Marvel Crisis Protocol Lore: Nightcrawler

BAMF-ing onto the Marvel Crisis Protocol scene courtesy of the folks over at Atomic Mass Games is fan-favorite X-Man Nightcrawler. But who is this character? Like every Who Is? article, we will be diving into the (generally-accepted) backstory of the character, their history in the Marvel Comics and Cinematic universes, some of my favorite comic runs featuring the character (as well as which one appears to have inspired the model), and wrapping up with how closely their MCP implementation thematically matches up with the comics character.


Like many comic characters, the exact details of Nightcrawler’s (alter ego Kurt Wagner) biography depend on the writer steering the book; however, there are some commonly accepted narrative beats to his story. For one, Kurt is a mutant. He has blue skin and a prehensile tail, which are the clearest indicators of his mutation. Wagner’s biological father has shifted over the years, but canonically he is the son of the mutant Mystique (alter ego Raven Darkholme). At a very young age, Kurt was taken to a Bavarian circus and was raised by the performers in that circus. Kurt’s power of self-teleportation did not manifest until he was a teenager, but he was a very popular acrobat in his circus because of his natural agility. After a failed attempt at being sold to a circus in Florida, Kurt discovered that his foster brother Stefan had murdered several young children in the village of Winzeldorf, Germany, and fought him hoping to end the murders. In the struggle, Stefan was killed. The villagers of Winzeldorf, however, believed that Kurt was behind the murders because of how he looked, and subsequently tried to kill him. That was where Charles Xavier found him and recruited him to become a member of the X-Men.  

X-Men: Red (2018) #2 Cover Art by Travis Charest

Publication History/MCU History

Kurt’s first appearance in Marvel comics was in Giant-Sized X-Men #1 in 1975, by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum. There’s a lot to unpack in this one issue. Not only does Nightcrawler debut in this issue, but this is also the debut for X-Men staples Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, and the living island of Krakoa. Writer Len Wein was also the creator of DC’s Swamp Thing, and would go on to serve as an editor for Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Kurt has appeared as a regular character in X-Men titles through the present day, though has not had his own long-running title. In 2023, he assumed the identity of Spider-Man! In film, Nightcrawler has not appeared in the Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe but did appear in several of the Fox films, including X2 (played by Alan Cumming), X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix, and made a cameo in Deadpool 2 (all played by Kodi Smit-McPhee).

Recommended Runs

Giant-Size X-Men #1/Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #4 (Len Wein, Chris Claremont): This is the run that introduced Nightcrawler to the world, established much of his background, and I also believe inspired the AMG model, with his classic red and black costume and similar head and face style. Additionally, this is also when we get the tragic backstory of Kurt before he was found by Charles Xavier.

Ultimate X-Men #7-12 (Mark Millar): I adore this run. It can be cheesy and over-the-top at times, but I love how bombastic and early-00s it is. Mark Millar is one of my favorite comic book writers of all time, too. He and Brian Michael Bendis could write a phonebook and I would probably read it. This particular run begins with Kurt escaping from a facility we later learn is the same Weapon-X facility that housed and built Wolverine in the Ultimate universe. This is a great series that sees the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants joining forces to put down the Weapon-X program and its mutant-hating head, Colonel John Wraith.

X-Men: Second Coming #1-2, Uncanny X-Men #523-525, New Mutants (2009) #12-14, X-Men Legacy #235-237, X-Force #26-28 (Various): The Second Coming event is the culmination of major X-Men events House of M and Messiah Complex and is an incredible crossover with the X-Force comics of the time. This story finds mutant-kind fighting for their future when Cable returns from the future with Hope Summers, who then becomes the target of the evil anti-mutant group The Purifiers, who seek to kill her along with all other mutants. While you’re dipping your toes into this run, I also recommend the X-Force series it crosses over with in general. Start it from the beginning, and stick around for the ride. It gets absolutely bonkers.

Does the Model Miss the Mark?

Short answer: I don’t believe so.

Nightcrawler character art by Patrick Brown, copyright Marvel and Atomic Mass Games

In the comics, Kurt is known for being incredibly mobile (due to his teleportation ability) and striking when his enemy is least expecting it. I think his abilities in MCP do a good job of representing this. His medium move on a small base may not initially be impressive, but looking further down his card at his superpowers, his mobility comes to the front and center. His BAMF! superpower allows him to place from range 1-3 based on the amount of power he spends on it, and for zero power cost, he can place himself within range 2 of his target every time he makes an attack, neither of which uses up one of his two actions. When you combine this with the range of his no-power-cost builder attack which has a range of 3, Nightcrawler can get across the board quicker than his stat card may initially lead you to believe. Additionally, his Brimstone Blitz attack gets more powerful based on how many times you have placed Nightcrawler during your turn, encouraging you to move him around a lot. Is he competitive? I don’t know, but I believe AMG has done a great job of staying true to the comic character when bringing him over to MCP

Have some more suggested reading? Insights on how he plays? Drop them below!

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