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"Every so often, liebchennote , since I look like a demon... I have this irresistible urge to play the part."
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Kurt Wagner, best known as Nightcrawler, is a Marvel Comics superhero commonly in association with the X-Men. Created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum, he debuted in the comic book Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975).

A mutant from Germany, Nightcrawler possesses superhuman agility, wallcrawling, a prehensile tail, and the ability to teleport. Despite his demonic appearance, he is a devout Catholic. Nightcrawler was raised in a circus, where he was accepted with the other "freaks", and grew to have a playful and happy-go-lucky personality. He's a fan of swashbuckling fiction and Errol Flynn in particular, and for a time, he took up swordplay and started to wear an almost pirate-like costume. Kurt later discovered that the villainous terrorist Mystique was his mother, who had to abandon him because he couldn't change his shape and blend in with her. This also makes him Rogue's adoptive half-brother. Nightcrawler is generally considered to be one of the X-Men's Ensemble Dark Horses and manages to consistently rank among the most popular X-Men. He's also one of the most lucky with women, as his unusual appearance and approachable personality tends to draw women to him really easily. Especially the tail and the fuzzy. Chicks dig the fuzzy.

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Nightcrawler's unique design was a carryover from an earlier Dave Cockrum pitch to DC for new members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. In that pitch, Nightcrawler would have been an alien from a race who inspired Earth's images of demons and something between a Token Evil Teammate and a Nominal Hero, with a animalistic attitude and a taste for Black Comedy; instead, under Chris Claremont he became one of the Marvel Universe's classic examples of Dark Is Not Evil.

He appeared in two episodes of the 1990 X-Men series and was one the main characters in X-Men: Evolution, voiced by Brad Swaile. Liam O'Brien voiced him in Wolverine and the X-Men and in all other subsequent appearances. He was portrayed by Alan Cumming then Kodi Smit-McPhee in the X-Men film series.


Notable Appearances

Comics

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Tropes

  • Abusive Parents: His biological parents Mystique and Azazel abandoned him shortly after his birth and only seem to take an interest in him when they feel like he could be useful in one of their schemes.
  • Adorkable: His original characterization was this just through his wacky antics; later interpretations and adaptations often have him as a huge fan of one fandom or another—see Ultimate X-Men.
    • In one issue's Danger Room Cold Open, he and Rachel argue over what the best pirate film is.
    • In Excalibur, he would flirt shamelessly with Meggan only to become embarrassed and befuddled if she turned the tables on him.
  • Affectionate Nickname: He's called Elf or “Fuzzy Elf” by the people who like him. He also adresses Kitty Pryde with a very cute nickame (“Kätzchen” - German for kitten). Also "kleine Fee" for Pixie (little fairy).
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Whether this trope applies is a case of Depending on the Writer though.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Nightcrawler has blue colored skin.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Neither live-action adaption really resembles his personality from the comics all that much, with X2: X-Men United going overboard on the Catholicism and X-Men: Apocalypse portraying him as shy and withdrawn when he has always been one the more self-confident X-Men characters. That being said, that change could be justified by the fact that in this continuity he joins the X-Men at a much younger age and under different circumstances.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: On occasion during Excalibur (and during his sillier moments) he would act like this.
  • Back from the Dead: In Amazing X-Men. Proof if there ever was any that you can never keep a good X-Man down.
  • Badass Preacher: During Joe Casey's run, the brief period between becoming a priest and being taken over by a writer who knew nothing about Catholicism.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Since his return to life he's been unable to go to heaven or hell making him pretty much immortal.
  • Beard of Sorrow: It's been implied that his Badass Beard in X-Men: Red is a result of his breakup with Rachel Summers.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's probably one of the kindest characters in the Marvel Universe, but can be truly dangerous if he actually lets loose with his abilities. One gets the impression that he simply holds back a lot.
  • Break the Cutie: More often than not he will be subjected to this trope when a storyline takes a darker turn. Jean's death during the The Dark Phoenix Saga was probably the first time this happened to him.
  • Circus Brat: He was raised in a traveling circus.
  • Chick Magnet: Like the summary says, chicks dig the fuzzy (and not just in-universe! He's frequently considered one of the sexiest men in superhero comics). His period of time spent as a priest made him a Chaste Hero, but he remained a chick magnet. A single panel from Excalibur summed it up perfectly:
    Man 1: A horror!
    Man 2: A demon!
    Woman: A cutie!
  • Color-Coded Characters: His outfits tend to be associated with the colors black, red and gold. Fitting, considering his German background.
  • Cool Teacher: When he does teach he specializes in theater and music, and is said to have some of the most popular classes at Xavier's school.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Just one more thing that puts him in the running for "Sexiest X-Man" every year.
  • The Cutie: Kurt is pretty much unfailingly optimistic and forgiving to everyone. There are very few people he doesn't get along with. He even forgave his mother for abandoning him at birth. But this aspect of his personality also frequently leads to to Break the Cutie moments as described above.
  • Cynic–Idealist Duo: With Wolverine. Also with Storm during her darker moments.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Has the appearance of a demon, yet he's one of the nicest heroes in Marvel Universe.
  • Depending on the Writer: Quite a few things, most notably his religiousness. Writers also tend go back and forth on whether he's supposed to be a well adjusted Fun Personified Nice Guy or a Sad Clown who secretly suffers from a case of Germanic Depression.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The unique shape of his feet make most shoes uncomfortable at best.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the 90's cartoon where he only appears in two episodes.
  • Dual Wielding: Or rather, triple wielding, thanks to his prehensile tail.
    • He has the potential to quintuple wield if the situation gets desperate enough, see Handy Feet.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: While impaled with Bastion's mechanical hand, Kurt manages to gather enough strength to teleport himself and Hope, the possible mutant messiah, away from the enemy before dying. That's a badass moment, but the thing that makes it a dying moment of awesome is that he managed to teleport from Las Vegas to the coast of San Francisco, while having a mechanical hand right through his chest.
    • WHEN HIS NORMAL MAX TELEPORTING RANGE IS TWO MILES. To save you a trip to a map, that's over 400 miles. WITH A HAND THROUGH HIS CHEST.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Several came from the original Dave Cockrum Legion of Super-Heroes proposal:
    • In his early appearances he was capable of becoming completely invisible in shadows. Yes, even the red and white parts of his costume. This power has either been forgotten or downplayed to "his dark fuzz makes it easier for him to hide." Usually. It did get brought up again a couple of times in Excalibur.
    • He had a permanent case of Face Framed in Shadow regardless of the lighting. Modern artists tend to draw him shaded the way a dark blue person would be in the ambient light.
    • He was capable of inhuman vocalizations that sounded more like a cougar screech or a wolf howl. This has generally been dropped over the years.
  • Escaped from Hell: Even better - escaped from Heaven! After all, he wouldn't deserve to be there if he wasn't the kind of man to leave it again if his friends needed him. And of course, he did it on a pirate ship...
  • Extradimensional Shortcut: His teleportation abilities involve him slipping into another dimension, travelling very quickly through it then popping out elsewhere. The exact nature of this dimension varies from adaptation to adaptation.
  • Flanderization: His religious devotion in later years. While his Catholic faith was a part of the character during the Claremont years (on more than one occasion he was depicted praying, and received spiritual direction from a priest), other writers tended to go overboard on this aspect of his character until that's all there was. Especially when they had no conception of what the Catholic faith was really like. The worst offender in this has to be Chuck Austen.
    • The 90's cartoon and X2: X-Men United also made Nightcrawler's religion the main focus of the character.
    • On the other hand, his post-resurrection portrayal took things to the other end of the spectrum and exaggerated the Class Clown angle of his character.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: He's done it a lot, some of his favorite victims have been Rogue, Meggan, even Phoenix (Rachel Summers). He completely gets away with it every time, except with Rogue, who completely freaks out the first time he does it, as she's not used to being touched, and panics about him accidentally touching her bare skin.
  • Fun Personified: Often fills this role on teams, though he's by no means The Fool.
  • Funny Foreigner: He acted like this sometimes in his earliest appearances during the '70s and he's this trope in both of his live-action adaptions.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: His ability to blend into shadows would have been quite useful in several stories, but as mentioned it's mostly been forgotten by the writers.
  • Gratuitous German: He's probably the biggest example of this trope in the Marvel universe.
  • Germanic Depressives: He was actually created to be an aversion but slips into this way more than you'd think, especially if he's written by Chris Claremont. The Ultimate version runs on this trope, even once invoking the term "Weltschmerz" in a conversation with Storm.
  • Good Is Not Soft: One the kindest, most compassionate X-Men (alongside Jean Grey), but he is not a pacifist and is perfectly willing to fight to protect his friends.
  • Handy Feet: His feet are shaped very much like his hands and are just as dextrous.
  • Has Two Mommies: Or would have, according to Chris Claremont — originally, he had decided that Nightcrawler would be the son of Mystique and Destiny. For painfully obvious reasons, the powers that be at Marvel decided this was not a story they wanted to tell (Jim Shooter was editor-in-chief of Marvel at the time, and infamously had a policy forbidding any mention of homosexuality), and so while Claremont continued to lay broad hints that Mystique was Nightcrawler's parent, and did lay very subtle hints at a lesbian relationship between Mystique and Destiny, he kept those two plot threads carefully unbridged. Ultimately, other writers made it explicit that Mystique is Nightcrawler's mother, not his father, and that he has no biological relation to Destiny.
  • The Heart: His welcome back (from the dead) party managed to peacefully bring together two warring factions of X-Men for the first time since their split.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: He is an excellent fencer. Given his prehensile tail, Kurt particularly prefers three swords at once.
  • Heroic BSoD: He had a pretty epic one during the Inhumans vs X-Men storyline when he found a mass grave filled with the corpses of mutant children in Germany.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: His death and his return, since it involved selling his soul to the Bamfs in order to bind himself and Azazel to the mortal plane.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Wolverine and Colossus. He and Piotr were similar ages and regularly double-dated and went to movies together - he even taught Piotr how to chat up women! He was also the first to break through Wolverine's hardass act and the first X-Man to learn his real name was Logan, and it was Logan in turn who convinced him to stop disguising himself in public. Sometimes the other two even fight over him like jealous girlfriends, sometimes the three of them go out drinking and get into mischief together. It was through their mutual friendship with Kurt that Logan and Piotr became close friends in their own right.
  • Hide Your Otherness: On occasion, Kurt's made use of an image inducer to go out in public. The first time he got it, he used it to make himself look like Errol Flynn. He eventually stopped using it - a backup story revealed that Logan convinced him a proud man shouldn't hide himself, and Kurt's got nothing to be ashamed of. He still has it for emergencies and pranks though - just after Messiah Complex, Logan messed with it so Kurt briefly looked like Angelina Jolie!
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Nightcrawler really stands out as one of the kindest, most forgiving and compassionate X-Men. Not even Mephisto himself was able to tempt him into evil.
  • Iconic Outfit: His original 1975 Cockrum design has lasted a truly staggering amount of time by comic standards and it still seems to be considered that definitive version.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: As originally introduced by Len Wein he was closer to this. Chris Claremont deliberately averted this, figuring Marvel already had the quintessential I Just Want to Be Normal hero in Ben Grimm. So instead, he wrote Kurt as one of the most well-adjusted X-Men, who long ago decided to relish both his mutant abilities and his unique appearance, and is often the one to talk to younger X-Men with body image issues. Later writers have gone back and forth between the two interpretations.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Demon" (if you're a jerk), and "Blue Fuzzy Elf", or just "Elf" if you are Wolverine. Dave Cockrum would affectionately refer to him as "Nightie" which was also used a few times in comics.
  • Irony: A devout Catholic that looks like a demon and is implied to travel through Hell while teleporting.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Kurt's German can come across like this in the hands of less competent writers. It was especially bad in Ultimate X-Men where he addressed Storm as "fraülein" once (the correct spelling is Fräulein).
  • Killed Off for Real: In the Ultimate Marvel universe, during Ultimatum
  • The Lancer: To Jean Grey in X-Men: Red according to writer Tom Taylor.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: "Mystique, you are my mother."
  • Like Brother and Sister: With Platonic Life Partner Kitty Pryde.
  • Master Swordsman: Not only is Kurt an expert fencer, he can use three swords at once. Slightly ironic for a character who models himself on the Trope Namer of bad movie swordsmanship.
  • Mr. Fanservice: As noted under Progressively Prettier, he was initially drawn somewhat creepy and looked much more like an actual demon. This has been almost totally abandoned in the modern comics where he's drawn like a very good looking Cute Monster Guy most of the time.
  • Nice Guy: One of the nicest in the Marvel Universe.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Nightcrawler's "true love" is his adoptive sister, Amanda "Daytripper" Sefton.
    • Also Rogue, whom Kurt has flirted shamelessly with quite often.
  • Odd Friendship: As noted above he's very close to Wolverine of all people, despite them having very different personalities. Storm may count as this too, before her character development set in and she became more open to her fellow X-Men.
  • Only Sane Man: Can certainly come off this way compared to some of the other X-Men, though it does depend on the story.
  • Out of Focus: He wasn't given much to do after his return from Excalibur in the late 90s and being very badly written by "writer" Chuck Austen in his run on Uncanny X-Men probably didn't do him any favors. He faded even more into the background when fellow teleporter Pixie became a more prominent member of the X-Men in the late 00s. Ultimately this culminated in his death during the Second Coming storyline, supposedly because writers at the time couldn't figure out what to with him. He never lost his popularity though and since Death Is Cheap for the X-Men he was eventually brought back. More recently he didn't get much focus in X-Men: Gold (though to be fair, no one except Kitty Pryde got to do all that much in that series). He had a fairly prominent role in X-Men: Red though.
  • Pillars of Moral Character: Without doubt one of the most level-headed and compassionate X-Men, and beloved by everyone for it. And of course (all later religious weirdness aside) he became a priest.
  • Pious Monster: He's a blue-skinned mutant who resembles a demon... and happens to be a Roman Catholic.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Kitty Pryde. To the point when he left to join Excalibur, she went with him.
  • Poirot Speak: Kurt frequently uses German words and phrases in his speech.
  • Prehensile Tail: His tail is strong enough to not only support his body weight but also lift an adult man completely off the ground. It is deft enough to fight with a sword or blunt object.
  • Progressively Prettier: And how. In his first appearance, he looked much more demonic compared to his modern pretty-boy looks.
  • Raised Catholic: Depending on the writer, Nightcrawler is more or less a practicing Catholic.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Age of Apocalypse version that joined up with X-Force for a while very much fits this trope, having red glowing eyes instead of yellow.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Teleporting puts considerable strain on things. Fortunately for Nightcrawler (and unfortunately for his foes), his body is tougher than the average human's, making Teleport Spam a viable strategy for him. People who aren't either used to it or have Super Toughness will often be knocked if Kurt drags them along for a single teleport, let alone multiple ones.
    • For a time, the injuries Nightcrawler sustained in the Mutant Massacre storyline disabled the Required Secondary Power, meaning he could only manage about 1 teleport a day. Doctor Doom cured this affliction completely by accident when Nightcrawler and the rest of Excalibur were fighting him.
  • Sad Clown: Sometimes; usually he's a plain old happy clown. However, even his most lighthearted depictions keep his depressing backstory.
  • Sexy Priest: A very unconventional example; despite his demonic visage, Kurt has always being considered a Chick Magnet and became a priest for a time.
  • Ship Tease: Kurt and Ororo have been teased multiple times over the years but it never goes anywhere.
  • Sneak Attack: Most video game adaptions cast Kurt in stealthy role. He even has a classic backstab attack in Marvel Heroes.
  • The Soulless: As of Amazing X-Men in 2014, he no longer has a soul and has become immortal as a result
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: He inherited them from his mother Mystique.
  • Super Reflexes: Nightcrawler's natural reaction time is enhanced to a level beyond the human body's natural limits.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The probable reason behind his demise in "Second Coming." Also suspected as the reason for his move to Excalibur with Kitty in the 80s.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Kurt Darkholme in Uncanny X-Force betrays the group for a chance at revenge.
  • Spirit Advisor: Acted as one to Wolverine (during the time he was dead) when he got send to hell in one of his solo books.
  • Swashbuckler: By his own admission.
  • Story-Breaker Power: The reason he got knocked out in the third act of X-Men: Apocalypse; according the the DVD commentary he would have made the fight way to easy for the heroes.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: With Mystique - it's pretty obvious that she's his mother.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Easily his signature ability.
  • Teleport Spam: His preferred method of attack. He even provides the trope image.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Since his return from the dead he's gained his own mini-Nightcrawler army in the form of the Bamfs. One of the many added bonuses they bring is that he can now teleport anywhere one of his Bamfs is, regardless of distance or line-of-sight (a limitation the Bamfs seem to lack in the first place).
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A key part of his origin story.
  • Underhanded Hero: Nightcrawler was a circus performer and fashions himself after Errol Flynn, who famously played Robin Hood. In X2: X-Men United, while being mind-controlled, he took out an entire Secret Service squad using nothing but acrobatics, short-ranged teleportation, and healthy dose of misdirection. And he came within a hair's breadth of killing the President.
  • The Un Favourite: Mystique has always made it clear she prefers her adoptive daughter Rogue to her biological son Kurt. Unusually for this trope, Kurt generally isn't bothered by this, having no real relationship with Mystique. He also has a mostly positive relationship with his adoptive mother Margali, who is generally less evil than Raven and hardly ever attacks the X-Men.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: He was involved in a love triangle with Meggan and Captain Britain during their time together on Excalibur. Meggan and Kurt were very attracted to each other, but Kurt gracefully backs off when he realizes that ultimately Meggan loves Brian. There have been many hints here and there over the years that Meggan isn't entirely over him though.
  • Verbal Tic: Very, very frequently says "mein Gott".
  • Wall Crawling: He can stick to walls.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: See above, Kurt is probably the most well known superhero with teleportation abilities.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: While he's not exactly naive, he does have a much more idealistic wold view than most X-Men characters. This was probably one the reasons Kitty and him were written out of the increasingly dark X-Men books in the late 80s and moved into a more light hearted series.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Though this is largely a case of Depending on the Artist. Most of the time it's just plain black.

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