Katherine “Kitty” Pryde was only 13 when she first appeared in X-Men comics as the girl who could walk through walls, and even though some fans found the teen annoying in her first storylines, she’s grown into one of the most popular X-Men in recent years, climbing the ranks from a teenager training to be a superhero to the headmistress of a school for mutants - all the way to team leader in the new X-Men Gold series.
In her 35+ years on the page, Kitty has only aged about 12 years, putting her in her mid 20s, but she’s certainly been put through the wringer. She’s changed her costume almost as often as she’s changed her codename, been used as a vessel for Brood embryos, travelled to several other planets and alternate dimensions, and seen countless friends and loved ones killed and resurrected. She’s certainly had an action packed 12 comic-book-years.
Kitty is back in the spotlight in the comics thanks to forming her own team of X-Men after the events of X-Men vs Inhumans. Kitty moved the Xavier Institute to the middle of Central Park in New York and recruited former teammates Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Wolverine, and her friend Rachel Summers (newly christened Prestige) to help her do good deeds and educate a new generation of mutants. She’s come full circle, taking on the role of Professor Xavier and Storm when they recruited her.
If you haven’t kept up with the details regarding the X-Men’s latest team leader, we’ve got you covered with 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Kitty Pryde.
15 Kitty Pryde Debuted in Uncanny X-Men #129
Right in the middle of the “Dark Phoenix” story arc for the X-Men, Kitty Pryde started experiencing some killer migraines. In 1979, she was almost 14 years old, and her mutant abilities were manifesting. After taking a nap, she woke up in her living room, having sunk right through the floor of the house’s second story.
Kitty would go on to be recruited by Professor Xavier and his X-Men, though Emma Frost wanted her for the Hellfire Club. Kitty and Emma would maintain an antagonistic relationship for the next 35 years.
Writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne share the credit for creating Kitty, but it was Byrne who designed her look and named her after someone he went to art school with. K.D. Pryde is a successful artist out of Calgary, and when Byrne knew Kitty would debut in the comics, he sent her a sketch of the character design and a copy of the first issue.
14 She Wasn’t Supposed To Be An X-Man
When Kitty was first pitched as a character, she wasn’t even pitched as a new X-Men character, but as a kid in training. Kitty was, according to the notes made on her costume sketch, meant to be a member of a secondary team along with possibly five other new characters, including Willie Evans Jr., who had been introduced as a kid in Fantastic Four. The idea was that they would be trained for combat by the X-Men, and would occasionally go on missions with the older team.
Kitty was the only character that stuck, as she joined the X-Men in Professor Xavier’s mansion and did go out on a mission once in awhile, despite only being 14. The idea of a secondary team would be revisited in a few years when The New Mutants was published with a whole new group of teenage characters.
13 She’s Jewish
If the religion of a comic book character makes it onto the page, it’s a sure bet it has an influence on that character’s identity. Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic, and Colossus is a self-professed atheist. Their characters have been informed by those points.
Kitty didn’t telegraph the fact that she was Jewish in early comics other than the appearance of a star of David around her neck once in awhile. Bits and pieces about her beliefs were revealed over the years, until readers were treated to her speech in the wake of Havok’s M-Day press conference, where he downplayed the differences between mutants and humans.
Unlike Havok, Kitty wasn’t content with blending in; she was proud of who she was, and she made sure to let Cyclops know that his brother didn’t speak for her and the torment she’d already endured thanks to being Jewish and a mutant. It was a big moment for the comics that had always used the emergence of mutants as an allegory for the civil rights movement.
12 Storm Gave Kitty Her First Codename
Every X-Man has a codename at some point, and Kitty has had her fair share. Her original character pitch included the possible names Kittyhawk, Sparrowhawk, Ariel, and Sprite. Two of those would make it into the comics.
It was Professor X who initially suggested Ariel for Kitty’s codename, but she wasn’t a fan. Instead, Storm offered up Sprite, which she gladly accepted. Shakespeare fans will recognize that Ariel was a Sprite in The Tempest. (Funnily enough, Caliban, another character named for one in The Tempest, was developed at the same time as Kitty.)
Kitty did eventually take up the name Ariel, leaving Sprite behind, as a symbolic gesture that she was growing up, but she would go on to change her name again later. These days, she doesn’t even use a codename, keeping her identity public while she leads the team.
11 She Was Demoted To The New Mutants
Just 13 years old when she was recruited, Kitty was the youngest student at the Xavier Institute and the youngest member of the X-Men. When Professor Xavier lost the team somewhere in outer space and believed them dead, he vowed not to lead young people into battle again, starting the New Mutants to train teens to control their abilities, but not to be soldiers in any kind of mutant war.
After working with his new students and the X-Men returning to Earth, the Professor decreed that Kitty needed to be with kids her own age. Kitty ranted and raved against the change, even calling the New Mutants “X-babies,” even though most of them were older than her.
Though she became close with the New Mutants and even became Illyana Rasputin’s roommate, she eventually rejoined the X-Men, appearing on both teams sporadically.
10 Illyana Rasputin’s Power Became Hers
Illyana Rasputin was the younger sister of the X-Man Colossus, and she was kidnapped as a child by the queen of the demon dimension Limbo. Illyana spent years in the other world, learning about sorcery and earning the mutant codename Magik. During a few storylines in the comics, though, it was Kitty who wielded Illyana’s magic.
One storyline featured Illyana trapped as a six-year-old again, with Kitty having access to her friend’s armor and soul sword. Another saw the X-Men enemy the Beyonder erase the New Mutants from existence, with only Kitty and a few others remembering them. For some reason, instead of Illyana’s powers vanishing with them, they transferred to Kitty.
Just why it’s Kitty who so often seems to end up as Magik’s second is never really addressed, but we’ll chalk it up to their close friendship over their decades in comics.
9 Kitty Had Two Forced Engagements
Even though she’s been a popular face in the comics for so many years, Kitty has only had a handful of serious relationships. In fact, her weddings and engagements are most often in alternate realities, and two of them were not to men of her choosing.
In one storyline, she agreed to marry the Morlock Caliban in exchange for his help. She went back on her deal, which later led to her being kidnapped before the engagement was actually broken off for good, as Caliban realized he couldn’t force her into a life with the Morlocks.
In another, Kitty and the Excalibur team travelled to Earth-1193, and she ended up engaged to that reality’s Prince William. The prince thought he was saving her life when he attacked her dragon companion Lockheed, and over time, he fell for her. Thanks to some interference and magic from the Queen Mother, Kitty was forced to accept his proposal. Eventually, everything was set right, as another Princess Katherine entered the picture.
8 Kitty Belonged To Seven Heroic Groups
We already know Kitty was a member of the X-Men and New Mutants in the '80s, but she also spent some time with five more prominent Marvel comic book teams.
Kitty was one of the founding members of Excalibur, which was really like the British equivalent of the X-Men, where she spent a few years before returning to the U.S. She also worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while when their helicarrier computers suddenly started only recognizing her as a system administrator in a plot by an enemy to get to her.
She became a member of the staff at the New Charles Xavier School, and a member of the X-Men team there, before becoming a tutor for some of the time displaced X-Men. She also taught at the Jean Grey School, and even became a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy at one point.
7 She Tended Bar Through College
When Kitty decided to leave the heroic life behind, it was due to her having lost one friend too many. Losing Colossus, whom she had been close to since her first day meeting the X-Men, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Instead of continuing with the mutant team, she decided to go to college.
She received a full scholarship to Robert Heinlein University, which saw her leaving New York to return to her hometown of Chicago. While enrolled, she got a job bartending at the Belles of Hell, employed by one of her neighbors.
The job, which featured in the limited series Mekanix, didn’t last long. Kitty was constantly pulled back into the fray, as her father was killed in an attack on Genosha and she found herself at odds with anti-mutant classmates. She returned to the X-Men when Storm needed her help, leaving bartending, and the college life, behind.
6 Shadowcat Carried One Of Wolverine’s Broken Claws
Though Storm was initially Kitty’s mentor on the X-Men team, the young mutant would wind up growing closer to Wolverine in later years, a relationship that was showcased in the first X-Men live-action movies with Rogue instead of Kitty.
Kitty was kidnapped and brainwashed by Wolverine’s old enemy Ogun after she followed her father, who had been making deals with criminals, to Japan. Ogun used Kitty to do his bidding and lure Logan out. She was meant to kill him, but was able to get out from under Ogun’s thumb with a little help. Wolverine helped her train in the ways of the ninja to use the knowledge she’d gained from the brainwashing attempt, and she took on the name Shadowcat after the experience, her longest used codename.
As a memento from her time working with Wolverine, she carried one of his broken claws around with her, even using it as a weapon on occasion. The two would also go on to run the Jean Grey School together.
5 Kitty Can Walk On Water
Even the most casual of comic book and superhero movie fans know that Kitty Pryde is the girl who can walk through walls. She doesn’t only have the ability to pass through solid objects though.
In addition to being able to send her body through walls, she can also allow small objects to pass through her body, make others intangible as well, and even manipulate the molecules of her own body to allow her to not just “phase” through objects, but elements as well. Kitty can effectively walk on water and air, as long as she keeps her concentration. In fact, she can walk up pockets of air just like the average person could a staircase.
When she was first introduced, Kitty could only hold her intangible state as long as she held her breath, but over the decades, her abilities have grown stronger.
4 Three Actresses Played Her In Live Action
At this point, we are all well aware that Ellen Page played the character in X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days of Future Past when she was a star on the rise, but she wasn’t the first actress to do so. In fact, Kitty appeared in both X-Men and X2: X-Men United.
In the first film, she’s seen as a student in Professor Xavier’s physics class, but she doesn’t do much more than walk through a wall and briefly introduce herself to Rogue. Sumela Kay, who also went on to appear in A History of Violence, brought her to life.
For X2, she didn’t even go by the name of Kitty, with the character being credited by the codename Shadowcat instead. Katie Stuart appeared as the character, most notable for her appearance sinking through her own bed when the school was under attack. She’s since gone on to appear in The 100 and Inconceivable.
3 ‘Hello Kitty’ Was The Working Title For Days Of Future Past
Comic book fans might have noticed something very different about the X-Men movie storyline for Days of Future Past. In the movie, it’s Wolverine who goes back in time, but in the comics, it’s Kitty.
Because the timeline of the movies doesn’t match up with the timeline of the comics, a few changes had to be made. With Wolverine being the franchise's most popular movie character, it was a no brainer to slot him in as the time traveler. Kitty, in turn, didn’t have much to do in the film itself other than kneel over Wolverine in the sequences set in the future.
To provide an homage to the comics, and to give a cryptic working title for fans who might have been trying to track down the set, Days of Future Past filmed under the name Hello Kitty instead.
2 Kitty Is Joss Whedon’s Favorite X-Man
Joss Whedon is known for bringing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the screen, but he’s also a big fan of superhero projects. Before he signed on to work in the DCEU, before he directed The Avengers, and even before he wrote Buffy, he was a Kitty Pryde fan.
Kitty is one of the female heroines he cited as an inspiration for his vision of Buffy - someone who was heroic, but still took the time to be a teenage girl. He got the chance to write for Kitty when he did some comic book writing for Marvel. Whedon penned the Astonishing X-Men limited run in which Kitty had to learn to be on a team with her old enemy Emma Frost and reunited with Colossus years after thinking he was dead; she’d even already scattered his ashes.
It was Kitty who saved the planet as Whedon placed her in the middle of a super dense bullet in outer space, one she managed to phase right through Earth, but an experience that left her unable to find the strength to return. A classic Whedon move.
1 She Has A Thing For Guys Named Peter
Everyone has a type. For Kitty, that’s guys who are heroic, initially unavailable, and of course, are named Peter.
When Kitty first joined the X-Men, she had a crush on Piotr Rasputin AKA Colossus, which would eventually turn into a full blown relationship, though the editors put an end to it for a few years when they remembered that she was 14 and he was at least 18. Following that heartbreak, Kitty dated Pete Wisdom, a black ops agent and a member of Excalibur. In the Ultimate Universe, she dated Peter Parker - he even broke up with Mary Jane for her. Most recently, she spent some time in Star-Lord's spaceship and got engaged to Peter Quill of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Kitty has dated other people in the past, notably Bobby Drake AKA Iceman, but her most serious relationships are always with guys named Peter. One comic even revealed that her childhood pet was a hamster named Peter, so at this point, the writers are just messing with us, right?
We don’t yet know if we’ll see more of Kitty Pryde in the X-Men movie universe, but you can definitely find her in the comics. X-Men Gold is an ongoing series, and issue #8 will land on shelves on July 19 as a tie-in to the Marvel “Secret Empire” storyline.