Ever since she first appeared in 1980’s Uncanny X-Men #129, Kitty Pryde has been a symbol of female empowerment for fans. She may have seemed like just another teenage mutant who can phase through solid matter, but she was not to be underestimated. When she first met the X-Men, she saved them from the White Queen. When she came to join the team in issue #138, she brought with her a fresh start for readers on the heels of the tragic end of “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” Today, she is the X-Men’s team leader. Over the last 38 years, Kitty has continued to inspire us and allow us to grow with her. Yet, despite this long history in the comics, many people may not know Kitty as well as they think they do.
How can she send someone’s consciousness back in time in X-Men: Days of Future Past? How powerful is she? Does she have a romantic past with Colossus in the films? Is that story about the origin of her name true? If you got your X-Men education from the films rather than the comics, there is a lot worth learning about Kitty that makes her a fuller character on the screen. Alternatively, if you have followed Kitty for years through the source material, you may have some questions (or critiques) regarding the live-action version. And then, of course, there is the world of animation which reinterpreted Kitty in a few different ways. No matter what your preferred medium is, there is undoubtedly something more to learn about her. Here are 20 facts about Kitty that every fan should know.
20 MARVEL RANKED HER FIRST ON THEIR LIST OF TOP X-MEN
Every X-Men fan has a favorite character and so does Marvel. Back in 2013, Marvel celebrated the X-Men’s 50th anniversary by ranking the team’s all-time greatest members of the team and their favorite is none other than Kitty Pryde.
According to Marvel, “Kitty Pryde's maturation from a wide-eyed teenager to that of a leading voice in the mutant rights movement forms the backbone of over three decades of X-Men stories. Her continued popularity and central role to so many classic tales speaks to why she tops this list of the greatest X-Men of all-time.” Beating out 49 of the X-Men universe’s most popular mutants is no small feat, but over her 38 years in print, we’ve come to expect nothing less from her.
19 HER REAL-LIFE NAMESAKE HAD TO CHANGE HER NAME
Kitty Pryde’s name was inspired by creator John Byrne’s college friend of the same name. Byrne loved the name enough to ask permission to use it for his first comic character. Neither Byrne or Pryde could have foreseen how popular Shadowcat would become and Pryde found herself the center of much unwanted attention from fans.
To distance herself from the X-Men character, Pryde began going by K.D. Pryde. Despite her appreciation for the value of the X-Men and Shadowcat, Pryde expressed discontent with living in Kitty’s shadow: “For the first couple of years I got some good laughs out of the attention I received from X-Men fans, but that stopped pretty quickly when it began infringing on my work and life as an artist.”
18 SHE IS A BEING OF UNLIMITED POWER
Kitty isn’t the first person to come to mind when thinking of beings with unlimited power, but as of her encounter with the Black Vortex, she makes the list. Using the Black Vortex, Kitty’s powers were greatly enhanced on a cosmic level, essentially making her god-like. This was not her intent in submitting to the Vortex; in fact, she was reluctant to do so, but she had to in order to save the people of Spartax.
Post-Vortex, Kitty can now phase through any material regardless of density, travel between the planes of the multiverse, and is immune to the dangers of exposure in space. She tells her then love interest Peter Quill that the power scares her, but she also doesn’t give it up either.
17 SHE HAS HAD THREE DIFFERENT CODENAMES
When Kitty first became part of the X-Men, she was the youngest person to join. The youthful mutant brought new life to the team, which was particularly needed after the recent loss of Jean Grey during the events of the “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” Like any young person, Kitty experimented with her image as a teen and she also went by a few different codenames.
Before landing on the now famous moniker Shadowcat, she was first known as Sprite and, later, Ariel. As Professor X and Kitty brainstormed names, Storm suggested Sprite, which Kitty loved. She later went with Xavier’s suggestion of Ariel. Each name came with a variety of different costumes, but just as Kitty settled on the name Shadowcat, she also came to settle on her now traditional black and gold costume.
16 SHE WAS THE ORIGINAL HERO OF DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The Days of Future Past film was a unique take on a story first told in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #141 and #142. In the film, Kitty sends Wolverine back in time to stop something that would lead to a future ruled by mutant-hunting sentinels. In the comics, however, Kitty was the time traveling hero.
Tasked with the same mission as Wolverine in the film, comic book Kitty was sent back into the body of her younger self by Rachel Summers. Since Kitty was so young in the film’s depiction, she wouldn’t have a younger body to go to -- she wasn’t even born in 1973. So, she was given Rachel’s original role and, sadly, that is the only version some fans will ever know.
15 SHE LEFT SUPERHEROICS FOR COLLEGE
Like so many X-Men before and after her, Kitty needed to take a break from being a superhero, especially after the passing of Colossus. Heading back to Illinois, Kitty earned a full scholarship to the University of Chicago to study computer science. For a little while at least, Kitty was able to enjoy a more normal life.
Unfortunately, the life of an X-Man is rarely so easily abandoned. While she was in school, her father was decimated by Sentinels during an attack on Genosha orchestrated by Cassandra Nova. She was also taken by William Stryker but, with help from the X-Treme X-Men team, she escaped. She rejoined the X-Men for the start of Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men.
14 PHOENIX GOT KITTY ENROLLED AT THE XAVIER INSTITUTE
Before Kitty joined the X-Men she met some of them when they came to recruit her at her home. Emma Frost also tried to recruit Kitty, but Kitty chose the X-Men. Kitty’s parents let her go out with Xavier’s other students, Storm, Wolverine, and Colossus. Storm told Kitty all about the X-Men part of the school just as Frost attacked them. Kitty’s parents didn’t hear from her for a day and they weren’t pleased.
When Kitty and the X-Men finally showed back up, Kitty’s parents were strongly opposed to her enrolling in Professor X’s school. Taking a page from Xavier’s book, Jean Grey erased Kitty’s parents’ memories and inserted new ones using her Phoenix-amplified telepathy. They were suddenly all too supportive of Kitty’s choice.
13 SHE DEVELOPED A SECONDARY MUTATION
Speaking of Kitty in Days of Future Past, how can she send someone’s consciousness back in time? This detail was never discussed on-screen, but fans familiar with the source material wagered Kitty had developed a secondary mutation. As a mutant gets older, some develop a second ability, and for Kitty that appears to be chronoskimming.
Days of Future Past writer Simon Kinberg confirmed this, saying that “there’s secondary powers that a lot of the mutants have in the X-Men universe, secondary powers that evolve and emerge later in life. So, who’s to say that Kitty, who is capable of touching people and having them phase with her through space, why can’t it be that they also phase through time if she evolves her powers?”
12 THREE DIFFERENT ACTRESSES PLAYED HER
Beyond having had three codenames, Kitty has also been played by three different actresses in the films. In X-Men, Kitty, played by Sumela Kay, was briefly seen in Xavier’s class when Logan barges in. In X2, Katie Stuart played the part, phasing through the mansion during Stryker’s attack. Most famously, Ellen Page portrayed her in both The Last Stand and Days of Future Past.
Page’s first appearance as Kitty felt like the character’s first real debut. She was an X-Man with dialogue and she maintained the role moving forward. Coincidentally, Kitty finally becomes a member of the team in a film that also featured “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” In the comics, Kitty joins the team at the end of the “Phoenix” story arc.
11 SHE WAS ENGAGED TO STAR-LORD
When it comes to Kitty’s love life, Colossus comes to the forefront of most people’s minds. The two share a long history and almost got married. However, they have often been an on-again-off-again couple, and during an off period, Kitty met Peter Quill of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
After the "Trial of Jean Grey," the two began a long-distance relationship. After fighting side-by-side during the events of "The Black Vortex," Peter proposed to Kitty and she accepted. The two travel the galaxy together and when Quill is later named Emperor of Spartax, Kitty was set to become his first lady. However, after later helping to avert an invasion led by Thanos, Kitty opts to stay on Earth and ends the engagement.
10 SHE JOINED THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY AS STAR-LORD
In 2015, after Kitty and Peter became engaged, but before they broke up, Peter takes on the duties of the Emperor of Spartax. In his absence, Kitty takes on the Star-Lord role and joins the Guardians of the Galaxy. She goes on a series of adventures and helps the team take on the likes of Hala.
When they land on a concentration camp prison planet, Kitty makes it her goal to liberate all of the captives. During the mission, Peter, who had rejoined the group, was caught and sentenced to her demise. In one of her darkest moments, Kitty finds on of the planetary leaders and phases his heart out of his body, ending him. She later left the team after ending her engagement to Peter.
9 SHE IS DEVOUT
After an anti-Semitic message appeared in an issue of X-Men: Gold, many learned that Kitty is Jewish. Kitty’s grandfather was a holocaust survivor who had been imprisoned in a concentration camp. She periodically wears a Star of David necklace and in X-Men: Evolution she is seen lighting the menorah with her parents during Hanukkah.
Magneto makes the loudest claims to Judaism and the Jewish experience, usually while forcing his agenda on people. Kitty offers an alternative to this, providing a healthy, strong representation of the Jewish faith. Her religion is not some minor character detail; it is a strong part of her identity. As she once proclaimed, “I am Jewish, I am a Mutant. And I want people to known who and what I am.”
8 SHE ATTENDED EMMA FROST’S ACADEMY
Emma Frost may not have been successful in her initial attempt to recruit Kitty, but the White Queen is relentless if nothing else. Using her telepathic abilities, Frost manipulated Kitty’s parents into thinking that Kitty needed to matriculate with students of her own age. They then transferred her from Xavier’s school to Frost’s Massachusetts Academy.
The transfer was part of a larger plot designed by Emma to infiltrate the X-Men. When Storm brought Kitty to the Massachusetts Academy, Emma switched bodies with the weather witch and attacked the X-Men. Fortunately, Kitty and Storm, in Emma’s body, were able to rescue the X-Men. As a result, Frost rescinded Kitty's acceptance.
7 SHE WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR BUFFY
Joss Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer to empower women and combat Hollywood stereotypes about what women are capable of as superheroes. In doing so, he came to find that Buffy was greatly inspired by the X-Men’s very own young, influential hero, Kitty Pryde.
When Whedon discussed the three reasons he was writing Astonishing X-Men (2004-2013), he included Kitty Pryde among them. “She was not a small influence on Buffy,” Whedon stated. “I get to use her, and that sealed the deal." In 2008, Whedon discussed Kitty’s influence again, sharing that "If there's a bigger influence on Buffy than Kitty, I don't know what it was... She was an adolescent girl finding out she has great power and dealing with it."
6 SHE IS THE X-MEN TEAM LEADER
When it comes to leaders of the X-Men, there have been very few. Most people think of Cyclops and Storm, but now Kitty can be added to the list. After returning from her adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Kitty was quickly approached by Storm, the then current leader of the X-Men.
Storm tells Kitty everything she has missed. She also admits guilt for having led the X-Men into war with the Inhumans and her decision to resign as leader. She offered the role to Kitty, who she has always been close with. Kitty agrees to take the role, but only if Storm stays on with the X-Men. She has continued as the team leader through the entire X-Men: Gold series.
5 SHE IS A MASTER MARTIAL ARTIST
Kitty has alway been a bit of a threat -- she did rescue the X-Men during their first meeting when she was just a teen after all. While her ability to phase gives her a leg up, she also became a master martial artist along the way.
As a result of being temporarily possessed by the ninja demon Ronin Ogun, Kitty essentially obtained a lifetime of training in the Japanese ninja and samurai arts of aikido, karate, and ninjutsu. To top it off, she was also trained in Krav Maga, an Israeli form of martial arts, and Wolverine taught her his methods of street-fighting.
4 HER CLOSEST COMPANION IS AN ALIEN DRAGON
You’ve undoubtedly seen Kitty in the presence of what is assumingely her small pet dragon, but he is actually an alien being and we prefer to think of him as her companion. Lockheed –– named after the X-Men’s Lockheed Blackbird jet –– met Kitty when she was taken to a planet that had been colonized by the Brood. Though he looks like a cute little dragon from a fairytale, Lockheed is a member of a highly advanced race of extraterrestrials.
Lockheed and Kitty share a close relationship and he frequently shares in her adventures. He joined her when she founded the British X-Men branch, Excalibur, and also helped her stop the power of the Black Vortex. Most recently, he appeared at Kitty and Colossus' (attempted) wedding.
3 SHE HEADLINED THE FIRST ANIMATED SERIES
Before the hit '90s X-Men cartoon came to fruition, Marvel first experimented with a version centered around Kitty Pryde. Rather than make a 13th episode of the animated RoboCop series, funding was funneled into creating the 1989 pilot X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. The episode was narrated by Stan Lee and featured many well-known characters in a narrative that introduced Kitty to the X-Men shortly before an attack by Magneto.
The pilot received mixed reviews from fans of the comics. Many complained that the seemingly helpless, damsel-in-distress iteration of Kitty was too out of character. The series was not picked up and efforts were put towards the next 1992 X-Men cartoon. That series didn’t feature Kitty at all, opting to replace her with Jubilee.
2 SHE AND COLOSSUS WERE TOGETHER IN THE FILMS
Many fans took issue with the films coupling Kitty and Iceman when she and Colossus have shared a romance in the comics for years -- they even recently almost got married. The films, which feature both Kitty and Colossus, never discuss their relationship, but the novelization of The Last Stand, written by Chris Claremont, is another story.
During Xavier’s funeral scene in the novel, Claremont writes: “None of them noticed Peter Rasputin, sitting behind Bobby, with eyes only for Kitty. They’d been an item, once, and after they’d broken up, she’d spent a sabbatical year abroad getting over it. Problem was, he hadn’t.” Later, when the timeline changes in Days of Future Past, we see Kitty teaching with Colossus, seemingly a hint at their historic relationship.
1 SHE HAS BEEN ON SEVERAL DIFFERENT SUPERHERO TEAMS
Kitty’s initial and strongest team affiliation is with the X-Men, but a woman with so much to offer is bound to be sought after by other teams in the larger Marvel Universe. As discussed earlier, she spent some time as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy in 2015, but that is not the additional position in her resume.
In the '80s, Kitty and Nightcrawler joined the British superhero team, Excalibur. The team also consisted of Captain Britain, Rachel Summers, and Meggan. Kitty was also briefly recruited by the government agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 1997 three-issue miniseries Kitty Pryde, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.