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Superhero Origins: Nightcrawler

VO: Dan
This popular blue member of the X-Men was once a circus freak who left to discover the world, only to find intolerance and religion as its saving grace. A mutant with the ability to teleport in a cloud of smoke, Nightcrawler isn't just one of the standout members of the team, but has a incredible connection to the franchises shape shifting femme fatal Mystique. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of Nightcrawler.
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Superhero Origins: Nightcrawler


This mutant sure knows how to make an appearance! Welcome to Watchmojo.com, and today we will explore the origins of Kurt Wagner, otherwise known as Nightcrawler.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline, which unfolded in 1975’s Giant Size X-Men #1 and was expanded upon in 1997’s Uncanny Origins #8: Nightcrawler and 2010’s X-Men Origins Nightcrawler.

In his first ever appearance, Kurt Wagner was shown fleeing a murderous mob in a German town. Resembling a blue demon, he revealed to readers that he had fled the Carnival in search of a chance to learn about the real world, rather then remain cooped up as a carnival freak show.

Cursing the torch-carrying mob, he become enraged and attacked. Outnumbered, he was subdued, and the villagers prepared to drive a stake into his heart.

But before he could be killed, everyone stopped in their tracks due to the intervention of Charles Xavier, who offered Kurt the chance to come live at his school for gifted youngsters. From that point on Kurt Wagner became a prominent member of the X-Men.

This tale was eventually expanded to focus on Nightcrawler’s birth and childhood. In 1997’s Uncanny Origins Issue, we were shown a young Mystique carrying a baby while on the run from an angry mob, who believed her to be a witch due to her blue skin. Using her shape shifting ability, she saved herself by transforming into a man and pretending to have found the witch’s child. Casting her own baby into the river, the child somehow managed to survive and was found the following day by a gypsy woman.

As this gypsy woman was a fortuneteller in a traveling circus, he was raised as the adoptive brother of her two children.

During his youth, Kurt made a pact with his brother Stefan, who made Kurt promise to kill him if he should ever act upon the evil tendencies he felt brewing within him.

An adventurous child, Kurt eventually snuck out to catch a movie. However, when spotted, he was chased out. Forced to crawl his way back to safety, his mother reprimanded him for acting like a worm.

To discipline him and satisfy his craving for excitement, Kurt was made to train under the circus’ finest acrobat.

Taking on evening performances without a mask, having come out of the shadows to take the spotlight, he was given the title of the death defying Nightcrawler.

One night, his adoptive sister fell during her show. Through pure impulse, Kurt discovered his ability to teleport, rescued her in the process.

Now using his teleporting ability to enhance shows, his act attracted the attention of an American circus owner who decided to buy them out.

With his home being sold, Kurt decided to leave and seek out answers to his question, rather than continue to live in hiding. But before he could leave on this soul-searching trip, his mother asked him to find his brother, who had run off.

In the wilderness, he found Stefan with the bodies of murdered children. Revealing his inner hatred for his brother, Stefan called Kurt a demon for stealing the spotlight, and revealed that the murdered bodies were all mutants. Enraged and remembering his oath, Kurt attacked and killed Stefan.

Afterwards, Kurt fled to a nearby town, where he was pursued by the townsfolk who believed that he had murdered the children. It was then that he finally ran into Professor X.

Of course, this tale was expanded. In 2003, it was revealed that Nightcrawler’s father was Azazel, a demonic red mutant with the same abilities.

In 2010, his origin story added a darker side to Kurt’s childhood, explaining that he had spent a large portion of his circus years in a cage. This explained how Kurt’s faith and belief in god sustained him through the hard times.

In this retelling, he took refuge in a church that was run by a kind priest before being attacked and eventually saved by Xavier.

In the decades since his debut, Nightcrawler has become a beloved character that strongly represents the themes of intolerance, specifically due to his appearance and faith. He has appeared in the X-Men animated series in the early 90s, before being portrayed by Alan Cumming in 2003’s X2: X-Men United.

Are you a fan of this demonic looking mutant gymnast with the ability to teleport? For more informative comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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