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SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains minor spoilers for X-Men: Apocalypse. If you haven’t seen the film yet, and don’t wish to know any details, please click away to another one of our wonderful articles!
In one of the earliest scenes in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse, we watch Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique as she finds herself on a mission in Germany. It seems that she has discovered the existence of a fight club that pits mutants against mutants while they are contained in an electrified cage. During this bit of espionage, Mystique winds up rescuing a young Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), eventually getting him to Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, but the sequence has left us asking a big question: why did Mystique only rescue Nightcrawler and not Ben Hardy’s Angel?
It’s just speculation, but if the X-Men movies are taking elements from the comics, it may be because Mystique is actually Nightcrawler’s mother.
In the pages of Marvel Comics, Nightcrawler’s parentage wasn’t actually revealed until 19 years after his introduction in 1975. In the 1994 issue X-Men Unlimited #4, it was introduced to Canon that the teleporting mutant is actually the son of Mystique and Azazel. After he was born, the parents were force to abandon their child when his life was threatened by an angry mob, and as a result he was raised by the Gypsy queen Margali Szardos. We obviously don’t know if the X-Men movies will construct this backstory on the big screen, but it certainly is very possible that Nightcrawler has the exact same parents as he does on the page.
The most significant evidence here is simple math. If you recall the end of X-Men: First Class, you’ll remember that Mystique chose to abandon James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier and instead leave with a team including Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, Zoe Kravitz’s Angel Salvadore, Alex Gonzalez's Riptide, and, yes, Jason Flemyng's demon-looking, teleporting Azazel:
As marked by the Cuban Missile Crisis, this all took place in 1962. When we meet Nightcrawler in the 1983-set X-Men: Apocalypse, if we assume he is the around the same age as actor Kodi Smit-McPhee, then that means he was born in the early 1960s – the same period when Mystique and Azazel began working together under Magneto.
There isn’t a super firm timeline of events between 1962 and 1973 (the year X-Men: Days of Future Past is set), but we know that things didn’t go super well for Azazel and Mystique. The group suffered a blow when Magneto was arrested for the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, and at some point Azazel wound up being killed and experimented on, as evidenced by autopsy photos:
Mystique, meanwhile, found herself working as a lone soldier for the rights of mutants around the world, presumably carrying out multiple missions like the one we see her on when she is introduced in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Is it out of the realm of possibility that during this time she found herself unable to raise a child and left a young Nightcrawler in safer hands?
Of course, this is just speculation, and there are some occurrences in X-Men: Apocalypse that ding the theory – including the fact that, as mentioned, Mystique specifically rescues Nightcrawler, but doesn’t actually provide a reason why. It’s also interesting that she would be caught up in the daddy drama between Evan Peter’s Quicksilver and Magneto, but not acknowledge the fact that her own secret son is in the room during the conversation. Still, though, the movies could pretty easily take a page out of the comics and do some sci-fi-driven retcon-ing that makes all the puzzle pieces fit.
What do you all think? Is it possible that Mystique and Nightcrawler have a closer connection than what’s directly presented in X-Men: Apocalypse? If not, what’s your No-Prize answer as to why Mystique saved Nightcrawler over Angel? Hit the comments section below with your thoughts and theories