Nightcrawler In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

Consider this as a forewarning. You are about to read what will probably be later described as a rant most venomous.

As mentioned in the previous post, I was really looking forward to seeing more of Nightcrawler in the new X-Men cartoon. But when X-Men: Evolution finally came on the air, I quickly realised that this wasnít the Nightcrawler I had grown fond of Ė this was a completely new take on it, one which I would grow to loathe.

The opening episode for X-Men: Evolution sees Kurt arrive at Xavierís Institute obviously weary of meeting new people because of his appearance. They did a good job with this at first Ė he is completely covered and we only realise he isnít normal when he accepts Scottís handshake and we see 3 extended fingers instead of 5 chubby digits, which naturally alarms Scott. Good enough start, but then, once he removes the hood, everything changes in a complete 180 Ė Nightcrawler is leaping about like he owns the place. He turns from compelling misfit into the heart of the party in about 30 seconds. It doesnít work Ė it simply had me shaking my head in astonishment. He is then given an image inducer to get rid of his pesky appearance.

Before we get to in the stuff I donít like Nightcrawler (we could be here a while and I have to decide which retrospective I want to do next) letís start with the stuff I do. His design showcases the character well Ė the hunch position, the huge, irregular feet and finger and his lack of pupils do a very good job at making him look like a complete outcast in a world which would inevitably be filled with shape changers, ancient Egyptian Gods and Holocaust Survivor who believes shiny metal helmetís are a perfectly normal fashion accessory. I suddenly found myself out of things to say in this paragraph, so letís get to the bad.

Weíll start with the worst Ė the casting. Iíve no idea why they decided to go with someone one sounds castrated but his voice was quick to get on my nerves. Coupled with the characters utterly lame sense of humour and we quickly had a character whoís very presence became very, very irritating. The network apparently liked Kurt a lot, which shows Ė he got a lot more screen time and storylines than most of the other characters. Then again, it may have been a popularity thing Ė very few, if anyone else Iíve spoken to regarding the show finds Nightcrawler as annoying as I do. Perhaps Iím the wrong person to be writing this retrospective?

His next spotlight is probably the worst episode in the show Ė itís filled with dumb ass moments and an inexplicable character in Forge, who doesnít appear to be fazed that heís spent the last 20 years rotting in isolation, or the fact that the first person heís spoke to in two decades is a furry blue bloody elf. Despite Foreman, Hyde and Kelsoís efforts to prove otherwise, it mustíve been dull to live in the 70ís, nothing surprised those guys! One of the showís bigger storylines kicks off in Shadowed Past, as Kurt learns Mystique is actually his Mother. Itís an intriguing premises and a shade better than most of the mediocre offerings from the first season. Regrettably, it ends in yet another tedious, predictable skirmish between the X-Men and The Brotherhood.

Season two offered many improvements, but Kurt wasnít really among them. Thereís a lot of fun to be had in Bada Bing, Bada Boom but we all know itís Boom Boom that was the star of that show. Surprisingly, Kurt gets a small romantic relationship going towards the end of the season as a girl in his class discovers that he is a mutant and wants to spend more time getting to know the real him. It was interesting if not slightly unbelievable Ė she only seems to like him because heís a freak. Nothing else is really shown. We do get a return to Middleverse (the dimension which Kurt travels through when he teleports) but thereís nothing remarkable. Kurtís best moments came when the show was at itís best Ė when the mutants are revealed to the public and Xavierís Institute is revealed to be a haven for all the weirdoís with powers.

But Kurt looks normal, doesnít he?

Iíve already explained that X-Men: Evolution went from being a pretty good to utterly outstanding show over the course of the final season two episodes right through until itís unfortunate demise at episode 52 and Kurt managed to scrape a few interesting storylines from this, mainly because while the others were all being treated like freaks and outcasts, no one was aware that the fuzzy blue one was actually Kurt. Clearly not wanting to give up his life of normalcy to stick up for his friends, Kurt hide and shied away from the subject. One canít really blame the lad Ė if you were blue and furry, would you want everyone to know? I probably wouldíve sympathised more if he didnít irritate the hell out of me.

His appearance does make the butt of many great jokes in The Toad, The Witch and The Wardrobe as Toad believes that he might have the slightest chance with Wanda if he looked completely different and deduces that the only way to achieve this is to steal Kurtís image inducer. I do admit, I had to cringe at Kurtís efforts to sound tough and angry Ė the voice actor, Brad Swaile simply doesnít have it in him. Heís simply got a girlish voice and itís too difficult to take angry Kurt seriously.

The season three final saw Mystique turned into stone and while Rogue is glad to be rid of her and canít stand the thought of her in the house, Kurt feels badly for her Ė she is their Mother after all. Kurt does his all to try and reawaken her but his efforts prove futile. He eventually leads her to a cliff outside the Xavier Institute and tries to get Agatha Harkness to revive her but she proves unsuccessful as Rogue pushes the statue off a cliff! It was a jaw dropper all right, but again, Swaile canít be taken too seriously. Even in super slow motion he sounds castrated. Being that this is a childrenís cartoon and deaths are a no-no, she was eventually brought back in the showís finale as one of Apocalypseís Horseman. He gets a nice book ending here too Ė he ignores his Motherís love and retreats back to his new family at the institute. He gets a pretty cool if undrastic redesign for the future X-Men, but of course, we never got to see where they intended to go with that. So that was X-Men: Evolutionís Nightcrawler. Beloved by many but unfortunately, often the bane of the show to me. Iíve watched through the show a few times now, and I tend to find it more enjoyable each time, but Nightcrawler has always irritated me and probably always will Iím sorry to say. Letís hope things donít go this way again when he turns up in Wolverine And The X-Men...