By Julia Emmanuele, Hollywood Staff
If you were to name the most important X-Men characters, there's no doubt that Professor X, Magneto, and Wolverine would top everyone's list. They're the heroes of the series, representing the different sides of the mutants vs. humans debate, and the key figures around which most of the stories revolve. However, one name that might not appear on very many lists, despite being arguably just as important as those characters is Kitty Pryde. That's because despite being a vital member of the X-Men, Kitty's time on the silver screen has been negligible at best.
Kitty was created in the early 1970s after John Byrne and Chris Claremont were told to add some actual students into their "School for Mutants." In the 40 years since she first appeared in the comics, she's grown from a precocious, intelligent kid sister figure to a full-fledged member of the team and a leader in her own right. At age 14, she was made the youngest member of the team; she's been a central character and a key figure in some of the most famous stories in the X-Men mythology and she was, in fact, the driving force and the main character behind one the most iconic arcs in the comic's run, Days of Future Past.
And yet, when it comes to the films, Kitty has spent much of the time being shunted to the side in favor of expanding other characters' storylines. She only barely appeared in X-Men and X2, getting two brief cameos and being mentioned in passing by Professor X. Of course, when you're attempting to condense decades of comic books and characters into a two-hour film, concessions need to be made, and so Kitty was sacrificed for some of the older, more iconic characters.
So it was a big deal when X-Men: The Last Stand was released, as it promised to give Kitty the starring role she had long deserved. Unfortunately, the bulk of her screen time was focused on the love triangle between her, Iceman, and Rogue, effectively reducing her character to a cute girl who came between one of the franchise's most important couples. Instead of showcasing any of the interesting aspects of her character - her intelligence, her confidence, her abilities - or even featuring some of her journey from student to hero, Kitty was instead used as a plot device designed to come between the young lovebirds.
Kitty did get one moment of glory in The Last Stand, when she saved Jimmy/Leech from the Juggernaut and helped him escape from Alcatraz and the government officials who were using him to cure mutants. However, her heroism was overshadowed by the conflict between Professor X and Magneto, and Wolverine's angst about having to kill Phoenix even though he loved her. Kitty's actions were the catalyst for the resolution of the film and yet they're often forgotten in the wake of Wolverine's heartbreak or Magneto's loss of powers.
Kitty Pryde deserves better than that. As a character, she's had one of the most compelling and complete story arcs in the X-Men series. She started out a confused little girl, used primarily to be the foil to the older, more experienced X-Men, but she quickly grew into her powers and found a place on the team. Kitty was still a teenager when her older self went back in time and stopped the assassination that would have resulted in the destruction of the world and mutant race. She single-handedly took down terrifying villains, she learned to love and accept her fellow classmates, and she was routinely a vital part of major rescue missions and plots to defeat Magneto. She even had a pet dragon that she could communicate with telepathically, and if Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it's that the character with dragons is always the most exciting.
Even her relationships were more interesting and entertaining than anything the X-Men movies managed to come up with. She had a complicated on and off relationship with Colossus, one that spanned decades of comics and overcame their age difference, jealousy, alien healers, and even death. In each instance, Kitty asserts herself, choosing to pursue Colossus despite the obstacles in their way and putting herself first when she needs to. Neither one of them pine quietly after one another, only to be separated by forces beyond their control. It's messy and complicated and allows both of them to take action and go after what they want, and Kitty is confident and tough throughout it all.
Her platonic relationships are just as interesting. In addition to her long-term friendships with the other mutant students, Kitty and Storm develop a close mother-daughter relationship; she becomes Wolverine's favorite student and he becomes her mentor. They play a significant role in each other's stories - they even starred in a spinoff series together - and it's under his guidance that she begins to grow into the great hero she was meant to be. Since the film series is so intent of focusing every story on Wolverine, you'd think that his friendship with Kitty might come up once or twice, instead of her being stuck in the background while he broods.
Though she's no longer at the center of the story in X-Men: Days of Future Past, she is said to play a significant role in the film, one that establishes her as a vitally important character in the X-Men universe. It's an important step towards rectifying the way Kitty's been portrayed on screen, introducing fans who might not have read the comics to a key member of the team, and a complicated, compelling character who is more than just the little girl who can walk through walls. The movie might still belong to Wolverine, Professor X, and Magneto, but at least Kitty will finally get a moment in the spotlight.
And maybe, if we're lucky, she might even get a spin off film of her own one day. Kitty Pryde deserves it.