Marvel Comics has finally made good on an idea that’s over 40 years old. In the recent X-Men Blue: Origins one shot, the true origin story of longtime X-Man Nightcrawler was revealed. And it’s what Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont intended decades ago, but Marvel Comics forbade him to do so. In X-Men Blue: Origins, writer Si Spurrier revealed Raven Darkholme, the shapeshifting mutant called Mystique, had morphed into a man and become Nightcrawler’s father. Her longtime lover Irene Adler, better known as the precognitive mutant Destiny, was the mother. This was always the plan. It just took four decades to get there.
Marvel Teased the Nightcrawler/Mystique Connection Since 1981
From his very first appearance in 1975’s Giant Size X-Men #1, there’s been an air of mystery surrounding the origins of Kurt Wagner, a.k.a. Nightcrawler. When the blue-skinned Nightcrawler first met the mutant villain Mystique in 1981’s Uncanny X-Men #142, he immediately noticed the similarities between the two of them. From that first meeting, Mystique teased Kurt with the knowledge that there was a deeper connection between them. Yet, Marvel kept that connection a mystery for decades.
Chris Claremont toyed with the idea of making the Doctor Strange villain Nightmare into Kurt’s dad. But he preferred his second option for Nightcrawler’s origin. His idea was that Mystique had shapeshifted into a man, and impregnated her longtime lover Destiny, making her Kurt’s mother. Although in the ’80s he was not allowed to explicitly say Mystique and Destiny were romantic partners, it was all but obvious to anyone who could read between the lines. Marvel editorial feared the still active Comics Code Authority censors would never allow it, so they scrapped the plan. Not wanting to replace the story he had in mind, Chris Claremont never touched the question of the Nightcrawler/Mystique connection again for the rest of his run on the title.
Mystique Revealed She Was Nightcrawler’s Mother in the ’90s
After Chris Claremont left the X-Men world in 1991, writer Scott Lobdell took over. In 1994’s X-Men Unlimited #4, by Scott Lobdell and Richard Bennett, Marvel finally had Mystique explain to Kurt that she was his mother. She told him the story of his birth. Mystique told Kurt she was once married to a German aristocrat, Baron Christian Wagner. He had no clue about her mutant powers, or that she married him for wealth and safety, not love. When she became pregnant, she gave birth to a blue infant with pointed ears and a tail.
This freaked out her husband, who accused her of having an affair. He could not have possibly imagined fathering a demonic baby. Later, the local townspeople found out Mystique was a mutant and chased her and her infant son out of the village with pitchforks, Frankenstein-style. Telling Kurt she was too weak to fight and run, she chose herself over her newborn child, coldly throwing the infant down a raging waterfall. She imitated a villager and escaped, and the child activated his teleporting powers for the first time and survived, eventually getting adopted.
Marvel Introduced Nightcrawler’s Demonic “Father” in the 2000s
Later, in the 2000s, writer Chuck Austen revealed Nightcrawler’s father was not the German Baron, but the demon Azazel, a being Mystique had an affair with. Azazel looked just like Nightcrawler, except he was red instead of blue. Nightcrawler had always been called a “demon,” thanks to his pointed ears and tail. Now we learned at least one parent of his was indeed just that. Later, Azazel’s demonic nature would come into question. Some writers have suggested he was a mutant posing as a demon lord. Up until recently, that’s been Nightcrawler’s in-canon origin story.
Nightcrawler’s True Origins Revealed at Last
But with the Comics Code Authority no longer being an issue, in X-Men Blue: Origins #1, writer Si Spurrier, artists Wilton Santos, Oren Junior, Marcus To, and Ceci De La Cruz actually made Claremont’s intended origin story for Kurt canon. They took into account all the reveals and changes over the years. Mystique tells Kurt she used her shapeshifting powers not to just change appearance, but also her sex, allowing her to impregnate Destiny. It was Destiny, posing as the German Baron’s maid, who gave birth to Nightcrawler nine months later. During Destiny’s pregnancy, Mystique used her shapeshifting abilities to fake her own pregnancy. This explains all the previous flashbacks of Mystique pregnant with Kurt.
So why does Azazel look so much like Kurt if he’s not the father? Well, it turns out Mystique can absorb some of the genetic code of those she touches when mimicking them. She used Azazel’s genetic code as the basis for her male form when impregnating Destiny—not only Azazel’s, but also some of Baron Christian Wagner’s as well. So why assume the form of Azazel at all when attempting to have a child with Destiny? Because the precognitive mutant had a vision of Azazel conquering the world. A vision showing that only his son could stop him (or someone he believed to be his son). So they concocted this elaborate ruse. But soon after, Destiny left Mystique, leaving her heartbroken.
Mystique and Destiny Are Officially Nightcrawler’s Parents
When they eventually reunited, Destiny asked Professor Charles Xavier to psychically remove the memories of giving birth to Kurt. This was so she and Mystique could move on and properly raise their adopted daughter Rogue. Meanwhile, Mystique refused to allow Xavier to remove the knowledge that she was Kurt’s parent. She said she did not want to forget the boy was her own. However, Xavier warned Mystique that tampering with her memories could alter her own perception of the past and it could lead to false memories—ones that were uglier than the truth. One of those false memories involved Mystique throwing her child over the waterfall, something she never truly did. In reality, she was heartbroken over the loss of her son. Xavier then deleted the memories of both women from his own mind as well, saying this was all a “private matter.”
With recent events in the X-Men line of comics removing Charles Xavier’s psychic tampering with Mystique’s mind, it revealed the truth to her. This knowledge caused a mental breakdown, but she eventually bonded with her son Kurt, whom she now acknowledges she never tried to kill to protect herself. Will these two characters finally form a parental bond that has always eluded them? And what will happen when Destiny inevitably comes back to life? The X-Men is an endless soap opera, and we can’t wait to see what happens to the Wagner/Darkholme family in the years ahead.