Many years ago in Germany a young Kurt Szardos is the acrobatic main event in Herr Max Getmann’s Traveling Circus. Kurt’s amazing agility is not what bewilders the audience though. It is his blue skin, pointed ears, yellow eyes, three fingers per hand, two toes per foot and devilish tail that not only amazes but also frightens them. Even though he is a star there is emptiness in his eyes. At the end of each show Kurt is met by Getmann, his mother Margali, and the strong man Rolfe Geht and then taken to Doc Mojo for his medicine. His mother does not approve of the so called medicine but her weak appearance and worn down eyes shows how much of a fight she can put up.
The shot stings and Kurt is unconscious. Margali can only watch as her son is thrown into a cage like an animal. Kurt later is woken up by Getmann yelling at his mother about a bad tasting meal. She apologizes and tells her other children Stephan and Jimaine to prepare another meal while she visits Kurt who asks her to tell him the story of how she found him. She tells him a happy fairytale of his real mother giving him to Margali due to his real father being of a lower class than her. She tells Kurt that she went and sought the perfect home for such a blessing and that is how they came to the circus. It is a nice story but Kurt knows it is a lie, a lie he prefers.
flashback to the true story:
Kurt’s real mother, Mystique, is chased by a lynch mob for giving birth to a baby that looks like the devil. She is forced to abandon baby Kurt and sends him down the river. Margali finds him but is forced to leave her Gypsy home cause no one else wanted the baby around and thought it was of the devil. They came to the circus and were taken in because Getmann thought he could make a profit off Kurt’s looks and would use the rest of his family as slaves.
First Getmann put Kurt in a cage just to show off. When Kurt just sat there Getmann would take him and whip him. One day Kurt had had enough lashes and used his agility to evade Getmann’s whip. Getmann found usefulness for Kurt and made him the main event for his show.
Kurt is wakened again by his mother and Herr Getmann arguing. Armen Frellich, Getmann’s whipping boy, tells Kurt Getmann is coming for him. Getmann has decided Kurt would be more profitable if he sold him to another circus or a taxidermist. Margali tells Armen to get her something heavy, she is breaking Kurt out. Armen brings her a shovel and she tells him to leave. She breaks Kurt out and tells him to run. He does not want to leave for fear of what will happen to her and his siblings. She assures him they will be safe and then sets fire to the camp to cover Kurt’s escape.
The cover does not work as Getmann sends his goons after Kurt. Kurt cannot out run the goons due to the effects of the medicine. He is eventually caught and Getmann orders his men to kill Kurt. Staring down the barrel of a gun Kurt prepares to die when all of a sudden he disappears. He reappears a little farther away out of the goons’ sight. Although he is not sure of what just happened Kurt smiles to himself and continues to run.
Two days later at a church a priest known as Father Wagner hears someone in the rafters. He is shocked the see Kurt’s devilish form. Still Wagner welcomes Kurt and tells him there is food and a cot waiting for him when he is ready to come down. Over the next few weeks Wagner cares for Kurt and teaches him the bible.
One night a boy bursts into the church needing sanctuary. Kurt recognizes the boy as Armen. Armen apologizes to Kurt for he has led Getmann and his goons to the Church. Getmann enters and is pleased to see that he has found both of his runaways. Father Wagner tells Getmann that the boys are protected in the church but Getmann attacks them all anyway.
After Getmann strikes Armen, Kurt teleports him to a farm where he will be take care of. Kurt returns to find that Getmann has set fire to the church. Furious Kurt tells Getmann that he is going to take his advice and seize every opportunity. Kurt uses his powers to beat Getmann.
Kurt is about to drop Getmann off the roof, but Wagner begs him to not forfeit his own soul. At the words of the priest Kurt frees Getmann. Getmann is not as forgiving and orders his goons to shoot Kurt. Kurt stands and prepares yet again to face his death.
Suddenly a voice tells Kurt that they will not hurt them. Kurt opens his eyes to see everyone frozen except a man in a wheelchair. The man tells Kurt that he is Professor Charles Xavier and that he has stopped everyone with his mind. Xavier wants Kurt to join the X-Men. Kurt is reluctant to leave his family and Father Wagner. Xavier assures him that his family and the priest will be safe and that everyone else will think he died in the fire.
Kurt agrees but when Xavier calls him Kurt Szardos, Kurt tells him that he died in the fire and that from then on he is Kurt Wagner.