Well, it's finally official: We have a new Nightcrawler for 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse! Introducing: Kodi Smit-McPhee! You may recognize him from 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes where he played the human protagonist's son.
Fans have been dying to see Nightcrawler ever since 2003's X2; he was arguably the best part of the movie after the incredible opening scene where the brainwashed mutant attempts to assassinate the President on behalf of mutant freedom.
Re-live that amazing scene here:
Awkwardly, Nightcrawler never appeared in X3 because they were worried there was too much blue on screen between Mystique and the newly added Beast. Unfortunately, Beast's character didn't add much to the story, and X3 was mostly despised by fans. But now, due to last year's Days of Future Past's "reboot" effectively erasing the entire X-Men timeline, fans have been speculating about what has become of Nightcrawler, and if we'll see him show up. Finally we have our answer, now the next question:
HOW will he appear in Apocalypse, and what will he bring to the world of our mutants?
Nightcrawler Is Actually Mystique's Abandoned Son
In the comics, Nightcrawler was abandoned and never adopted, but because of his blue skin and tail he was raised by a circus where he became a trained acrobat and one of their most popular attractions. He never knew anything about his parentage until adulthood, well after he had joined the X-Men.
During one of his confrontations with Mystique she reveals that she is his mother and that she had believed him to have died as a baby, she had been running from a mob trying to protect him, and hid him in a well. He was gone when she returned. Nighcrawler's father in the comics is the red skinned Azazel we saw in First Class, and since he left with Mystique and Magneto at the end of the film, and later was killed by Trask sometime before Days of Future Past we can assume that Nightcrawler will be in his early to late teens by the time he shows up for Apocalypse (which lines up pretty well with our rather young looking Smit-McPhee, who's actually 18.) Even though we've never seen Mystique pregnant on screen, it would be easily explained because of the 21 years we've had between First Class and Apocalypse. This was even teased In DOFP when Mystique was flipping through Trask's files and she has an especially emotional face and begins crying when she finds a picture of Azazel's dead body. I've always thought this was a very small easter egg to show us the future of the Nightcrawler character, this is one of the few times we saw an emotional Mystique, and very rightly so now believing her former lover Azazel to be dead, just like she presumed their son to be.
Lawrence plays an amazing side of Mystique and together they've become an integral part of the X-Men stories, I'm very excited to see the continued growth and depth to her character as we explore the Nightcrawler relationship. Perhaps he doesn't find out about his parentage just yet; but when he knows, we could have some very touching scenes as he expresses anger about being abandoned, and growing up alone on the run, being labelled a freak. She'd have to listen and silently defend herself but at the same time be hating herself even more for the mistakes she's made.
Nightcrawler as a Horseman of Apocalypse
Even though Nightcrawler has never been a Horsemen of Apocalypse in the comics it would be an exceptional way to introduce the character. Instead of being recruited and rescued from the Circus by Xavier he could be rescued by Apocalypse as he promises friendship among his own kind. Nightcrawler would then be brainwashed and changed into an evil messenger for our villain, and as Mystique recognizes that he's her not-so-dead son she would go to Xavier for help, explaining to him the entire situation. In the end he is freed and stays with the X-Men, and is part of the core cast of kids along with Scott, Jean, and Storm for future X-Men films.
Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
Again, I know Nightcrawler was never a member of the Brotherhood in the comics or the cartoon, but anything is possible in the movies! At the end of DOFP Magneto goes on live television talking about mutants needing to come together to create a brotherhood. The scene cuts to some of the mutants like Toad, Havok and Quicksilver (who is confirmed to be coming back for Apocalypse, most likely as a member of this brotherhood). If Magneto and his buddies are out there recruiting it would seem to be easy to get the circus freak who's hated and harassed by his peers to leave the circus and come with them. Who else is Magneto going to recruit? We've seen so many of the prominent Brotherhood members over the course of several movies and we can't bring most of them back. Multiple Man will be a young kid in the '80s, and most likely without his mutant powers yet so we can't use him. We've seen Sabretooth twice already and both times was an underwhelming character. Mystique has betrayed Magneto and I can't see her regress backwards to working with him again after how they left things. I'm really hoping that Havok joins up so we have him vs. Cyclops, brother vs. brother, when the teams clash. So that gives us a potential team of Magneto, Havok, Quicksilver, Toad and Nightcrawler, and maybe another minor character or two.
In this scenario I would still see Nightcrawler's Catholic background being prominent and his conscience disagreeing with Magneto's ways so he still ends up with Xavier by the end of the story as one of our core X-Men.
I'm extremely excited about the addition of Nightcrawler to the story. I'm already pretty freaking excited for this film, and with only 464 days until opening night it'll be very exciting to see what else starts to come out in the next months as production starts. Hopefully we'll get confirmation on Angel appearing as the Horsemen Death, and could Sinister be cast along side evil Apocalypse? Or Scarlet Witch appearing along side her brother Quicksilver? Possibly time traveling Cable? Only time will tell!