Talia, though pretty good-looking, barely appears in Earth-41001.
10. His Mother Dumped Him In A River
No one is surprised that the self-absorbed villain Mystique pretty much sucks as a mom, but dumping your own baby into a river to save your own skin seems like overkill at this point. This was not a gentle, “put the fuzzy Moses in a basket, tuck his tail into the woven reeds and blow him a kiss” kind of dumping, either. This was an “every yellow-eyed being for himself” situation where she tossed Nightcrawler as she attempted to save her own skin from angry townspeople. As the renowned wife of Baron Christian Wagner, Mystique couldn’t let Kurt ruin her life…
After she got rid of her bundle of blue joy, she also morphed her features and announced that she’d killed both the mother and child. It’s really a terrible way to start your life, even by X-Men standards.
9. He Has PTSD In Extraordinary X-Men
Is it really that odd for any mutant to suffer from PTSD? Like any other X-Man, Nightcrawler has seen plenty of horror in his time, which makes his silence in Extraordinary X-Men so mysterious. Readers were kept on the edges of their seats as they waited to find out what happened to him.
In this story, Nightcrawler is the prisoner of Mister Sinister following the Secret Wars. He is completely silent and obviously affected by something terrible when the team rescues him. It’s not until issue #7 when Jean Grey peeks into Kurt’s troubled mind that we discover the source of his trauma: the memory of a pile of mutant bodies that he encountered while in Germany. The bodies were victims of anti-mutant bigots. Mutant or not, that image would haunt anyone for years, if not a lifetime.
8. He Died Saving Hope Summers
As tragic as Kurt’s death was, his self-sacrifice truly fit his character and readers were okay with it. In fact, his death was celebrated as one of the best Marvel deaths ever executed. During a battle in which he is protecting young Hope Summers, the “mutant messiah” that Cable has sworn to protect following the House of M and subsequent loss of mutants in the world, Kurt is mortally wounded by Bastion, one of the people sworn to capture Hope.
In a final heroic gesture, Nightcrawler summons the strength to teleport one last time, despite his injuries. His last prayer is answered as he rescues Hope, teleporting them both back to the team, allowing her to survive and for him to die with his family.
7. He Dated His Sister
Okay, it was is adopted sister, but the somewhat-cest still reeked of creepy sibling love. When Nightcrawler met a stewardess named Amanda Sefton back in his early days on the team, he was charmed by the young woman, dating her on and off. Sometimes he even went on double dates with her and her friend Betsy along with Colossus.
When he realized that he was dating his adopted sister Jimaine Szardos, however, it wasn’t treated as a repulsive or shocking moment, but more of a cutesy “Gotcha!” event that was glazed over without anyone wondering what the hell just happened.
Apparently Kurt’s life was weird enough that nobody felt they had a right to comment on him dating his sister. Kurt himself remarks that it’s a terrific birthday present and he’d still make out with his sister right there if Kitty weren’t around.
6. He Betrayed X-Force During The Age of Apocalypse
From hating religion to betraying X-Force, the Nightcrawler during the Age of Apocalypse was not one that fans knew and loved (at first, anyway). Although he grew to become a favorite sort of anti-hero, this Nightcrawler, known as Kurt Darkholme, was close to his mother, Mystique, in terms of both family and personality. Cunning and ruthless, he teleported with Deadpool‘s head, carried two blades to fight with, and was generally a much darker version of himself. Without his look, he would have been unrecognizable during the Age of Apocalypse.
Eventually this version of Kurt dies due to his own darkness, after betraying X-Force in X-Termination issue #2, releasing his mother as a hostage in order to exact his revenge on the Blob. In defense of Kurt, most Marvel characters did 180-degree shifts during the Age of Apocalypse.
5. His Stepmother Sent Him Into A Hell-Like Dimension
Marvel seems to rival Disney in its portrayal of terrible mothers. Perhaps it was serendipitous foreshadowing to their future merger, but Marvel has a bag of bad moms a mile deep. After Mystique tried to kill her son, Nightcrawler was raised by his demon father’s lover and servant, Margali Szardos (yep, Amanda’s mum). In addition to Amanda, Kurt gained an adoptive brother through his foster mother.
When an accident occurs between Kurt and Stefan, Margali, enraged, sends Kurt to a pocket dimension. It’s similar to Dante’s Inferno, which is more agonizing for Kurt due to his faith. She leaves him there to suffer until the X-Men and Doctor Strange come to his rescue. While her actions came from pain, and they eventually make up, it’s still a pretty low move for a mom to pull on her kid, foster or not.
4. He Was Put Into A Coma During The Mutant Massacre
During the Mutant Massacre, a tragic event during which hundreds of mutants are murdered by the Marauders, Nightcrawler went into battle injured, weakened, and with limited powers from previous battles with Nimrod and an ordeal with Mojo. Fortunately for Kurt, death hadn’t come knocking just yet, but he did end up in a coma due to the events of the terrible day. When he suffered a severe injury from Riptide during the battle, Kurt was left unconscious.
Taken to Muir Island to recover, he believed the rest of his teammates to be dead when he finally woke up weeks later, prompting him to start the Excalibur team. Members of the X-teams are often thrown into random comas, injuries, and fake death scenarios, but this time Kurt’s coma (along with the supposed death of most of his teammates) brought forth an entire new comic series.
3. He Is The Black Sorcerer Belasco In Earth 9997
Writers at Marvel love to dupe readers about who is who. Sometimes it works out well for a plot but oftentimes it’s just the cheapest way to shock readers. When Nightcrawler became the black sorcerer Belasco on Earth 9997, he seemed part Xanadu, part Bowie, and all crazytown. In this world, Kurt loses an arm during a partially-failed transport and is left looking human, causing villagers to beat him up for exactly the opposite reason that villagers on our planet do so. The guy just can’t win.
Mephisto, posing as Mr. Church, convinces Nightcrawler that everyone thinks of him as a freak without his mutant look and that he should enact revenge on them all. First he brainwashes the X-Man to believe he is Belasco of Dante’s Inferno, which the writers use to weave in his faith once more. Then he actually mutates Nightcrawler until he also looks the part.
2. He Kidnapped Dazzler And Kept Her In A Cave
It was Marvel’s take on Beauty and the Beast (well, one of many). On Earth-1610, Nightcrawler becomes so obsessed with Dazzler that he kidnaps her and keeps him in a cave with him, apparently believing they could play Fred and Wilma for the rest of their days. Luckily, Kitty Pryde rescues Dazzler afterward.
Sure, Kurt wasn’t in his right mind and he’d been “courting” Ali for quite some time while she was out in a coma (courtesy of a severe injury from Deathstrike), but he kidnapped a teammate and held her hostage, making it perfectly understandable for her to leave the team when everyone else decided to help Kurt recover from his mental illness.
Dazzler was interested in Angel at the time, and though Kurt’s trickery initially seemed to pique her interest, she caught onto his obviously disturbed mind quickly enough, saving her from becoming his Belle.
1. He Killed His Murderous Brother
It was an accident, but when Kurt killed Stefan Szardos, it left him with a heavy feeling of guilt. Not only was Stefan his adopted brother, but he’d also gone mad. When Kurt came upon him, he realized that Szardos had been murdering children. The villagers naturally blamed Kurt for the murders based on his demonic appearance, but Kurt also knew he had to do something not just to protect the children, but to keep his promise to Stefan.
When they were children, Stefan implored Kurt to kill him if he ever took a life. Although Nightcrawler broke his neck accidentally, which would lead to much more pain and strife for the X-Man (see #5), he still kept his promise to his brother in the end.
Nightcrawler’s definitely had a crazy run with the X-Men. Can you think of any other WTF things that happened to him? Let us know in the comments~