Powers and abilities
Kurt Wagner is a mutant whose primary mutant power is the ability to teleport himself, his clothing, and a certain amount of additional mass from one point to another virtually instantaneously. He does this by means of displacing himself through an alternate dimension briefly and reappearing in a desired, pre-selected location. He has been shown to be able to teleport distances of up to two miles (3 km) under optimal conditions, although this is usually his extreme limit, and he can become severely fatigued if he tries to teleport that distance. He has exceeded this limit on multiple occasions. In one case, he teleports somewhere over 50 miles (80 km). Via coordinates received telepathically from Professor Xavier, Nightcrawler has teleported an unknown (but presumably large) distance. In a final, dying effort to rescue the mutant messiah Hope, he manages to teleport them both from Las Vegas, Nevada to the mutant safehold Utopia, just off the coast of San Francisco, a distance of approximately 413 miles (665 km). Nightcrawler’s teleportation ability is also affected by direction — north-south along Earth’s “magnetic lines of force” is easier than east-west against them.
He possesses a limited unconscious extrasensory “spatial awareness” ability which prevents him from teleporting into solid objects within his immediate vicinity, but this ability diminishes the greater the distance he teleports. Because teleporting into other solid matter would cause severe injury or death, he will only teleport to an area he is familiar with or that he can clearly see at the time or has seen in the past. His power automatically displaces liquids[volume & issue needed] and gases when he arrives.
The process of teleportation places a strain on his endurance and that of any passengers; carrying mass other than his body and clothing when teleporting adds additional strain through his body. Through practice he has been able to teleport with a passenger over a lengthy distance without exhausting himself. Extensive training has raised his tolerance for teleportation, but most of his passengers lack this tolerance. Therefore, one of his tactics is to grab opponents and make several quick teleportations with them. They usually become weakened or even pass out from the strain.
After Nightcrawler teleports, he leaves behind smoke and a faint scent of burning brimstone; this is a small portion of the atmosphere of the dimension he travels through when he teleports. His teleportation power is due to a biophysical/biochemical reaction he consciously triggers within himself. A loud “bamf” noise is always present whenever he teleports (being the sound of air rushing to fill the space he was just occupying). His teleporting also causes a slight change in the atmosphere before he arrives, although only superhumans with heightened senses such as Daredevil can detect it.
In addition to his primary power of teleportation, Nightcrawler’s physiology is unique in several different ways. His agility far surpasses that of an Olympic-level gymnast, and his bone structure allows him great flexibility. His spine is more flexible than an ordinary human, enabling him to remain in a crouched position for a long time and perform contortionist-type feats without causing any damage to his spine. Nightcrawler’s balance and bodily coordination are all enhanced to superhuman levels. He has the ability to cling to surfaces through microscopic suction cups located on the pads of his hands and feet. He also possesses superhuman dexterity, being able to manipulate items and fence with either hand, both feet, and his tail.
He has the ability to blend into shadows, both as a result of his indigo fur, and the dimensional portal which always surrounds his body and absorbs photons. At one point shortly after his initial introduction, it was suggested that he could actually travel through shadows (in much the same way Psylocke did after exposure to the Crimson Dawn) and this was shown in Bizarre Adventures, but never really touched upon after that. In the story, Vanisher removes some of the Darkforce that formed his costume and threw it at Kurt, who disappeared. He then reappeared from within the Darkforce on the ground, saying that it was like “a pool of shadow” and that he “fell right through it”.
Nightcrawler has a prehensile tail, allowing him to grab onto objects with relative ease. His tail is strong enough to not only support his body weight, but also lift an adult man completely off the ground at the same time, and is deft enough to fight with while holding a sword or blunt object. Nightcrawler’s eyes (which are constantly glowing) grant him a marked degree of heightened night vision.
Aside from the abilities granted by his mutation, Nightcrawler is a superb fencer and a very skilled hand-to-hand combatant, to the point of being able to stalemate super-beings as powerful as Captain Britain. He has also served as the team’s pilot and medic when more qualified X-Men were not around to do so. He and Wolverine were also the mechanics of the X-Men’s Blackbird jet for a long time. He is also recognized by other Marvel characters as the leading authority on teleportation, with Spider-Man and Daredevil contacting him for information and advice following their first encounter with Francis Klum. Nightcrawler deduced from analysis of photographs of a crime scene that a man had been killed by someone else teleporting inside the victim, despite having never witnessed such a thing before.
For a long period, Kurt’s body housed the Soulsword. Magik states that Kurt is attuned to magic and thus able to wield her Soulsword and Pixie’s Souldagger.
As an aftereffect of his death and resurrection, Nightcrawler has developed a heightened resistance against psychic domination which helped him resist the Shadow King’s telepathic powers, even after the latter had possessed such strong minds as Rachel Grey and Psylocke moments before.
Fictional character biography
Kurt Wagner was born with certain unusual physical characteristics, but his power of self-teleportation did not emerge until puberty. Margali Szardos, a sorceress and Gypsy queen, allegedly found Kurt an hour after his birth, in a small roadside shelter in the Black Forest with his father lying dead on the road outside. However, this claim was later called into question, and it was subsequently proven that Kurt’s mother is Mystique, also known as Raven Darkholme, and his father is the demonic warlord Azazel. Mystique revealed that she threw him into a well after a large mob found out about Nightcrawler’s existence, and Azazel admitted that he secretly saved his son from the fall, giving him to his lover and crony, Margali Szardos, to raise him. Margali took the baby to the small Bavarian circus where she worked as a fortuneteller, as a cover for her activities as a sorceress. Wagner was never legally adopted by anyone, but was raised by all the members of the circus, who had no prejudices against mutants. Margali acted as Kurt’s unofficial foster mother.
Kurt grew up happily in the circus, and his two closest friends were Margali’s natural children, Stefan and Jimaine. Long before his teleportation power emerged, Wagner had tremendous natural agility, and by his adolescence he had become the circus’ star acrobat and aerial artist. Circus audiences assumed that he was a normal-looking human wearing a devil-like costume.
Years later, the Texas millionaire Arnos Jardine, who ran a large circus based in Florida, heard of the circus for which Wagner worked and bought it. Jardine intended to move its best acts into his American circus; however, he demanded that Wagner be placed in the circus’ freak show. Jardine drugged him to prevent escape but a young mutant child with the ability to sense other mutants helped Kurt escape. Appalled, Wagner left and made his way toward Winzeldorf, Germany, where his foster brother Stefan was. He discovered that Stefan had gone mad and brutally slew several children. When they were younger, Stefan made Kurt promise to kill him if he ever took an innocent life. Two nights after leaving the circus, Wagner found Stefan and fought him, hoping to stop his rampage. In the course of the struggle, Stefan was killed.
The villagers of Winzeldorf, who assumed from Kurt’s appearance that he was the one who killed the children, attacked. They were about to kill him when they were all psychically paralyzed by Professor Charles Xavier, who came to recruit Wagner into the X-Men. Before they left for America, he and Xavier went to the Bavarian circus to explain to Margali about Stefan’s death, but Margali was not there. Known as Nightcrawler, Wagner becomes a member of the X-Men. Jimaine held Wagner responsible for murdering Stefan, and created a facsimile of the hell from Dante’s Inferno in which to punish him years later. Through the use of Doctor Strange’s all-seeing Eye of Agamotto, she learned the truth, and she and Wagner were reconciled. Wagner was happily reunited with his foster sister Jimaine, who had moved to the United States and changed her name to Amanda Sefton, later becoming Kurt’s girlfriend.
Some time later, Nightcrawler fought Shagreen the Sorcerer, and became lost in various dimensions, including the manifestation of a fairy tale his teammate Kitty Pryde had once told to Illyana Rasputin. It was there that Nightcrawler first encountered the Bamfs, strange creatures that resembled miniature versions of himself and who would occasionally appear during some of his future adventures.
Shortly after this, and once he had rejoined his teammates, a tactic designed to disable the super-Sentinel Nimrod backfired and Kurt found himself at the mercies of an angry mob without his teleportation ability. He was rescued by Shadowcat, Colossus, and Magik but feared he had lost his ability for good. His power returned but left him drained and vulnerable when he used it, again leading to self-doubt about his value to the team. During the Marauders’ assault on the Morlock tunnels, this exhaustion left him vulnerable to an attack from Riptide which put him in a coma.