Nightcrawler (comics)

From Academic Kids

This article is about Nightcrawler, the comic book superhero. For the animal nightcrawler, see Lumbricus terrestris.


Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) is a comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe, and a member of the X-Men. He first appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975).

Character history

A native of Germany, Nightcrawler is a mutant, born with fur covering his body, 2 fingers plus a thumb on each hand, and only two toes on each foot, as well as long canine teeth, yellow eyes, pointed ears, and a prehensile pointed tail. Abandoned as a child, he was taken in by the gypsy witch Margali Szardos and raised as one of them. As a teenager, his mutant nature also bestowed on him superhuman agility and reflexes, the ability to see in the dark and to become near-invisible in the dark, and the power to teleport short distances, leaving behind the smell of brimstone. This ability is known informally as "bamfing". When he teleports in the comics, he leaves behind a cloud of smoke which is usually lettered with the sound effect *bamf*, the noise of air rushing in to fill the space he has just vacated. Nightcrawler cannot teleport to places he cannot see or has not been to before, at risk of appearing inside a wall or other solid object. He can, apparently, displace liquids and gases when he teleports. He appears to be able to cling to surfaces in a manner similar to Spider-Man, although this ability has been infrequently used by writers in recent years. Nightcrawler is an accomplished martial artist and fighter (he can even fence with his prehensile tail).

As a young man, Wagner spent some time in the Munich circus, but eventually his appearance left him persecuted and hunted. He was rescued from a mob by Professor Charles Xavier, who invited him to join his second team of X-Men. There, Wagner adopted the name Nightcrawler.

With the X-Men, Nightcrawler at last found a home and a family, and his humorous, swashbuckling Errol Flynn-like nature came to the fore. He also found a close friend in his fellow X-Man Wolverine.

After some years with the X-Men, Nightcrawler departed to become leader of the UK-based group Excalibur, but he eventually returned to the X-Men.

Among his more interesting character traits, Wagner is an extremely religious man. A devout Catholic, his demonic appearance obviously makes it very difficult to attend church services. Despite this, as mutants in the Marvel Universe become more mainstream, he even managed to become a Catholic priest, though he later removed himself from the position, as he felt too tempted by romance.

Wagner has, at various points, used a personal holographic device to appear as a normal human, though this device is rarely used unless absolutely necessary.

It was recently revealed that his mother is definitely the mutant terrorist Mystique (as has been hinted at to varying degrees, since they first appeared together; this makes Rogue his foster sister). It was also revealed that, though Mystique was married to a wealthy German at the time (Herr Wagner, one would assume), Nightcrawler's father was Azazel, a member of a race of demonic-looking mutants dating back to Biblical times, who were banished to another dimension by another race of angelic mutants.

Nightcrawler currently serves as a member of the Uncanny X-Men alongside Storm, Bishop, Psylocke, X-23 and Marvel Girl.

Comic book writing-veteran Chris Claremont had originally intended for Mystique and Destiny to have been Nightcrawler's biological parents (Mystique, being a shapeshifter, would have taken the form of a man and impregnated Destiny.) Marvel, however, felt the idea to be too controversial and it was nixed.

The Ultimate version of Nightcrawler reveals a much more militant young mutant, who leaves a burst of yellow smoke and flame when he teleports. His Weapon X origins link him more closely with Ultimate Wolverine and Rogue than with his other teammates. He posesses a far more rebellious attitude than in the original comics, but also shows hints of a softer, extremely caring side.

Appearances in other media

Missing image
Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler in X2.

In the 1980s cartoon television series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Nightcrawler was one of the X-Men who appeared, though only briefly.

In the 1990s X-Men animated series, Nightcrawler only made cameo appearances, and never joined the X-Men.

Missing image
Nightcrawler as he appeared in Evolution.
In the X-Men Evolution cartoon, Nightcrawler is a student at the Xavier Institute, with much the same nature and demeanor as his comic book counterpart (although he does not appear to be religious here). The show has, like the comics, revealed that Mystique is his birth mother and Rogue his foster sister. He was voiced by Brad Swaile.

In the film X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler is played by Alan Cumming. This version shares much of the same history (circus, Catholicism) with the comic book inspiration; his scenes with Mystique leave it ambiguous as to whether or not any subsequent sequels will reveal her to be his mother.

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