Nightcrawler Is A Favorite For X-Men ’97’s Directors, Which You Can Tell If You Pay Attention To Gambit

 Gambit and Nightcrawler in X-Men '97.
Gambit and Nightcrawler in X-Men '97.

Warning: SPOILERS for X-Men ’97’s most recent episodes are ahead!

Introduced in 1975’s Giant-Sized X-Men #1, Nightcrawler continues to be one of the most popular X-Men characters all these years later, and he’s even gotten time to shine on the big screen thanks to Alan Cumming and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s portrayals in the X-Men movies. More recently, though, we reunited with X-Men: The Animated Series’ version of Kurt Wagner in the the revival X-Men ’97, which streams exclusively to Disney+ subscribers on the 2024 TV schedule. While speaking with CinemaBlend, Emi Yonemura and Chase Conley, two of the directors who worked on one of the best Disney+ TV shows, shared that Nightcrawler is a favorite of theirs too, and you can tell that when paying attention to the late Gambit.

Gambit and Nightcrawler in X-Men '97
Gambit and Nightcrawler in X-Men '97

X-Men ’97’s fifth episode, titled “Remember It,” wasn’t just notable for Gambit sacrificing his life to blow up a Wild Sentinel and Magneto seemingly being blasted away moments earlier while trying to protect some of the Morlocks. Prior to all the devastation that unfolded on Genosha, a number of classic X-Men characters were brought back into the fold, including Nightcrawler, who’s being vocally reprised by Adrian Hough. When I asked Emi Yonemura, who helmed the episode, which of these characters she was most excited to feature, she answered:

I mean, Nightcrawler. There was something very important that we were trying to establish that if Gambit is welcoming to his friend, that the audience… not to say Nightcrawler wouldn’t be a fan-favorite because he obviously is, but that if even Gambit is welcoming of this character, it gets you excited for, ‘What does that mean for the future? What does that mean for the future team roster? What’s going on here?’

Nightcrawler was revealed to have joined the Council of Genosha to help work with the nation’s various communities of faith. He gave Rogue and Gambit a tour of the main city while Magneto spoke with the other council members, and both of them were happy to see the teleporting furball again following their encounter with him in X-Men: The Animated Series. As Emi Yonemura sees it, if Gambit, who was usually the more skeptical and untrusting type, can accept him, then that should be a clear indicator that we should not just welcome with open arms (assuming you weren’t a fan of his already), but also think about how he might have a bright future ahead of him.

Sure enough, Yonemura’s comment to me ended up foreshadowing what was to come in X-Men ’97, because in the most recent episode, “Lifedeath - Part 2,” Nightcrawler was now in the opening credits featuring the revamped theme song composed by The Newton Brothers. Because that episode was focused on Professor X with Lilandra in the Shi’ar Empire, as well as resuming the Storm subplot that ended with a great twist, we haven’t seen Kurt as an official X-Men member yet in this continuity, nor do we know yet specifically how he joined the team. Hopefully this week’s coming episode, titled “Bright Eyes, will shed light on that.

Chase Conley, who directed X-Men ’97’s second, fourth and fifth episode, also gave his reasons for liking Nightcrawler, saying:

I’d also say Nightcrawler because Nightcrawler’s cool. I’ve always loved Nightcrawler. He’s a great addition in Giant-Sized X-Men [#1]. It’s just cool. Like Rogue, the tragedy of what it is to be a mutant. ‘Oh, I just long for touch, but I can’t physically touch anybody.’ You know what I mean? I think that there’s tragedy in that, and Kurt essentially looks like a demon. He looks scary, but he’s the nicest person ever. He’s a very devout character that is kind and cares for everyone. It’s the opposite of what he looks like, at least to the way we perceive. So his addition to the team, and being able to explore the swashbuckling, I love that. You can do whatever you want with him in terms of choreography. Really, as far as how you want to treat him is limitless. So I would say Kurt.

Although there are only four episodes left to go in X-Men ’97 Season 1, two more seasons are in development. So depending on what happens in the coming weeks, perhaps we can count on Nightcrawler remaining a permanent team member rather than this just being a temporary arrangement. He was previously featured prominently in X-Men Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men, so it’d be nice for this version of the mutant to stick around for a while.

New episodes of X-Men ’97 premiere Wednesdays on Disney+, and if you’d like to look further ahead into the future, then consult our guide of upcoming Marvel TV shows.