ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘X2: X-Men United’ (2003), Part One
In our latest series of super-hero movie reviews, Chris Sims and Matt Wilson take on the films chosen by you, the readers: X-Men!
Chris Sims: Welcome back to ComicsAlliance’s in-depth review of the X-Men film series, everyone! This week, we’re starting in on X-Men 2 — or to use its proper (and extremely stupid) title, X2: X-Men United.
Matt Wilson: I guess for some reason 20th Century Fox thought calling a summer action movie “X2: God Loves, Man Kills” might turn some people off.Chris: I’ve been told that the title was changed to make a movie that’s essentially about an underground paramilitary strike force battling against the oppressive United States government a little more palatable to a post-9/11 audience, but the end result is something that sounds a lot like a super-powered British soccer team. Which, now that I think of it, would make a pretty solid movie.
Matt: Shaolin Soccer 2: Shaolin United. The long-awaited team-up with Team Evil!
Chris: As you might expect, the first X-Men movie was a huge success, both financially and critically. A sequel was inevitable, but the first movie’s success meant that Fox was able to bump the budget up by around 35 million dollars, allowing director Bryan Singer to go even bigger the second time around.
Matt: And he certainly does that, though he didn’t quite get to go as big as he originally intended. He ended up having to cut his intended Danger Room scenes and recycle establishing shots from the first movie after the studio scaled the budget back a bit.
Chris: True, but just watching it, you can tell this is a bigger production, both in the special effects and in the fact that he expanded the cast. All of the X-Men from the first film return, and while Toad and Sabretooth were dropped (probably for the best), the tradeoff is an increased role for a lot of the smaller characters, like Iceman and Pyro. Plus, we get Nightcrawler as played by Alan Cumming, making his second appearance in a comic book movie. The first, of course, was the fantastic Josie and the Pussycats, alongside Blade Trinity‘s Parker Posey.
Matt: And, as the “United” in the title indicates and I hinted at earlier, this movie also teams the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with the X-Men to take on a brand new set of bad guys, including Brian Cox’s William Stryker and Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike.
Chris: As you also mentioned, this movie was loosely based on Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson’s classic graphic novel, God Loves, Man Kills, but co-writers Solid Snake and the guy who wrote Inspector Gadget combined the themes and characters of that story with a bunch of elements from Wolverine’s backstory. As much as it juggles a larger cast, this movie really is focused on Wolverine, which is an interesting change from the first movie’s fake-out of being all about Rogue.
Matt: Well, Rogue and Professor X/Magneto, whose war of wits certainly continues here, in a different context. Probably the most interesting change to the God Loves, Man Kills story here is the removal of a lot of the religious stuff. Stryker is no preacher here; he’s a military guy who’s been reworked to also be behind Wolverine’s shiny skeleton. On the one hand, that seems a little disappointingly safe; on the other, I can’t imagine a major studio putting out a PG-13, blockbuster film with a character much like the Stryker from the book.
Chris: At the time, I imagine recasting Stryker as a military guy made a lot of sense in terms of relevance, given what was going on politically in the real world. It’s really easy to see how Singer got to that point, but if it came out today, I think there’s a pretty good chance that he would’ve kept those original themes of religion and persecution intact. Either way, putting the focus on Wolverine meant that this was, in a lot of ways, the movie X-Men fans really wanted to watch. So what do you say we go ahead and do just that?
Chris: After the kind of ominous voice-over that made Patrick Stewart so popular for video games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, we open on the White House for a pretty solid action sequence. Seriously, this one five-minute segment of the movie looks ten times better than anything in X-Men, and it’s only three years later.
Matt: Somehow, we get an opening credits that is even Fight Clubbier than last time, too. The White House sequence really is impressive (it also doesn’t look like it’s at Epcot Center like the Capitol apparently does), and it’s a pretty clear, quick announcement that this movie is going to be post-9/11 relevant, with Nightcrawler BAMF-ing right by the heightened security directly to the president.
Chris: I do think it’s worth noting that in a movie where people shoot lasers out of their eyes and have unbreakable metal bones, the single most unbelievable thing is that a dude dressed like this could make it more than three steps in the White House in 2003 without being immediately tackled and/or shot:
Matt: Man, he’s just a baseball fan who also loves Columbo. Start keeping guys like that off White House tours and you might as well ban all of America. (Salutes, proudly waves flag)
Chris: But yeah, the action here is really great. Again, it’s exactly what you want to see from an X-Men movie, and with the exception of a few short shots of Nightcrawler bouncing off the walls, it looks good. The teleportation effect is particularly solid, and when it’s combined with Nightcrawler taking out Secret Service guys by doing teleporting Hurricane Kicks from Street Fighter, it’s like comic pages brought to life.
Matt: It’s a pretty clever switcheroo on the non-comics fan audience, too. Just to look at Nightcrawler, this is exactly what someone would think would be his deal.
Chris: Right. The cool thing about Nightcrawler – and one that gets played up in the movie later – is that he looks like a demon but he’s actually a super-nice guy. Here, though, you don’t know what’s going on as he just hands the Secret Service their ass and almost stabs the President with a knife reading “Mutant Freedom Now!”
Matt: Lucky for the pres, he’s saved by a possum-playing secret service guy who grazes Nightcrawler’s shoulder with a bullet, he teleports away, and we’re teleported to the snowy terrain of Alkali Lake, where Wolverine is looking even more Wolveriney than last time.
Chris: I kind of wish Wolverine’s hair would’ve gotten just more and more ridiculous as the series went on, until he had like a full-on Sam Keith Grinch Curl at the tips.
Matt: It is considerably pointier here. Like, stunningly so. And yet it still looks not-totally-outrageous! I guess they eased us into it.
Chris: It’s actually not the hair that looks ridiculous so much as those mutton chops. They are full-on Civil War portrait level. But before Wolverine can explore the Alkalai Lake facility and/or order his men to attack Stonewall Jackson, we cut to a natural history museum where the Xavier School is on a field trip!
Matt: How much do you want to bet that they set this scene in a natural history museum just for that transition shot from Wolverine to the prehistoric wolf? Boy, that is just not subtle.
Chris: Artie, of “and Leech” fame, gets the most unexpected movie cameo of all time before we move on to Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who is rocking both a fetching new haircut and a bunch of headaches and out-of-control psychic powers that are a good bit of Phoenixy foreshadowing.
Chris: Cyclops (James Marsden) mentions it as starting back on Liberty Island, and I kind of like the idea that it was exposure to Magneto’s device that amped Jean’s powers up, even if it didn’t affect anyone else, even the three people who were actually inside it.
Matt: If that machine could make all the world’s leaders into buttcrackless mutants, it isn’t much more of a stretch to think it could selectively choose one person and amp up her powers, and maybe inspire them to get Spice Girl cuts and wear Hot Topic chokers. In the thoughts Jean overhears in this scene, there are lots of little things to catch — Wolverine saying “No!” a security officer at the White House, another line or two coming later in the movie.
Chris: Oh, I didn’t even notice that; that’s fun. Scott and Jean have a very melodramatic moment – as Scott and Jean are wont to do – and then we cut to another pretty fantastic scene of Rogue, Iceman and Pyro being A**hole Teens.
Matt: I don’t know why that other kid needs a light in a museum where you almost certainly can’t smoke, anyway, but kids will be kids. And like all parents who just don’t understand, Professor X ruins the fun by freezing everyone in the museum in place.
Chris: To be fair, that’s after Pyro sets a dude on fire by winking at him – ladies – and Iceman sprays him down. It’s another really good sequence with their powers, and also sets up the dynamic of the movie, of Professor X urging the kids to hide their powers and Magneto telling them to be who they are. It adds a little depth to the “we are good guys, they are murderous terrorists” conflict of the first film.
Matt: Yeah, Professor X uses peaceful means, but he also wants mutants to assimilate into human society. (Like…like the Borg. I have to sit down for a sec.) For Magneto, it’s about preserving what I guess you would call a unique mutant culture.
Chris: While everyone at the museum is psychically frozen, the news report about Nightcrawler’s attack on the “Whitehouse” (that’s what it’s called on the screen) comes on television, and everyone beats feet back to the X-Mansion to sort things out. Obviously an attack on the president isn’t going to make people like mutants more, so they rule out Magneto as a suspect and decide to chase down the would-be assassin, whose “movements are… erratic.”
Matt: I’d say a huge school group just disappearing instantly from a museum might be news, too, but there’s a bigger story right now. I guess from Professor X’s line, we’re to assume Nightcrawler is just teleporting all the time? Non-stop teleporting. It must be exhausting!
Chris: From there, we go to the White House to meet with Colonel William Stryker, played by the truly fantastic Brian Cox.
Matt: Dude is top-shelf. Stryker’s in the Oval Office asking the president permission for a “special operation” and talking about “school reform.” In my experience, that is pitch-perfect bureaucratic talk. He meets not-really-Senator-Kelly, who we’re reminded has changed his tune about mutants, because he is Mystique.
Chris: Bruce Davison, who plays Senator Kelly, does a really solid job in this scene, too. When Stryker brings up his “interrogation” of Magneto, his “Erik?! Erik Lensherr?” is just the right level to get Mystique’s surprise and concern across before she recovers it.
Matt: Stryker wants to raid the Xavier School — it’s the plane under the basketball court that really seals it, because apparently the president never took jet-flying lessons in prep school like the real upper crust does — but with a warning not to kill any kids. In the hallway, Mystique/Kelly asks Stryker if he wants to make this a war, and we get a taste of Stryker’s ‘Nam background.
Chris: I love that Stryker refers to Kelly, who wanted to have Mutants rounded up by the government less than a month ago in movie time, as some kind of filthy hippie. Like, that’s the level that Stryker’s at, actually wanting a race war.
Matt: This despite the fact he’s hanging out with his “assistant,” Yuriko (Kelly Hu), who spent the entire meeting displaying her mutant knuckle-cracking skills to the Oval Office staff.
Chris: Back at the X-Mansion, Rogue and Iceman totally want to make out but they can’t! This, by the way, is the central conflict of Rogue’s character that played out over the course of thirty actual years. Except that in the comics, there was a truly awful Cajun accent involved, chere.
Matt: This point is hammered home when Wolverine returns to the mansion, discovers that Rogue and Iceman are dating after Rogue greets him at the door, and immediately asks how these two teenagers do it. Wolverine has perhaps been alone too long.
Chris: I really love that about his character, though. He’s just so blunt about everything. Also, there’s a bit in this scene where we see Colossus drawing caricatures of his classmates, which is a real nice touch. I’d actually forgotten he was in this movie.
Matt: Oh, he metals out later. One of many cameos to come. And he’s a pretty good cartoonist!
Chris: Halle Berry’s appearance as Storm in this one scene – where she tells Wolverine that she’s glad he’s back because they need a “babysitter” while the X-Men go off to look for Nightcrawler – actually has more charm and character development than her entire role in the first film. It’s nice that she has a little more to do this time, and it’s double-nice that she dropped that accent.
Matt: She’s even pretty well clued-in to Wolverine’s infatuation for Jean Grey, something she seemed oblivious to in the last movie. As Jean walks down the stairs and says hi, Storm diplomatically steps away, as do Rogue and Iceman.
Chris: Wolverine and Jean do some shameless flirting, and then there’s a great Cyclops moment where Wolverine throws his keys to him and says “Your bike needs gas,” and Cyclops throws them back with “Then fill it up.” The undercurrent of these dudes just hating each other is really well-done, without ever having to go with the old Claremont-style “Back off Wolverine! A wave of your arms can cut through solid steel!”
Matt: Jean seems to revel in it, too, walking out with a “I’ll see you boys later,” a line she tosses off with way more enthusiasm than her explanation she’s heading to Boston “to find some mutant who tried to killed the president or something, I guess, whatever.”
Chris: While the X-Men are caught up in their assorted shipping, Magneto is in his plastic prison, having A Bad Time.
Matt: Turns out Stryker’s been forcibly drugging him on the reg to pump him for information about Xavier and Cerebro. Stryker’s such a jerk the guards who work for him don’t even let Magneto mark his page in the book he’s reading. Scoundrels!
Chris: “Drugging” in the form of “dripping some kind of acid from a syringe onto the back of his neck and also bashing him in the face with a plastic nightstick,” which seems a little harsh. Then again, he did try to eliminate global buttcracks. I don’t think that’s covered in the Geneva conventions.
Matt: Still, watching two dudes, one of whom was a Vietnam vet, drip truth acid on a Holocaust survivor’s neck…there is just a cornucopia of trauma in that plastic room.
Chris: Back at the X-Mansion, Wolverine goes to talk to the Professor, and we get one of my favorite scenes in the entire film – the entire franchise, really. It’s such a simple one, too: Professor X tells Wolverine to put out his cigar, and since there’s nothing else around, Wolverine stubs it out on his own hand. Jackman talked in an interview about how this scene was really key for him, because it shows how pain, usually a warning of something damaging your body, just doesn’t matter to a guy who can recover from anything. That one moment gets across his entire world view in 20 seconds of background business.
Matt: Anybody else would throw the cigar on the floor and step on it. But I guess if you CAN put it out in your hand, why waste one? There’s also a great line here where Professor X threatens to make Wolverine think he’s a 6-year-old girl the rest of his life if he keeps smoking in Cerebro, a scenario we saw play out in the comics a few years later.
Chris: After that, Professor X gives Wolverine a detailed lesson in how cerebro works that plays out like a visit to the planetarium, complete with sonorous narration. He goes through and finds Nightcrawler, and also explains that if he concentrates too hard, it’ll kill whoever he’s linked to through Cerebro. This will be Important Later.
Matt: We talked about how Singer did the visuals for Cerebro last time, and how they were sort of vague. Things are a lot more concrete here, and they look pretty stunning. I didn’t think people in the room with Xavier could see what he saw last time, though.
Chris: I didn’t either, but I took that scene as Professor X linking up his mind with Wolverine’s to explain how it worked – as well as being for our benefit as the audience, of course.
Matt: Makes sense. Speaking of linking up minds, Wolverine asks for another mind reading session and Professor X shuts him down, with lots of academic mumbo jumbo about the mind being a beehive rather than a box. Essentially, he’s saying, “I can’t catapult the plot forward this time, sorry.”
Chris: He also mentions that Wolverine’s claws, metal bones and amnesia are all related somehow, another plot that went on in the comics for about thirty years. Meanwhile, in Washington, Senator Mystique turns into The Scorpion King‘s Kelly Hu to get access to Stryker’s office, then decides to go blue for a session at his computer.
Matt: You gotta be comfortable for all your computer sessions. That’s why I’m decked out in nothing but terrycloth right now.
Chris: Stryker’s desktop is disorganized as all hell, but there are also a ton of Easter Eggs in this scene thrown in for long-time fans, especially that list of mutants he has.
Chris: Once again: Cannonball and Husk somehow made it into a movie before Iron Man and Thor.
Matt: Not to mention Silver Samurai, Gambit, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, Multiple Man. It’s quite a list for the pause-happy.
Chris: Stryker also has full-on blueprints of Cerebro, which seems a little improbable considering that he’s just been questioning Magneto with his mind-control acid. I mean, I know that Magneto helped build it in movie continuity, but this dude has a complete 3D model of it with technical specifications.
Matt: Maybe that acid was secretly building a disk drive into Magneto all this time.
Chris: The real Kelly Hu shows up, and Mystique makes her escape by pretending to be a janitor. From there, it’s off to Boston, where Storm and Jean suit up to find Nightcrawler. Not since the opening scene of Vin Deisel’s xXx has there been such an ominous scene of someone shouting in German in an abandoned church.
Matt: According to IMDb’s translations he’s saying he’s pure evil and the spawn of the devil, but Jean and Storm sort of just brush it all off as cute.
Chris: He also has no memory of his assassination attempt and the same mind-control-acid-drug scar that we saw on Magneto! THE PLOT THICKENS! Singer’s version of Nightcrawler trades the happy-go-lucky swashbuckling of the comics version for Catholic guilt cranked up to 11, complete with Nightcrawler tattooing sigils on himself to keep his inner demons at bay.
Chris: When you get right down to it, it’s a pretty weird take on the character, even with all the stuff in the comics about Nightcrawler wanting to become a priest – you know, just in case you missed the whole thing where it was ironic that he looked like a demon. But it does fit with the film’s take on mutants as a metaphor for prejudice, with Nightcrawler slotted into the role of self-loathing and constantly thinking there’s something wrong with him because of who he is.
Matt: We will certainly get to some swashbuckly stuff later, and guilt has definitely been a part of Nightcrawler’s comic characterization.
Chris: True, but it never really defined him the way it does here. At least, not in what I’ve read – I was never a big Excalibur guy.
Matt: Anyway, the theme of obviousness continues in the next scene, where Wolverine has a green dream where voices repeat “HE’LL HAVE NO MEMORY” over and over, because maybe we missed that.
Chris: That’s not exactly subtle, no, but once he wakes up, we get two really solid scenes that switch off with each other for the next few minutes. One is the clever, funny, low-key sequence of Wolverine wandering around the Mansion at night and talking to Iceman, and the other is Professor X’s super-intense visit to Magneto in the plastic prison. As usual, McKellen just demolishes the material, with his hatred of his former friend dueling with his guilt over betraying him (and mutants as a whole) under the influence of Stryker’s drug. The way he transitions in this scene from the sort of sneering superiority that we’ve seen to being on the verge of tears is amazing, all capped off by screaming “YOU SHOULD’VE KILLED ME WHEN YOU HAD THE CHANCE, CHARLES!”
Chris: It’s so good. It’s not a revenge thing, but a “now we’re both screwed because you left me alive” moment. Just so well done.
Matt: Yeah, there’s a ton going on here, which gets a little bit muddled when Professor X says “Stryker…” trying to remember the name, and I expect that gag from Airplane! or maybe Airplane 2 where someone in the background slaps a lady. Wolverine and Iceman (who’s eating ice cream, heh heh) catch up and decide they’re OK with one another, and they do good work. But it’s hard to stand up next to Patrick Stewart saying, “Erik, what have you done?” and McKellen’s “I’m sorry, Charles. I couldn’t help it.”
Chris: Then, once that’s done (and Yuriko beats up Cyclops because Cyclops sucks), we go back to the mansion for one of the all-time great Wolverine flip-out moments.
Matt: Yeah, this is first really berzerker Wolverine we’ve seen.
Chris: Stryker and his crew attack the X-Mansion, and Singer’s original cut of it was apparently so violent that the movie initially got an R rating. I think the only reason it didn’t keep one was that you don’t actually see any blood, because seriously: Wolverine kills a lot of dudes in this part. It’s really awesome, and like I said before, it’s kind of exactly what you want from Wolverine in a movie. Plus, there’s a ton of other neat stuff going on, like Siryn making a cameo and Colossus armoring up and punching the bad guys through a wall.
Matt: In the previous movie, all the incidental characters were just set dressing. Here, they actually DO things. Powers serve purposes. Kitty Pryde gets stuff to do! And in case you didn’t notice the paramilitary dudes were bad guys, they shoot kids with tranquilizers.
Chris: Fortunately for the X-Students, their school is one of the few that drills the student body in escaping from a counter-terrorist strike force, and most of the kids end up bailing out through secret passages while Stryker trades insulting and cryptic hints about Wolverine’s past. Unfortunately for both sides of that conversation, Rogue makes Iceman and Pyro head back to help Wolverine, despite Pyro’s pretty perceptive statement that Wolverine is just fine without them.
Matt: Wolverine would be fine without them, yes, but it would make this, well, not much of an X-Men movie for long stretches. Wolverine movies aren’t happening until now.
Chris: Wolverine, Iceman, Pyro and Rogue decide to head to Boston to hook up with Storm and Jean, apparently deciding to leave the other 40 teenagers who escaped Stryker’s men to fend for themselves in the woods. Kind of… not the best move there. Meanwhile, the guard that smacked around Magneto has gone directly from his job at a high-security government installation to a bar, where he is easily seduced by Mystique, who has turned herself into Sexy Rebecca Romijn. The blue snake-skin style mini-dress is a nice touch.
Matt: I know a bar is directly where I’d go if I had to do that guy’s job.
Chris: Yeah, I guess having to beat up a Holocaust survivor all day is a pretty good reason to drink. There’s a lot of nice comic relief in this scene to take the edge off the intensity of that last bit. Mystique calling the dude out for wearing Velcro pants always cracks me up. Romijn’s delivery on that – “Velcro! Niiiiiiice!” – is hilarious.
Matt: And, ain’t it always the way with the best-looking ones, she drugs his drink, removes his pants injects him with a seriously GIGANTIC syringe full of liquid metal.
Chris: I like this sequence a lot, because – for me, anyway – it felt like a nice fake-out. I kept expecting Mystique to just steal the dude’s identity but instead she uses him as a pawn, which is clever. Still not sure how he survived having what would have to be actual molten iron injected into his hinder, though.
Matt: Don’t worry. It’s free-trade. Organic.
Chris: In addition to raiding the mansion, Stryker has kidnapped Professor X, and we get another really great scene where Cox and Stewart play off of each other perfectly. Stewart starts off trying to calm him down and reason with him, and Stryker just keeps getting more and more enraged about how his son couldn’t be “cured” of his mutation, barely holding it back.
Matt: Stryker’s son was (or, is it is?) basically Mastermind, projecting illusions into his and his wife’s heads, until Mrs. Stryker couldn’t take it anymore. In a nice little reversal from the previous movie’s Magneto helmet, Stryker has invented headgear for Xavier that makes it so he can’t peek into his brain.
Chris: He also reveals that he’s mind-controlling Yurko, who briefly comes out of it and apparently wonders why she has shiny adamantium fingernails, and then we get the much bigger reveal: His mind control acid comes from his son, still alive and lobotomized. And, incidentally, looking like the Dystopian Future version of Kevin McDonald from the Kids in the Hall.
Matt: That’s where the Brain Candy came from! It’s all coming together!
Chris: This entire scene casts Stryker in a far more terrifying light than we’ve seen him thus far. We already knew he hated mutants, but not that he was willing to torture his own son and dissect his brain for mind-control fluid. It’s pretty intense for what was, when you get right down to it, a movie aimed at 14 year-olds.
Matt: But it’s also got the humanizing moment of finding out he blames Xavier, and mutants in general, for what happened to his wife. It’s some nicely done villain characterization.
Chris: It’s very much that classic Marvel “sympathize with the villains” style.
Matt: Next, we’re off to suburban Boston, where Iceman’s giving Rogue his mom’s old clothes, checking her out while changing, making out with her and nearly dying. Teenage life!
Chris: Singer really does a nice job of pacing this movie, working these little comic relief moments in between the really intense scenes of British actors yelling at each other.
Matt: Wolverine’s hanging out in the kitchen, showing his claws to a cat and trying to use a device he found in Cyclops’ car like a cell phone. This was 2003, you’d think the X-Men might want to invest in a shared plan, for those times Professor X’s X-Mobile telepathy is down.
Chris: I really love that Wolverine’s attempt to use the X-Phone is exactly what you’d expect from a dude who’s 100 years old. He just kind of stares and yells at it.
Matt: If only he sniffed it. Iceman’s family returns home and has some questions, but before we get the answers, the newly heavy prison guard is back at work, and the system that scans people going into Magneto’s cell literally says “NO METAL” on the screen. That’s adorable.
Chris: I’m not really sure why the scanner doesn’t pick up the metal that Mystique injected into this guy, but I guess the TSA hadn’t developed their in-depth butt-probing scan technology at the time.
Matt: Magneto says it’s “too much iron in your blood,” and, I don’t know. I guess it’s all dispersed in his bloodstream, in trace amounts. Look, we are not doctors.
Chris: Neither are David Hayter or Zak Penn, clearly. But the end result is still a pretty amazing sequence, especially because you really, really want Magneto to get his revenge on this jerk.
Matt: And boy does he! This scene is the one I remember most from the movie, because Magneto is just one gleeful, majestic motherf**ker breaking out of that jail, floating on that circle of iron while two spheres of it float around him.
Chris: It’s so great. Singer’s done a fantastic job making you kind of like Magneto even though he’s a “villain,” and watching him demolish this prison with these three marbles is such a great reminder of how powerful he is. It’s such a badass moment.
Matt: McKellen’s well into his 60s in this, and like we said before, he’s no muscleman, but he looks like he could just own anybody.
Chris: He is kind of the absolute best guy at being old as hell and still looking like he could destroy whatever he wanted without much effort. He does it as Gandalf, too. If I saw Ian McKellen and Clint Eastwood walking down the street, I would cross to the other side double-quick. (I mean, I would actually probably start begging for autographs, but you know what I mean.)
Matt: Too true! And that same badass apparently helped out the screenwriters with this next scene, in which Bobby “comes out” to his parents as a mutant. It reads as pretty authentic.
Chris: The scene where his parents ask him to “try not being a mutant” is maybe the most unsubtle hammering of the Mutant-As-Gay metaphor in the entire movie, but it really does work well. It’s a clever scene that walks that line of not being too heavy-handed with some really great dialogue that’s frequently pretty funny.
Matt: I mean, look. If Bobby spent all his time at home freezing his mom’s hot drinks, like he does here, I’d understand them thinking it was a problem.
Chris: Apparently Bobby’s brother takes tea-time pretty seriously, because that’s when he gets up and decides to narc out the X-Men by calling the cops. To be fair, he probably thinks they’re the same people who tried to assassinate President Noname and Stryker’s putting them on the news as wanted criminals, but still.
Matt: Meanwhile, Storm and Jean are in the air with Nightcrawler, taking him back to the school that they don’t know is temporarily closed. Halle Berry gets to have her best Acting Moment of the series so far, and Alan Cumming is a great sincere, penitent Nightcrawler, though this portrayal does make you miss the fun version.
Chris: This scene also has the effect of actually giving Storm a defining trait that sets her apart from the others: Of all the X-Men, she’s the one who’s actually really into being a teacher.
Matt: Also: She’s pretty mad about stuff! Which gives Nightcrawler an opportunity to say what I can only assume is a pickup line: “No one so beautiful should ever be so angry.”
Chris: Before we can see how that goes for him, though, Jean finally decides to try calling “an active comm device,” and Wolverine finally gets to talk on his X-Phone, only to be interrupted by the arrival of the SWAT Team.
Matt: One of the policemen continually tells Wolverine to “put down the knives,” and Jackman nails the delivery of “I can’t.” Plus, we get to see more fighting, this time by Pyro, against the true victims of the X-Men movie series: police cars.
Chris: Wolverine also gets a bullet in the head for trying to reason with the cops, which explains why that guy normally just goes directly to “stab everything” as his go-to negotiation tactic.
Matt: He gets better because he’s Invincible Wolverine in this scene, Pyro somehow doesn’t burn down Iceman’s family’s house even though HE SHOOTS FIRE DIRECTLY INTO IT or kill any of the police even though HE BLASTS FIRE DIRECTLY AT THEM, and Storm and Jean show up in the Blackbird for a rescue. Seriously, there are like, three Wolverines in this series. One automatically heals from every injury, one slowly recovers after being out for a minute, and another stays out for days so he can be studied.
Chris: Pyro also lives up to his name by having to to be brought out of his fiery rampage by Rogue zapping him. Also by receiving pornography from Perry Farrell, but I think that was cut from the theatrical version.
Matt: It’s in the unrated cut.
Chris: At this point, the X-Men are even more hated and feared than ever! Professor X and Cyclops are missing, the rest of the gang is on the run, and their only hope is to team up with their arch-nemesis! Join us next week as we close out the movie and find out whether they will truly be… X-Men United.
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