When the X-Men will finally appear in the MCU, odds are Nightcrawler joins them. The iconic mutant superhero debuted in Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975 with an instant classic costume by artist Dave Cockrum. Though it remains iconic, Nightcrawler wore other costumes in Marvel Comics that could inspire his MCU attire.
Nightcrawler’s best costumes mostly echo the original in terms of colors, but some great and unexpected looks appeared over the years. These costumes took inspiration from various sources, including the Fox X-Men movies in the early 2000s, and may in turn give back to his eventual MCU costume.
Nightcrawler gets perhaps his best comic book showcase in years in Immortal X-Men #7, part of the ongoing A.X.E. Judgment Day crossover event. His distinctive costume consists of a coat that lends him a greater sense of stature, befitting his wisdom and experience, qualities that led to his seat on The White Council.
The coat goes over a traditional jumpsuit that is all back save for his cuffs, which retain their original iconic design. The coat also features a high collar that lends itself perfectly to his more flamboyant costumes in the past and his jubilant personality.
The Cross Time Caper
Nightcrawler’s costume in Excalibur #6 also features a high collar, though it serves a different function. This Nightcrawler’s more militaristic and ceremonial uniform gives him a regal quality that befits him in some ways, despite the fact it hails from an alternate universe in which Nazi Germany won World War II.
This dystopian Nightcrawler appeared during The Cross Time Caper, among the best Excalibur comics ever, and a potential goldmine for the MCU. Numerous Nightcrawler variants appeared in the storyline.
Nightcrawler’s fighting skills make him an acrobatic daredevil, inspired somewhat by his idol, Errol Flynn. His best costumes reflect a pirate sensibility and none other than the one he wore in Nightcrawler #1, his first solo comic book. This look worked entirely thanks to its simplicity.
Nightcrawler adds a simple red headband and sash around his waist to transform his already excellent costume into an even better one. This look inspired some variants in later comic books.
Nightcrawler ranks as a powerful X-Men team member in the comics in whatever universe he’s in. His costume in the Ultimate Comics Universe took the classic design but changed up the colors. Instead of red and black, it became gold and black, adding a striking and distinctive dimension to the character.
Variations on the costume exist throughout his appearances in Earth-1610, including ones with pouches and other practical elements that brought his classic look more into the modern day.
Comic book fans know X-Force takes the core X-Men concept to a darker place. That holds true for Nightcrawler, who switched out his classic look for a more subdued one during his time on the team. The costume succeeds though in harnessing the inherent mystery and potential darkness that exists within the character.
The costume ditches red for gray as its dominant color and adds a lightning bolt icon over his left eye. That’s due to this version being the one from Age of Apocalypse. He joined X-Force when the team traveled from Earth-616 to this dark timeline.
Black And Gold
The Fox X-Men movies from the 2000s profoundly affected superhero movies. They impacted the comics, too, with the X-Men adopting the black leather aesthetic. Nightcrawler’s outfit from this era ranks among his best costumes for taking the movie look and merging with classic comic elements.
Kurt’s costume maintains his iconic cuff design around the wrist and shins while also completely embracing the uniform look that all X-Men adopted during this period in Marvel Comics.
Nightcrawler’s costume from X-Men: Manifest Destiny in 2009 combined the classic and movie looks to create something unique. The black and gold elements survived and the dominant red motif returned, fusing to make for a standout costume signifying a transitional period for the team.
The costume also streamlined the core concept, abandoning the signature shoulder flares that under the pen of some artists like Sam Kieth grew to incredible lengths.
Age Of Apocalypse
Despite the excess common in the 1990ss, the Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler proved judicious in its aesthetic choices. The costume takes the classic red and black acrobatic look and adds pointed armor around the forearms and lower legs, befitting the harsher environment this storyline takes place in.
This helped make the costume stand out in the myriad redesigns for the storyline, which takes place in arguably the darkest Marvel Comics timeline. Given MCU costumes generally favor practicality, some armor elements may appear in Nightcrawler’s live-action costume, possibly even from this design.
Nightcrawler wore his classic X-Men costume for most of the early Excalibur run in the late 1980s. His costume changed dramatically in the 1990s, thanks in part to changing artistic sensibilities. He debuted a new look in Excalibur #96 which took the pirate motif to its limit but still connected to the past enough to create something fresh.
This look continues the classic color scheme but adds a red cloak over his black uniform. An X-symbol pins the cloak to his uniform and echoes the belt he now wears. He also gets a goatee in this look, echoing once again Errol Flynn from the Robin Hood movies.
The Classic Costume
Nothing beats the original. Dave Cockrum’s initial design established the red chevron going through the black costume from essentially the beginning. Combined with Nightcrawler’s unique elven look, it made for an instant classic that leaped off the page in Giant-Size X-Men #1.
The best Nightcrawler costume from the comics inspired others that followed, including his appearances in X-Men: The Animated Series and other cartoons. While the Fox X-Men movies avoided it as they did virtually all classic comic looks, the MCU likely embraces it, given their fidelity to comic book costumes in recent movies and shows.
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