Comic books have always imagined the seemingly impossible, and in doing so have often invoked storylines of biblical proportions. Superman, for instance, has been commonly referred to as a messianic figure and likened to Jesus. There are other heroes like The Incredible Hulk that exercise acts of strength and might be compared to Samson, the Old Testament judge, or Angel who is stylized after angelic figures described throughout the Bible. Then there are demonic characters (i.e., Hellboy, Mephisto, and Trigon) that imagine what the biblical devil or his demons might look like in alien or mutant form.
While these comic book characters have allegorical ties to the Bible, Marvel Comics created a superhero with a more direct connection and made him a member of the iconic X-Men. Kurt Wagner, a German-born orphan, is depicted as a demon-like mutant, but is ironically a devout Catholic who quotes Bible verses and at various times in his storyline serves as an ordained priest.
When Nightcrawler (as he is known) made his big screen debut in X2 (aka X-Men Unlimited and X-Men 2), his knowledge of the Bible was brought to the forefront during one of the film’s most harrowing scenes. Just before teleporting into a room where Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is being held captive, Wagner begins to recite The Lord’s Prayer (from Matthew 6:9–13):
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven…”
In another dramatic moment, Nightcrawler finds solace in another iconic Bible verse following the loss of a team member:
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou are with me.” (Psalm 23)
X2 isn’t the only time the Bible has served as inspiration within the X-Men film franchise. X-Men: Apocalypse(2016) takes much of its thematic material from the book of Revelation. While Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) doesn’t quote Revelation in the film, he does say a prayer during a difficult moment. Apocalypse (the name of the movie’s powerful villain who fancies himself a deity) instead utilizes end times imagery and references "The Four Horsemen" of Revelation 6, among other biblical themes.
“You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel,” he mocks those trying to defeat him while referencing a Bible story found in Genesis 11:1–9. “But you can never strike God!”
“I’ve been reading the script a lot and trying to come at, for me, an interesting angle,” actor Oscar Isaac (who plays Apocalypse) said prior to the film’s production. “Definitely focusing on the fact he is the embodiment of the second coming of the judgments of God and that energy going in.”