So, I’m going to start off by saying I am a Nightcrawler addict. Fanatical. Obsessed even. I own every issue of Excalibur, every variant of Amazing X-Men #1, and every Nightcrawler mini-series in their entirety. Busts, toys, shirts and artwork fill my collection, but that wasn’t enough. I’ve made Nightcrawler kites, pumpkins, drawings, and even customized My Little Pony figurines (originally by my wife). I have cosplayed as the fuzzy elf twice, the most exciting of which being San Diego Comic Con 2013. My username on just about every website is BamfingBob, and has been since 2005. I was introduced to the character in 2003 when X2: X-Men United hit theaters and I loved it. That turned me onto the show X-Men: Evolution and the third Nightcrawler title by Darick Robertson (which I have signed and sketched). I was hooked. I really loved Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum’s take on the character and have followed his journey, through all the ups and downs. Most recently, I adored the solo title by Claremont and Todd Nauck. That being said, I cannot describe how disappointed I was when Kurt was not in X-Men: The Last Stand (Note: The only reason the movie didn’t meet audience expectations is the lack of Nightcrawler. Fact.) Then, we get X-Men Origins: Wolverine. No Nightcrawler. Then prequels! Unfortunately, due to continuity, having Nightcrawler in X-Men: First Class isn’t plausible. But you know who is? Mystique and Azazel! YES! Finally, we can get Nightcrawler in the next movie! The set-up is clearly there! So, by this point, I am constantly tweeting @BryanSinger “Hey! Nightcrawler needs to be in Days of Future Past! Original Costume plz k thx byeeee!” I am relentless. But, as we all know, there is no sign of Nightcrawler anywhere in that movie. I’d all but lost hope, but miracle of miracles! Kodi Smit-McPhee is cast as Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse. So I tweet furiously “Do this!” and “Don’t do that” at all the creators, while tweeting Kodi “Research this and that to capture the essence of Nightcrawler!”. It looked as though everything was going okay…
Now, as a personal preference, I love Kurt’s original costume. Cockrum nailed it and because of that, it has seen very few alterations over the years. I’m also a stickler for the details in his design. Note the pupil-less yellow eyes, the shadowed brow, the three-toed feet, and of course the signature tail. I tried to recreate this look for my Cosplay, and aside from my eyes and lumpy physique, I think I nailed it. (The shadowed brow looked weird at my skill level, so I scrapped it in lieu of all blue). Also, many casual fans don’t know that his skin isn’t necessarily blue; rather, his skin is covered entirely by indigo fur, hence the nickname “fuzzy elf” by Wolverine. This will come into play later on.
One of the first promotional photos to be released as X-Men: Apocalypse enters production is of Nightcrawler, and I flipped my lid! Being me, I analyzed it very carefully. The hands, tail, and ears are the same as those of his predecessor Alan Cumming (who did an excellent job in X2), but this is clearly a younger iteration of the character. He has a grunge, moody haircut which I can totally dig and has been done in other media for the character. most notably in X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men. His outfit is pretty basic, but what is this? Red and black in the shirt and jacket?! It looks like they are going to at least try at a classic costume! How exciting! So few characters get comic book costumes that even an effort to address it is appreciate it. (Remember the outrage over Quicksilver? I do…) The one really upsetting part about the character in X2 was the body scarring/tattoos. They added depth to the character and were a stylized choice to create a textured character, but my Nightcrawler would never resort to body scarification to make a point tally of how many times he’s sinned. Religious Kurt is okay by me, but this is almost cultish. Upon observing the photo, I notice slight skin variations, but nothing too severe. Good, I thought, since he’s younger, we can nip this whole thing in the bud and stop the tattooing before it gets out of hand. Or, even better, not have it at all! But, soon, we start getting more photos and stills. Upon close inspection, I discover the face scarring is exactly identical to the original character from X2! Are we supposed to believe that all of the sins he committed up until this point are the majority of his recordable sins through his thirties when X2 takes place? Or did he just start on his face for this weird ritual? I am not a happy camper. However, I do realize that the filmmakers want to keep true to a *future* continuity (which is sort of negated by the events of Days of Future Past). I don’t like the tail or hand design, but these things you can’t change, so I don’t press the matter. Same with the fuzzy fur: wasn’t addressed in X2, won’t be addressed here. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to live with it. Another detail about younger Nightcrawler is the blue streaking in his hair. This is very common in the comics, but if the makeup team cared so much about physical continuity, then they should have kept the hair all black like Cumming’s Nightcrawler. In the new film, Kurt looks like he got his hair done at a salon or got fake extensions. I feel as though the creative team had a real opportunity to fix the mistakes they make on the first iteration of Nightcrawler, since… you know… they’re doing a younger version. Unfortunately, scarring is what defines the movie Nightcrawler. And this is a shame because there are so many unique aspects to his physiology.
There is some good news though. In interviews, Kodi Smit-McPhee is stated that he has done research on the character and wants to portray a more fun-loving, upbeat character. This is good to know, considering X2 made Nightcrawler a religious nutjob with no real interest outside of his faith. I want to see a happy Kurt, a flirty Kurt, even a prankster Kurt… so I’m hoping Kodi is true to his word and delivers. He has also said that they do, in fact, address his family ties, which I look forward to seeing. Also, recent photos have shown Mystique and Nightcrawler wearing costumes that are somewhat reminiscent of their comic counterparts, and all I can say is THANK YA JESUS! It’s not a spitting image, but any means, but look at it! Red V-shape down the chest to the belt and defined shoulder pads? Bravo to the costume designers for using the comic template and making it their own! I guess all that tweeting really did make a difference. At least, I’d like to think they did… Also, in some background shots, we see Nightcrawler in a red leather jacket which I whole heartedly approve of. This again adds to the original costume fixation I have. Honestly, I’m just glad he wears multiple outfits in this movie, rather than the awful gypsy circus outfit Nightcrawler wears throughout X2. I don’t know what they were thinking on that one, but yuck… Anyway, there are definite scenes where all the X-Men are wearing matching black suits, and that is totally acceptable and adds to a unity of the group.
To wrap things up, I want to point out that as much as I’ve complained and nitpicked what little of the character we’ve seen, I am seriously thrilled to have Nightcrawler back on the big screen. We’ve seen a short action scene with Nightcrawler from the trailers and it looks badass. We know he has a fairly prominent role alongside Cyclops and Jean Grey, which bodes well for future installments in the X-Men franchise. And ultimately, his appearance in the film could increase demand across other forms of media, especially comics. He’s currently a secondary character on Extraordinary X-Men and I’d like to see him in a more active role on this or another title. Only 7 weeks left until we see him BAMF back into theaters and I can promise I will be at the first showing there is. And probably the next one as well.