Friday, December 7, 2007

He Had Me At "BAMF!"

I'm going to admit right up front that I'm not, like, astonishingly well-versed in comics-ese. My little brother didn't read them much, and I usually had my nose stuck in something totally age-inappropriate (The Stand in 6th grade, for instance). However, all three of us kids watched plenty of television, back when there was cool stuff like Voltron and Thundercats and She-Ra to enjoy. It was there, on my friendly TV, that I first met the gang of supers that I would STILL join over any other: the X-Men. And though I have progressed from watching cool kids' shows to watching cool comics-inspired movies, there's one superhero who still shines for me more than all the others: Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler.

Why, you may ask, all the affection for the dude with the indigo fur and tail? Well, I actually love the way he looks (not surprising since Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, plus, seriously people, I write paranormal romance). But more than his striking, some would say "demonic" appearance, Nightcrawler is a walking contradiction, the ultimate illustration that you should never judge a book by its cover. That he suffers some over the disparity between his looks and his nature only adds to his depth and appeal as a superhero. I mean, hey, they all gotta have a little angst. Kurt, however, deals with his really well. Possibly because he can climb walls as well as Spidey himself when he needs alone time. I can only dream of such abilities (and believe me, I do).

Like a lot of the X-Men (and comic book characters in general), Nightcrawler's story is long and winding. To try to boil it down for you, though, he's the abandoned child of Mystique and one of a demonic-looking race of mutants named Azazel. Yes, Mystique, otherwise known as Rebecca Romijin looking better in a latex skinsuit than I ever will. Not that I really want to reopen that wound on my psyche, thank you. Anyway, baby Kurt was tossed by mom, rescued by dad, and raised in a German circus (he's Bavarian) by a gypsy sorceress and a bunch of loving, non-judgemental performers. He was lucky enough to grow up happy, even using his superhuman agility to become the star acrobat and aerial artist in the circus. He's also, in juxtaposition with his looks, a devout Catholic who studied for the priesthood, a trait that makes for some interesting internal conflict. As an X-Man, he's known for his jovial, gallant, and swashbuckling nature, his charm, and his penchant for practical jokes. Well, and his ability to teleport by briefly entering another dimension, leaving behind nothing but the smell of brimstone and his signature sound, "BAMF!" He's buddies with Wolverine. He has a love life. He fights bad guys. And he even slowly comes to understand that not all average humans are horrified by his appearance.

Did I mention that Nightcrawler rules?

Um, anyway, I think that apart from his singular appearance, what I love about Nightcrawler is his persistent good nature, his zest for life despite how obvious a target he is for those with prejudices against the different. You can't go by the movie version to see that side of his personality, since in that he's played as more serious (though played very well, I thought, by Alan Cumming, a nice surprise since I had never quite pictured one as the other though I do enjoy Mr. Cumming's work). Still, I was so disappointed when he wasn't in X-3! In the comic, Nightcrawler can be a prankster, and is adept at bolstering the spirits of the team. Rather than being a sort of tragic monster, a role for which he had originally been intended at his 1975 introduction, Nightcrawler is comfortable in that furry blue hide, and we fans are all the richer for it. Three fingers and toes on each hand and foot, glowing yellow eyes, pointy ears and a prehensile tail; Tim Gunn would be proud at how Kurt "makes it work." But above all, it's his heart that makes all the difference. I love that Nightcrawler is both angel and demon, a savior with the heart of a knight and the looks of the dragon. That's my favorite kind of hero, after all.

So what about you? Who's YOUR favorite X-Man (or woman)? And as an aside, what mutation would you have if you could join? I always wanted to be like Storm, myself...controlling wind and lightning is just so COOL! Of course, I'd have to be able to fly, too. Just sayin':-)



  1. Gambit's my favorite X-Man, but if I could choose a combination of powers I'd be able to fly and conduct electricity. :)

  2. I like Night Crawler too, especially how he was "redone" in the X-Men movies.

  3. I don't know the Xmen well enough to say which one was my favorite. My husband, however, is very familiar with both the comic and screen version and he likes Wolverine best because, and I quote, "he's an interesting character."

    Seems like they did one cartoon and I liked Shadowcat best on it? But I know nothing.

  4. OMG WE ARE TWINS!!!! I SOOOOO LOVE Nightcrawler for PRECISELY the reasons you mention!!

    And your job of character examination is spot on IMHO.

    And my girls and I were VERY disappointed not to see him again in X-Men 3.

    Of course I love Wolverine,too and that was pre-Jackman. ;) But I believe that Nightcrawler would nudge Logan out of the top spot in the long run.


    "X"cellent post Kendra,


  5. Nightcrawler has always been my favorite "new" X-man, too -- how can you not?!