It’s not easy being a blue mutant superhero
It’s not all too often that I get to write about one of my favorite comic-book characters, mostly because I have such weird tastes.
For example, there’s the Batman villain called Cat-Man who has a pretty wimpy superpower. He’s just really, really lucky. Nothing else. Just lucky. He can jump off a 60-floor building, defy all the odds and land on a trampoline-like awning and bounce to safety so Batman doesn’t have to take him to jail in a bucket. He could probably hit the lottery a zillion times in a row if he tried.
Why do I like him? Beats me. He’s just cool.
Nightcrawler is one of the new X-Men members who will be introduced to film audiences in “X2: X-Men United.” Art by Alan Davis. (Excalibur No. 3, Dec. 1988)
Then there is the character called the Crusader. This well-intentioned religious zealot often goes to the extremes to force his beliefs on the superheroes like Thor. I like him because I know his heart is in the right place, and if he’d just learn a bit of tolerance, he could just as easily be a hero, but until then, he struggles with what it is to do the right thing. He has such great potential, but he hasn’t been able to tap into it.
My list of favorites goes on and on, so much so that I often dodge the question when people ask me “Who’s your favorite super-character?”
Latest ‘X-Men’ film brings a favorite to life
Still, I’m glad that the film “X2: X-Men United,” the sequel to 2000’s “X-Men” is coming out, because it gives me a chance to talk about the character I most loved as a youngster.
His name is Nightcrawler, and no, he doesn’t have the power to control the minds of worms. He’s way cooler than that.
Nightcrawler, as played by Alan Cumming, is one of the new characters to be introduced to film audiences in “X2,” but he’s been around since the X-Men team experienced a massive lineup change in 1975. That lineup included some characters filmgoers are already familiar with — Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine and Jean Grey — some that are appearing in the film for the first time — Colossus and Nightcrawler — and some that are likely to never appear on celluloid — Banshee, Sunfire and Thunderbird.
It was with that new lineup, and the help of some fantastic writers and artists, that THE UNCANNY X-MEN developed into one of the most consistently best-selling comics of the last three decades.
Not that Nightcrawler had much to do with making it such a good seller, Wolverine was probably the key factor in that, but Nightcrawler was along for the ride.
Besides the X-Men, Nightcrawler once belonged to the European superhero team known as Excalibur.
Looks make the mutant
“So who is this ‘Nightcrawler’?” I can hear you saying.
Well, he’s quite a bit different from your standard superhero. First off, he’s definitely not a fancy-pants mutant like Cyclops or some prissy do-gooder like Captain America. His genetic mutations also included some physical ones, which set him apart from even his X-Men teammates.
Just take a look at him: He’s covered in a fine indigo-colored fur — kind of like a muppet, I imagine. He’s also got a forked tail, pointy ears, fangs and only three fingers per hand.
And with looks that could scare the stars off Wonder Woman’s underwear, it’s not surprising that the general populace thinks he’s the devil himself. But underneath his disturbing visage is a heart of gold. In fact, in recent X-Men comics the deeply religious Nightcrawler has been studying to become a priest.
Nightcrawler didn’t get the short end of the stick in the superpower department either. His primary ability is to “bamf,” that is to teleport through time and space, and he uses it in combat to keep his opponents off-balance and confused. He also shares Spider-man’s ability to climb walls.
On top of all that, he’s a world-class swordsman and an Olympic-level gymnast, which wouldn’t make him a bad superhero with or without mutant powers.
Because of his Smurf-gon-bad looks, his mother abandoned him when he was just a furry little fork-tailed infant. A short time later, he was picked up by Gypsies, who gave him a home in a traveling circus, where he worked for years as a freak-show acrobat.
Nightcrawler joined the X-Men when he was saved by Professor Xavier, the team’s leader, when he was nearly lynched by an angry mob. As a member of the X-Men, he proved himself again and again, whether it was fighting alien invasions, crazed mutants or giant robots.
Later on, he joined a European-based superhero team called Excalibur, only to rejoin the X-Men recently.
|Nightcrawler is known for his acrobatic prowess in combat, often using his ability to teleport to confuse and surprise his opponents. Art by Paul Smith. (The Uncanny X-Men No. 167, May 1983)
Most intriguing is that it has been revealed in the comics that his mother is none other than Mystique, the shapeshifting character who has appeared in both “X-Men” films.
Despite all this hardship and hate, Nightcrawler is a surprisingly upbeat kind of guy. Sure, people throw bottles at him, but he struggles through it. Sure, he’s got a supervillain for mom, but he looks on the bright side of things.
And how can you hate a guy who stays so chipper, despite being considered a freak, even among the pretty-boy X-Men? Not me, he’s one my favorites.
Nightcrawler fan site: Bamf Central