Should I Watch..? 'X-Men 2'

Updated on October 15, 2018
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin has been reviewing films for fifteen years and has seen more action movies than he should probably admit to!

Film's poster
Film's poster | Source

What's the big deal?

X-Men 2 (also known as X2) is an action superhero film released in 2003 and is based on the superhero team of the same name produced by Marvel Comics. The sequel to X-Men, the film was released before the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in 2008 and was directed once again by Bryan Singer. The film is loosely based on the graphic novel 'God Loves, Man Kills' and sees the X-Men forced to team up with their sworn enemies the Brotherhood in order to combat a genocidal military leader intent on wiping out mutantkind. The ensemble cast includes Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Anna Paquin and Alan Cumming. Like the first film, the film received a warm reception from critics and audiences alike with global earnings in excess of $407 million. The film would be followed in 2006 by X-Men: The Last Stand.

Enjoyable

4 stars for X-Men 2

What's it about?

After a failed assassination attempt on the life of the US President by the mutant Nightcrawler, Wolverine returns to Charles Xavier's School For The Gifted in order to assist Professor Xavier and the X-Men in tracking Nightcrawler down. Xavier and Cyclops go to speak to the imprisoned Magneto while Storm and Jean Grey go to bring Nightcrawler in. However, the assassination attempt has political implications - the President authorises a military strike on Xavier's compound led by Colonel William Stryker. Colossus leads some of the students to safety although many are rounded up by Stryker's men.

As Wolverine, Rogue, Pyro and Iceman escape the chaos, Stryker's true target becomes clear - capturing Professor Xavier, Stryker intends to use the psychic's mutant-detecting machine Cerebro in order to locate and eradicate mutants wherever they may be found. With Stryker's forces operating with impunity across the US, the X-Men have no choice but to work alongside Magneto's villainous Brotherhood if they stand any chance of surviving.

Trailer

Main Cast

Actor
Role
Hugh Jackman
Logan / Wolverine
Patrick Stewart
Professor Charles Xavier
Ian McKellen
Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Halle Berry
Ororo Munroe / Storm
Famke Janssen
Jean Grey
James Marsden
Scott Summers / Cyclops
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Raven Darkholme / Mystique
Brian Cox
Col. William Stryker
Alan Cumming
Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Bruce Davison
Sen. Robert Kelly
Anna Paquin
Marie D'Ancanto / Rogue

Technical Info

Director
Bryan Singer
Screenplay
Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris & David Hayter*
Running Time
134 minutes
Release Date (UK)
1st May, 2003
Genre
Action, Sci-Fi, Superhero
*story by Zak Penn, David Hayter & Bryan Singer, based on characters created by Jack Kirby & Stan Lee
The film is darker in tone than before, making the threat posed by Stryker feel real.
The film is darker in tone than before, making the threat posed by Stryker feel real. | Source

What's to like?

Not needing to bother with detailing the obligatory origins of the many characters on screen, X-Men 2 throws you straight into the action and in this regard remains a quality product. The returning cast from the first film feel more confident in their roles than before and despite Jackman's Wolverine remaining the main focus, the film gives other roles more to do like Stewart's Professor X and Paquin's Rogue. But personally, I enjoyed the newcomers just as much - Cox is typically wicked as the megalomaniac Stryker but Cumming is brilliant as Nightcrawler, looking as freakish and otherworldly as the character should.

Although the story is fairly predictable, it allows the latent allegory of the comics to raise to the top - pitching mutants against humanity, it explores the themes of racism and prejudice that elevates the series above the usual comic-book exploits of guys like Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. As before, the effects are also great with imaginative and explosive action scenes that gives everyone a chance to cause a little chaos. Director Singer makes you buy into the film through his obvious appreciation for the characters. I also enjoyed the little humorous touches that help to lighten the mood - the film has a darker tone and style than the first film and the odd comic moment here and there helps prevent things getting too bleak.

Fun Facts

  • Professor X's wheelchair was sold to a lawyer after filming wrapped on the first film. So when production started on this film, the film-makers realised that they needed the chair back. The lawyer agreed to rent the chair back to the studio for a significant fee, according to Patrick Stewart.
  • This is one of four X-Men films where co-creator Stan Lee does not make a cameo. Whenever asked at conventions why he doesn't appear in films where he is expected to, Lee usually replies "nobody asked me".
  • The role of Stryker changed dramatically from the version in the comics where he is a fundamentalist Christian evangelist fuelled by bigotry who launches a crusade against mutants. Presumably, this was done to avoid upsetting religious groups.

What's not to like?

X-Men 2 was released at a time when movie studios were starting to wake up to the potential of comic-book adaptations, a time when superhero films were seen as being cheesy or simple summer box-office grabbers. Consider the likes of The Punisher or Daredevil which bombed with critics and audiences. These days, fans are spoiled by the professionalism and excitement that typifies the MCU and it's easy to forget that it's not that long ago that such films were seen as a risk. Part of the strength of the MCU is how the films all link together and it's noticeable that this film only really harks back to the first film. Only hardcore comic fans will get all the references hidden in this film.

My only real gripe is that the film struggles to manage all the characters on screen. Wolverine gets most of the screen time but other characters are most interesting to me, especially considering how many solo films the Angriest Canadian has since had. I'm more intrigued by Rogue's relationship with Iceman (played by Shawn Ashmore) which is hinted at but not really explored. The film seems to focus more on action and story-telling rather than character development, something which can kill a superhero film if ignored. Granted, the characters aren't as underwritten as they were in the shambolic League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen but I wanted to really know and care about these characters.

Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike, a deadly assassin who can't find a manicurist anywhere.
Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike, a deadly assassin who can't find a manicurist anywhere. | Source

Should I watch it?

It may have been superseded by latter X-Men films and the MCU in general but X-Men 2 is still a worthwhile watch. It's fun and exciting but resolutely comic-book in style, compared to the more serious graphic-novel tone of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. It also lacks the authenticity of the MCU but on its own, the film is a more-than-worthy sequel to the original.

Great For: fans of the comics, seeing how far comic-book films have come, destroying studio expectations

Not So Great For: the endless other sequels, anyone hoping for characterisation, Brian Cox's chances for playing a good guy for once

What else should I watch?

The series would start to stumble after the release of X-Men: The Last Stand which was an off-kilter and over-ambitious attempt to finish off the trilogy. But given how much the films had made, 20th Century Fox were never going to let the series rest peacefully so they unleashed the first solo outing for Jackman's signature role. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was an utterly ham-fisted attempt to rescue the role which got so much wrong, Ryan Reynolds is still mocking it in his Deadpool movies.

Now that we have been spoilt by the amazing Avengers Assemble, superhero teams have found the going even tougher but that hasn't stopped the X-Men just yet. After the series was rebooted in 2011 with X-Men: First Class, the revived series has so far managed to remain in the good-books of critics. They even brought the old crew back for the timeline-jumping Days Of Future Past and also have links with Reynolds' hugely successful Deadpool spin-offs.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Benjamin Cox

    Soap Box

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)