Nightcrawler Is The Best X-Man — And Deserves The Spotlight

Summary

  • Nightcrawler is one of the best X-Men and has gotten a long overdue spotlight during the Krakoa Era.
  • The period has highlighted the character’s noble tendencies and traits while also forcing him to confront genuinely tricky moral quandaries and concepts.
  • The Krakoa Era has been one of the best times to be a Nightcrawler fan, and he should remain firmly in the spotlight wherever the X-Men end up next.


The X-Men has always boasted a deep bench of characters, including some of Marvel’s most memorable heroes and villains. Even beyond iconic figures like Wolverine and Storm, the franchise has proven over the years to be an ideal showcase for a wide variety of perspectives and characters. One of the best has always been Nightcrawler, a heroic man of charm and faith despite his demonic appearance. While there was a lull period for the character in the second decade of the 21st century, the modern era of X-Men stories has reinforced this in the best ways possible.

The Krakoa Era has been a terrific showcase for X-Men as a whole, with plenty of fan favorites and relatively obscure figures alike getting their chance in the sun since it began in 2019. Nightcrawler has had some of the most compelling plotlines of this period, showcasing how well Kurt Wagner works across various kinds of X-Men stories regardless of genre or theme. It’s a great reminder that Nightcrawler should be at the forefront of the franchise as a whole going forward — whether it is in the comics universe or other mediums like animation or film.


The Krakoa Era Proved Nightcrawler Is A Top Tier X-Man

Way of X 1 cover featuring Nightcrawler teleporting in with a sword in Marvel Comics

First Joined The X-Men

Comic Creators

Giant-Size X-Men #1

Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Peter Iro, Glynis Wei, and John Costanza

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Nightcrawler has been an iconic member of the mutant team for decades. In that time, he’s had his own solo titles, been a member of multiple different rosters, and helped establish teams like Excalibur. However, following his death in the “Second Coming” crossover during the Decimation Era, Nightcrawler was largely sidelined. He spent years in the afterlife, and his return to the mortal world saw him briefly soulless and ultimately listless. Nightcrawler faded further onto the sidelines during this era and became more of a supporting character than a primary member of the team in his own right. That all changed in the Krakoa Era, which saw Nightcrawler regain a sense of prominence within the franchise.

After being killed fighting Orchis (and subsequently resurrected by the Five) in House of X, he became a member of Krakoa’s ruling Quiet Council. In this capacity, Nightcrawler was a notably moral part of the mutant nation’s government, serving as a deliberate balance to more pragmatic and ruthless characters like Mystique and Exodus. His efforts to develop a new mutant-driven religion played out in titles like Way of X and Legion of X, allowing the X-Men titles to explore weighty themes of faith and purpose in an ever-changing world. Nightcrawler was forced to reckon with the ramifications of mutant resurrection on a spiritual level, all while confronting forces that targeted the soul of the mutant nation.

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This reinforced his noble impulses and codified his moral core, all while allowing the character to confront spiritual challenges that stand out in an era full of compelling explorations of the mutant experience. These stories gave him unexpected bonds with characters like Legion while allowing him to grow as a leader and become embroiled in an unexpected romance with the Arakko mutant Weaponless Zsen — reaffirming his romantic personality. He’s even taken center-stage in universe-wide events, with Nightcrawler playing a pivotal role in the Judgment Day crossover.

After being turned into an unwilling assassin by Orchis, Nightcrawler left Krakoa, setting him up to take on all sorts of new threats and challenges as a masked hero. Fall of X has seen Nightcrawler travel to New York City and assume the role of Spider-Man alongside Peter Parker and Miles Morales, giving him a chance to highlight how well he works in the more traditional superhero genre. But the dangers posed to the world and the mutant community have spurned him to reunite with his allies and take up arms directly against Orchis.

Nightcrawler’s return to form in the Krakoa Era has been an exciting one, reminding denizens of the Marvel Universe and real-world readers alike why Nightcrawler is one of the X-Men’s best characters — and why he should be front and center for the franchise going forward.

Why Nightcrawler Needs To Keep Starring In X-Men

Nightcrawler posing in purple smoke with glowing eyes

Nightcrawler has always been one of the best members of the X-Men from a thematic level. The hero and his innate sense of optimism and joy in the face of prejudice have always perfectly illustrated the X-Men’s driving themes of confronting hate and fear head-on. He’s a joyful, charming, kind man who just happens to look frightening to people who don’t know him.

Nightcrawler’s deeply held Catholic faith was a particularly compelling part of the character, contrasting his demonic appearance with a strong sense of noble conviction. The franchise has always used that element of him to explore morality, especially in comparison to the more pragmatic approach his best friend Wolverine takes in approaching the world. He’s such a morally driven character that he’s capable of literally punching out the devil when he attempts to corrupt him — but this doesn’t descend into the character becoming preachy, joyless, or drab.

Coupled with his natural showmanship and flirty charms, Nightcrawler is easily one of the most likable of the X-Men, on top of being capable in a fight and visually distinctive. The Krakoa Era has been a tremendous chance to spotlight what makes him complex and charming in equal measures. Nightcrawler got to be a romantic lead with a variety of characters from outside his usual orbit, a web-swinging hero during his stint as Spider-Man, and a complex figure at the heart of an examination of morality removed from mortality. The Krakoa Era has highlighted how he works as a leader and figurehead within the X-Men, his skills in the field as a solo hero, and his potential as both a lead and supporting character.

Nightcrawler leaps into action

The X-Men are currently poised for a huge pop culture resurgence. The Krakoa Era has been a definitive era for the team, bringing them back to the forefront of the Marvel Universe. The X-Men are returning to the world of animation with the upcoming X-Men ’97 sequel series on Disney+ and are poised to return to the big screen as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is on top of the upcoming new direction for the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, which has been teased to take a new shape in the aftermath of Fall of House of X/Rise of Powers of X. Nightcrawler should be a major part of this resurgence — and Krakoa proves why. The Krakoa Era has been a great reminder of the character’s potential, highlighting how much the character works on his own and as part of a team.

Nightcrawler can fit easily into a standard straight-forward adventure (as seen in Uncanny Spider-Man) or drive a more morally complex tale of introspection (such as Way of X). He can be a morally driven supporting character in titles like Immortal X-Men, serve as a leader for entire organizations in Legion of X, or work as a solo hero in Uncanny Spider-Man. Notably, he can be all of these things simultaneously, highlighting the character’s versatility.

Nightcrawler is one of the best X-Men characters, a perfect representation of the varying and occasionally contradictory elements of the franchise as a whole. Krakoa has been the best period for the character in over a decade and has pushed him further and further into the spotlight. This trend needs to continue going forward, placing Nightcrawler at the forefront of the franchise where he belongs.

Cyclops, Beast, Angel, and Marvel Girl vs Magneto on the cover of Marvel's X-Men #1

X-Men

Since their debut in 1963, Marvel’s X-Men have been more than just another superhero team. While the team really hit its stride as the All New, All Different X-Men in 1975, Marvel’s heroic mutants have always operated as super-outcasts, protecting a world that hates and fears them for their powers.

Key members of the X-Men include Professor X, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, Iceman, Beast, Rogue, and Storm. Often framed as the world’s second strongest superheroes, after the Avengers, they are nonetheless one of Marvel’s most popular and important franchises.

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