The X-Men are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Studios has no small task ahead of them in making sure that the iconic team can lead the franchise in Phase 7 and beyond. Marvel Studios is also sure to make every effort to separate their adaptation of the team(s) from what came before. To celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas, we’ve decided to put together a list of which characters might play a key role and how Marvel Studios can ensure nobody will confuse them with their Fox counterparts.
Romantic. Demon. Swashbuckler. Theologian. Baseball fan. Bestie. Teleporter. The Amazing Nightcrawler!
Kurt Wagner made his way into both of Fox’s X-Men trilogies and, surprisingly enough, was not characterized nearly as poorly as many of his teammates. In fact, both Alan Cumming and Kodi Smit-McPhee brought the requisite pathos to their performances to make the character memorable despite not really playing a major role. Fox did a nice job with the look of both versions and found clever ways to showcase his trademark BAMFing. However, one of the greatest shortcomings with Fox’s X-Men films was responsible for inadvertently giving Nightcrawler short shrift.
Though the character was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum for 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men #1, the personality of Nightcrawler that comic book fans know and love was, by and large, the creation of legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont. In a 2019 interview with SYFY, Claremont described Nightcrawler’s core characteristics and inadvertently (or perhaps deliberately) captured the problem with Fox’s character.
The thing with Kurt is, in his heart of hearts, he wants to be Errol Flynn, he wants to be a swashbuckler, he wants to kick the living daylights out of bad guys with a sword. Actually with three swords, using his tail as well. And he wants to be a romantic lead, and he wants to save the day, and he wants to be friends with everyone.Chris Claremont
While Fox’s X-Men films were certainly quite full of teams of X-Men, they never really felt like teams. Short of some cool scenes where the X-Men teamed up to use their powers together in some neat sequences, the writing often made the X-Men feel like a collection of individuals rather than the close-knit surrogate family they often were in the comics. For lack of a better counter-example, Fox’s X-Men never had the same family feel as James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. No character suffered more from this than Nightcrawler who, as Claremont said, wants to be friends with everyone.
Claremont, of course, is right. Comic book Kurt is a friend and sounding board to so many of his teammates it’s hard to pinpoint just which one he means the most to. Wolverine? Storm? Colossus? Kitty? While there’s no argument that he is Wolverine’s best friend an easy argument could be made that he means just as much to the others it’s only that Wolverine’s otherwise loner status makes his relationship with Kurt seem more important. As Marvel Studios begins to outline what’s sure to be an X-Men universe within a universe, establishing a greater sense of family within the teams of X-Men should be a priority allowing for a truer portrayal of Nightcrawler’s greatest power: his love for his friends.