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of the X-Men
Nightcrawler is the codename of Kurt Wagner, a mutant with amazing acrobatic abilities, a prehensile tail, and the ability to teleport. The character was introduced as part of the "new" X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975), in a story written by Len Wein and illustrated by Dave Cockrum. Since her introduction, Nightcrawler has remained one of the mainstays of the various X-Men comic book series and has been depicted in movies and animated television shows.
"Jesus died for our salvation": Kurt Wagner (the X-Man known as Nightcrawler) expresses his faith openly.
Nightcrawler has long been depicted as a devout Catholic, although he was apparently not written as such at the time of his introduction. Nightcrawler's deep religious devotion and gentle personality has stood in contrast to his physical appearance: He looks like a demon. Nightcrawler was born with pointed ears, a tail, and cloven-like feet, all of which recall images of demons.
Over the years, his Catholic faith has deepened to the point that he studied for the priesthood and was even a Catholic priest for a brief time. Later writers decided to take the character in a different direction, however, and explained away this ultimate act of religious devotion as having been caused by some form of external mind control. In contemporary X-Men comics, Nightcrawler remains a devout Catholic, but he is not planning to full-time religious life as a vocation.
An odd and religious-oriented aspect of Nightcrawler's character that was introduced decades after the character had been in existence is the fact that his father is actually a poweful demon named Azazel. Although the Marvel Universe character Azazel is not really depicted as the Devil, he is clearly depicted as a being who could have inspired imagery of the devil and Satan. In some ancient Judeo-Christian religious texts, Azazel is a name of Satan, the supreme evil being.
Nightcrawler was also portrayed as a devout Catholic in the 2003 feature film X2 (or X-Men 2), in which he made his big screen debut. In that movie, Nightcrawler frequently spoke of God and religious faith, and had covered his body with mystical Christian tatoos - one for each of his sins, as he explained to Storm.
Ever prayerful: Nightcrawler tells Professor Xavier that he will keep his fellow X-Men (away on a dangerous mission) in his prayers. He also expresses compassion for their enemies.
[Source: Uncanny X-Men #487, published by Marvel Comics (August 2007); written by Ed Brubaker, art by Salvador Larroca; page 8.]
Text from scene above:
Nightcrawler: We're X-Men, we know the risks. I have little fear for our friends . . . they've made their decision, and until we see them again, I will keep then in my prayers. But I fear more for those who would stand against them.
Nightcrawler's adoptive mother - the woman who raised him - is Margali Szardos, a member of the cultural/ethnic group the Roma (also known as Gypsies), as well as a powerful sorceress. Nightcrawler was raised in the circus that Margali Szardos, using her skills as a fortune teller, travelled with while Kurt was growing up. Jimaine Szardos (also known as "Amanda Sefton") is the biological daughter of Margali. Jimaine/Amanda is also Roma (Gypsy) and also a sorceress. Jimaine/Amanda is Kurt Wagner's step-sister and has also been his girlfriend at various times. As "Daytripper," Jimaine/Amanda was even briefly a superheroine member of Nightcrawler's British-based superhero team "Excalibur." Despite being raised raised in a Roma/Gypsy home, Kurt is not known to have ever vocalized any particular identification with Roma/Gypsy culture. Wagner has more commonly identified himself with and expressed strong cultural connections to Germans, Catholics, the circus and mutants.
In both his circus background and his rarely mentioned Roma/gypsy upbringing, Nightcrawler is similar to famed DC comics superhero Dick Grayson (a.k.a. "Robin" or "Nightwing"). Nightcrawler's lack of openly expressed identification with Roma/Gypsy culture distinguishes him from some other Marvel characters who regularly identify with this background, including Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Meggan (Nightcrawler's former Excalibur teammate), Doctor Doom and occasionally Magneto.
- The Nightcrawler as a Roman Catholic Superhero FAQ
- Nightcrawler [as a Catholic] Timeline
- So... Was he a priest or wasn't he?
- Religion/Spirituality of Nightcrawler forum discussion
Above: Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) meets Logan (Wolverine) using his image inducer to appear as a normal human Catholic priest, masking Kurt's regular furry blue, clearly mutant appearance.
[Source: Wolverine, volume 3, issue #6, page 6. Written by Greg Rucka. Pencils by Drick Robertson. Inks by Tom Palmer. Reprinted in Wolverine: The Brotherhood trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2003).]
From: "Nightcrawler" article on Wikipedia.com website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightcrawler_(comics); viewed 28 October 2005):
Among his more interesting character traits, Wagner is an extremely religious man. A devout Catholic, his demonic appearance obviously makes it very difficult to attend church services. Despite this, as mutants in the Marvel Universe become more mainstream, he even managed to... become a Catholic priest, unfortunately, his studies were interrupted by a villain known as "The Neo."
The first full-length Nightcrawler story to appear on film or television was an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series titled simply enough "Nightcrawler" (episode #44, Season 3, 13 May 1995). This episode is essentialy a reworked version of Nightcrawler's origin story. While in Germany for a sky vacation, Rogue, Wolverine and Gambit hear about a demon who is haunting the local monestary. The "demon" turns out to be Nightcrawler, of course. These X-Men end up protecting the peaceful mutant from a mob that comes to attack him because of his demonic appearance. Kurt, with his strong faith in God despite the way he was born and the way people treat him, ends up helpin Wolverine find faith as well.
In the motion picture X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler is played by Alan Cumming. This version shares much of the same history (circus, Catholicism, native to Germany) with the comic book inspiration...
Another episode of X-Men: The Animated Series TV series, (episode #68, titled "Bloodlines", Season 5, 26 October 1996) also focused on Nightcrawler and his faith in God. Synopsis from: "X-Men" section of Nabou.com "Entertianment Everywhere" website (http://www.nabou.com/x-men/x-men_animated_series/animated_series_season_5.html; viewed 30 November 2005):
Nightcrawler gets a mysterious message. He is informed that his birth mother (whom he never knew) is in trouble. He turns to the X-Men for assistance. Jubilee is baffled that Nightcrawler wants to help the mother who abandoned him -- she has never known her birth parents and feels pretty hostile toward them, whoever they are. Nightcrawler admits there has been pain, but his faith in God has helped him overcome her rejection. The plot thickens when one of the team members recognizes Nightcrawler's mother's voice... There are more 'bloodlines' here than anyone imagined, including the Friends of Humanity who arranged this 'reunion' in the first place.
From: Terry Mattingly, "Comic book visionaries", nationally syndicated "On Religion" column, 5 November 2003 (http://tmatt.gospelcom.net/column/2003/11/05/; viewed 1 December 2005):
"Anyone who knows where to look can find plenty of examples of faith in the comics and the culture that surrounds them," [Leo Partible, an independent movie producer, graphic artist and writer] said. "There is darkness there, but lots of light, too."
From: Andrew A. Smith (Scripps Howard News Service), "Comics superheroes of many faiths", published 3 February 2000 in The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html; viewed 30 November 2005):
...The mutant X-Man Nightcrawler quotes scripture and talks openly about sin, penance and righteousness.
Other established Catholics in comics include... the X-Men's Kurt (Nightcrawler) Wagner...
Wolverine, volume 3, issue #6 features one of numerous comics in which Nightcrawler's religiosity is an important part of the story, and one of many stories in which Nightcrawler's deep faith is contrasted with Wolverine's relative lack of faith and religious understanding. This story takes place at a what is a relatively low point for Nightcrawler, religiously speaking. This is not long after he has abandoned his goal to live the rest of his life as a priest (due to the evil mechanations of the bigoted mutant-hating "Chuch of Humanity", or due to the evil mechanations of bigoted writer Chuck Austen, depending on your perspective). Yet, despite that, Nightcrawler is still clearly a deeply religious and deeply principled character.
Above: Although Logan (Wolverine) is not a Catholic, and Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) is no longer a priest, Logan nevertheless was so troubled by his recent actions that he informally sought absolution from his old friend.
[Source: Wolverine, volume 3, issue #6, page 18. Written by Greg Rucka. Pencils by Darick Robertson. Inks by Tom Palmer. Reprinted in Wolverine: The Brotherhood trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2003).]
Below are some excerpts of the dialogue from this story, written by Greg Rucka and penciled by Darick Robertson. This discussion between Nightcrawler and Wolverine takes place in a New York City bar, where Wolverine has invited Nightcrawler to meet him after Wolverine's latest particularly soul-wrenching adventure:
Nightcrawler walks into the bar, where Wolverine is already sitting. Nightcrawler is using his image inducer to appear as a Catholic priest, complete with white collar and black shirt.
From The Uncanny X-Men #165:
BARTENDER: Can I help you, father?
KURT WAGNER: A beer, please
LOGAN: Make it a pitcher and three glasses. Put it on my tab.
KURT WAGNER: Thank you, my son.
LOGAN: Knock it off.
[Kurt moves to place his hand on Logan's shoulder in either a consoling or greeting gesture.]
LOGAN: And don't think about touching me unless you're gonna look like you when you do it, Elf.
KURT WAGNER: I'm not certain that's the best idea, my friend. You know how people reat to my appearance.
BARTENDER: Show the "Father" your right hand.
LOGAN: Your hand, Jo.
BARTENDER: Always wanted to play show and tell with a priest.
KURT WAGNER: Ah, you don't--
BARTENDER: It's all right, Father . . . I won't lead you into temptation. [The bartender shows her right hand, which is clearly the hand of a mutant. She has a squid-like or octopus-like suction surface on the palm of her right hand, and her fingers are shaped somewhat like tentacles.] I'll have Brady get you boys some peanuts. [She walks away, to give Kurt and Logan some privacy.]
LOGAN: There you go, Elf. No more excuses. [Logan is letting Kurt know that he does not need to use his image inducer to mask his mutant appearance.]
[Kurt touches a device concealed in his belt, and drops the hologram mask that made him look like a normal human priest. Now he appears as his regular furry blue self. He is not wearing a priest's vestments, but is wearing simply a regular shirt and blue jeans.]
KURT WAGNER: Better?
LOGAN: Better is you not having to hide yourself. But it's a start.
KURT WAGNER: You're in a mood.
LOGAN: Has nothing to do with it.
KURT WAGNER: No. Of course not.
[After some small talk, not excerpted here...]
KURT WAGNER: What happened?
LOGAN: Nothing happened.
KURT WAGNER: Certainly something did. You're even more unpleasant than normal. And you could use a shower, I might add.
LOGAN: You think I don't know how I smell? You think I don't know?
KURT WAGNER: Self-loathinig does not become you, Logan.
LOGAN: This from a guy who hides his face?
BARTENDER: You want me to just run a tube from the keg for you?
LOGAN: Can you do that?
BARTENDER: I'll look into it.
KURT WAGNER: She likes you.
LOGAN: That's her mistake.
KURT WAGNER: [Long pause.] What was her name?
KURT WAGNER: The girl who died. The one you couldn't save. What was her name?
LOGAN: Lucy. Lucy Braddock. She was seventeen, Kurt.
KURT WAGNER: Is it working? The beer? Must be hard to punish yourself when your healing factor fights you every inch of the way.
LOGAN: You have no idea.
KURT WAGNER: Yet here you are, doing your best impression of a fish. We have both seen innocents suffer before, my friend. We have both seen the inhumanity of man to his fellow man. Why is Lucy Braddock so different that you drive across the country for three days without rest to meet me here, and to engage in this vain attempt to torture your liver?
[Logan says nothing.]
KURT WAGNER: Seventeen is too young, I agree. Seventy, some would say, is too young as well. We have both seen too much death, lost too many we have cared for. But as trite as it is to say, Logan, death is part of life. Even unnatural death, even, perhaps, murder.
LOGAN: Not murder.
KURT WAGNER: You think? I do not advocate it, of course, but I would point out that every Judeo-Christian religion has murder in the basic text. Cain slew Abel, and thus the world knew murder. One could argue that murder is as natural as dying of old age.
LOGAN: You don't really believe that.
KURT WAGNER: I am no longer sure what I believe, my friend. My grasp of ethical and theological theory is slipping, to say the least. As a result, I am forced more often than not to rely on the facts as I know them. Actions always speak louder than words. You know this better than anyone. Your actions have always mrked you, to me, as a good man. As an honorable man.
LOGAN: Three days ago I killed twenty-seven men.
[Kurt stares, speechless.]
LOGAN: Not much to say to that, huh, Elf?
KURT WAGNER: You were enraged?
LOGAN: All the way to the bone.
KURT WAGNER: And these men, they had earned this rage?
LOGAN: You're looking for an excuse.
KURT WAGNER: No, my friend, I'm straining to understand. Because if you tell me that these twenty-seven men were innocents all, then you are everything you have always feared yourself to be. And you would have to be stopped.
LOGAN: And you'd stop me?
KURT WAGNER: No. But I would die trying.
[A long pause as they stare at each other grimly.]
LOGAN: They were a cult. They'd broken a town. Made it afraid. They kidnapped women. Girls. And they used them up.
KURT WAGNER: Then you are describing evil, my friend. And evil begets evil.
KURT WAGNER: Ah, I see. If that is your question, Logan, I cannot help you.
LOGAN: You were a priest. Absolve me.
KURT WAGNER: Oh, it would be wonderful if it worked like that, wouldn't I? What a world we would have . . . legions of sinners, all committing their crimes with abandon! Safe in the knowledge that absolution was just one quick trip to the church away! They tried it once, you know. During the Middles Ages [sic]. Enough gold, you could be forgiven anything. Would you like that? Such a hollow forgiveness?
LOGAN: Do I need forgiveness?
KURT WAGNER: Isn't that what you're after? Were those men evil? Without question? By killing them in your rage, are you evil? You are unique, Logan. And I do not speak of what has been done to you. Is the wolf evil when it culls the sickness from the herd?
[The bartender flips a sign on the door to show the bar is closed. Logan puts cash on the bar to pay his tab. Kurt and Logan walk out of the bar and stand in pouring rain.]
LOGAN: That thing about wolves . . . I'm not an animal. I'm not.
KURT WAGNER: I know, my friend. I know you aren't.
LOGAN: . . . I'm not . . .
[End of this issue]
Logan: "What's doin', bub?"
From: Steve Beard, "Bamf! The gospel according to Nightcrawler", on Thunderstruck.org website (http://www.thunderstruck.org/nightcrawler.htm; viewed 8 December 2005):
Kurt: "What does it look like?"
Logan: "Incongruous. I guess I never figured you for the religious type."
Kurt: "Why, don't I look the part? I admit I'm rarely seen in a church - but I draw comfort from my beliefs and from prayer. Such comfort is dearly needed now - by us all. You should try it, Logan. Who knows, you might like it."
Logan: "I did, in the army. A mistake. I believe in nothin' - never have, never will. What matters is what I can see, hear, smell, taste, thouch - tangible things, physical things. Reality. The rest is imagination."
Nightcrawler: "And you have no use for that?"
Nightcrawler: "I am sorry, my friend. I never realized how utterly, inescapably alone you must be - with nothing to hold onto but yourself. More alone than I - despite my outre appearance - could ever be."
Wolverine: "I ain't alone, bub - I got you. C'mon, lessee if they got any brew on this bucket."
...Perhaps the most interesting characteristic about Nightcrawler is that he is a mutant of faith - a devout Christian. Out of all the myriad of cartoon superheroes created in the last fifty years, very few have articulated or been indentified with a specific religious faith...
From: Shannon Donahoo, "Are there Catholic superheroes?" page on Catholic Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Melbourne website (http://www.cymmelb.org/resources/faq/fqother002.shtml; viewed 15 June 2006):
To their credit, the screenwriters, director, and producers of X2 allowed Nightcrawler to retain his purity of faith and hope. They skipped the subtle, read-between-the-lines type of allusions to his Christianity and let him express full-metal devotion. Nightcrawler takes refuge in an abandoned cathedral in Boston, festooned with statues of Jesus. When he is nervous, he holds a crucifix and prays the rosary in German. When he needs to summon inner strength, he prays the Lord's Prayer. When the group is confronted with tragedy, he pastorally quotes Psalm 23.
Quite simply, Nightcrawler is the most intriguing, devout, and unique Christian character that has ever been portrayed on the big screen. He talks righteously about sin and the power of faith, without the slightest hint of holier-than-thouism. Although he has every right to be angry at humans for their bigotry, he chooses to help them. He has fears, but he acts with courage through the power of prayer. He quotes the Scripture to find strength that his genetically mutated special powers cannot give him.
In the movie version, Nightcrawler's faith is further highlighted in that his body is covered in tattoos, one for each of his sins. He calls them his "angel marks." In a form of penance, they are self-inflicted ancient Enochian symbols considered to be an angelic alphabet.
When Nightcrawler first began with the X-Men, he was not conceived as a religious superhero. He was a swashbuckling adventurer with a good sense of humor and a special charisma with the ladies. He even became the leader of the British superhero group Excalibur.
His unique look always made him appear to be something that he was not--namely a demon. The creators used his image to further press their point that prejudice and bigotry brutally cloud our judgment in being able to truly judge a person. This was only heightened when Nightcrawler began quoting Scripture, praying, and hanging out in abandoned cathedrals. He began to be mentored by a priest at Church of Michael the Archangel in Brooklyn and studying for the priesthood.
For a period of time in the X-Men comics, Nightcrawler has been shown wearing a clerical collar and even presides over the funeral of a friend. In the midst of his theological studies, he also struggles with his faith, the tremendous injustice that he sees all around him, and what it would mean to become a priest.
Staring at a life-size crucifix in St. Patrick's Cathedral, he says, "Your death was intended to show us a shining example of how we should live in loving union with you and those around us. Yet even thouse of us who hold you deepest on out hearts -- fail -- in keeping true to your divine word."
In continuing his confession, he says: "Clergy, parishioners, priests -- me. I have such thoughts--feelings I cannot escape--the desires for the touch of a woman." While the temptations of the flesh weigh heavy on his conscience, Nightcrawler's vastly more threatening challenge is against the racist and religious humans of the Church of Humanity, a Ku-Klux-Klan type of anti-mutant organization.
With the gritty and heart-torn anxiety of the Psalmist, his poignant monologue continues by unleashing his frustration on a seemingly standoffish God. "And now another Holy War is brewing -- more fools take up weapons of murder in Your name. And You allow it. Perhaps even encourage it. If we take You into our hearts, does that mean fighting and killing in Your name -- or not fighting and being killed in your name? Which is the right answer? And what purpose does it serve to torment your most faithful when the goal is maybe one day sitting beside you -- alone -- possibly forever apart from the ones we love and desire -- who chose wrongly or failed your uncertain tests?"
The scene concludes with Nightcrawler looking at his crucified Jesus and saying, "When next we meet, I expect answers."
With the heightened popularity of the X-Men movies, a DVD collection of animated TV episodes from the early 1990s has been released entitled X-Men: The Legend of Wolverine (Buena Vista). It includes an entire episode devoted to the origin and theological disposition of Nightcrawler.
The story takes place within a monastery in a small Bavarian village in Germany. Three of the X-Men (Wolverine, Gambit, and Rogue) find themselves being aided by monks in the aftermath of an avalanche. Having been mistaken for a demon by the townspeople because of his looks, Nightcrawler explains to Wolverine and his friends that his genetic mutations were evident from birth and that the villagers chased he and his mother of out of town.
His mom (Mystique) also abandoned him as a child (in the comics, she throws him over a waterfall) and a family of travelling performers took him in. When he was young he was able to work in the circus, but he was still treated as an outcast, "shunned and hated." In talking with Wolverine, Nightcrawler says, "Though all people are flawed and struggle with the capacity for sin, none likes to be reminded of our shared human weakness. My appearance does not make it easy."
"Don't it make you crazy?" Wolverine asks with incredulity.
"It did once, but then I found peace by devoting my life to God," said Nightcrawler. "He directed me to this place [the monastery] where they value the character of my heart, not my appearance."
This only sends Wolverine further into a rage. "What are you talking about? God gave up on us long ago!" Nightcrawler counters, "No, my friend, God does not give up on his children-human or mutant. He is there for us in our times of joy and to help us when we are in pain--if we let Him."
Later, Nightcrawler tells Wolverine, "We are alike, you and I--angry at the world. My pain drives me to seek God, yours drove you away." Wolverine is further infuriated when he asks why God would have allowed him to be treated so badly. "Our ability to understand God's purposes are limited," says Nightcrawler, "but take comfort in the fact that his love is limitless."
Amazingly, the episode concludes with Wolverine kneeling in a French cathedral reading the Bible and saying, "I will give thanks to you O Lord. Though you are angry with me, your anger is turned away and you have comforted me. I will trust you. I will not be afraid."
Not a bad message -- especially coming from a superhero.
An excellent article by Jeffrey Weiss, published in the Dallas Morning News, reported on religion in comic books, citing Daredevil and Nightcrawler as two of the relatively few superheroes who are depicted as explicitly religious in the comics. The article, published before the release of the movies X2: X-Men United (2003) and Daredevil (2003), incorrectly stated that the religious affiliation of these characters would not be a part of their depiction in the upcoming movies. This proved to be incorrect. In fact, both Daredevil and Nightcrawler were depicted in a very prominent way as explicitly religious. The big screen depictions of Nightcrawler and Daredevil were not only a departure from how superheroes are normally portrayed in movies with regards to religiosity, these characters were remarkable for mainstream Hollywood movies in general for being sympathetically portrayed religious characters. From: Jeffrey Weiss, "Comic-book heroes seldom reveal their faith: Recent revelation of the Thing's religion was a rare moment for pop culture", published in Dallas Morning News, 24 August 2002, re-posted on BeliefNet.com website under headline "Comic Faith: The Thing's Religion Revealed" (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/113/story_11303_1.html; viewed 30 November 2005):
...Another Marvel comic's superhero, Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner has been an X-Man since the 1970s and - coincidentally - made his screen debut this year in X2, the sequel to X-Men, in the same year that Daredevil hit the big screen.
...Did you know that Daredevil was Catholic? ...Are there any other Catholic superheroes?
While he looks like a demon, (tail and all!) Nightcrawler has always been a deeply spiritual character and avowed Catholic. In the X2 movie, Nightcrawler is seen praying the rosary and he discusses faith with another X-Man, Storm.
In the 1980s, Nightcrawler struggled with his faith, especially with the question of how God can be good if there is pain and suffering in the world. (It's a difficult question to answer, but Christians remember that even Jesus suffered pain - and Jesus showed us that good can come from suffering.)
In the late 1990s Marvel Comics went a step further with the character's faith and Nightcrawler became a priest - complete with clerical collar! Some pretty odd storylines followed after that point, including a weird anti-mutant "pope" of sorts. (I'm not too sure on the details, because that's when I stopped reading comics.)
There have been a few characters over the years whose faith has been made explicit. Daredevil, the blind superhero who will be played by Ben Affleck, is Catholic. Nightcrawler, a member of the X-Men who may make it into the next movie, is considering becoming a Catholic priest.
From: Radford, Bill, "Holy Superhero! Comic books increasingly making reference to faith", published in Colorado Springs Gazette, 6 May 2006 (http://www.gazette.com/display.php?secid=20; viewed 8 May 2006):
But their religion will not be a part of the upcoming movies. Neither is Ben [Grimm]'s faith a part of the plan for the FF movie, or the Punisher's for that character's movie, Marvel officials said. Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad declined to explain why faith wasn't woven into the scripts. But comics industry experts said it was for the same reason religion hasn't been a big part of the books: Not offending is safer.
Superman as Methodist? Batman a lapsed Catholic? A Web site, www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html, provides a lengthy list of comicbook superheroes and indications of their religious beliefs. Some are firmly established in the comics, such as the X-Men's Nightcrawler as Catholic. Others, such as the belief that Superman was raised as a Methodist, are up for debate.
From: Heinen, Tom, "God comics: Illustrated fiction spreads word on religious ideas", published in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 11 Marcy 2006 (http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=407297; viewed 8 May 2006):
Delve more deeply into comic book metaphysics, and you can explore the actual or surmised religious affiliations of dozens of superheroes by clicking on the "Comic Book Characters" link at www.adherents.com. Or visit its image-packed companion page, www.ComicBookReligion.com.
From: Jeffrey Weiss, "Comic-book heroes seldom reveal their faith: Recent revelation of the Thing's religion was a rare moment for pop culture", published in Dallas Morning News, 24 August 2002 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/thingjew.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):
Superman is a Methodist and Jimmy Olsen is Lutheran? The Thing is Jewish? Elektra is Greek Orthodox? The X-Men's Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic who once wanted to be a priest? Batman is either a mostly lapsed Catholic or a mostly lapsed Episcopalian?
Yes . . . or more often, maybe.
There have been reverent comic books about Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, but secular publishers - especially the two dominant ones, Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics - have often avoided or only hinted at their superheroes' faith lives.
Over the years, the writers told readers all kinds of things about the habits and foibles of the characters. We knew about their taste in clothing, their troubles with relationships, their sense of humor. But we rarely discovered whether they followed any particular religion.
From: Regie Rigby, "The question of religion" article, "Fool Britannia" column, posted on "Silver Bullet Comics" website (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/fool/111010997522360.htm; viewed 22 December 2005):
That seems odd in one way. Back in the dawn of the modern comic book, more than 90 percent of Americans self-identified with a particular religion, mostly some kind of Christianity. Why wouldn't reality-linked superheroes have a particular religion?
Explicitly Religious Comics Characters
[list of 20 characters features 8 characters under the "Christian" subheading, including:]
Nightcrawler, Kurt Wagner, is a member of the X-Men and is planning to become a Catholic priest.
So, there's no shortage of characters based on religion in comics, but what about actual religion? ...I'm not really aware of any other religions [other than Judaism] that have been shown in quite this [positive] way, at least not in Western comics. It seems that every time a see an overtly Muslim character in a comic they're either a fanatic or a terrorist, or both and Christians seem to be portrayed as utterly boring, dull people. (With the rather obvious exceptions of Nightcrawler, and the wonderful Pastor from Kingdom Come.)
Controversy regarding writer Chuck Austen's handling of Nightcrawler
There appears to be an essentially endless amount of material from news articles, review sites, blogs, websites, message boards, etc., complaining about Chuck Austen's mishandling of the Nightcrawler's character. A few representative samples have been excerpted below:
From: "Chuck Austen" article on Wikipedia.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Austen; viewed 23 December 2005):
Chuck Austen's run on Uncanny X-Men #410-443, and subsequently X-Men (v2) #155-164, started out with good reviews but drew heavy fire from long time fans as the run continued. Despite a few exceptions (such as his characterization of the Juggernaut, and the villain's redemption), his work on of the series was condemned as being poorly written. The fans' harsh criticism centered especially (but not solely) on his treatment of Nightcrawler, Kurt Wagner, a long-established character who had the ability to teleport himself and who bore a physical resemblance to a demon, in the arcs Holy War and The Draco.
From: Franklin Harris, "Marvel's go-to writer makes an 'Uncanny' mess", posted 12 June 2003 on "Pop Culture Productions" website (http://home.hiwaay.net/~tfharris/pulpculture/columns/030612.shtml; viewed 23 December 2005):
In Holy War, Austen revealed that Kurt's previous ordaining as a Catholic priest was a plot by the "Church of Humanity" to one day install him as the Pope disguised as an ordinary human, then reveal his true appearance, thereby destroying the faith of all Catholics worldwide, at which point they would stage a "rapture" using communion wafers that would, when ingested, incinerate the eater (this despite the fact that the Rapture is not a Catholic concept).
In The Draco, Austen reveals that Kurt's unknown father is a powerful mutant called "Azazel", whom the devil in the bible is patterned after, who has been banished to an alternate dimension (later called "Hell") by a subspecies of mutants with wings (the origin of angels) and needs to open a dimensional portal to return to Earth. To do this, Azazel breeds with human women, so they can bear mutant teleporters which he can control (how this is possible if Azazel is trapped in the alternate dimension, and unable to return to Earth, is not explained).
In Sacred Vows, Polaris and Havok are getting married. Polaris is depicted as a ruthless, cold character who makes cruel jokes about him at her bachelorette's night and is strongly hinted to have betrayed him with a male stripper afterwards. Why then Lorna wanted to marry Alex in the first place does not become clear. The next day, more than hundred superpowered guests are present at the wedding, but when Alex refuses to marry Lorna, Polaris single-handedly incapacitates the crowd to go on a deadly rampage. That Lorna is able to take out a crowd full of superheroes with Professor X, Hulk, Phoenix, Northstar, Jubilee, Husk, Scarlet Witch, Dani Moonstar, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Cyclops, Beast, Nightcrawler, Archangel, Wolverine, Quicksilver, Juggernaut, several Starjammers and many others, is extremely far-fetched (in fact, probably most of the named characters could take out Polaris single-handedly, not the other way around). The comic states that Polaris "reversed the blood-flow in anyone with powers", knocking them out, but given the guest's superpowers, this is arguably a weak-footed explanation.
These arcs were met with the criticism that not only was Austen a poor writer, in terms of arch-construction and proper character treatment, but he had an agenda against Christianity and likely religion in general. Adding to this accusations of misogynistic portrayals of regular female characters, the negative feelings expressed towards Austen's work throughout Internet comic forums were widespread and almost violently critical.
Another point of controversy was Archangel's romantic relationship with Husk, who had been a young teenager in previous appearances while Archangel himself was most likely in his mid-20s, though many fans seem to believe the character is in his early to mid-30s. It should however be kept in mind that not long ago in continuity, Angel was a student at Xavier's School for the Gifted, and despite Marvel establishing a 7-10 year rule, ages remain an unclear issue within Marvel continuity.
During the majority of his tenure on Uncanny X-Men, Austen chose to disregard the criticism he received from readers, which eventually spilled over into him being verbally abused at comic book conventions by irate fans. Austen stopped doing interviews in October 2003 as a result and did not do another interview until May of 2004, which he granted to Silver Bullet Comic Books, where he restated his dissatisfaction and indifference as to the fan reaction...
Inexplicably, Chuck Austen is one of Marvel Comics' go-to writers. Last week alone, Marvel released three Austen-scripted books: "Uncanny X-Men," "The Eternal" and "Captain America."
From: Banshee, "You Aren't a Priest Forever: Nightcrawler vs. the Writer, Part 3", posted 2 July 2003 on "Aliens in the World" blog website (http://suburbanbanshee.blogspot.com/2003_06_29_suburbanbanshee_archive.html; viewed 27 December 2005):
That's too much Austen even for me, so I'll forego the current issue of "Captain America" and look only at the other two titles.
First with writer Joe Casey and now with Austen, "Uncanny X-Men" has played a poor second to Grant Morrison's reliably clever "New X-Men." In terms of quality, if not sales, "Uncanny' even has slipped behind Chris Claremont's old-school "X-treme X-Men," which has showed signs of improvement of late.
You can't totally blame Austen. He inherited numerous mishandled storylines and character developments. Still, his attempts to clear the decks have been less than thrilling.
The most egregious examples are "Uncanny X-Men" issues 423 and 424, which comprise the two-part "Holy War" arc.
Here the X-Men face the Church of Humanity, a cult that seeks to wipe out all mutants, believing them to be an abomination in the sight of God. That's fine as far as it goes, but Austen's main goal with the story is to undo Nightcrawler's ordination as a Catholic priest, one of those incidents of bad character development I was talking about.
While Nightcrawler's faith has been an important part of his character since at least the early '80s, no one seems to have thought through the difficulties of having Nightcrawler enter the priesthood while remaining an active member of the X-Men. But rather than deal with the problem head on, Austen tries to wish it away. As we learn in "Holy War," Nightcrawler was never a priest at all. Rather, he was duped by the Church of Humanity, which sought to infiltrate and destroy the Catholic Church as part of a scheme so convoluted I won't attempt to explain it here.
It doesn't help that Austen has some particularly screwy ideas about Catholic theology. He seems to think Catholics believe in the same literalist interpretation of Revelation as do premillennialist evangelicals, complete with the Rapture.
But if Catholics have reason to be offended by Austen's stories, so too do homosexuals - to say nothing, I suppose, of Catholic homosexuals.
His take on the X-Men's resident homosexual, Northstar, has been nothing short of insulting. Northstar once was a well-rounded character (in the '80s, during John Byrne's run on "Alpha Flight"), but now he is just the guy who has the hots for every cute, male resident of Professor Xavier's mansion.
Austen fares no better with his mature-readers book, "The Eternal" No. 1.
The series is set millions of years ago. A race called the Celestials has dispatched another race, the Eternals, to prehistoric Earth to collect raw materials. The Eternals are all males, the Celestials having killed off the female half of the species. So, when the Eternals accelerate the evolutionary development of the primitive humans they find, they are delighted to see that evolved human females are physically compatible with them, if you know what I mean.
While I suppose Austen must have some grand design for "The Eternal," it reads like the love child of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Planet of the Apes." The first issue seems simply an excuse for an adolescent male sex/power fantasy. There is lots of sex, bondage and bare breasts, and none of the female characters is smart enough to talk. Nevertheless, our hero, an Eternal named Ikaeden, whose attitude is reminiscent of Charlton Heston's world-weary Taylor in the "Apes" films, falls for his smarter-than-the-rest love slave.
After all of this, it's no wonder I didn't take my chances with "Captain America."
Bamfette explains it all [link to other blog]. No, Kurt Wagner was never a priest. It was all just delusions planted in his head by mind control. For at least fifty issues or more. *bangs head against desk [in frustration and disbelief at such idiocy]*
From: Rebecca Salek, "Spirituality In Comics", on "Sequential Tart" website (http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/dec03/tth_1203.shtml; viewed 5 January 2006):
And people ask me why I gave up on X-Men, or used to be so glad that Excalibur took place in England, far from the Mutant Shenanigans of the Month. It sounds as if the distortions of Catholic practice and the lack of clue on how to use Kurt's priesthood in the storyline were already so great that many readers are just glad to get shed of the plotline by any means, however idiotic.
(In case you were wondering about Bamfette's issue references, there is a comic book every week in the month which chronicles the X-Men's adventures. Uncanny X-Men is the original book and has been running since the late seventies. X-Men only started in the early nineties. The other books are The New X-Men, which is apparently Chris Claremont's return, and Ultimate X-Men, which doesn't take place in the normal Marvel universe and can be ignored for this purpose. Also bear in mind that each issue costs four or five bucks. Gee, I wonder why kids and teenagers aren't picking up the comics hobby...)
I'm glad that most of the apparent anti-Catholicism is not the result of malice, but stupidity. See, the plot only gets stupider. Mr. Austen has the schismatic Church of Humanity planting nanodevices in the communion wafers, wine and holy water in every church in America, Catholic or no, to get rid of "the religious right". (Now I start to believe that he was raised Catholic, because he apparently thinks that every Christian church uses these things.) The sheer logistics is laughable. Communion wafers and wine do not all come from one centralized factory. Holy water is made on the premises of a church. There would have to be huge numbers of Church of Humanity agents or members, something I don't think likely. And where did the nanotech come from, and how much did it cost? Even assuming help from mind control, the scope of the thing is just ridiculous -- and that's if it's just being done in the US.
But anybody who crucifies Jean Gray and Jubilee on the front lawn of Xavier's mansion (yes, that was what Austen wrote into Uncanny X-Men #243), in a 25 cent issue intended to attract kids and new readers, has obviously got an awful lot of malice and stupidity in him. Unless Marvel's comics division wants to go back to the Land of No Profit, he should go.
For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. In recognition of that, this month the Tarts pick out what they consider to be the best representations of spirituality in comic books...
Susan: I think the most touching thing I saw, that has stayed in my memory for years now, is a page in -- let me see if I can recall correctly -- an X-Men issue from the 1980s. They're out in Shi'ar space, desperate straits, et cetera. Wolverine walks by Nightcrawler's cabin and sees him on his knees, praying. There is a small discussion of his faith. That little scene has stuck with me more than Jean Grey sacrificing herself on the moon. My point was, they didn't dwell on it, didn't seem to try to make it all moralizing and hokey. It was very, well, matter-of-fact. And all the more touching for that. Especially considering the two characters involved. Wolverine would be the last person you would expect to respect someone's faith. Kurt's calm avowal of faith is not preachy, he's just saying what he believes. It illustrated that there's always things we don't know about people, even those we are close to. And that not all religious people are fanatics.
From: Matt Yocum, "Interview: Greg Garrett" about his book Holy Superheroes! Exploring Faith & Spirituality in Comic Books (http://www.comiccritique.com/interviews/ginterviewSt10.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
I recently finished a book by Greg Garrett entitled Holy Superheroes! Exploring Faith & Spirituality in Comic Books. Mr. Garrett weaves his way through the tapestry of comics, threading through the concepts of power, responsibility, truth, justice, evil, and vigilantism...
Mr. Garrett has published the novels Free Bird (2002) and Cycling (2003) as well as nonfiction works such as The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix along with Chris Seay. In addition he's written short fiction, articles, personal essays, film, music, book reviews, and worked as a sports writer. Mr. Garrett is a Professor of English at Baylor University and is currently studying to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Garrett while he was in the deserts of New Mexico working on a book on religion and film...
MY: As the book clearly shows, spiritual lessons can be learned from the archetypal heroes in comics. Are you aware of any religious characters in comics? How much does this play, do you feel, into who they are as a character?
Greg Garrett: A few overtly religious characters in comics - that is to say, a primary part of their identity is that they are people of faith - would be Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler from the X-Men, Peregrine and The Maid in Alan Moore's Top 10 mythos, and some writers' versions of Matt Murdock/Daredevil. There are other characters who profess a belief in God or a supreme being - in Holy Superheroes I mention a scene from one of the Superman books where Superman tells Lois that he is no different from anyone else using the abilities God gave him - but these four are characters for whom faith actually seems to make a difference in how they live their lives and in how and why they do the work they do. There's a difference between surface religiosity that many people profess - "I believe in God" or "I go to synagogue every week" - and religion that transforms a person's life, and I'd have to say that these characters seem to embody that transformation. The true work of religious people is the work of bringing peace and justice into the world. It's a gospel message, it's in the Hebrew Torah and the Koran, and we see it played out in the lives of these characters.
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
07-18-2002, 01:52 PM
Isn't Nightcrawler Catholic?
From: "Christian comic book characters" forum discussion, started 27 December 2003 on "Christian Guitar Resources" website (http://www.christianguitar.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-67487.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
12-27-2003, 06:02 PM
Where have you seen Christianity professed by comic characters?
...Over in Marvel, Kurt Wagner, the X-Men member Nightcrawler, is a Catholic and once studied for the priesthood. If you pick up the Holy War trade paperback he quotes a great deal of Scripture.
12-29-2003, 01:51 AM
All of Nightcrawler's tattoos (in the movie at least) were real Angelic symbols. And he made a great deal of references to faith, God, and scripture. He's the only I can think of off the top of my head.
01-10-2004, 02:13 AM
Yeah, that's one thing that immediately intrigued me about him in X2 (the movie). I love the irony. A mutant bearing the appearance of a demon, being so deeply religious.
01-10-2004, 02:21 AM
You'd love exploring Nightcrawler in the comics then! I'd recommend checking out the Holy War trade paperback. It'll intrigue you. The message Kurt offers can be a tad dubious (some may see the intro to one chapter of the story as advocating universalism at first glance, and he does help procure a stripper for Havok's bachelor party), but it's interesting to be sure.
01-10-2004, 09:49 PM
My brother wanted to point out that some writer named Chuck Austen ruined Nightcrawler when he decided to write him as having only studied for the priesthood because he was under mind control by a crazed Roman Catholic bishop, who wanted Kurt to become pope and then expose him as a demon. Apparently, the same writer also wanted to introduce poisoned communion wafers that would disintegrate people, to make people believe The Rapture had started...
01-11-2004, 12:06 AM
That's the Holy War series [storyline].
A nun who had been raped by a priest and experienced a cover-up sought to crush the Roman Catholic Church. Nightcrawler's faith is strengthened by the ordeal.
01-10-2004, 10:04 PM
Yes, but i think all it will do is present a period of struggle for Nightcrawler for a while. He had his faith long before he ever showed interest in being a priest. Some writer later will fix it, since it is part of the character as a whole.
From: "'X-men' comic books and movie tackle Christianity" forum discussion started 11 April 2003 on IIDB Secular Community Forums website (http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-50750.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
April 11, 2003, 05:36 PM
Anybody been reading recent issues of this comic? The character Nightcrawler-the blue demonesque X-man with the teleportation ability-recently talked to a Jesus statue about Jesus's "uncertain tests" (Which I BTW struggled with while I was a Christian) and also tackled desire, evolution and other things the church has had issues with. "Wolverine" likewise had the title character battle crooked priests last summer.
It looks like the movie might also deal with this--a quick glance at the trailer will show the characters in a church.
Any thoughts on this?
April 11, 2003, 05:48 PM
I gather from reading over my boss's shoulder that Kurt (Nightcrawler) is now a Catholic priest!
April 12, 2003, 04:24 AM
I remember from the cartoon The X-men were in Europe being attacked by good Christian peasants. In the end X-men win. Wolverine got the worst of it but at the end he went to the church and prayed. I found that really annoying.
My impression, which may be wrong, is that because these things are really aimed at kids the powers that be are going to push the 'Christianity is ultimately good' line.
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic - Daredevil's confessor is also his confidant, and Nightcrawler allegedly is a former priest and is seen reciting the rosary (in German) in X2.
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
So far divine providence might help w/ the tons of supersenses rolls one would make w/ Daredevil and Nightcrawler on your team... *grin*
Yeah Nightcrawler apparently is trying to become a priest, he was in the circus before he became an X-Man (referring to comic history, not the movie)...
Nightcrawler is in fact ordained at this point, he has the collar and all. Well that was before Chuck Austen, I stopped reading after that.
Not sure if NC [Nightcrawler] is Catholic, but he is very religious. He spent many years (comic time) in a monistary and became a monk. Didn't know he became an ordained priest...
Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Aurora and Huntress definitely [are Catholic]...
[The following are Catholic characters:]
Great characters and although the press has been bad lately - Great Religion.
...IIRC [If I recall correctly], here's the Catholic Clix you can play:
There was an article in the San Diego Union Tribune a while back that was titled "Superheroes reveal secret IDs-faiths". It was mostly about Thing revealing that he was Jewish. At the end of the article it lists religious comic book characters. According to the list, Wolfsbane is a Scottish Presbyterian, Nightcrawler is Catholic (he was trying to become a priest), Daredevil is Catholic, and The Punisher is a former Catholic seminary student.
From: "Up, up, and oy, vey!", posted 5 February 2006 on MetaFilter.com website (http://www.metafilter.com/39326/Up-up-and-oy-vey; viewed 19 June 2007):
...By the way, Marvel apparently recognized early on that its original books had been too whitebread. All five of the original X-Men [Cyclops, Iceman, the Beast, Angel and Jean Grey/Marvel Girl] were WASPs ["White Anglo-Saxon Protestants"], but when they revived the book in the 1970's, the new team members (Havok, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Thunderbird, Banshee and Sunfire) were WASP, German Catholic, African Pagan, Canadian, Native American, Irish Catholic, and Japanese, respectively...
posted by Asparagirl at 8:14 PM on February 5
...Also, no one's yet mentioned Nightcrawler's ordination as a Catholic priest.
posted by hifiparasol at 11:32 PM on February 5
From: "The Nightcrawler as a Roman Catholic Superhero FAQ" message board started 18 December 2005 on "Nightscrawlers" website (http://www.nightscrawlers.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=5447; viewed 3 June 2006):
Excerpts from: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum page, started 13 May 2004, in "The John Byrne Forum" section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
posted on 18/12/05 at 16:33
The Nightcrawler as a Roman Catholic Superhero FAQ
This is a new area of the FAQ I've been thinking about for a while.
Marvel's writers have chosen to make Nightcrawler a Catholic character, but to me it seems that the representation of his faith is somewhat limited. If you are to take the artwork and often his own words at face value, he's more of a lapsed Protestant. Yet the stories told clearly indicate that he's meant to be a devout Roman Catholic.
I've discovered that much of society in general doesn't understand what Catholicism is about and what Catholics really believe. That means, given how much of an emphasis is made on him as a religious character, there is a whole side to who he is - that is missing for many readers.
So I decided that a great resource to have here, along would everything else we have about Nightcrawler, would be a FAQ about Catholicism - and specifically how it might apply to a certain blue mutant superhero. I'm hoping it could be useful to comic book readers as well as artists and writers of fanfiction...
So, that's what the Nightcrawler Catholicism FAQ is all about. Now that the ground rules are laid down I will try to keep it interesting, related to Nightcrawler, and fun to read...
The first topic I'm working on will be about confession, since it figures so prominently in the last arc of the Nightcrawler Solo Series.
posted on 22/12/05 at 23:22
I think it may be worth noting that of all those mentioned, Nightcrawler is by far the most likely to be Catholic by choice rather than by culture, even though he was brought up in predominantly-Catholic Bavaria.
posted on 23/12/05 at 01:45
Kurt and Confession
Like every Catholic Kurt would be obligated to attend confession at least once a year. However I could imagine that in the course of his X-Men duties he may find himself in a state of sin a little more often than comfortable to be happy with a once a year visit.
Now a days, the tradition of separating the priest and penitant by a screen has fallen by the way side. In many churches Confession is preformed face to face, however it is not the case everywhere. If Kurt were uncomfortable showing his face in a church, he would still find it fairly easy and anonymous to confess in an old fashioned screened booth.
posted on 23/12/05 at 03:14
Kurt has been shown in confessional many times... but he has had a close bond with a few priests... Michael Bowen (Uncanny X-Men #196) and Father Whitney (Nightcrawler mini... Uncanny X-Men #423), both of whom accepted him (more or less) for who he is...
posted on 23/12/05 at 06:44
Cool. I was thinking of adding some various comic references to the above but I ran out of time, and there's no way I can think of all of them. Nor was I implying that Kurt couldn't attend a face to face confession, just that like many, if he felt uncomfortable, the other option was available.
Two other comic book instances of Kurt giving confession I can remember are:
Nightcrawler #7 (of course)
"And the Devil Went to Church on Tuesday" - it was a little extra story that was in the back of an Excalibur comic. I can't remember the number.
posted on 23/12/05 at 10:01
Excalibur #75 [contains the story in which Nightcrawler goes to confession]
posted on 18/1/06 at 02:54
Though I have seen Kurt attend Church in the comics (most recently in the last issue of the solo book) I don't think I've ever seen it referred to him participating in communion... It seems that Kurt would have really been missing something in his life.
Then again, they're just comic books and they can't show everything. It's just something I wonder about now and again given the number of years the comics showed him as "in hiding".
posted on 18/1/06 at 03:22
You might also want to address clerical garb, vestments, and such, as NC has been shown (quite inaccurately, too) wearing them.
posted on 18/1/06 at 19:56
I have a meager listing of a few Religious instances of Kurt in the books.
...Its mainly just Uncanny [X-Men] and Excalibur. Haven't added in the Icon NC [X-Men Icons: Nightcrawler] mini yet.
posted on 21/1/06 at 01:54
I moved the discussion about Kurt's choice of vestments and their appropriatness to his priestly office to a more appropriate thread "so... Was he a priest or wasn't he?" [http://www.nightscrawlers.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=1710]
...I also plan on writing at length about the process of discernment and formation of seminarians and their journey to the priesthood because this may be one of the most confusing things ever to happen to Nightcrawler. Ever.
posted on 14/3/06 at 04:57
Today I found The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters
Here is Nightcrawler's entry. [Link.]
posted on 14/3/06 at 16:55
Wow, that really is a very good article. Very well-documented and thorough.
posted on 14/3/06 at 21:25
Thanks for the article Garble!
I love what Nightcrawler's spirituality and religion give to the character - and those moments, like the conversation with the Logan after the brood encounter and the power that the cross and the star of david had when wielded by a person of faith were high moments.
The animated episode though really got on my nerves when I saw it recently. (It was nice being able to catch X-men at the convenient 11:30pm time slot whenever I remembered too - which I now think wasn't often enough since they replaced it with Power Rangers )
But, I preferred the subtle message offered in the comics to the heavy-handed way they did the animated story. Like on the brood ship Logan, who's lived a long time and seen a lot and possibly lost his faith a long time ago is allowed to keep his own religious beliefs. (That was a great exchange where Kurt tells Logan he can't imagine how lonely he must be and then Logan just replies that he has Kurt and then suggests they go and find some beer . Very subtle.
I didn't like how in the cartoon it's all presented as though there's only one correct way to think and one place to be in that way of thinking. With Jubilee and then the end where Rogue finds Wolverine in the church playing.
I'm not sure why that bothered me so much. I thought that Nightcrawler's place worked for him in the monastery - I just didn't like how the other characters reacted to his "message" I guess...
posted on 15/3/06 at 13:02
That is a good article Garble. And it's kind of the opposite of what I'm doing here with this FAQ (saying "okay, so they made Kurt Catholic - now what does that mean") so it fits together really well.
The author actually went to the comics to look at Kurt's faith... but he used the best examples and did a really nice job with it. I especially like how much he quotes the Greg Rucka issue of Wolverine, because I think that really gets to the core of it. When he gets to the "Chuck Austen Controversy" he's a little obvious in his bias, but then that wasn't exactly one of Austen's shining moments as a writer. Leave out the anti-Austen bias and I'll agree with him on nearly all points: Making Kurt a priest wasn't well thought out at all, writing him out of the priesthood was clumsy too. It all could have been done better and it's not just one guy's fault.
Though he doesn't come out and say it directly, I think we're both in agreement that the original intention was to simply make Kurt "Christian" and he slowly became Catholic due to the large number of obvious visual clues Catholicism has. It was easiest for the writers and artists to include his faith in the story by sticking a rosary in his hand etc. rather than use up valuable spoken plotspace. In many ways though this has been poorly researched and often contradictory. (Such as showing Kurt walking into a church but not genuflecting, or having him quote from various Protestant versions of the Bible...)
Still, it is a comic book and Nightcrawler isn't real so if you want to take interest in that side of his character - it's there for you.
posted on 15/3/06 at 19:04
Actually, it occurred to me that there may be two very good reasons why Kurt would quote the KJV [King James Version of the Bible]. One is recognizeability. The other is that the KJV is public domain.
Excerpts from: "Religion/Spirituality" discussion page, started 29 November 2003, on ComixFan.com website (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/archive/index.php/t-24121.html; viewed 10 January 2006):
14 May 2004 at 5:28 am
I enjoy it when a character's faith (or lack of it) is explored. Done properly, it can enrich characterization and be a powerful dramatic tool. I recall a long ago scene in X-Men when they were fighting the Brood where the atheist Wolverine and the Christian Nightcrawler had a brief discussion about faith, and I really liked the issue from around the same period in which the X-Men were battling Dracula. Wolverine attempts to make the sign of the Cross, but it has no effect on the vampire because he isn't a believer. However, Nightcrawler's cross works, and Dracula also burns his hand on Kitty's Star of David necklace when he grabs her.
From: "Super Hero Religious Preferences" discussion board, started 10 March 2006 (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-113612.html; viewed 24 April 2006):
Feb 5, 2004, 01:54 pm
Let me ask a dumb question that may raise much ire but has there been any good, by good I mean quality, comics with anything at all Christian in them? Or maybe even a character in a book... I have seen a few but the art was rough and the plot little more than okay. If so just let me know.
Feb 5, 2004, 02:08 pm
If that is what you think will raise ire (I dont believe I wrote) in this thread then feel free to ask them. Christians in comics, the Magdalena, Uncanny X-men (Nightcrawler), the Avengers (a latin woman was Christian in it, forgot her name though), then there was the mediocre Archangels series. More can answer as I think those are the only ones off of the top of my head that I can remember completely.
Feb 5, 2004, 02:49 pm
Mutants and religion can go hand in hand... Nightcrawler is an excellent example (or used to be... that's another rant altogether)... strong religious characters include (of the X-Men variety): Dani Moonstar (Cheyenne/Norwegian beliefs), Kitty Pryde (Jewish), ...Kurt (Catholic)...
When handled respectfully and appropriately, religion (of any flavor) can add a whole new level of impact and insight to comic book stories. When badly or sloppily handled, it can very easily turn into mockery of whatever point it was trying to make.
Feb 6, 2004, 03:09 pm
I'm always amazed when people bring up Nightcrawler: he was never a good Catholic to begin with and the recent religious themes surround Nightcrawler were poorly researched and very incorrect. While I give that he has had a spiritual side that was touched upon, he was never 'good Catholic material'. If writers had kept to writing about Nightcrawler's spiritual search, then it would have had a real truefulness to it.
Wolfsbane is a much, much better example because Wolfsbane's religious beliefs were written as being a very strong part of the character - always.
Kitty, Shan [Xi'an], and Amara are the only others that I would include... Kurt was never a practicing Catholic (or maybe just a bad one - who once admitted that he never went to church)...
Feb 6, 2004, 04:52 pm
I agree that Kurt's faith has been both poorly handled and recently beaten into an unrecognizable morass of silliness, but way back when, Kurt was much more 'in tune' with his faith. Prayer, confessional, deep talks with his pals, and the like... His faith (not necessarily a specific church) was another facet of his character.
From: "Who is your religious superhero" discussion board, started 14 March 2006, on "Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest" website (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=006489; viewed 24 April 2006):
03-11-2006, 01:59 AM
Now I find it odd that Nightwing is listed under Roma, while Nightcrawler isn't. Both were raised by Roma and have been confirmed as Christians later in their life.
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" discussion board, started 25 January 2006, on TheologyWeb website (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=70046&page=1&pp=16; viewed 25 April 2006):
Posted 21 March, 2006 18:26
Kurt was actually one of my own pre-Christian exposures to Christianity. (Please ignore the references to the rather dreadfully-conceived and badly-written retcon of Kurt's father being Azrael. Technically that specifically contradicts some pretty dramatic "Kurt only looks like a demon; he is in his essence a mutant but wholly human and not supernatural" claims, like Dr. Strange's examination of him using the Eye of Agamatto in X-Men Annual #4, 1980.
But absolutely, Kurt's been one of my role models from the beginning and one of my first exposures to the Christian faith also.
Posted 22 March, 2006 06:58
I fell in love with the Daredevil comics because it was the first one I read that felt like I was reading about a "whole" person. Matt Murdock just felt so much more fleshed out as a character because of his religious beliefs.
When Nightcrawler is well-written, then Kurt is the same. But occasionally his Catholicism feels like a "shtick". (And no, Chastmastr we will never speak of the abomination that was that ret-conned %&$*ing backstory.)
Posted 23 March, 2006 20:31
Nor the nanotech-laced Communion wafer plotline (yes, really) Austen also dragged in.
Though if anyone cares, here's one blogger's take on it, scroll down... [link to: "You Aren't a Priest Forever: Nightcrawler vs. the Writer, Part 3" at http://suburbanbanshee.blogspot.com/2003_06_29_suburbanbanshee_archive.html]
Posted 22 March, 2006 20:33
I haven't read comics in many a long year, but a quick look at the devout Catholics makes me a third vote for Nightcrawler. Who can resist a Catholic who looks like a demon and whose father was a demon, in a possible parody of Chick Comics?
From: "Power Pack is Mormon?! The religions of the Supers" discussion forum started on 28 January 2006, on Forumopolis.com website (http://www.forumopolis.com/archive/index.php/t-14845.html; viewed 1 May 2006):
January 26th 2006, 06:02 AM
While I don't think it matters whether Batman is a Catholic or Episcopalian, some characters are defined by their religious beliefs. Nightcrawler and Daredevil, for example, are fairly devout, and not merely religious. Their whole schtick is based on religion. It makes for interesting reading (and the strangest thing about them is that they both have a demon-esque appearance/persona).
From: "Religion in comic books" discussion forum started on 24 April 2006, on DC Comics official message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
01-29-2006, 05:05 PM
Holy crap, Nightcrawler's dad's a demon? When did Mystique ever get it on with Azazel?
01-29-2006, 05:10 PM
About nine months before Kurt was born, give or take.
01-29-2006, 05:32 PM
Someone's been lucky enough to avoid the Austen ret-cons.
01-29-2006, 05:39 PM
Haven't kept up with Marvel in years. I'm mostly a DC geek.
So what was re-written in terms of Nightcrawler's parentage? *sigh* I just wish Marvel would just do a Crisis on Infinite Earths type thing to keep their stuff from getting so convoluted.
01-29-2006, 05:48 PM
After reading about what Chuck Austen did to Nightcrawler, I am very, very disapointed.
I would have actually liked to read a series/arc about Nightcrawler joining the priesthood, balancing his X-Men duties and his theological studies, etc. Instead we get a story of faith-because-of-mind-control, a "Church of Humanity" evil Christian plot to destroy the Catholic Church and an attempted mass murder using Communion Wafers.
Austen, no :disgust:
From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" discussion board started 20 April 2006 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&start=45&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 7:13 AM
I believe Nightcrawler is openly Catholic.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 9:01 PM
Doc Mid-Nite is Catholic. Kevin Smith turned Connor Hawk into a sorda kinda Catholic... Somebody has prob already mentioned Nightcrawler's Christian creed (think he's Catholic). An interesting question: are these creeds written into cannon, or are writers free to do what they will with characters and religion?
From: "Solo Series Wish List" forum discussion page, started 8/10/04 on "Nightcrawlers" website (http://nightscrawlers.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=4568&page=3; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:30 AM
...What is the religion of the heroes we read about?... Don't get me wrong, not picking on anyone, just wonder what everyone thinks what our heroes believe. ...Other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!
Posted: May 6, 2006 10:48 AM
Nightcrawler - Christian.
Posted: May 6, 2006 3:28 PM
Specificially, Roman Catholicism. There's no one in this world who's just a "Christian," since to say you're a baseline Christian would offend folks of widely different beliefs (say, Trinitarian Catholics to Mormons [members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]) who claim the same term. That's why adjectives aren't bad, it lets me know what sort of "Christian" I'm talking to.
From: "Has Kurt left the church" discussion board page on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=25895; viewed circa November 2005):
posted on 10/11/04 at 20:05
My wish list? Keep his spirituality, but don't go overboard with it. It's obviously very important to him. And definitely keep it distinctly Roman Catholic, it's heartning to us Catholics out there to see a Catholic superhero.
And please - no Communion wafers as throwing stars. It's the Body of Christ, not the Weaponry of Christ.
posted on 12/11/04 at 22:39
I'm not comfortable with the Roman Catholic thing. There are too many religious heroes for me.
Besides, it's not the way he was created by Dave [Cockrum]. In the beginning, Kurt was an atheist, just like Dave.
Delicate topic, I know.
The Drastic Spastic
posted on 12/11/04 at 23:59
One problem I have with it is that since Catholicism is hardly a minority religion that whole point of a Catholic superhero is...? It's like not like there aren't millions of Catholics they can look up to anyway.
posted on 13/11/04 at 01:32
What other Catholic superheroes are there? The Caped Crucifix?!
posted on 13/11/04 at 14:23
Daredevil, Cap America,... even the Hulk sometimes! Not kidding!
posted on 13/11/04 at 15:27
posted on 13/11/04 at 18:19
Oh yes he is. Read Frank Miller's classic issues.
So I find the Catholic devil thing a little redundant with Kurt.
posted on 17/11/04 at 04:47
I don't think there's a whole lot of Catholic superheroes out there in mainstream comics, where the Catholicism is as overt as Nightcrawler's. While there's millions of Catholics to look up to, and it's not a minority religion, I still find it kind of cool to see it in a comic book. His devotion to the Rosary especially.
And he's a lot cuter than my parish priest.
BTW, not offended at all, so don't worry about me.
From: comments section on "The Beast is an Episcopalian" page on "IFanBoy.com" blog website, posted 1 February 2006 (http://www.ifanboy.com/archives/000675.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
10-24-2004, 04:42 AM
Has Kurt left the church?
In the Domaniant Species arc Kurt is questioning God and is kicked out of the church when he makes a comment about priests and boys. What kicked off him questioning his faith was Stacy X coming on to him, which he turned down even though he was attracted too her.
Now... in Uncanny [X-Men] sparks are flying between him and Rachel and him and Storm. I know nothing has happened but its a slippery slope.
So is he still a priest, etc.?
Thanks for taking the time to answer
10-24-2004, 05:03 AM
Kicked out the Church should mean his Priesthood was removed, or at the least the authority to practice it. I don't know exactly how Catholic ex-communication works, but given Kurt was kicked out the Church that should mean he was excommunicated.
My suspicion is that his comment on Priests and boys was a cover for the church to get rid of the Priest that looks like a demon. I never saw the contemporary Catholic Church being relaxed enough to allow Kurt to minister in the first place, and there would probably be a significant backlash after his ordination. So maybe the Church used his comments as an excuse to disrobe him.
As for where that leaves Nightcrawler's faith now, I have no idea. He might be excommunicated, he might no longer be a Priest... but that doesn't necessarily mean he has lost his faith or no longer believes in the Catholic creed.
Not that I ever understood why Nightcrawler became a Catholic in the first place... I respect him as a spiritual guy but struggle to see how he would square his faith and belief in God with the Catholic - and many other Churches - positions on homosexuality etc, and those positions with his understanding of the x-creed. There are enough churches he could have joined that don't have issues with homosexuality and so on... so what led Kurt to join the Catholic faith and Catholic Priesthood to start with?
But really I have no idea if Kurt has now lost his faith completely, or if he's a spiritual guy who no longer participates in Catholicism, or if he sees himself as a less-active Catholicv, i.e., a believer who does not attend or participate in church.
10-24-2004, 05:03 AM
What happened was the Priest said too leave... I don't think he meant leave the whole but the actual church they were in at the time.
It's just with him questioning it so much he was willing too make a comment like that has he chosen to leave.
Thanks for the help.
10-24-2004, 05:17 PM
I don't remember Nightcrawler being kicked out of the Church. I always thought he left of his own free will, becuase he realized that over time he had changed, and being a priest didn't exactly gel with his other beliefs. I'm pretty sure he's still a practicing Catholic, though.
10-24-2004, 07:47 PM
I thought it was revealed in the "Holy War" arc in Uncanny X-men that Kurt never really was a priest. The whole thing was a ploy to try and set Kurt up as the next Pope by the Church of Humanity. The plan as to have Kurt use an image inducer, but then reveal him as a "demon" thus setting some other events the Church wanted to happen into play. Kurt thought he had been ordained but none of his friends had been to the cermony like he thought.
Or did I just completely read that whole arc wrong? Completely possible.
10-24-2004, 08:01 PM
Nah, that's right, Ryan.
In said arc, Kurt went on and on about how bad religion was, but, at the end, for no real reason (at least in the comic) he decided to continue being religious.
So no, Kurt has not left the Church.
10-25-2004, 05:43 AM
I hope that Kurt does stay with his religion. It is nice to have at least one religious character in comics who is not a complete bastard or a cook (and I say this as a non-Christian.)
10-25-2004, 07:23 AM
Kurt was brainwashed into thinking he became a priest but it wasn't true. He is still religious but he is no longer pursuing becoming a priest.
10-25-2004, 09:27 AM
In the Issues leading up to "Holy War", Kurt started to lose his faith as a Priest. He still was religious and everything. But he didn't see himself as a Priest anymore.
He told the guy who was supposed to be helping him. The guy worked for "The Church of Humanity" and realized that their plans were gonna go to hell In a handbasket. They were gonna take out the Pope and others and help promote Kurt to Pope.
Then they were gonna have him get accidently revealed. And mutants would be hunted down as ungodly demons. Because having a demon become Pope would be the excuse. The female leader wanted to bring down the Church and mutants... (I liked the arc... a lot didn't. But hell It actually made more sense than the stretched out "God Loves Man Kills II" In X-treme [X-Men])
Kurt walked away. He's still religious... but he's out for the babes!
Posted by: Michael at February 2, 2006 02:36 PM
From: comments on "Racism against Atheists" post on "Stormy's Corner" blog website, posted 23 March 2006 (http://stormy.blogs.com/stormy/2006/03/racism_against_.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
I have a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies, so this page was VERY interesting for me. thanks to Toga for the heads up.
One article was especially interesting to me -- the Nightcrawler article describing his religious past and Chuck Austen.
Having been out of the comic loop for a bit, and out of the Marvel loop for even longer, I must ask a few questions to X-Fans.
Nightcrawler a priest? Huh? I mean, he's German. A Lutheran priest, I can see. But Catholic?
[Webmaster: One has to wonder where Michael's "Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies" came from. Anybody familiar with the history of Europe or the history of Christianity is aware of the fact that about half of Germany's Christians are Protestant and about half are Lutheran. Even the current pope, Joseph Ratzinger, i.e., Pope Benedict XVI, is German. There is nothing at all surprising about Nightcrawler, a native of Germany, being Catholic.]
Was the portrayal of Chuck Austen fair in that article? If so, what's the deal? I was listening to an interview with Paul Jenkins, who does not describe himself as a Christian, yet has a book by Dark Horse, Revelations, that - he says - will bring the character to some sort of place where he may not be just another skeptical cynic. The point it, he's not a Christian, yet he portrays Christians realistically - using the whole spectrum, from fanatics to normal folk (sourced form some of his other work).
And, for everyone, whether you are religious or not, what do you think about discussing and portraying religion in mainstream books?
[from original blog post:] Atheists identified as America's most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study: News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.: "From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry."
From: "Superman's a Methodist" post on "JLucas's Blog" blog website, posted 16 March 2006 (http://community.heraldonline.com/?q=blog/21/feed; viewed 10 May 2006):
This is my take on it: When most Americans hear the word "Atheist" they think of someone who is against the values they grew up with. They think of Madalyn O'Hair, a woman who knew how to hate. On the other hand, when people think of Christ, they think of a man who knew how to love. So they would rather have the label Christian than atheist.
Posted by: Jay KTX | March 24, 2006 at 06:12 PM
Perhaps one explanation is the negative depiction of atheists in comic books. Most superheroes [believe in God], with a majority being Christians: Superman is a Methodist, Spiderman is a Protestant, X-Man Rogue is a Southern Baptist, X-Man Nightcrawler is a Catholic. Even the Punisher is Catholic. But when it comes to villians, atheism seems to be the rule. The Joker, The Kingpin, The Green Goblin, Sabertooth, and Lex Luthor are all atheists.
Posted by: Layman | March 24, 2006 at 06:55 PM
Growing up, some comic book characters' religions were obvious: Kitty Pryde was very vocal about being Jewish; Nightcrawler was a devout Catholic. But if you've ever wondered about the faith of some less obviously religious caped and cowled vigilantes, look here.
From: "Religious Themes in Comics" forum discussion page, started 21 May 2003 on "Sketchy Origins" website (http://www.sketchyorigins.com/comics/archive/index.php?t-1380.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
From: "The Corner" (letter column), published in National Review Online, 29 July 2002 (http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/2002_07_28_corner-archive.asp#85293899; viewed 12 May 2006):
05-21-2003, 02:10 PM
I enjoy Religion in comics most when it's explored through the personal experience/development of a character... I liked that they kept Nightcrawler having his strong Christian roots/influence for the movie... Anything that makes it personal, that respectfully approaches and explores the human experience of how the individual relates to the Divine through the traditions of their own Religion is always interesting to me!
05-29-2003, 02:26 PM
It seems to me that religious themes are hot right now. Examples are Matrix Reloaded, the recent stuff on Angel and Buffy, and even religious themes in the X-books. I'm an atheist and generally very allergic to religious stuff, but I think we've seen more actual treatment of religious themes as opposed to just having underlying religious assumptions. I've found the religious Nightcrawler interesting, as well as the stuff on Buffy and Angel. In both series there was some at least passably intelligent, if un-original critique of religion.
BTW ["By The Way"]
From: "New Christian JLA member" message board, started 5 May 2005 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted 12:03 PM
Comic book geeks have been writing me in regard to the news that the Thing is Jewish... While religion is rare in Marvel comics, it's not unheard of... Nightcrawler is definitely Christian...
Posted 2:08 PM
Email box ...filling with...comic geeknesssss...losing...consciousness. A few quick points... I'm told, as I suspected, that Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic (I could only remember that he was Christian)...
Excerpts from: "Atheist superheroes" discussion page, started 2 March 2006, on "Atheist Network" website (http://atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=209834&sid=5ca5d2a99f2714e2f90fcee608eb4ac4; viewed 26 May 2006):
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM
I am a Christian... There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish [superhero]... that flaunt their religion or fight for religious belief specific notions. It's because they would be offensive to many, if not most, of the readership.
Besides -- Zauriel, Bloodwynd, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Quintet, etc., etc., are all based on or are slaves to religious beliefs, but none actively flaunt it, or debate which is correct, so a hard-line Christian super hero would probably not sit too well.
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:50 AM
Well, I'm gonna hit you. Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Nightwing, Huntress, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Flash are all Christians... Many of them have debated their beliefs in the comics - as you say, not the hardline way, but that is definitely not the same as saying that they are not Christian superheroes, or that they are not devoted.
As far as I know, none of them are fundamentalists, against other religions or...
Posted: May 6, 2005 5:28 AM
...As mentioned, there's Zauriel and Nightcrawler. These are aspects of the character that make them interesting... Nothing wrong with that. It's all in the name of telling stories, not pushing some... agenda.
Posted: May 6, 2005 9:11 AM
I, too, would like to see Christianity depicted in a hero but done well. That seems to be one of the final challenges left to writers today. But how does the writer portray a theme as diverse as the Christian faith so that it sticks? There is more to Christians than intolerant fundamentalists. But how interesting are moderates? Nightcrawler and Daredevil seeking Christ for sanctuary... are character designs that meet the Christian core I identify with... I appreciate any writer willing to take up the challenge.
Posted: May 12, 2005 7:32 AM
...I'm an atheist.
That said, I have no problem with a religious character, like Daredevil or Nightcrawler...
From: "Religious affiliations of comic characters" message board started 29 January 2006 in "Gotham After Dark" section of EZBoard.com website (http://p073.ezboard.com/fgothampmfrm37.showMessage?topicID=161.topic; viewed 27 May 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 12:23 am
[In the context of a discussion about atheist super-heroes, this message poster is citing some counter-examples, listing overtly religious super-heroes who are clearly not atheists.]
Nightcrawler's a Catholic priest. Lived in a German monastery before he was discovered... [etc.]
It doesn't seem to come up much, but religion gets mentioned from time to time.
Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:54 am
Nightcrawler was raised in a monastery; he wasn't a monk. They changed that for the cartoon. I guess they forgot about his witch girlfriend as well.
He had a real crisis of faith after the Secret Wars. The Beyonder was a little too much like god for him.
Wolverine is an atheist. He argues with Kurt all the time while they're drinking.
Hitman Tommy Monaghan
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):
1/30/06 5:51 am
...Seriously though there are a few heroes out there that have been id'ed [identified] as one religion or another but I kinda fall on the line of "none specified" as best. Not because I'm anti-religion, but because it makes these icons just that, ICONS and universally acceptable regardless of religion...
1/30/06 8:09 am
I agree with Tommy, though there are those characters whose religion is a part of what defines them and can get away with it (Kitty Pryde and Kurt Wagner for two). But I think by not saying anything, it's left up to the reader to assume who is what and I think that's more or less the best way to approach it.
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:42 pm
Most obvious is Nightcrawler who became a priest.
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 1:18 am
Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler of the X-Men is definitely Roman Catholic.
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
From: "Muslim characters in comics" message board, started 22 January 2006 in Batman discussion board area of official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000059913&start=45&tstart=0; viewed 9 June 2006):
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:33:58
Nightcrawler is the only major Marvel character who I have ever seen professing his faith during the course of an actual story.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 01:45:45
Trick question! There ARE Gods that are Marvel characters. One blatantly obvious: A vampire is repelled by religious symbols...
...The few times it [religion] has played a role is when Wolvie made a cross in front of Dracula, who was suprised by its non-effect (it was wielded by a nonbeliever), and Nightcrawler took the cross away from Wolvie and seared Drac big time. And then Drac was burned on Kittie's Star of David. And of course the Vamp that sputtered out on Thor's hammer...
Date: 22 Oct 2004 14:06:41
Out of interest, are there any comic characters, mainstream or otherwise, that are unbelievers? And if so, how do they tend to be depicted?
Date: 23 Oct 2004 10:08:27
From: Matt Deres
The one that comes to mind first is Wolverine, since he explicitly stated his position in UXM [Uncanny X-Men] 166 (I think) during the Brood wars. He has a brief discussion with Nightcrawler, whom he had found praying. Kurt said he felt sorry for Logan, since he (Kurt) is never truly alone since he has God.
From: "Batwoman Is Back as a Lesbian" message board started 1 June 2006 on "The Giant in the Playground" website (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=comics;action=print;num=1149174700; viewed 12 June 2006):
Posted: Jan 29, 2006 12:14 PM
...DC and Marvel staff are unlikely to have characters who simply happen to be Muslim. I think the closest is Dust and even her costume is a huge flag waving a constant reminder of her religion - unlike other members of the X-Men. I mean, Nightcrawler doesn't wear a huge cross on his costume nor does Shadowcat dislay her Star of David...
Post by Ing on Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:17am
From: "Claremont's 'Revenge' / CC Trademarks" thread on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/b6c76ad39ebedbac/82cfea80ebc7bade; viewed 12 June 2006):
Daredevil: one of his motivations is "Catholic" guilt, this was played up in the movie.
Nightcrawler: Is VEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERY Catholic. Was once in the seminary but concluded that it wasn't God's path for him after some soul searching.
Bruce Wayne: non-practicing Catholic or Anglican.
1) Nightcrawlers parentage.
INTENDED: Destiny is his mother, impregnated by Mystique in male form. Note that his Catholic beliefs might cause some hellofa good drama if this were revealed just to add to the delightful chaos.
WHAT WE GOT: His father's an immortal demon-like mutant (supposedly the Devil is based on this mutant) who was banished to another realm by Angel's descendants. This brings several problems... 1) Azreal the demon guy, has been shown leaving the plane to impregnate women... Why does he keep going back? 2) Marvel Universe already established that there are REAL demonic forces. Mephistopheles, for example, had previously been stated as being many culture's inspiration for their Devil characters. There was no reason to rewrite the demonic origins into a mutant POV when you already acknowledge there are Real freaking demons...
Please don't let this tripe happen to your favorite comic book.
Post by Ing on Jun 6th, 2006, 11:50pm
...What [about] Fundamentalist? They [mainstream comics] have Christians. They have practicing Christians. What more can you ask for? They can't really have an ultra-consesrvative Christian hero who goes around... What makes one a fundamentalist? Do they have to be "born again" Protestants? Can they be Catholics, or even Jewish? Wouldn't anyone who takes their faith seriously, instead of as a cultural identity, be a fundamentalist?
Nightcrawler is pretty fundamental in his faith and is one of my favorites, as is Daredevil. How much are you expecting it to be part of the character and what do you mean by fundamentalist?
From: Leor Blumenthal
From: "The religions of comic book characters" thread started 10 February 2001 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/13590fda80c5d6e1/e5e0b094ced80f0b; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Thurs, Apr 30 1998 12:00 am
Characters with strong religious beliefs are depicted as old-fashioned, intolerant, or out of touch.
[This was one of about two dozen "CC trademarks" listed by this poster. These are plot devices that readers are suggesting Chris Claremont uses over and over again. Subsequent posters disagreed that Claremont is antagonistic to religious characters, and cited examples of positive portrayals. The upshot seems to be that Claremont's stories feature a relatively balanced portrayal of religion and religious characters, with some positive and others negative.]
Date: Fri, May 1 1998 12:00 am
What, you mean like Nightcrawler or that preacher [William Conover] in the X-men/Brood confrontation just before Inferno?
From: Leor Blumenthal
Date: Fri, May 1 1998 12:00 am
No, like Reverend Craig, or the televangelist villain from "God Loves Man Kills". And despite Nightcrawler being Catholic and Kitty Jewish, when did Kurt go to confession, or Kitty light Sabbath candles? He never shows them practice any rituals, except generic ones like singing Christmas carols.
Date: Sat, May 2 1998 12:00 am
Well, the point is he hasn't portrayed all religious people as intolerant, just some of them - and this just seems like an accurate reflection of society. Also he obviously doesn't show a lot of the characters religious life because 'Nightcrawler Goes To Church' would make a crap issue. But he has made their beliefs part of the story, as in Nightcrawlers soul-searching after meeting the Beyonder or Kitty's anger at the Lightning Squad in Excalibur. Do you want all religious characters to be tolerant, trendy and with-it? Now that would be soooo realistic wouldn't it?
- Lazy Line Painter Al
-who's folks come from Northern Ireland, so I could write you an encyclopedia on Religion and It's Intolerance.
From: Joshua Newhouse
Date: Sat, May 2 1998 12:00 am
re: He never shows them practice any rituals, except generic ones..."
I think this fact is a good thing... fine if you want to have someone Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian etc. But there is no need to shove in a ton of different references... comic books and religion need not intersect to that extent in my humble opinion... otherwise things in my opinion tend to get preachy...
I remember the episode of X-Men:TAS X-Men: The Animated Series] with Nightcrawler preaching to the X-men about faith and g-d etc. The one in the monastery... This episode had Nightcrawler, this was cool, but Nightcrawler was a priest which I found inappropriate... I have no problems with people's beliefs except when they are shoved in my face.
Tolerance of all, including agnostics and atheists I say.
From: Ken Arromdee
Date: Tues, May 5 1998 12:00 am
What about the time Nightcrawler goes to see a preacher because he's having a crisis of faith when he meets the Beyonder, who seems to be as powerful as God?
From: Samy Merchi
Date: Tues, May 5 1998 12:00 am
Kurt also went to confession in Excalibur #75's back-up story...
From: Leor Blumenthal
Date: Tues, May 5 1998 12:00 am
re: Excalibur 75
That wasn't a Claremont story. As for the Beyonder bit, Nightcrawler encountered the Beyonder in the original Secret Wars, without any problems. He also had no problems coping with Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, or any of the ridiculously powerful nuts that are a Claremont trademark. Why should Kurt's faith only matter when it is called into question? Why should religious people be constantly portrayed as backwards, primitive, or naive?
From: Samy Merchi
Date: Tues, May 5 1998 12:00 am
He [Nightcrawler] had very severe problems dealing with Beyonder when written by Claremont, whose writing seems to be questioned here. Insisting on ignoring that very touching scene to brace your argument is not very productive.
re: "Why should Kurt's faith only matter when it is called into question?"
Why does Arnold Schwarzenegger's fighting prowess (well, the characters' that he plays, anyway) only matter when it is called into question. The simple answer to your question is: A lot of things only come out in fiction when they make for a good story. I know I wouldn't buy stories full of Kurt going repeatedly to church to no effect. I -would- buy stories about him having to fight for his faith instead of just -having- his faith and being all happy go-lucky yay Catholic with no problems. Who wants to read stories with no problems? Not me.
re: "Why should religious people be constantly portrayed as backwards, primitive, or naive?"
I don't understand how you can see Kurt as backwards, primitive or naive.
Date: Wed, May 6 1998 12:00 am
re: "Why should Kurt's faith only matter when it is called into question?"
Because it's an interesting development. Nightcrawler reading the Bible for half an hour would make a crap comic (although no worse than the current X-men/Doctor Doom Annual).
re: "Why should religious people be constantly portrayed as backwards, primitive, or naive?"
Erm... except for the fact that they're not. The preacher in God Loves, Man Kills is an attack on TV evangelist style religion. It plays on peoples' fears, promotes intolerance and is led by sanctimonous nutters. They exist in this world. I've seen TV Evangelists promote hatred thru self-righteousness. Some religious people ARE backwards, primitive and naive.
While Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and the preacher in the Brood storyline [William Conover] all show religious characters that are none of the above...
Like you I'd like to know more about Kurt's religion, especially in relation to Wolverine's lack of faith (Claremont wrote some cracking dialogue between the two on this very matter).
re: "Instead we get stereotypes that are as inaccurate as any of the Anti-Mutant propaganda of Graydon Creed."
Not from Claremont. There have been intolerant 'Christians' and tolerant Christians, which is a reflection on society.
You're argument that Claremont portrayed every Christian as intolerant doesn't stand up to moment people can point to tolerant Christian characters.
I agree that Nightcrawler's faith should be explored more - but to say that if it isn't explored that's an example of Anti-Christian propaganda worthy of Graydon Creed then I stop agreeing with you and start running the other way...
From: Leor Blumenthal
Date: Fri, May 8 1998 12:00 am
I'm not asking for a comic where Nightcrawler reads the Bible for the whole issue and nothing happens. But what about having him sitting and reading the Bible before an enemy attacks, or going to church and wondering whether wearing an image inducer is proper in a place of worship.
re: "...Some religious people ARE backwards, primitive and naive."
I never said they were not. But they are far more prevalent in the X-books than the tolerant, open-minded ones.
re: "While Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and the preacher in the Brood storyline all show religious characters that are none of the above."
Unfortunately they are exceptions, not the rule.
From: Samy Merchi
Date: Sat, May 9 1998 12:00 am
re: "Why should religious people [in Chris Claremont stories] be constantly portrayed as backwards, primitive, or naive?"
Tolerant, un-backwards, un-primitive, un-naive: Kurt, Reverend Conover, Hank..., Ororo, Kitty, Dani, Forge, Amara..., Lilandra.
Intolerant, backwards, primitive, or naive: Rahne, Reverend Stryker.
Additions? You'll have to add eight backwards people to validate your point, or invalidate eight of the people I gave.
Date: Sat, May 9 1998 12:00 am
...Claremont was subtle. Nightcrawler is a character with very strong principles who has learnt to live in a World were he is seen as a monster. We also know he's a Christian and that his beliefs are the foundation for his character. But if he said stuff like "As a Christian..." or "Well, X-men, according to the Bible we should..." that would be unsubtle (and cringe-inducing).
But again, if Claremont did not make an issue of their religion every issue does not make his portrayel of religious characters inaccurate or offensive.
From: Eric L Bailey
Date: Mon, May 11 1998 12:00 am
re: "Does anyone have any other instances of positive (or negative) portrayals of religion in comics?"
Also, it was Kurt's faith that turned the tide against Dracula.
From: Richard Patton
Date: Sat, May 16 1998 12:00 am
Nightcrawler and Kitty Pride of this [newsgroup's] fandom were fairly religious...
From: Terry McCombs
From "TS: Liberality For All vs. DMZ" discussion page started 30 November 2005 (http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6419391; viewed 13 June 2006):
Date: Sat, Feb 10 2001 6:35 pm
For the most part you don't get much of an idea as to the private lives of most comic book characters. Marvelish soap opera not withstanding.
What I mean is you don't get much of an idea what their politics or religion might be. This is sensible enough I guess as they don't want to offend any of their customers... for the most part you just can't really say just what, if any religion or personal philosophy that or that comic character might follow.
What do you think?
Date: Sun, Feb 11 2001 6:05 am
...As far as Marvel is concerned, there are a few characters where you do: ...Religious issues did show up quite a bit in the X-Men, with Catholics Nightcrawler and Gambit...
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
From: "Religion of the X-Men" message board started 15 May 2005 on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-58362.html; viewed 13 June 2006):
The simple fact is, for the vast majority of people on this planet, God is an accepted reality.
To me, to have every hero in the Marvel/DC universe, even those with religious origins (such as Ragman) to not be affected, motivated, or even visibly belive in those beliefs, lessens the characters...
In addition I think that the inclusion of a character's religion and the issues it brings up, can definitely enrich a character. As an example Nightcrawler's Catholicism (I think its Catholic) has IMO [in my opinion] at least given him more of a personality.
In addition there are many characters who in fact are religious, its just none of them are mainstream religious. We get Wiccans, Druids, Pagans, etc. But very few Christians, Jews or Muslims. Even the Buddhists are better represented in comics than the big three.
Chris F. (nieman...), December 1st, 2005
re: "As an example Nightcrawler's Catholicism has given him more of a personality."
Eh, more like it destroyed his original characterization! He was a lot more fun as a happy-go-lucky freak than as an angsty troubled soul always running off to talk to his priest about the religious implications of fighting the Beyonder.
Ray (raycu...), December 1st, 2005
Making comics characters religious is a bad idea anyway. Different universes I know, but what happens if Nightcrawler, the staunch Catholic, bumps into Zauriel, an actual angel? The problem of superheroes (and superhero inventors) transforming society out of recognition is hard enough to paper over, but how are traditional religions supposed to remain unchanged when angels, demons, and apocalyptic visitations are everywhere?
From: "Religion and X-Men" thread started 21 July 1998 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/b61ff5d2e422d0a5/1ebe80a26a7df2e5; viewed 13 June 2006):
05-15-2005, 05:56 PM
Do you ever wonder what religion an X-Man is? I know they are just characters, but still, just for the fun of it.
I am wondering if you could guess their religion by their character, or what they've said, etc.
05-15-2005, 06:02 PM
Nightcrawler is obviously Roman Catholic. Rahne is Presbyterian. Magma and Sunspot, are they Catholic too? Danielle Moonstar follows some kind of traditional Native American beliefs. Dust is Muslim. Kitty is Jewish, Magneto was Jewish but is now probably agnostic. I vaguely remember reading that Colossus is Russian Orthodox, but I'm not sure. Banshee and Siryn are probably Catholic.
The Lucky One
05-15-2005, 07:38 PM
...As for [other] characters...
Nightcrawler - Catholic, devout...
05-16-2005, 02:11 AM
The problem is that whether they are strongly religious or not.
While some like Nightcrawler, Storm and Sabra are obvious to their beliefs and faith, there are many that I don't think I've ever seen mention their beliefs or gone to church...
From: Alan D. Earhart
Date: Tues, Jul 21 1998 12:00 am
Some of the recent discussion got me thinking about this once again.
When has religion been used as a plot device in an xbook? [i.e., a comic book series related to the X-Men]
I got to thinking about the UX-Men [Uncanny X-Men] Dracula arc oh-so-long-ago in which, if memory serves me, Kitty is able to have some power over Dracula using a Jewish symbol. This being the power of belief and conviction has over the undead...
And, there was the Nightcrawler scene in the cartoon.
From: Ed Hebert
Date: Tues, Jul 21 1998 12:00 am
There was a back-up story of Nightcrawler going to confessional around the mid #70's of Excalibur. Its last moment was Nightcrawler looking at the X's on the tie he was wearing and turning it to find a cross...
Date: Wed, Jul 22 1998 12:00 am
Yes and also Nightcrawler was scene going to church way back in Uncanny [X-Men] meeting with his priest, I believe it was a discussion about the Beyonder and if a being like that exists , how does God fit in. Anyway that's one thing I can remember!
Date: Wed, Jul 22 1998 12:00 am
...Kurt is a practicing Catholic...
Date: Wed, Jul 22 1998 12:00 am
Well there's a really early annual where Nightcrawlers adopted mother tries to get revenge on him, and ends up sending the X-men to Hell. There's a scene where, looking at all the tortured souls Colossus points out that he is glad that he is an atheist, he couldn't believe in any religion htat would sanction such cruelty. Nightcrawler replies that there is an opposite Heaven and that those in Hell deserve their fate.
Nightcrawler is discovered praying by Wolverine in the Brood storyline circa [Uncanny X-Men] 160-something, and Wolverine is shocked, saying he can only believe what his senses tell him.
Nightcrawler is later seen visiting a Catholic priest (who obviously knows him) and fretting that meeting the Beyonder has caused him to question his fate. I don't remember it ever being used in Excalibur.
From: David R. Henry
Date: Wed, Jul 22 1998 12:00 am
re: "When has religion been used as a plot device in an xbook?"
Plot device or plot component?
Nightcrawler had a major crisis of faith after meeting the Beyonder that was quite well done...
Date: Mon, Jul 27 1998 12:00 am
...Nightcrawler also used a cross in the Dracula issue to help defeat Dracula. He has also been seen in churches and praying. He is one of the most religious X-men.
From: "(OFFTOPIC) Sleepwalker and a RANT!" thread started 9 April 1996 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/530027d02cbeb884/7c688dd20f2f433c; viewed 13 June 2006):
Date: Wed, Apr 10 1996 12:00 am
Say, this [religious affiliations of the X-Men] would be a neat thread. My memory doesn't really remember a lot of the X-Men having stated a religion. Kitty's Jewish...
From: Ryan W. Fitzpatrick
Date: Wed, Apr 10 1996 12:00 am
I think Kurt Wagner was also Jewish...
From: Katharine Weizel
Date: Wed, Apr 10 1996 12:00 am
Nope! Kurt is most definitely Catholic. He's been seen in a confessional with a priest at least once in an annual, and again in some other issue of Uncanny [X-Men] that I can't remember the name of. (Possibly around the time of the Beyonder in the early 200's).
From: The Man with the Golden Gun
Date: Thurs, Apr 11 1996 12:00 am
[Nightcrawler is] Roman Catholic, I think. He's been shown going to confession and such.
Date: Thurs, Apr 11 1996 12:00 am
And now that people mention it . . . I'm remembering a back-up story in an issue of EXCALIBUR (post-Ashford, I think) with Kurt in a confessional. Great art, if I remember. Pretty okay writing, too. For shame of me to forget.
From: Sarah Anne Yost
Date: Fri, Apr 12 1996 12:00 am
...Nightcrawler is Christian of some sort.
From: Katharine Martin
Date: Fri, Apr 12 1996 12:00 am
Yes, there was one with him [Nightcrawlewr] there, post-Ashford. There's also a scene of him in a confessional in UXM [Uncanny X-Men] 196, and quite a few others. Quite established.
From: "X-Men religious affiliations" thread started 1 June 2002 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/78e6830d00083d2f/102a03cd2dab9fda; viewed 13 June 2006):
From: Chris Dodson
Date: Sat, Jun 1 2002 9:38 pm
I'm looking for information on the religious beliefs of all the current X-Men for a story I'm submitting to Marvel. The only one I know for sure is Nightcrawler (Catholic)...
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Sun, Jun 2 2002 8:28 am
Nightcrawler - Catholic...
Date: Sun, Jun 2 2002 11:59 am
...Nightcrawler is a Catholic...
From: Jim Longo
Date: Mon, Jun 3 2002 10:09 am
When the X-Men were kidnapped by the Brood, Wolverine came upon Nightcrawler praying. During the resultant conversation, Wolvie asserted that tried religion once, that it was a mistake, and that he now believes only in what his senses tell him.
Date: Tues, Jun 4 2002 6:57 pm
Nightcrawler is Catholic...
From: "Religion in comic books", posted 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" blog website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Comments section for this page]
Posted by Jason S. Evans at 1:28 pm on June 14, 2006
I really appreciated the portrayal of Nightcrawler in X-Men 2 [X-Men: United]. He was never shown as being hypocritical or evil, but instead, he was penitential and devout.
I don't care for movies that are overtly "Christian" but it is nice when directors "Get Religion."
Posted by Avram at 1:41 pm on June 14, 2006:
...what of Nightcrawler (of the X-Men), who is not only Roman Catholic but studied to become a priest?
Posted by Katie Q at 1:53 pm on June 14, 2006:
Yeah, I get your point, and like I said above, I agree; comics do, at times, Get Religion. But whenever it is present, it's in metaphor or part of some cosmic scheme. The original post was about the denominational beliefs of heroes, and that's more my issue. Few heroes have them, or at least have them as a notable aspect of their character, and that's just darn unlikely and (to me) unrelatable.
Nightcrawler (and, to use a far less popular character in the same family, Wolfsbane of the New Mutants) is an exception. The X-Men books in general are the series that have characters with prominent religion, due to the practical nature of the series (team books need characters with a variety of backgrounds) and the themes of the series (prejudice, the preeminence of ideology above the self, etc.). Of course, in the comics, Nightcrawler's Catholicism has been revealed to be a super-villain's brain-wash plot and evil scheme to trick Catholics into think the Rapture has come (nevermine the Rapture isn't Catholic doctrine anyway. . .). So, yeah, there you go.
From: Mirtika, "Is Superman a Methodist?", posted 15 June 2006 on "Mirathon" blog website (http://mirathon.blogspot.com/2006/06/is-superman-methodist.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
Is Superman Jewish, Methodist, or a Christ figure? Newsweek is examining the matter...
So, I offer this nifty assemblage of charts and lists and links on comic book religion found at Adherents.com.
...Ben "The Thing" Grimm is Jewish. You already know about Nightcrawler and Catholicism. But... Rogue is Southern Baptist?
From: Michael, "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on "Tales to Mildly Astonish" blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
...There are precious few heroes of faith in comics, mainstream or alternative, and the more I think about that, the less I like it. Most heroes' religion is used as a type of shorthand characterization, something to fill space in the Handbook... Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic, but stories using his faith rarely treat it with the weight and respect it deserves (Chuck Austen, I'm looking in your direction). Ironically, it took not a comics professional, but director Bryan Singer and actor Alan Cumming to add some genuine text to the Catholic subtext of the character.
There's only a few defenses I could give for the obscurity of genuine religious practice in comic books... because religious values are so dearly held, I do wonder if it wouldn't alienate a Jewish reader if Superman was a Christian or a Christian reader if he was an atheist...
The way to get around this difficulty is to avoid the specific faith of the real icons like Superman... But I see no reason why you wouldn't empahsize the Catholocism of Nightcrawler or the Jewish faith of Kitty. It didn't repel fans of X2 in the first example.
From: "Superheroes and religion", posted 14 June 2006 on "On Christopher Street" blog website (http://somacandra.livejournal.com/410090.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
Date: June 16th, 2006 11:31 pm (UTC)
...Religion was often touched on in comics, but when Chris Claremont took over the X-Men in the 1980's, he made the characters regiously diverse as well as ethnically diverse. I think Shadowcat and Nightcrawler were the first characters to have specific religious affiliations...
From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" thread began 22 April 2004 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/8821b5db671e7ce1; viewed 20 June 2006):
From: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm
I can't think of any major superheroes that strongly believe in any real faith, and that surprises me. Certainly not in the DC Universe. I think there are more minority superheroes than religious ones...
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:36 pm
Nightcrawler is devoutly Catholic and Kitty Pryde is Jewish...
From: Peter Bruells
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 11:49 pm
Err.. Did you forget about Nightcrawler, a devout Catholic who at some times was even a priest?
From: Daibhid Ceannaideach
Date: Sat, Apr 24 2004 6:21 am
The impression I get of Superman (most notably in the Kismet story following the Blaze/Satanus War) is that he is motivated at least partly by religious faith (at least inasmuch as that's part of being "raised right" in Kansas), he just doesn't talk about it much.
But yeah, it is odd that out of the three most noticably Christian superheroes (Nightcrawler, Daredevil and Huntress) one is motivated largely by circumstance (being a mutant) and the other two began their careers seeking revenge.
From: "Christian Superheroes" thread started 30 August 1992 on rec.arts.comics newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics/browse_thread/thread/d4f9b151adf6039c/bca0d7673c1ff593; viewed 21 June 2006):
From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/e46638dbdaa8a219; viewed 22 June 2006):
Date: Sun, Aug 30 1992 5:14 pm
...I submit that there are characters who hold to certain Christian faiths, but none but two who stand out as having their faith as the source of their power.
For example, Kurt Wagner (a.k.a. Nightcrawler) is a good example of a superhero who just happens to be a Christian, but his powers of teleportation are derived from his mutant genes...
07-18-2002, 02:03 PM
Yep - Nightcrawler was indeed Catholic and for a while was studying to be a priest (he has since dropped this quest).
Nightwing is a Catholic as well - during the earlier issues of his book crosses and the like could be depicted in the background.
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
...Anyone care to post a list of those characters whose spiritual beliefs are on record? Of the top of my head:
Nightcrawler: Roman Catholic ( I think...)
[6 other characters listed]
From: Jamie Coville
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am
I don't have the issues, but I believe it was in a tale where he and Kurt (Nightcrawler) talk about religion. Wolverine makes it clear he don't believe in God, but Kurt tries to convert him but with no success.
Of course the story got bastardized for the cartoon audience and ended with Wolverine reading the bible in the last scene. Boy did I ever holler and swear over that one.
From: Carmen Williams
Date: Fri, Sep 24 1999 12:00 am
Hmmm. I think the last scene had Wolvie praying in a church, which would be a bit more definitive. This was after a whole episode with Wolvie snarling at Kurt about the world being rotten and how stupid it was to believe in a loving God, etc etc., and the clear implication of the last scene was that he was acquiring at least a little inner peace through religion. I can see how that might bother someone, but it didn't bother me. In fact, it intrigued me, because it's the first time I'd seen religion handled (and handled reasonably well) in a cartoon. I would have had a problem if Kurt had said "believe or you're going to hell," or "I want to save your soul from the devil," but he didn't. In fact, tolerance was kind of the point of the episode. As far as I can recall, it was just that Kurt was happy and at peace, and Wolvie very much wasn't, and Kurt wanted to help.
From: Consul de Designers
Date: Fri, Sep 24 1999 12:00 am
The whole dialogue with Kurt was a bit more heavy handed than I would have expected from Kurt. He was very dynamic and "into it".
re: "As far as I can recall, it was just that Kurt was happy and at peace, and Wolvie very much wasn't, and Kurt wanted to help."
He was estatic! Not just happy!
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion... I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.
Some of them are not too surprising... Others are obvious: Nightcrawler and Daredevil are each Catholic...
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=299781&page=3; viewed 25 April 2007):
12-04-2006, 05:40 AM
But this makes a lot of sense. [The fact that Jewish characters are over-represented among comic book superheroes.] A ton of the first- and second-generation comics writers were Jewish, and there's always that whole "write/draw what you know" thing coming into play, on top of homages other writers and artists might make to them down the road. Catholics as a whole never really had that immense an influence on comics (and if you don't believe that, note how the Chuck Austen "Nightcrawler as Pope" storyline made it to print).
From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?
08-22-2006, 10:14 AM
Religion was a pretty big deal to Nightcrawler for a while too.
08-22-2006, 10:18 AM
Yeah, he [Nightcrawler] and Polaris are Catholics.
08-22-2006, 12:10 PM
True. He was Catholic. You get practicing or lapsed Catholics sometimes, but rarely other practicing Christians -the type more likely to talk about it in a certain way, where it informs much of their speech.
08-22-2006, 01:53 PM
Mainly it's probably a matter of what somebody has mentioned earlier - they're trying to avoid offending potential readers by steering mostly clear of the topic.
And there's something inherently wrong with that.
Voodoo, witchcraft, paganism, etc are all common fare in comics.
Many prominent Jewish characters (which there should be more of, given modern comics as we know them were invented by Jewish creators.)
I applaud the efforts of Virgin Comics [which is creating comics featuring Hindu characters].
But make characters overtly Christian? That's offensive!
In an age where there are active agendas to create characters with more diversity in ethnicity and sexual orientation, there's nothing wrong with having a few Christian characters here and there. (Yes, I'm very aware of Matt Murdock and Kurt Wagner.)
It's a sad state of affairs.
For what it's worth, I really enjoyed Rahne Sinclair's early days in New Mutants and how vital her Catholic [webmaster: actually, she was Presbyterian] upbringing was as a part of her character. I remember vividly one issue where they were going to a dance and Magik gave her a beautiful dress to wear. Upon realizing that it had been conjured via occult forces, Rahne wanted to turn it down, but upon realizing that Illyana was her friend and that she meant no harm, she gracefully accepted.
08-22-2006, 03:22 PM
...One good example of a character's religion used in a relevant way in a super-hero story was when the X-Men fought a vampire (I think it was Dracula, I'm not sure). At some point one of them held a crucifix to Dracula, who laughed it off, saying that you needed faith to make it work. As he said that, Nightcrawler picked up the crucifix and used it effectively against the blood-sucker. That is relevant to a super-hero story.
The X-Men books are also more suitable to showing characters with religious backgrounds because in most occasions, they would be normal people if not for the fact that they were born different. They don't usually have strong motivations for fighting crime or super-villains that go beyond acceptance and survival. The X-Men books are more "social" that most super-hero groups (as in the group being a reflection of society), so having a character interacting with others in a way that exposes their religious beliefs is more relevant than, say, if the same thing happened in the Justice League.
We also can't forget that, whatever the religon of some characters may be, the Marvel and DC universes are universes in which the Judeo-Christian religions have the upper hand. The Marvel Universe is not so obviously a Christian universe, even though there are clear depictions of Hell and other occasional Christian elements. I haven't read Fantastic Four for a while, so I am barely aware of some storyline having something to do with the afterlife. DC's most powerful super-hero is the Spectre, who is a servant of the Christian God. No one else in the DC universe measures up to him, not even gods from other religions, as we saw in Day of Vengeance. In Day of Judgment, we also see an afterlife that is very consistent with what a Christian afterlife would be like.
08-22-2006, 03:27 PM
Yeah, I agree that the X-books are more suited to portray the religious aspects of characters' lives. One of my favourite Wolverine comics is just him and Nightcrawler sitting in a bar and talking about religion.
From: "Who's Catholic in the Marvel Universe" forum discussion started 5 February 2005 on "HCRealms" website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637; viewed 10 May 2007):
I know a lot of characters are Jewish, so I was wondering who is officially Catholic?
I know Daredevil is. It's a major part of his personality and often occurs in storylines.
I also believe Firebird from the West Coast Avengers... After that, I'm pretty much stumped.
Anyone have any others?
Nightcrawler is another . . . he even became a priest.
What? When the heck did that happen?
I should have remembered Kurt. I remember him having a crisis of faith when the Beyonder came to Earth in SW II [Secret Wars II].
Surely there are others?
I thought Nightcrawler's faith was up in the air after he discovered that his whole ordainment into the priesthood was memory implants by religious zealots. Or are we just ignoring those stories on account of bad writing?
Kurt still is [Catholic]. He's not becoming a priest, but he's still a practioner of the faith.
Daredevil and Nightcrawler are the only ones, I think.
I remember Nightcrawler found Polaris in a church. Whether it was Catholic is another thing.
Just sya she is for a laugh. Like Green Hair is always fun.
From: "The Church of Superman" forum discussion started 19 June 2006 on the "James Randi Educational Foundation" website (http://www.randi.org/forumlive/showthread.php?t=58627; viewed 15 May 2007):
19th June 2006, 06:03 AM
The Church of Superman
Hmmmm... the "religious" affiliations of comic book characters. Huh?
19th June 2006, 01:38 PM
...Of course, the real hot potato in the Marvel and DC universes is how conventionally religious characters feel about their fellow superheroes who are literally said to be gods, e.g. Thor. How does, say, Nightcrawler feel about a guy flying around calling himself the God of Thunder? (Actually, in Secret Wars II Nightcrawler asks a priest friend whether the Beyonder is God, and if not, how could God allow the Beyonder to exist? But that's the closest I ever saw them come to the issue. Okay, enough geekdom for one post.)
From: "What are the religious beliefs of the main mutants in the X-Books?" forum discussion started 16 January 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-160293.html; viewed 16 May 2007):
01-16-2007, 03:51 PM
What do you think the religious beliefs of the following mutants are?
01-16-2007, 07:09 PM
Most comic book characters are blandly nondenominational with a tendency towards being WASPs [i.e., "White Anglo-Saxon Protestants"]. The only ones I would consider obviously practicing members of a faith are:
Jean: founder and prophet of the Church of the Phoenix
Storm: Neopagan, Goddess worshipper
Kurt: Catholic (yes, he's not on your list)
01-17-2007, 05:33 AM
Character's religious beliefs aren't really mentioned that often. Kurt's faith is well known, but most of the others mention their faith rarely if ever...
01-17-2007, 07:47 AM
Yeah, Wolverine's atheist. Nightcrawler and Shadowcat are obvious. Storm (and probably Magik) are complicated. Rogue is Christian, but I don't think we know whether that's Protestant or Catholic or something else. I don't think Longshot understands the concept of religion, so I guess that might make him an atheist. Wolfsbane is Presbyterian, Cannonball is Christian as of New Mutants (1st Series) #15. I suppose Magma believes in the Roman (Greek) gods? Forge? I think Gambit is atheist. Thunderbird III is Hindu. There are Shi'ar gods... Shaara, Kythri), Lilandra worships them.
01-17-2007, 10:59 AM
I find this all odd... When seriously was the last time you saw any of these people goto church (other then Nightcrawler I mean) or any other place of worship (in relation to their faith)?
From: "Most Religious Avengers/Marvel Heroes" forum discussion started 5 January 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-158828.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
01-05-2007, 07:42 AM
I found this interesting article in the internet about religious Marvel Universe heroes. Wonder Man and Captain America are some of the ones mentioned:
["The Religious Affiliation of Wonder Man" page, which shows Wonder Man and the list of other heroes chosen by the Goddess in the Infinity Crusade crossover event.]
01-05-2007, 08:25 AM
That's a really interesting article. I, for one, am not adverse to characters being religious, as belief in a higher being makes up about 99% of the world's population.
01-05-2007, 12:06 PM
They didn't put Nightcrawler on that list, and his faith is like a hallmark of his very character.
01-05-2007, 12:10 PM
Right; you have to go up one level to find the main list. Nightcrawler's article is at:
The Wonder Man article was just a list of people involved in the Infinity Crusade.
01-05-2007, 04:13 PM
It would seem like it since they don't mention Firebird, Nightcrawler or Daredevil.
01-05-2007, 04:50 PM
I would have picked [as "Marvel's Most Religious Heroes"] Bonita (Firebird), Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler), and Matt Murdock (Daredevil) in that order for the top three.
From: "Religious Characters In Marvel" forum discussion started 15 September 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-143850.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
09-15-2006, 09:01 PM
The other day I was thinking about religion and comic books. Now I know what you are thinking, "Not this again". But hear me out. I'm not looking for how religion itself is portrayed in comic books or superheroes. None of that Superman is = to Christ stuff.
What I'm interested in is the way religious characters are portrayed in comic books. First one that pops into my head is Magneto. He is either Jewish or Gypsy.
I think the first step is listing what characters are what religion. I think this will porbably be a pretty short list, as most comic book characters are never mentioned to be one religion or the other.
Ultimately, I think I might want to use this information and see how their characters are portrayed, and see if there are any significant parallels, or if it effects how the character acts.
I'm a religious studies major, and recently got back into the comic book world after a 10 year hiatus. So, although I know most general things, I'm probably not as versed as some of you in this area. I'll see if I can start off the list. Off the top of my head this is what I got:
Magneto: Jewish, or Gypsy
Nightcrawler: Christian - Catholic
The Thing (Ben Grimm): Jewish
Daredevil: Catholic (I think)
09-15-2006, 09:44 PM
Mags is actually a born Jewish who was raised by gypsies in his youth.
09-17-2006, 06:34 AM
It seems to me that a lot of the "religious" beliefs of Marvel characters are modern retrofits.
For instance, Ben Grimm's being Jewish is something that was recently tacked on by modern writers... In older comics, he was shown celebrating Christmas, even.
I think Iceman's being Jewish is also an example of this.
In the early Marvel (up through the mid-late seventies, anyway), religion just wasn't that big of a deal. I think Nightcrawler was one of the first to have his religion spelled out, but even then, Dave Cockrum-- the man who invented the character-- was pretty upset when he found out Nightcrawler was being labeled a Catholic... so I'd say even that one was tacked on later.
I think it's a sign of the fairly conservative times (also political correctness gone wild) we live in that we're seeing all this stuff being retconned in.
09-17-2006, 10:55 AM
That's interesting. I'll definitely be looking into that. What I'm really looking for is characters that have story arcs, or are obviously religious in some way - and how it affects their actions or develops their character.
Nightcrawler being and example of someone who is always going around talking about Christianity. It's part of who he is.
Iceman, on the other hand, seems like he is a being called Jewish just for the heck of it. It's never really been a part of the character. And having Bobby talk about religion in a serious way would just be stupid and out of character.
09-17-2006, 12:08 PM
...When you get down to it, for 99% of superheroes, their religion is nothing more than background info. Name me a character who actually practices their religion, other than a couple of characters with fake religions whose powers are intertwined with them. What, Nightcrawler, Daredevil... Josiah X for his three whole appearances, and that's only because he's a Muslim clergyman. Beyond that, I'm pretty much stumped.
09-17-2006, 01:23 PM
Right. Really, unless, you have the religion be a super-specific and important element of the character (like what they made Nightcrawler to be), it tends to be flexible. Sometimes you'll see a superhero or a villain confide in a priest just for story purposes, but then they'd somehow declare him Jewish. It happens.
Wolverine is an obvious case. Writers who remember his Japan background would show him praying like a Buddhist or visit Buddhist temples. Others don't care, and have him pray in a church. Then there are writers who think that religion doesn't fit Logan's demeanor, and have him be a skeptic or an atheist.
09-18-2006, 08:40 PM
re: Wolverine is an atheist. When the X-Men clashed with Dracula he tried to use a cross to hold Dracula at bay. However the only way any religious iconography or symbol holds a vampire at bay is if you have faith in it, the stronger your faith, the more it repells the vampire. Since Wolverine's cross was completely useless, he has no faith in it, and since he was at one time a Christian, he has renounced his Christianity and become an atheist.
Couldn't it mean that he is just not very religious, or is not religious at all? The cross made effect only with Nightcrawler, which is one of the most religious characters in the MU [Marvel Universe].
09-19-2006, 08:40 PM
I liked Nightcrawler being religious, but they've gone away from that lately.
From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
At 5:51 PM, Tom Foss said...
mela said: You have to guess (like Adherents does) to find the good pious people, while the bad ones are rendered as larger than life & thus more painfully obvious.
Is there really that much guesswork? Daredevil, Huntress, and Nightdrawler are all outspoken Catholics. Punisher is a semi-lapsed Catholic. Granted, Catholicism is a subset of Christianity, but that's about equal to the number of outspoken Jewish characters I could name off the top of my head. Given the number of Christmas specials and cross-bearing headstones in comics, I think we can come to some pretty clear conclusions about a lot of non-Catholic Christian characters as well.
At 7:48 PM, david brothers said:
...My problem with the treatment of Christianity in comics is that, like another commenter said, the heroes who are Christians, with the exceptions like Daredevil, Huntress, etc, are rarely shown having anything to do with Christianity beyond saying "Oh my God."
The loud "Christians," the obvious ones, they tend to be screaming hellfire and brimstone corrupt bigots. Chuck Austen's kind of hilariously poorly thought-out exploding communion wafer Nightcrawler as anti-pope story comes to mind, as does Ennis's Preacher (which I did enjoy) and William Stryker...
...I liked the church scene in Infinite Crisis in part because it was a change from the norm. It wasn't handled as "HEY LOOK GUYS A CHURCH CHECK IT OUT RELIGION HEY HEY." It was more real than that. While Nightcrawler's time as a priest always felt gimmicky, I always liked that he was a Catholic. Wolfsbane was another good one...
From: autonomyanatomy, "Gay Superheroes Essay", posted 2007-06-12 on "The Automony of Anatomy" blog website (http://autonomyanatomy.livejournal.com/8335.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
In Ultimate X-Men, when Colossus comes out to Nightcrawler, he says, "If a man as unique as [Nightcrawler] no longer has to hide in the shadows, I fail to see why someone like me should" (Vaughan #65).
Nightcrawler comes from a very conservative, Catholic background and instantaneously abandons Colossus as a friend after he comes out. This homophobic reaction seems almost pathetic coming from a man with blue skin, a prehensile tail, and three digits on each hand, yet the action is entirely realistic, even for someone different as Nightcrawler. "Many people who have no trouble accepting love between two hobbits or two ogres still have difficulty accepting love between two men or two women," and Nightcrawler fills that token homophobe gap within Ultimate X-Men (Benshoff 262).
From: "Superman is a Methodist..." forum discussion, started 6 Marach 2006 on "Catholic Answers" website (http://126.96.36.199/showthread.php?t=102037; viewed 31 May 2007):
Mar 6, '06, 11:46 am
Superman is a Methodist, and the best we [Catholics] can do is Nightcrawler?
Who is Nightcrawler?
Sorry -- just tickled me the right way.
Mar 6, '06, 12:04 pm
Nightcrawler is so much better than Superman. He can teleport short distances, which is better than being the "man of steel," and he's with the X-men.
Here's a picture:
Depending on which canon you read, many of the X-men are Catholic. Gambit (very Cajun Catholic), Wolverine (devout, lapsed, devout again), Rogue (sometimes listed as Southern Baptist, but is lapsed/returned Catholic in the comics, and the original cartoon), and of course Nightcrawler (is a monk in the comics and the cartoon, very devout Catholic in the movie.)
And of of course, there is always Daredevil, who is devout in his Faith.
Catholics are well represented in the world comics, don't worry.
Yours in Christ,
Mar 7, '06, 5:47 am
It's not numbers I'm worried about... it's "cool factor" -- we don't have any "cool" superheroes!
I will admit that before I came back to the Church my favorite comic book was Evangeline, and she was a nun. She's also an assassin, so she's not exactly a good role-model.
Mar 7, '06, 9:09 am
re: I like the lone hero who goes off to save the day!
If you go with the comic canon, Nightcrawler is a lone hero. He was abandoned at a monastery as a child, and eventually took vows there. He is the defender of the monastery, and does a very good job of it.
Yours in Christ,
From: "Unpractical Ethics: Superheroes", posted 11 October 2005 on "Millenial Star" website [which comments on topics relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] (http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/10/11/unpractical_ethics_superheros; viewed 5 June 2007):
Comment from: lyle stamps - http://valuespundit.blogspot.com
Charles: I would disagree that comics don't deal with religion. They may not have characters who are openly religious; but religion is about making daily choices; the right choices. Maybe it isn't about Mormons projecting themselves into pop culture, but pop culture trying to answer the big questions and our choice to see this w/in a religious framework.
10/12/05 - 14:50
Comment from: Charles - http://job21-3.blogspot.com
Lyle, I think we are going to have to disagree here. Religion is about making daily choices and preferably the right choices at that, but religion goes much further. Its about faith in things not seen. Finding salvation and redemption. For Mormons it includes authority from God. For many others it reflects a moral ground and framework which allows us to interact with the rest of the world.
Most Comics do not address this part of daily life. There are a few that do, Daredevil being one of them, Nightcrawler from Xmen another. Most Superheroes are A-religious, most likely by design. They do reflect choices between right and wrong, but often they are the framework for those moral choices not religion.
10/12/05 - 16:19
From: "Comics and Religion Discussion (DC/Marvel)" forum discussion, started 30 May 2007 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/453153_1-successful-religion-based-comics-dc-marvel; viewed 6 June 2007):
May 30th, 2007 11:24 PM
Name some religion based comics that have been successful in the comic industry. Also explain what so great about them and how they are kept interesting?
Here are some superheroes and there religions I found...
Info Source: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html
May 30th, 2007 11:29 PM
Unless the company makes it a part of the character (like Nightcrawler with Catholicism) lots of superheroes stay away from the religion issue...
Honestly, with all the crazy sh-- most heroes have seen, it would be pretty unbelievable for them to be a believer of any particular Earth-based religion.
May 30th, 2007 11:31 PM
re: Honestly, with all the crazy sh-- most heroes have seen...
You mean besides the fact that many of them have actually been to heaven, met with angels, or seen God's divine wrath?
May 30th, 2007 11:36 PM
Well sure. I meant Marvel moreso than DC, which has its own religious hierarchy, which is obviously derivitive of Christianity and other pagan religions with similar influences.
But even then, wouldn't they be more in authority to believe in something specific, and not feel like they have to take orders from something based on Earth?
...unless it's part of the character (like the Nightcrawler example) anything resembling superhero religion just seems heavy-handed to me, and an attempt by the writer to either work their own personal ideology into the character, or moralize something that should be left to the reader.
Jun 1st, 2007 11:58 PM
I guess that's why I dropped Spawn with issue 100 and never looked back same with Avengelyne. Characters like Nightcrawler I tolerate because the religious aspect of the character is brought up sporadically.
From: "MSNBC talks religion of superheroes" forum discussion started 15 June 2006 on BKV.TV website (http://www.bkv.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=117679&sid=4ea823f1318d399750740ae4287a02f5; viewed 6 June 2007):
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 8:04 am
I've always thought of Superman's story as being more an allagory for the Jewish immigrant experience in America. He comes from a far away place, with a very ethnic name, Kal-El, to the heartland of America where he becomes the very WASP-y Clark Kent. He's even clothed in the colors of the American flag, minus any white.
As for other religious superheroes, Kitty Pryde's a practicing Jew, isn't she? And of course Nightcrawler's a devout Catholic.
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
02-01-2006, 05:05 AM
...Actually, overt religious belief and practice among Marvel characters is pretty sparse. Firebird is a religious Catholic, but we don't see much of her (and really never did). Rahne Sinclair was a devout Protestant, though you wouldn't know it since her latest remake. Daredevil is Catholic, but I'm not sure how devout. And Cloak and Dagger hang out in a Catholic church, but I'm not sure of their personal religious beliefs...
02-01-2006, 08:52 PM
Quite agree with your first line, but just to add a couple more examples:
Nightcrawler, whose religious beliefs (Catholicism) have been a strong aspect of his character since he first appeared, and Dust of the New X-Men (Muslim) has been seen praying in her room before, assuming that's something she does often.
02-02-2006, 04:48 AM
re: Quite agree with your first line, but just to add a couple more examples: Nightcrawler... Dust...
I stand corrected. And I should have mentioned both of those heroes since I was aware of them.
Though I still think it's amusing that playboy Kurt Wagner went to divinity school to be a celibate priest.
From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 17 May 2007 on official DC Comics message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?messageID=2003785241; viewed 7 June 2007):
Posted: May 17, 2007 8:37 AM
Yesterday, I read Action Comics #849, and the issue had several religious references and implications. Because of this, I decided to discuss it with everyone else here. Does religion have a place in comic books?
Posted: May 17, 2007 4:53 PM
Okay, while I'm on the subject, here I go...
I like Daredevil a lot and do like the fact that Matt Murdock is a Catholic. It helps me to "identify" with the character a little bit.
I also do like Zauriel alot since he's obviously a religious character but does not seem to adhere to any specific religion. I grant you that his beliefs do tend to lean towards judeo-christianity or something resembling that but he never (at least to my recollection) avowed himself to any specific religion. I also like how when he refers to what we call God he refers to it as the Presence. As if to say that there is someone up there but it has no physical form we could comprehend. I think it leaves it all up to personal interpretation and goes a long way to not offend anyone in their religious beliefs, contrary to what Ratsstar suggested. No offense.
I also like Nightcrawler alot for being a Catholic too. Much like Daredevil, I "identify" myself with him on some level because we share similar beliefs.
Still, if I may give one word of advise to everyone, there are two subjects that many of us (including me) should avoid discussion of in our daily lives, Politics and Religion. It's less of a hassle if you do.
From: "New Joe Fridays Week 28", published December 2006 on Newsarama.com (http://www.newsarama.com/NewJoeFridays/NewJoeFridays28.html; viewed 8 June 2007):
RQ: ted_dahlman [question]: I can only think of three Marvel characters who are practicing Jews (Thing, Shadowcat, and presumably Sabra), two who are practicing Christians (Nightcrawler and Firebird, both Catholic), along with a few Muslim heroes who have figured into minor roles in several stories, and the thousands of "mutant-hating bigots" who have shown up dressed in clerical garb.
JQ [Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics]: Hey there, ted_dahlman. Marc Spector, Doc Samson, and Magneto are also... Jews and don't forget Matt Murdock is a practicing Catholic. I know there's more, but I just thought I'd mention these four as they seem like important ones to include.
From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):
06-03-2007, 04:58 AM
You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot.
First the issue of stereotypes in general: The first major black Marvel characters were the Black Panther (Phantom/Tarzan-like jungle lord with a name that may or may not have predated the American political party by that name), Luke Cage (1970's blacksploitation character), Falcon (sidekick with a criminal past), and Storm (African princess modeled after Lt. Uhura). Throw on the Arabian Knight (actually an Egyptian, he had a scimitar and flying carpet), Shamrock, Batroc ze Leaper, and every German except Nightcrawler. I see all this as stemming not from maliciousness, but from the tendency of comic books to deal in stock characters, as a kind of shorthand. Later attempts improved with time, for the most part, though new characters have always had greater difficulty gaining a foothold.
So, on to religion. What religions do we find represented in Marvel? ...Mainstream religions were generally unmentioned before the 1990's (though we do find Cap consulting the New Testament for inspiration during the 1970's, and of course Damien Hellstrom trained for the Roman Ritual). Then suddenly a number of characters were revealed as being of Roman Catholic background (Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Nightcrawler, Punisher), or occasionally Jewish (Thing, though he is predated by minor characters Doc Samson, Sabra, Kitty Pryde, and Justice). USAgent, in his stint as Cap, was hinted to be a conservative Protestant. What was the motivation for all this? In the case of Daredevil, his being Catholic became a kind of shorthand for guilt and so on. Nightcrawler was assumed to be Catholic because of his Bavarian origins, Punisher because of his mafia connections...
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters (Doug Ramsey Fans, please help)" forum discussion, started 17 October 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-87949.html; viewed 20 June 2007):
10-17-2006, 02:42 PM
I found this site white tries to identify the religious affiliation of comic book characters.
10-17-2006, 08:42 PM
Excellent site. I only knew one character's religion, and that was Daredevi, a Catholic. Very interesting site. Thanks
10-18-2006, 02:10 PM
Cool site, JMarsh, thanks for linking that. Of course, I'm surprised when people say they only knew one or two, and yet no one mentioned Nightcrawler, the former Catholic Priest candidate. Kinda obvious what his denomination is.
And Kitty Pryde is the most famous Super-Jew I know of.
From: "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 27 June 2007 on "City of Heroes" website (http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=8576731; viewed 6 July 2007):
06/27/07 02:31 PM
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [link to: http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=8576731]
My Local newsradio station pointed this site out.
Let the battle begin.
06/27/07 03:13 PM
I think it's interesting and something that doesn't get talked about enough. But then I don't generally see alot of good debate and discussion in most comics anyway.
I can remember growing up and really loving some of the dialogue about religion that used to occur in X-Men. Between Nightcrawler (devout Catholic), Wolverine (Agnostic), and Colossus (Communist/Atheist) there was usually about a page of decent back and forth every few issues.
From: Brad Meltzer, "Jewish Superhero Website Listing", posted 28 June 2007 on his official MySpace website (http://www.bradmeltzer.com/labels/Comics.html; viewed 9 July 2007):
Thanks to Jack G. for this. And I so admire The Acidic Jew [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/AcidicJew.html].
Jewish superhero website listing:
[reader comments posted in response to this, at:
I know your purpose was different than as taken, but, I still think it's very interesting that both Marvel and DC (as well as independents) have incorporated religions in their characters' backgrounds.
Sure, we know some have religious/mythoological backgrounds (Thor, Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Bibleman) but, to see how many do, is interesting... I found it interesting that these universes incorporated religions from all over the world, just like a real universe would...
Thanks for that interesting link, Brad.
Posted by LegendsOfBatman on Monday, July 02, 2007 at 9:32 AM
From: "The Gay Superhero" forum discussion, started 30 August 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=77086; viewed 12 July 2007):
08-30-2005, 10:42 AM
This is a blade that cuts both ways.
You could hardly say that we Catholics have [great] superheroes.
Look at the two most major "Catholic" heroes that Marvel has: Daredevil and Nightcrawler. (I'm not that familiar with DC characters that might be Catholic.)
Daredevil, supposedly a "devout" Catholic, is perpetually guilt-ridden and doesn't exactly even try to adhere to the Catholic sexual ethic. If anything he's a grade-A Catholic stereotype: always feeling guilty and actively contradicting himself. (I still like Daredevil though!)
Now take Nightcrawler. A one-time seminarian whose faith was turned upside down by a bunch of insane wanna-be papist mutant-haters. And in the last few years: brooding and guilt ridden. I liked Kurt better when he was happy-go lucky AND a practicing Catholic. How much of a missed opportunity there was by having Kurt LEAVE the priesthood! Again, comics give in to the stereotype and walk away from real chances to have characters that are different and noteworthy.
The lack-of or limiting of minority characters and gay characters are only the most obvious ones given the world we currently live in.
But the same fact applies accross the board: characters are created to appeal to the MIDDLE... or slightly left of MIDDLE.
08-30-2005, 11:09 AM
I completely and totally agree. Nightcrawler is, hands down, my favorite comic book character and I liked him much better when he had aspirations for priesthood...
From: "Please Help List Minority Groups" forum discussion, started 11-05-2006 on "Super-Hero Hype" website (http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=255464; viewed 12 July 2007):
11-05-2006, 02:40 PM
I'm doing a project for Ohio State University about subordinate group representation in Marvel Comic's superhero population (pretty awesome, huh?)
A subordinate group basically means a population that's not a dominant group. And I've got 7 categories to fill; ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, and physical or mental ability. ..though I think I'll cut socioeconomic status do to it's fine line-ish qualities in comics.
So, how about I'll give what I've got so far, and then feel free to add to my lists. I think I have a pretty good handle on the MU, but it's still huge and I don't want to forget anybody. Should be fun anyway.
Shadowcat - Jewish
Thing - Jewish
Magneto - Jewish
Daredevil - Catholic
Nightcrawler - Catholic
From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 17th, '03, 09:38 PM
Another thread got me to thinking a bit about religious super heroes. They do occur in comic books. Some it barely gets mentioned, some few are quite devout in their faith. Examples that come to mind are Nightcrawler, Firebird, and Daredevil. Both Kitty Pryde and Ben Grimm are Jewish.
Within Champions own Universe, we get a plethora of infernal and dark villains to thwart and confound our heroes. While a brief mention is made in the CU book itself on relations between super heroes and religions, there are few if any superheroes that seem to have faith in their lives.
Some would see it as too serious a thing to tackle for games like this, others would see it as totally unimportant so I can understand why it doesn't get broached much.
Still, I have to ask if anyone has used such things in their games? Either for NPCs, or for a PC?
The only player in my group who has such a character has a mentalist. That character happens to be a Pagan, and took the name "Wytch".
I know someone on these forums (I think Storn) has played a Muslim character. D-Man has a Jewish character (Anthem I believe?) and so on.
How much or little does your typical super human in your campaign (or game if you are a player) let his/her faith affect his/her life especially AS a super hero?
Sep 23rd, '03, 09:31 PM
On topic, why do y'all think it is that GMs (and comics in general) tend to focus on the bad guys as religious (well, demons and the like) but usually fail to have religious heroes? There are of course exceptions like Nightcrawler, but they are the exception.
Sep 24th, '03, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by Isaiah_26_4
It's important to recognize that there's a substantial difference between "being religious" like Nightcrawler and being "of a religion" like Thor or Hercules. With Nightcrawler, I think the comic writers mostly wanted to explore the dichotomy between his demonic looks and his faith. I also don't recall Nightcrawler as being particularly religious when he was first introduced in the 80's; his Catholicism was sort of mentioned in passing but wasn't a major issue. You'll also note that Nightcrawler as portrayed is virtually a religious fanatic; not really a typical Catholic. Most Catholics don't walk around with a rosary praying all the time (I know, I was raised Catholic and have been dating a devoutly Catholic woman for 22+ years). The movie version was even worse; Nightcrawler was mutilating himself whenever he sinned. This is a very medieval extremist version of Catholicism; one the Church itself opposed. Nightcrawler isn't religious in any real sense; he's more a caricature of a religious character. In essense, Nightcrawler is really more anti-religious because he's portrayed as a virtual nutcase.
Thor and similar characters are based on pagan dieties, but hardly act religious. ("All-Father Odin, helpeth me kicketh mine enemy's butt!" hardly constitutes praying. :) ) I think you'd need to look for characters based on current "real" religions' heroes and villains. DC's Azrael [sic: this poster means "Zauriel"] probably qualifies; I think he's supposed to actually be an angel.
Sep 24th, '03, 06:27 AM
As you descibed it - which is accurate in and of itself - it sounds like Nightcrawler's a nutcase, but I didn't feel that way from the movie. The way I felt from the movie portrayal, he's so alien in his mutation and that mutation dictates his reality be so different that self-mutilation (while by no means, as you say, espoused by Catholicism) seems like "merely" a decorative add-on, nothing more than what would be a tattoo to you or I. From the movie I felt he was rationale, devout, and troubled all at once, but not dysfunctional. His self-etchings were beautiful even as they were scars.
Bear in mind I never read anything of Nightcrawler in the comics.
Sep 24th, '03, 07:50 AM
While I agree about the dichotomy about his looks and faith, I recall quite a few good moments in the comics I read at that explored Nightcrawler's religious side. (I thought he was introduced in the 70's myself-nitpick I know). Scenes I recall fondly were the X-Men battle against Dracula, where Kurt puts the hurt on Drac by taking two simple sticks and ramming them together in cross formation.
And the one where the X-men are about to go into battle... Wolverine seeks out Nightcrawler, and finds him praying.
Nightcrawler admits he is, and admits how oten times he seeks comfort from such. He then asks Wolverine if he believes, and if so in what? Wolverine's response is "Me? I believe in what I can touch, smell, taste." With an inference that there is nothing more beyond that.
Nightcrawler gives him a look of sympathy and says "ach, mein friend, I never realized how lonely you really were until now."
Wolverine scoffs, and goes "Who's lonely? I got you ain't I?"
And off they go.
I think the other purpose Nightcrawler had was to contrast was to Wolverine's cynicism and disabelief in things he could not sense, and in Storm's former 'goddess'hood.
Really, it depended on the writer, there were some that even had Nighcrawler's faith shattered later on, but I'd still put him as one of the first religious super heroes, and it never struck me as in a particularly 'bad' way :)
Sep 24th, '03, 08:18 AM
re: "I'd still put him as one of the first religious super heroes"
I don't think you can qualify Nightcrawler as one of the first religious super-heroes. That's assuming that none of the Golden Age or earlier Silver Age heroes were religious. I think that Nightcrawler was just one of the first ones where his religion was important to the story. In the 40's, it was just kind of assumed that most everybody was religious, and therefore it was just no big deal. But, when you're in Nightcrawler's situation, on a team like the X-Men (as opposed to, say, the [JSA] Justice Society of America), then yeah, being devout makes you stand out from the crowd.
Sep 24th, '03, 09:04 AM
I'm not sure. I'm no expert on Golden Age comics, but I don't recall much praying or going through any religious situations for many super heroes. Everyone was supposedly patriotic, but we were seeing super heroes carry the flag or salute was wide out in the open as well. I'm not saying they weren't religious, but it was very 'off panel' and therefore we never really will know. You can assume all day, but that's all it would be. With Nightcrawler, we 'knew'.
Sep 24th, '03, 02:10 PM
Nightcrawler's "nuttiness" wasn't portrayed in such light in the X-Men comics. As you pointed out, his faith was more low-key in the comics. Religion is usually subtle; it doesn't need to hit you between the eyes. But his portrayal in the X-Men 2 movie [X2] was a bit over the top. When he started mutilating himself, he departed Catholic doctrine and came across as a nut. (My Catholic girlfriend won't even have her ears pierced; and she was furious when her daughter did.) Don't get me wrong, Nightcrawler was by far the most three-dimensional and sympathetic character in either X-Men movie; vastly superior to the cardboard cutouts of Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey.
From: "Gods and Champions" forum discussion, started 11 September 2004 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-21728.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 11th, '04, 04:46 AM
Doesn't it seem that religious based Superheroes get a sort of lopsided treatment? Characters like Thor, Hercules and others never seem to catch much flak for claiming to be pagan gods and such, but Christian based supers are either unheard of or portrayed as over zealous wack jobs. I'm not a particularly religious person so please don't take this a some sort of rant, just something I've noticed...
Sep 11th, '04, 02:08 PM
Well, Nightcrawler is Catholic, Shadowcat is Jewish. But they don't fight crime as "God Boy" or anything like that...
From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 9 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 13 July 2007):
06-10-2007, 07:11 AM
In response to the Original Post: I think most of the analytical heroes consider any supernatural phenomenon a science that we don't understand yet. But for the most part, most characters don't have a definite, prescribed religion...
Personally, I love reading about religion and spirituality, so I would like to see it explored a bit more in comics. At the same time, unless the character's religion is central to that character's personality (like Firebird or Nightcrawler over at Marvel), then I don't have any problem with their beliefs shifting from story to story.
From: Rick Phillips, "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters", posted 14 July 2007 on "Black Lightning Limited" blog website (http://blacklightninglimited.blogspot.com/2007/07/religious-affiiation-of-comic-book.html; viewed 16 July 2007):
I have linked to this site before but I didn't see the photos [collage illustrations] that they now have on the site. It is called The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]...
July 14, 2007 5:01 AM
Very interesting. Apparently, being Catholic, like I am, is a good lead-in to being either demonic (Hellboy, Daimon Hellstrom), demonic-looking (Nightcrawler, Blue Devil), or full of guilt (Daredevil). That, or Irish, it would seem.
My favorite Catholic characters were always Nightcrawler -- who actually was in the seminary at one point, and Firebird, whose devout faith I thought was well-handled without turning her into a zealot or a nutcase.
July 14, 2007 7:03 PM
Rick Phillips said...
One of my favorite episodes of the X-Men cartoon series was when they met Nightcrawler who was in the Seminary at the time. It was their best episode as far as I was concerned.
From: "Superheroes by Religion" forum discussion, started 11 January 2007 on "Political Crossfire" website (http://www.politicalcrossfire.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=73989; viewed 16 July 2007):
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:20 pm
I wasn't sure whether to put this here or the Lounge, but this place rarely has anything light-hearted, so I suppose it needs it. So, here it is. I thought this was fascinating and should be expanded:
The Central Scrutinizer
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:38 am
...[I think that] Nightstalker is Eastern Orthodox, not Catholic. [sic: This poster means "Nightcrawler."]...
From: "Mistake in Ult. Spidey 109!" forum discussion, started 13 July 2007 on official Marvel Comics website (http://marvelcomics.com/boards/viewtopic.php?p=1769511&sid=196e05349d4603bed7683869825cdad6; viewed 18 July 2007):
Posted: 07.13.2007 4:43pm
Well, I might not be right on this (a Daredevil fan would have to check), but I think he (Daredevil) and Nightcrawler are both some form of Catholics in 616-Universe too! There are quite a few characters with visibly religious affiliations in comics for DC and Marvel, the majority of them I've noticed are either Jewish or Catholic. Probably more if you look harder.
From: "Sacreligious amd anti-Christian Comic characters" forum discussion, started 28 February 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000107545&start=0&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:49 PM
Any character that uses magic, sorcery
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:58 PM
Is this crap serious? This all depends on what faith you practice. It's conservative braindead and downright dangerous thinking like this that makes more and more people turn on the church...
Good Lord, (sigh)
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:19 PM
Sure, I can possibly see why Zauriel, the Spectre, Raven, the magic users and even Storm (since she is sometimes refered to as a godess) could be called sacreligious. Maybe even Lobo, partly because of his violent nature and partly becuse of his "re-birth" in "52". Supergirl if you mean the "earthborn angel". But seriously, Nightcrawler? Is it because he is shown to have faith at all? Is the mere portrayal of a religious man sacreligious to you? Venom? Juggernaut? What is even remotely sacreligious about those characters?
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 3:26 PM
Venom was in Church praying when the symbiote attacked him.
Juggernuat's strength and powers derive from witchcraft.
Nightcrawler was born looking demonic.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 3:43 PM
Nightcrawler is "sacreligious and anti-Christian" because of his looks?
So I guess the Joker is okay, since he's not on your list? Never mind the fact that he's a murderer many times over. Wow, there is absolutely no logic in this whatsoever.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:24 PM
...that's only if thats part of your faith, or interpretation.
Considering Comics were founded mostly by Jewish men, it makes comics sacreligious to read by Christians in general from that point of view.
If you seriously find these characters sacreligious you need to STOP reading comics now.
Anyone who finds Nightcrawler sacreligious is warped.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 4:21 PM
Wow is this off.
...And Nightcrawler wow... um for starters the whole "looking demonic" thing is just off.. There's no holy text that say what the devil looks like is anything like the red guy with the pointy tail and pitchfork. That was just what some artist did some time and it stuck. It has nothing to do with religion or Christanity, so that's just right off already. Second thing, it's closer to religion than most characters since he studies it enough to be a priest. And I'm pretty sure all Christian texts you can find say accept people how they are. Not how they are except if they look kinda funny to you then there sacreligious.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 6:30 PM
Let me get this straight, Nightcrawler is sacrilegous and/or anti-Christian simply because he had the bad fortune to be born with a demonic appearance? You reeeaaallly think this way, Mav'?
You really are a fruitcake. You are a xenophobic bigot. Get off these boards; you have no business mixing with decent, civilized folk. You are evil. Your very existence offends me.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 11:20 PM
Comments on Mavericker's list:
...Nightcrawler - er, when was the last time you read an X-Men comic? Kurt Wagner is a devout Catholic who's frequently had crises of faith. How can you equate looks demonic with sacreligious? ...
The actual dictionary definition of sacreligious follows:
From the Oxford dictionary:
Adjective form of Sacrilege
Noun. Robbery or profanation of sacred building.
Outrage on consecrated person or thing.
Violation of what is sacred.
These are fictional characters!!!
Which of them have robbed or profaned a sacred building, committed an act of outrage on a consecrated person (well LOBO Probably) or violated what is sacred?
And if you think these characters are sacreligious, why don't you just avoid the books that use them?
Is Elfquest sacreligious because the elves have no organized religion?
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:05 AM
re: "Nightcrawler was born looking demonic."
So what? He is a mutant who unfortunately has the appearance of a demon. There is nothing even remotely anti-Christian about that idea.
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:43 AM
Nightcrawler was born being a demonic being, and yes he's both anti-Christian and sacreligious.
Other anti-Christian characters:
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:56 AM
He was born with a physical mutation.
"Nightcrawler's father was Azazel, a member of a race of demonic-looking mutants dating back to Biblical times who were banished to another dimension by another race of angelic mutants."
If it looks like a duck but don't quack like a duck, it ain't necessarily a duck.
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:57 AM
re: "Nightcrawler was born being a demonic being, and yes he's both anti-Christian and sacrilegious."
You are mistaken. More, you are 100% absolutely wrong. Nightcrawler is not a demonic being; he is a mutant human being and a devout Christian (of the Catholic denomination) who was unfortunate enough to be born with the appearance of a demonic being. You are being exceedingly shallow and superficial, Mavericker. The news of Nightcrawler being half-alien is new to me, but that doesn't change my basic point.
Posted: Mar 2, 2007 8:42 PM
WHENEVER NIGHTCRAWLER TELEPORTS, THERE ARE TRACES OF BRIMSTONE-SOUNDS A BIT HELLISH, DON'T YOU THINK?
Posted: Mar 2, 2007 10:08 PM
No, because its not Hell he's traversing to, but rather a dimension that may appear to be Hell--but it isn't.
Nightcrawler is a devout priest--this is a fundamental aspect of his character. This cannot be ignored. He is anything but anti-Christian.
From: "NY Times outs Batwoman. DUH SPOILERS!!!!!" forum discussion, started 27 May 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27770.html; viewed 23 July 2007):
May 28th, 2006, 09:11 AM
I feel like DC is tying to be an advocate... Is DC just wanting quick media attention? If this were truly about diversity where is the devote Christian hero? What about a Pro-Life Republican? A priest that takes a vow of poverty to fight poverty?
For years people have praised or criticize liberal Hollywood. Are we now looking at a Liberal DC comics?
May 28th, 2006, 10:20 AM
Christian hero? I'm sorry but aren't a good majority of heroes Christian?
May 28th, 2006, 06:04 PM
But the point is that there are a majority of Christian characters in DC comics that already exist, so there's no "diversity" in creating more of the same...
May 28th, 2006, 06:36 PM
Really? One might make a case for a general "good works ethical monotheism", but how many have made on page confessional statments of Christ being their personal Lord and Savior? To assume that these characters are Christian is akin to assuming that any male character without a girlfriend is gay. Is that good enough?
May 28th, 2006, 06:49 PM
Did you click that link in my last post? It uses evidence from the various appearances the characters have made to determine what denomination they belong to.
May 28th, 2006, 07:05 PM
I've seen it, and I'll reiterate that I believe that the number of confessional Christians in mainstream comics is equal to, or less than the number of openly homosexual characters.
May 28th, 2006, 07:12 PM
Thanks for the link. It is interesting. But religion is not shown in their everyday life. We see the gay lifestyle, but when was the last time we saw Dick Grayson (Christian) at a Baptism, Batman (Catholic) attend mass, Hal Jordan go to confession, or Superman darken the doorway of a church?
May 28th, 2006, 07:48 PM
re: "...I believe that the number of confessional Christians in mainstream comics is equal to, or less than the number of openly homosexual characters."
I don't mean any offense, but if you believe that, it's probably because that's just what you want to see, because there's no way there are more openly gay characters in mainstream comics than openly Christian characters. Granted, we may not see declarations of their devotion to God in every issue, but there are still lots of Christians in comics who are open about their religion, like Black Lightning and Nightcrawler.
May 28th, 2006, 08:48 PM
Maybe Batwoman will be the exception that proves the rule, like Nightcrawler is for confessional Christian characters. Black Lightning shows up nowadays maybe slightly more than Pied Piper. I just don't see nominal ties to a certain denomination as proof positive that a character is Christian. I have no more reason to believe that they are...
Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=44; viewed 31 July 2007):
Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:22 pm
...Now, as to the question somewhere up there about why someone like you or me might prefer to leave the religious leanings of comic characters unrevealed. Very simply, I would do this because it can instantaneously either marginalize the potential readership who might have a strong emotional and/or religious objection to said religion. To maintain as wide of an appeal for most mainstream super-heroes, it really is best to avoid such a polarizing topic as their personal religious belief. Another reason is that it way too often becomes just a plot device for a writer to either proselytize or criticize the religion in question. And I really just don't like reading or seeing that in my super-hero comics. Another thing that it does is that most people do not have a moderate position on religion and whatever their position on it, the presence -- all of a sudden -- of a specific religious faith in a super-hero, once again, piles a bunch of presumptive baggage onto the character that he or she can smother under and basically kill the effective potential of the character. One of the worst things that Marvel ever did was take the swashbuckling, happy-go-lucky, Nightcrawler and turn him into a self-loathing, guilt-ridden extreme Catholic.
There are exceptions, and I would put that Muslim hero introduced recently in SUPERMAN and THE THING as the exceptions that prove the rule.
From: "Where are all the Christian super heroes?" forum discussion, started 14 May 2007 on "Uber Christians" website (http://uberchristians.org/vb/archive/index.php/t-673.html; viewed 2 August 2007):
05-14-2007, 05:32 PM
...Where are all the Christian super heroes? ...
05-14-2007, 05:35 PM
Don't you people read books? Nightcrawler's Catholic...
05-15-2007, 01:25 AM
I was thinking of Nightcrawler also...
From: "2000AD characters with defined 'real' religious orientations" forum discussion, started 7 March 2005 on "2000 AD Online" website (http://www.2000adonline.com/?zone=fan&page=messagethread&choice=13185; viewed 3 August 2007):
posted by Tordelbach on 7 Mar 05 at 17:58
2000AD characters with defined 'real' religious orientations
Just reading the always interesting 'Fool Brittannia', where Reggie... asks about the whereabouts of characters with clearly-defined religions in comics...
Do we have many 2000AD characters with defined 'real' religious orientations?
posted by His Lordship rac on 7 Mar 05 at 18:14
posted by Tordelbach on 7 Mar 05 at 19:02
...As to Nightcrawler, Reggie does mention him all right - other less well-known X-mutants now spring vaguely to mind too, Cannonball... Xian/Shan... also of the New Mutants...
From: "Need Help With A Research Project" forum discussion, started 9 December 2005 on the "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-16070.html; viewed 6 August 2007):
December 13th, 2005, 09:09 PM
re: "Additionally, we could also use some opinions on what characters/storylines best illustrate the following moral concepts:"
A. Redemption -- Green Lantern: Rebirth, characters--Spectre, Batman, Spider-Man
B. Faith -- Nightcrawler: Icons, character--Nightcrawler
C. Humility -- Green Lantern: The Road Back (even though it's not a favorite story), character--Kyle Rayner, Tim Drake
D. Hospitality -- the Excalibur storyline where Kurt mentored the crazy gang (I can pull my old issues if needed); character--Aunt May
E. Mercy -- characters--Dove
Thanks a lot! I might edit later if I think of more.
From: Tom R., "It's Kabbalah-in' Time!", posted 24 July 2006 on "Father McKenzie" website (http://fathermckenzie.blogspot.com/2006/07/its-kabbalah-in-time.html; viewed 10 August 2007):
...The religious affiliation of fictional super-characters is an intriguing topic. Some are, err, confessedly Catholic (X-Men's Nightcrawler, Daredevil's Matt Murdoch), while others are obviously Baptist or Methodist (Superman's Jonathan and Martha Kent, Spiderman's Aunt May). Other characters, though, are harder to call...
In any case, from my (medium-level) reading I don't think many superheroes (as distinct from kindly adoptive parents who bake great Thanksgiving pies) are really religious in any meaningful sense. The Catholic ones I mentioned tend to be tormented by guilt -- as you would too, if you either looked like a devil or dressed like one -- and to spend a lot of time hanging around churches, but otherwise aren't distinctively Catholic. They don't, for example, ask themselves whether letting the bad guy fall to his death from a cliff edge, because he refuses the hero's helping hand, counts as "direct or indirect formal or material complicity with homicide" pursuant to the Doctrine of Double Effect. Nor, for that matter, can I picture, say, Peter Parker [link to: http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/spiderman-3/2007/05/02/1177788214439.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1] asking himself "WWJD?" before deciding whether to continue hot pursuit of Doc Ock, or pause to stop a granny being run over...
From: "What is Professor X's Religion?" forum discussion, started 21 July 2007 on Yahoo Groups website (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ux-fans/message/6980; viewed 11 August 2007):
Steven / steviemort45
Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:24 am
Reading X-titles over the years religion has played a big part in many of the characters lives, Nightcrawler is very dedicated to Catholicism. A big part of Kitty is her faith in Judaism. Storm was worshipped as a godess. But one character who faith has never been explored (to my knowledge) is Professor Xavier's. Is he Catholic, Jewish, or is he an atheist?
Flyin' Ryan / fynryn
Jul 21, 2007 6:31 pm
Nightcrawler's Catholicism is clearly shown in his time endevoring to become a Catholic priest. But the whole celibacy thing just wouldn't have worked for him...
From: "Comics Industry is a Secular Ghetto" forum discussion, started 20 February 2007 on ComicCon website (http://www.comicon.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/ubb/get_topic/f/2/t/009378/p/3.html; viewed 11 August 2007):
posted 03-02-2007 02:50 AM
re: I don't agree that comics are particularly secular. Read most Vertigo and you'll see a line that deals quite a bit with religious themes, maybe not how you'd like them to deal with them (some are, in fact, downright abrasive to conservative Christian values), but they're not "secular."
Anti-Christian bigotry that comes from a non-religious place? That's is most ASSUREDLY secular.
Listen, I'm just talkin' numbers, man.
Look at it this way. Roughly 2% of Americans are Jews. Roughly 2% of Americans are homosexuals... Okay, how many times in comics has a character's homosexuality been tossed up at you? Now, how many times has a character's Jewishness been tossed up at you?...
Now, roughly 85% of Americans are Christians. How often has a character's Christian-ness been tossed up at you?
I mean, Daredevil is Catholic. Nightcrawler is Catholic. Outside of that Astro City TP [trade paperback], where are the Evangelical Protestants? Catholics are the minority. Where are the Lutherans, fer cryin' out loud?! I'm Lutheran. (Yeah, that's right. Missouri Synod Lutherans and Wisconsin Synod Lutherans are conservative, Biblicist, Evangelical Protestants.)
Movies? Michael J. Fox played a Lutheran soldier of conscience on Casualties of War.
You JUST don't GET it, do you?
92 percent of Americans profess a belief in God and 84 percent call themselves Christians. Where ARE they in the world of mainstream comics? VILLAINS?! That just PROVES my point! That's ANTI-CHRISTIAN bias coming from bigoted comics writers. Sheesh! Are you totally CLUEless?
"Modern comics are more realistic." No they're NOT. They exist in a fantasy world where 84 percent of Americans embrace villainy (portrayed as YOU describe).
So, you would say that laws outlawing religion would not be "secular," because they deal with religion? What fantasy world are you IN, man?
posted 03-02-2007 07:36 AM
Actually, given that the majority of Marvel's stories take place in and around NYC, Catholics would not be the minority, they'd be the majority, as they are in nearly every large city on the East and West Coasts, and even in many midwestern cities, like Chicago.
BTW, like the idea that somehow, in Porta's world, Catholics like DD and Nightcrawler don't count in that 85% Christian group.
posted 03-02-2007 03:53 PM
Originally posted by Charles Reece: "Your call for quotas..."
Again with the fantasies. I am pointing out that comic book entertainments reflect a secular reality that is not characteristic of the America in which it is set. That is not a call for quotas. It is a somple fact. Comics publishers and writers haven't a clue as to the real America. Their mindsets are provincial, insular, secular, bigoted.
From: Ranuel, "Religion of Comic Book Characters", posted 26 June 2007 on "Why Am I In This Handbasket?" blog website (http://ranuel.livejournal.com/25893.html; viewed 15 August 2007):
If you are a comic geek then you probably already know that Nightcrawler is Catholic and Kitty Pryde is Jewish...
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