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Kurt Wagner was born with certain unusual physical characteristics, Margali Szardos, a sorceress and gypsy queen, allegedly found Wagner an hour after his birth in a bath, in a small roadside shelter in the Alps. She claimed to have found his alleged father, Eric Wagner, dead of a heart attack on the road outside, and Kurt's mother lying next to the baby dying. However, this claim was later called into question, and it was subsequently proven that Kurt's mother is the terrorist Mystique, and his father is the demonic mutant Azazel. Mystique revealed that she threw him into a river after a large mob found out about Nightcrawler's existence, and Azazel admitted that he secretly saved his son from the fall, giving him to his lover and crony, Margali Szardos, to raise him. Margali took the baby to the small Bavarian circus where she worked as a fortuneteller, as a cover for her activities as a sorceress. Wagner was never legally adopted by anyone, but was raised by all the members of the circus, who had no prejudices against mutants. Margali acted as Wagner's unofficial foster mother. Wagner grew up happily in the circus, and his two closest friends were Margali's children Stefan and Jimaine. Long before his teleportation power emerged, Wagner had tremendous natural agility, and by his adolescence he had become the circus' star acrobat and aerial artist. Circus audiences assumed that he was a normal-looking human being wearing a devil-like costume. Years later, the Texas millionaire Arnos Jardine, who ran a large circus based in Florida, heard of the circus for which Wagner worked and bought it. Jardine intended to move its best acts into his American circus. However, he demanded that Wagner be placed in the circus' freak show. Jardine drugged him to prevent escape but a young mutant child with the ability to sense other mutants helped Kurt escape. Appalled, Wagner left and made his way toward Winzeldorf, Germany, where his foster brother Stefan was. He discovered that Stefan had gone mad and had brutally slain several children. When they were younger, Stefan had made Kurt promise to kill him if he ever took an innocent life. Two nights after leaving the circus, Wagner found Stefan and fought him, hoping to stop his rampage. In the course of the struggle, Wagner unintentionally broke Stefan's neck. The villagers of Winzeldorf, who assumed from Kurt's appearance that he was a demon who was responsible for the child killings, discovered Wagner. They were about to kill him when they were all psychically paralyzed by Professor Charles Xavier, who had come to recruit Wagner into the X-Men. Wagner agreed to join the group, but before they left for America, he and Xavier went to the Bavarian circus so that Wagner could explain to Margali about Stefan's death. However, Margali was not there. She held Wagner responsible for murdering Stefan, and created a facsimile of the hell from Dante's Inferno in which to punish him years later. Yet through the use of Doctor Strange's all-seeing Eye of Agamotto, she learned the truth and she and Wagner were reconciled. Wagner was also happily reunited with his foster sister Jimaine, who now lives in the United States and changes her name to Amanda Sefton, later becoming Kurt's girlfriend. Known as Nightcrawler, Wagner became a member of the X-Men. Some time later, Nightcrawler fought Shagreen the Sorcerer, and became lost in various dimensions in his first major solo adventure. Shortly after this, and once he had rejoined his teammates, a tactic designed to disable the super-Sentinel Nimrod backfired and Kurt found himself at the mercies of an angry mob (in a nod to his first appearance in Giant Sized X-Men #1) without his teleportation ability. He was rescued by Shadowcat, Colossus, and Magik but feared he had lost his ability for good. His power returned but left him drained and vulnerable when he used it, again leading to self doubt about his worth to the team. It may have been these feelings that led him to use his "multi-port" stunt to disable Vertigo during the Mutant Massacre. This tactic left him unable to escape Riptide's attack, leading to horrific injuries and his subsequent coma.
While he recovers from these injuries, his fellow X-Men are apparently killed on a mission in Dallas. Not long after, Nightcrawler and Shadowcat leave to join Captain Britain in an adventure in the UK. They fought Gatecrasher's group of inter-dimensional mercenaries known as the Technet. The heroes work together so well, they decide to form a group they name Excalibur. Captain Britain originally assumes leadership of the group, but Nightcrawler gradually takes the responsibility. While Captain Britain and Meggan's relationship goes through a rocky time Nightcrawler becomes interested in Meggan, a feeling that is reciprocated but never consummated. During his time with Excalibur, he takes charge of the Technet, renaming them his "N-Men", and he becomes romantically involved with his teammate Cerise before she leaves to stand trial for the Shi'ar. Later, his former girlfriend, Amanda Sefton, joins the team and the two continue their previous relationship. She leaves the team to take control of Limbo, a task that keeps her away from Earth, but the two remain close friends. Fearing it would be stolen from her, Amanda magically hides the Soulsword inside Nightcrawler's body.
Returning to the X-Men
For a time, Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler express some resentment over the X-Men's failing to contact them after their supposed deaths. Following the wedding of Captain Britain and Meggan, Excalibur disbands and Nightcrawler returns to the X-Men with Shadowcat and Colossus. Yet, as soon as they return, they face a group of impostors following Cerebro, in the guise of Professor X. Wanting to devote more time to priesthood, Nightcrawler shares team leadership with Archangel. However, his work as a priest is retconned to be an illusion; he had, in fact, never attained priesthood. He has also met his half-brothers Abyss, and Kiwi Black. With them, Nightcrawler defeated his father Azazel, who had tried to use him to escape prison. Nightcrawler and Marvel Girl began to have an attraction towards each other kissing at one point, but nothing came of it as he balanced his feelings towards her and an attraction to Storm at the time, who was in somewhat of a romantic "friendship" with Wolverine at the time. Nightcrawler served as the new leader of the Uncanny X-Men team alongside Wolverine, Bishop, Psylocke, Cannonball, and Marvel Girl. In the last mission against the Foursaken, Nightcrawler took Marvel Girl, Psylocke, Bishop, and Cannonball to Central Park. He later helped Storm liberate Africa from her uncle's control. Afterwards, Professor X recruited him, along with Darwin, Havok, Marvel Girl, Warpath, and Polaris, to participate in a space mission to stop Vulcan from laying waste to the Shi'ar empire. During the battle with Vulcan, Nightcrawler helps get the injured Professor X and Darwin back to their spaceship. While there, trying to save Professor X, Lilandra sent the ship on its way back to Earth, leaving half the team behind.
When the first mutant since M-Day appears, Cyclops sends him along with Wolverine, Angel, Storm, and Colossus to find former Acolytes for information on the Marauders. It was predicted by Blindfold that Kurt would be seriously injured in the upcoming events and indeed this came true when he was shot by the Marauder, Scalphunter. Kurt seems to have nearly fully recovered from his injuries since he, along with Beast, the entire New X-Men team, and Professor X are teleported to Muir Island by Pixie. He takes part in the final battle.
Divided We Stand
Still recovering from his injuries, Kurt is traveling through Europe along with Wolverine and Colossus. Kurt and Wolverine are currently involved in a "war of pranks" as Peter calls it. The three of them travel to Russia where they visit the cemetery where Peter's family is buried. Afterwards they go to a local bar, where they discuss the recent loss of Kitty Pryde and the destruction of the X-Men. A fight occurs in the bar, during which their cover is blown. Soon after, the three of them are captured by the Russian government which demands to know why all their mutants were depowered and why Colossus, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler retain their abilities. After a battle with Omega Red, the three heroes return to the US and rejoin the team now living in San Francisco.
Kurt, along with Wolverine and Karma ambush the Hellfire Cult after a series of mutant related hate-crimes happen around San Francisco. He also has taken it upon himself to build a new chapel at Graymalkin Industries, the X-Men's new home and base of operations. During a training session in the Danger Room, he reveals he is trying to keep himself distracted because whenever he has time to think, he can't help but not think of Kitty, how the X-Men don't need him, and that Pixie is a better teleporter than him. After battling (unsuccessfully) several simulated villains, he reprograms the Danger Room to show Kitty. He confesses he was sorry he wasn't there for her and hugs the simulation and cries. The simulation of Kitty replies that she misses Kurt too. Nightcrawler briefly believes that he no longer has a role with the X-Men, especially due to Pixie's abilities in teleporting. A trip back to Germany renews his conviction through an encounter with a boy cursed by gypsies into demonic form, a brush with Mephisto, and a romantic fling before he returns to San Francisco to aid the X-Men against a foe they struggled with lacking his help.
Kurt fights alongside the X-Men when the Skrulls invade San Francisco. He manages to come across a Skrull bible and, after studying it, he gives it to Beast who figures out how to deal with the Skrulls.
Pixie and Kurt are training when he brings up Pixie's Souldagger. Pixie summons her Souldagger and stabs Kurt in the chest, knocking him out. When Pixie removes her Souldagger, Magik's Soulsword emerges from his chest. Magik teleports away after taking out Pixie, Mercury, Rockslide, and Beast. Kurt wakes up and stops Pixie from going after her and Pixie breaks down and apologizes for stabbing him. Later the X-Men gather and Kurt is put in charge of a team of X-Men to go help save Magik. Upon entering Limbo, Kurt, Mercury, Colossus, Rockslide, Pixie, and Wolverine fight their way through many demons. Pixie, Mercury, and Rockslide are horrified at how brutal the older X-Men are towards the demons. An octopus type creature attacks Kurt until Pixie jumps in and kills it with her Souldagger. The fact however that Colossus and Wolverine have not killed him, makes Kurt realize they are not fully under her control. Using Pixie's Dagger, Kurt than pulls Illyana's Soulsword from her, and uses it to free Wolverine and Colossus of Witchfire's control. Unfortunately, the demon manages to use the Bloodstones to summon the Elder Gods. Through their combined efforts, the X-Men and Magik managed to banish both Witchfire and the Elder Gods, but not without losing four of the five Bloodstones. Furious at losing another part of her soul, Pixie flees. Being told by Illyana to let her go, Kurt consoles Magik about the theology of a soul, before she teleports them back to Earth. Kurt, along with Colossus, Cyclops, and the former New Mutants team, convinces her to stay with them and join the X-Men.
After mutants rise from the dead and attack the island Utopia as part of the Necrosha storyline, Cyclops sends Nightcrawler to lead a team of X-Men consisting of Rogue, Trance, Magneto, Husk, Psylocke, Colossus, and Blindfold to investigate Muir Island. It is revealed that Proteus has been resurrected and has taken possession of Blindfold (who had the vision of going to Muir Island in the first place).
Nightcrawler flies with Wolverine and the rest of the team to Westminster when Cable and Hope are detected there. When Nightcrawler finds out about the lethal methods used by X-Force that have been kept from the rest of the X-Men he argues with Cyclops. Rogue and Nightcrawler fight an enhanced version of Bastion. When Bastion tries to kill Hope, Nightcrawler attempts to teleport in front of her, but Bastion detects Nightcrawler's mutant power activating and extends his arm where Nightcrawler appears. Nightcrawler appears with Bastion's arm through him, suffering mortal wounds. With Nightcrawler's last breath, he teleports her to Utopia, and tells her that he "believes in her". His actions leave Bastion crippled. Bastion reboots its system shortly after, with a three fingered appearance similar to Nightcrawler.
Wolverine Goes to Hell
Despite being dead, Kurt somehow was able to still help his friends on occasion. Kurt was next seen during the battle between Wolverine and the demon that was possessing his body. He realized that Wolverine would lose his mind and body if he did not help him. As a result, Kurt went to a special part of Wolverine's mind where he housed his image of Jean Grey so they can defeat the demon. When Kurt and Jean showed up in the battle they asked Kurt if he was a part of Wolverine's mind, however, he replied saying that he is the actual Nightcrawler. After the battle Kurt begged Wolverine to not seek revenge on those who did this to him, however, he refused to listen.
Nightcrawler now resided in Heaven, where he was somewhat of a loner. Despite enjoying paradise, Nightcrawler continued to feel as though he had unfinished business, remaining on the periphery rather than actually joining the heavenly choir. When Azazel mounted an attack on Heaven using his connection to Kurt as a door, the other X-Men were able to create a portal to Heaven via the power of the Bamfs, allowing them to aid Kurt in his fight, and also intending to bring him back from the dead. The plan succeeded, with Azazel defeated thanks to Professor X's own spirit following his death at Cyclops' hand, and Kurt was resurrected by the Bamfs' powers to rejoin the Jean Grey X-Men. Everyone celebrated his return but was cut short when Mystique came looking for Azazel. Kurt tried to stop both of them but was defeated.
Powers and Abilities
Teleportation: He teleports by displacing himself into the Brimstone Dimension, traveling through it, and then returning to his own dimension at a certain distance from his point of departure. He consciously determines his point of return. The entire process occurs so quickly that Nightcrawler is unaware of being in the brimstone dimension at all. Nightcrawler guides himself through the brimstone dimension by an unconscious, natural direction-finding sense. Although Nightcrawler controls his teleportation ability with his conscious mind, his power to teleport is not psionic. Rather it is the result of an unknown biochemical/biophysical reaction which he triggers mentally. When he disappears in teleporting, Nightcrawler leaves behind smoke with a stench reminiscent of burning brimstone. This is a small portion of the atmosphere of the brimstone dimension that escapes while the aperture is open. His teleportation is invariably accompanied by the muffled sound of imploding air rushing to fill the vacuum left where Nightcrawler's body was. The longer the distance over which Nightcrawler teleports himself, the harder and more exhausting it is for him to make the teleportation "jump". It is easier for him to teleport between north and south (along Earth's magnetic field lines) than it is for him to teleport between east and west (against the magnetic lines). Under optimal conditions, teleporting only himself and his costume, Nightcrawler can displace himself a distance of about 2 miles east-to-west, and up to 3 miles north-to-south. Making a vertical teleportation upwards is difficult and dangerous. Nightcrawler has made a vertical teleportation "jump" of 2 miles by pushing himself to his physical limits. Nightcrawler's powers automatically displace liquids and gases when he arrives in the course of a teleportation. Nightcrawler's momentum is retained throughout the process of teleportation: he arrives with whatever amount of inertia he left with. For example, if he were falling from a great height, he could not teleport himself towards the ground in order to save himself; he would land with the same velocity that he teleported with. He can subtract this inertia by teleporting short distances upwards (as though taking two steps back for every one forward). As part of his power, Nightcrawler has also exhibited a limited ability to sense the teleportation of other beings. The limits to the mass that Nightcrawler can carry with him while teleporting, and the limits to the distance over which he can teleport himself with additional load is unknown. When he transports a passenger over even moderate distances, they both feel weakened and ill, to the point of exhaustion. Teleportation over further distances could be fatal. Through practice, Nightcrawler has increased the mass he can teleport with him. (He once teleported himself and Storm from the center of a small island into the water just off its coast without harming either of them). The upper limits of this capacity are as yet unknown.
Nightcrawler can use his powers offensively by grappling with an enemy and teleporting him or her in a series of rapid jumps. The strain of these "multiple ports" can exhaust foes without superhuman endurance while Nightcrawler remains strong enough to continue fighting.
Subconscious Spatial Awareness: Nightcrawler has a very limited subconscious extrasensory ability that prevents him from teleporting himself so that his feet, for example, would materialize below the surface of the local ground. Because this ability is so limited, however, Nightcrawler will not teleport into any place that he cannot see or has not seen in the past. If Nightcrawler teleported himself into an unfamiliar area, he would run the risk of materializing partially or entirely within a solid object. If too much of his body materialized within a solid object, he would probably be killed.
Wall-Crawling: Nightcrawler can stick to objects with the surface of his hands and feet. This enables him to scale surfaces.
Flexible Bone Structure: Nightcrawler's bone structure allows him great flexibility. He can remain in a crouched position for a long time and perform contortionist type feats without causing any damage to his spine.
Camouflage: He has limited abilities to blend into shadows, both as a result of his indigo fur and his connection to light-bending attributes of the dimension through which he teleports. This is also the explanation for why he constantly appears in shadow, even in direct light.
Prehensile Tail: allowing him to grab onto objects with relative ease. His tail is strong enough to not only support his body weight but also lift an adult man completely off the ground, and is deft enough to fight with a sword or blunt object.
Night Vision: Nightcrawler's always glowing eyes grant him a marked degree of heightened night vision as well.
Superhuman Agility: Nightcrawler's agility, balance, and bodily coordination are enhanced to levels beyond the human body's natural limits.
Superhuman Reflexes: Nightcrawler's natural reaction time is enhanced to a level beyond the human body's natural limits.
Master Acrobat: Nightcrawler is an Olympic-class acrobat thanks to his flexible spine that allows him to perform contortionist-like feats and to go long periods in a semi-crouching position without injury.
Skilled Combatant: He is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, martial arts, athletics, acrobatics, and a master at fencing, which he can even perform with his tail, which is strong enough to support his entire body weight.
Aviator: He has served as the team's pilot and, with Wolverine, has also been the mechanic of the X-Men's Blackbird jet for a long time.
Medic: He has been the medic when no more qualified X-Men were around to do so.
Nightcrawler possesses above average strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engages in intensive regular exercise. At his peak, Nightcrawler can lift about 250 lbs.
Despite Nightcrawler's superhuman powers, he is just as susceptible to disease and physical injury as any ordinary human. Also, because he is a neyaphem, angel's blood, which heals everyone else, hurts him, normally adding to whatever injury he received.
Image inducer; at one time he always wore his image inducer in public because he was afraid of how people would treat him because of his mutation. however, after he lost a bet with Wolverine, he went out in public without his image inducer. He expected everyone's reaction to be fear and hate, but it turned out to be a reaction of curious interest. He still has his image inducer, but hardly ever uses it unless he needs to.
- Nightcrawler's origin is located in Bavaria, but the exact location seems to change with every incarnation. In the comics, he comes from a small village called Winzeldorf, and in the X-Men animated series, it is Neuherzl. In the movie X2, he makes repeated references to his time in the Munich circus, though it is never specified where he originated.
- A notable geography error appears in Nightcrawler The Winding Ways. Nightcrawler travels to Bavaria in order to visit his old circus, which he states is located in the Black Forest. The Black Forest region doesn't belong to Bavaria, it actually is part of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg.
- Dave Cockrum actually designed Nightcrawler while still in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Guam, when a typhoon made it too noisy to sleep. His original vision, a demon who refused to return to hell for punishment after he failed a mission, was meant to serve as sidekick for another of his creations, the Intruder. He later submitted the character for inclusion in DC Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes series, which he worked on just before coming to Marvel. DC editor Murray Boltinoff rejected the character as being "too funny looking."
- The form Nightcrawler normally uses with his image inducer is Errol Flynn, most likely because people claim he has a similar personality.
- A calendar in Kurt's room indicates that his birthday is in November.
- Writer Chris Claremont had several different ideas for Nightcrawler's parentage, including Nightmare as his father, and Mystique as his father with Destiny as his mother. The Nightmare connection was prevented by then-Dr. Strange (and later X-Men) editor Roger Stern, and the Mystique/Destiny idea was dropped almost immediately.
- When talking to Wolverine about his viciousness he said one of his most famous phrases, "Open your heart Herr Logan. Would it hurt so much to see the world through different eyes?".
- In Wolverine and the X-Men, he is shown having a romantic relationship with Magneto's daughter, the Scarlet Witch. In episode 15, Wanda is shown kissing him, and she is called the love of his life, which he denies. In another episode, when she is criticizing Lorna's love of Gambit, she shouts, "Says the girl that's in love with an X-Man!" and runs out. Wanda visibly blushes.
Nightcrawler's German phrases
To keep authenticity, the writers - especially Chris Claremont - made Nightcrawler speak German phrases. But due to poor translation, these phrases were often a source of unintended comedy for native German speakers. Notable errors were:
|English word||False translation||Correct translation|
|Kitten||Katzchen (his pet name for Kitty Pryde)||Kätzchen|
|Darling||Leibchen (Shirt)||Liebchen or Liebling|
|Understood?||Verstehen? (To understand)||Verstanden?|
|God in heaven||Gott in Heimel||Gott im Himmel|
|What?||Vas?||Was? (pronounced Vas?)|