Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bryan Singer|
by Jack Kirby
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Cinematography||Newton Thomas Sigel|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$407.7 million|
X2 (often promoted as X2: X-Men United and internationally as X-Men 2) is a 2003 American superhero film based on the X-Men superhero team appearing in Marvel Comics. It is the sequel to 2000's X-Men, as well as the second installment in the X-Men film series, and was directed by Bryan Singer and written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter. It features an ensemble cast including Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, and Anna Paquin. Its plot, inspired by the graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, pits the X-Men and their enemies, the Brotherhood, against the genocidal Colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox); he leads an assault on Professor Xavier's school to build his own version of Xavier's mutant-tracking computer Cerebro, in order to destroy every mutant on Earth and to "save" the human race from them.
Development on the sequel began shortly after the first film was released in 2000. David Hayter and Zak Penn wrote separate scripts, combining what they felt to be the best elements of both scripts into one screenplay. Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris were eventually hired to rewrite the work, and changed the characterizations of Beast, Angel, and Lady Deathstrike. Sentinels and the Danger Room were set to appear before being deleted because of budget concerns. The film's premise was influenced by the Marvel Comics storylines Return to Weapon X and God Loves, Man Kills. Filming began in June 2002 and ended that November, mostly taking place at Vancouver Film Studios, the largest North American production facility outside of Los Angeles. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas adapted similar designs by John Myhre from the previous film.
X2 was released in the United States on May 2, 2003, and received positive reviews for its storyline, action sequences, and performances. The film grossed over approximately $407 million worldwide, and received eight Saturn Awards nominations.
At the White House, brainwashed teleporting mutant Nightcrawler attempts to assassinate the President of the United States but fails and escapes. Meanwhile, Wolverine explores an abandoned military installation at Alkali Lake in Alberta for clues to his past, but finds nothing. He returns to Professor Xavier's school for mutants, and Xavier tracks Nightcrawler using Cerebro. Xavier and Cyclops go to question the imprisoned Magneto about the attack, while X-Men Storm and Jean Grey retrieve Nightcrawler. Since the Liberty Island incident, Jean has been having premonitions and struggles to concentrate as her powers become increasingly difficult to control. Meanwhile, military scientist Colonel William Stryker approaches the president and receives approval to investigate Xavier's mansion for their ties to mutants. Stryker's forces invade the school and abduct some of the students. Colossus leads the remaining students to safety while Wolverine, Rogue, Iceman, and Pyro escape, and Stryker's assistant Yuriko Oyama captures Cyclops and Xavier. During the attack Wolverine confronts Stryker, who knows him by name.
The shape-shifting Mystique gains information about Magneto's prison and helps him escape while also discovering schematics for a second Cerebro. Wolverine, Rogue, Iceman, and Pyro visit Iceman's parents in Boston and meet up with Storm, Jean, and Nightcrawler. The X-Jet is attacked by fighter jets while flying back to the mansion and is shot down, but Magneto saves them from crashing. Magneto explains to the group that Stryker has built the second Cerebro to use it, and Xavier, to telepathically kill every mutant on the planet. Stryker's son, Jason, is a mutant with mind-controlling powers, which Stryker will use to force Xavier to do this. Stryker had also previously used Jason's powers to orchestrate Nightcrawler's attack as a pretense to gain approval to invade Xavier's mansion. Magneto also tells Wolverine that Stryker was the man who grafted his adamantium skeleton onto his bones. Jean reads Nightcrawler's mind and determines that Stryker's base is underground in a dam at Alkali Lake.
Disguised as Logan, Mystique infiltrates Stryker's base. She lets the rest of the mutants in and Magneto and Mystique go to disable Cerebro before the brainwashed Xavier can activate it. Storm and Nightcrawler rescue the captured students, and Jean fights a mind-controlled Cyclops; their battle frees Cyclops but damages the dam, which begins to rupture. Wolverine finds Stryker in an adamantium smelting lab and remembers it as where he received his adamantium skeleton. Wolverine fights and kills Yuriko, then chases Stryker to a helicopter pad and chains him to the helicopter's wheel. Magneto stops Cerebro and, using Mystique impersonating Stryker to command Jason, has Xavier redirect its powers on normal humans. The two subsequently use Stryker's helicopter to escape, accompanied by Pyro who has been swayed to Magneto's views. Nightcrawler teleports Storm inside Cerebro, where she creates a snowstorm to break Jason's concentration and free Xavier from his control.
The X-Men flee the dam as water engulfs it, killing Stryker, but the X-Jet loses all power and struggles to take flight as the flood water rushes towards them. Jean sneaks off the jet and telepathically wishes the team goodbye. She holds back the water and raises the jet above it as flames erupt from her body, until she lets go and allows the flood to crash down upon her; presumably killing her. The X-Men give the president Stryker's files, and Xavier warns him that humans and mutants must work together to build peace. Back at the school, Xavier, Cyclops, and Wolverine remember Jean, and Xavier begins to hold a class.
The film ends with a voice-over narration from Jean accompanied by the flooded Alkali Lake and a Phoenix-like shape rising towards the surface of the water.
- Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier: A powerful telepathic mutant confined to a wheelchair who founded a School for "Gifted Youngsters", Xavier is a pacifist who believes humans and mutants can live together in harmony. He uses the Cerebro device, designed by Magneto and himself, to track and locate mutants across the world. A natural genius, Xavier is regarded as an authority on genetic mutation.
- Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine: A mutant who lost all memory of his life before he was grafted with an indestructible adamantium skeleton. Wolverine is a gruff loner, but is in love with Jean Grey and acts as a father figure to Rogue. He wields three blades that come out of each of his fists, has keen animal-like senses, the ability to heal rapidly from virtually any injury, and is a ruthless and aggressive fighter.
- Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto: Once Xavier's ally, Magneto now believes mutants are superior to humans. Magneto wields the ability to manipulate metal magnetically, as well as the power to create magnetic fields and fly. He wears a helmet that renders him immune to Xavier's powers and all related telepathic powers. Imprisoned after his scheme in the first film, he is drugged by William Stryker for information over Cerebro, before making his escape and forming an alliance with the X-Men to stop Stryker. He has demonstrated sophisticated knowledge in matters of genetic manipulation and engineering. The character's helmet was slightly redesigned as McKellen found wearing it uncomfortable in X-Men.
- Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe / Storm: An African mutant and teacher at Xavier's School who can control the weather with her mind. Storm befriends Nightcrawler. Berry dropped out of Jennifer Lopez's role in Gigli to reprise the role.
- Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey: A teacher at Xavier's school and the X-Mansion's doctor, Jean has begun to experience a growth in her telepathy and telekinetic powers since the X-Men's battle with Magneto. She is in Cyclops' fiancé, even though she is attracted to Wolverine.
- James Marsden as Scott Summers / Cyclops: The field leader of the X-Men, and a teacher at Xavier's Institute, he shoots uncontrollable beams of concussive force from his eyes and wears a visor to control them. He is engaged to Jean. Cyclops is taken prisoner by Stryker.
- Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique: Magneto's henchwoman, she is a shapeshifter. Mystique is blue, naked and covered in scales, and she acts as a spy. She injects a prison guard with metal, with which Magneto makes his escape, and also sexually tempts Wolverine. Romijn's makeup previously took nine hours to apply, however, the make-up department was able to bring it down to six hours for X2.
- Brian Cox as Colonel William Stryker: A human military scientist who plans a worldwide genocide of mutants using Xavier and Cerebro. Stryker has experimented on mutants in the past, including Wolverine, and uses a serum to control them. Singer opted to cast Cox in the role as he was a fan of his performance as Hannibal Lector in Manhunter.
- Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler: A kindly German mutant with a strong Catholic faith, yet ironically he has the appearance of a blue demon. Nightcrawler was used by Stryker in an assassination attempt on the President of the United States and gives help to the X-Men. He is capable of teleporting himself (and others) instantly from one location to another. On his body are many tattoos, one for every sin. Cumming had always been Singer's choice for the role, but Cumming could not accept the part due to scheduling conflicts. Ethan Embry had been reported to be in contention for the role, but the film labored in development long enough for Cumming to accept the part. Singer also felt comfortable in casting Cumming since he is fluent in the German language. The drawings of Adam Kubert were used as inspiration for Nightcrawler's makeup design, which took four hours to apply. For the scene where Nightcrawler has his shirt off, Cumming went through nine hours. To best pose as Nightcrawler, Cumming studied comic books and illustrations of the character.
- Bruce Davison as Senator Robert Kelly: Although Kelly was killed in the first film, Davison reprised the role for scenes where Mystique uses his persona to infiltrate the government.
- Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake / Iceman: Rogue's boyfriend, he can freeze objects and create ice. His family is unaware that he is a mutant and simply believe he is at a boarding school. After returning home, Bobby reveals to them what he actually is, much to his brother's derision.
- Aaron Stanford as John Allerdyce / Pyro: A friend of Bobby and Rogue, Pyro has anti-social tendencies and has the ability to control (although not create) fire. Magneto tells him that "You are a God amongst insects; never let anyone tell you different." The filmmakers cast Stanford in the role after they were impressed with his performance in Tadpole.
- Kelly Hu as Yuriko Oyama / Deathstrike: A female mutant that has a healing ability like Wolverine's, and is controlled by Stryker. She wields long adamantium fingernails. Only her first name is mentioned in dialogue.
- Anna Paquin as Marie D'Ancanto / Rogue: A girl who can absorb any person's memories and abilities by touching them. As she cannot control this power, Rogue can easily kill anyone and thus is unable to be close to people.
Additionally, Michael Reid McKay portrayed Jason Stryker / Mutant 143, William Stryker's son who had the ability to create illusions. Cameo appearances include Katie Stuart as Kitty Pryde, a girl who can walk through walls; Bryce Hodgson as Artie; Kea Wong as Jubilee; and Shauna Kain as Siryn, who is able to emit loud screams that alert the students to Stryker's attack. Also in the final scene with Xavier, a girl is seen dressed in a Native American style jacket, as well as a blond haired boy dressed in blue, played by Layke Anderson. These were confirmed to be Danielle Moonstar and Douglas Ramsey. Daniel Cudmore appeared as Peter Rasputin / Colossus. Cudmore was set to use a Russian accent, but Singer dropped the idea for unknown reasons, and onset rewrites minimized the character's importance to a cameo.
Jubilee, Psylocke and Multiple Man were to have cameos for the scene when Stryker and his troops storm the X-Mansion. Beast, Gambit and Marrow were to have appearances during the Dark Cerebro sequence. Gambit's cameo was actually shot, but the footage was not used in the final cut. Beast's scene was to show Dr. Hank McCoy transforming into his notable blue fur while Marrow was to be seen lying on a ground in New York City. Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, the film's writers, cameo in scenes of Wolverine's Weapon X flashbacks as surgeons.
The financial and critical success of X-Men persuaded 20th Century Fox to immediately commission a sequel. Starting in November 2000, Bryan Singer researched various storylines (one of them being the Legacy Virus) of the X-Men comic book series. Singer wanted to study, "the human perspective, the kind of blind rage that feeds into warmongering and terrorism," citing a need for a "human villain". Bryan and producer Tom DeSanto envisioned X2 as the film series' The Empire Strikes Back, in that the characters are "all split apart, and then dissected, and revelations occur that are significant... the romance comes to fruition and a lot of things happen." Producer Avi Arad announced a planned November 2002 theatrical release date, while David Hayter and Zak Penn were hired to write separate scripts. Hayter and Penn combined what they felt to be the best elements of both scripts into one screenplay. Singer and Hayter worked on another script, finishing in October 2001.
Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris were hired to rewrite Hayter and Penn's script in February 2002, turning down the opportunity to write Urban Legends: Bloody Mary. Angel and Beast appeared in early drafts, but were deleted because there were too many characters. Dr. Hank McCoy, however, can be seen on a television interview in one scene. Beast's appearance was to resemble Jim Lee's 1991 artwork of the character in the series X-Men: Legacy. Angel was to have been a mutant experiment by William Stryker, transforming into Archangel. A reference to Dougherty's and Harris's efforts to include Angel remains in the form of an X-ray on display in one of Stryker's labs. Tyler Mane was to reprise as Sabretooth before the character was deleted. In Hayter's script, the role eventually filled by Lady Deathstrike was Anne Reynolds, a character who appeared in God Loves, Man Kills as Stryker's personal assistant/assassin. Singer changed her to Deathstrike, citing a need for "another kick-ass mutant". There was to be more development on Cyclops and Professor X being brainwashed by Stryker. The scenes were shot, but Fox cut them out because of time length and story complications. Hayter was disappointed, feeling that James Marsden deserved more screentime.
Rewrites were commissioned once more, specifically to give Halle Berry more screen time. This was because of her recent popularity in Monster's Ball, earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress. A budget cut meant that the Sentinels and the Danger Room were dropped. Guy Hendrix Dyas and a production crew had already constructed the Danger Room set. In the words of Dyas, "The control room [of the danger room] was a large propeller that actually rotated around the room so that you can sit up [in that control room] and travel around the subject who is in the middle of the control room. The idea for the traveling is that if it's a mutant has some kind of mind control powers they can't connect."
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner had hoped to start filming in March 2002, but production did not begin until June 17, 2002 in Vancouver and ended by November. Over sixty-four sets were used in thirty-eight different locations. The film crew encountered problems when there was insufficient snow in Kananaskis, Alberta for them to use for some scenes. A large amount of fake snow was then applied. The idea to have Jean Grey sacrifice herself at the end and to be resurrected in a third installment was highly secretive. Singer did not tell Famke Janssen until midway through filming. Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel and two stunt drivers nearly died when filming the scene in which Pyro has a dispute with police officers.
Design and effects
Singer and Sigel credited Road to Perdition as a visual influence. Though Sigel shot the first X-Men in anamorphic format, he opted to shoot X2 in Super 35. Sigel felt the recent improvements in film stocks and optics increased the advantages of using spherical lenses, even if the blowup to anamorphic must be accomplished optically instead of digitally. Sigel noted, "If you think about it, every anamorphic lens is simply a spherical lens with an anamorphizer on it. They'll never be as good as the spherical lenses that they emulate." Cameras that were used during filming included two Panaflex Millenniums and a Millennium XL, as well as an Aaton 35mm. Singer also used zoom lenses more often than he did in his previous films, while Sigel used a Frazier lens specifically for dramatic moments.
The Blackbird was redesigned and increased in virtual size from 60 feet to 85 feet. John Myhre served as the production designer on the first film, but Singer hired Guy Hendrix Dyas for X2, which was his first film as a production designer. For scenes involving Stryker's Alkali Base, Vancouver Film Studios, the largest sound stage in North America, was reserved.
Visual effects supervisor Mike Fink was not satisfied with his work on the previous film, despite the fact it nearly received an Academy Award nomination. Up to 520 shots were created for X-Men, while X2 commissioned roughly 800. A new computer program was created by Rhythm and Hues for the dogfight tornado scene. Cinesite was in charge of scenes concerning Cerebro, enlisting a 20-man crew. The Alkali Lake Dam miniature was 25 feet (7.6 m) high and 28 feet (8.5 m) wide. Cinesite created 300 visual effects shots, focusing on character animation, while Rhythm and Hues created over 100.
X2 opened in North America on May 2, 2003, accumulating $85,558,731 on its opening weekend in 3,749 theaters. The film grossed $214,949,694 in North America, earning $192,761,855 worldwide, for a total of $407,711,549. X2 was a financial success as it recouped its production budget three times. X2 debuted simultaneously in 93 countries, the largest North American and international opening ever at the time. In addition, the film was the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2003, also earning $107 million in its first five days of DVD release.
The first cut of X2 was rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America, due to violent shots with Wolverine when Stryker's army storms the X-Mansion. A few seconds were cut to secure a PG-13 rating.
X2 received positive reviews, with praise aimed at the acting, action, and story. The review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 86% of critics viewed the film favorably, based on 222 reviews with an average score of 7.5/10. The sites consensus states: "Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor—and a benchmark for comic sequels in general." Metacritic calculated an average score of 68/100 (generally favorable reviews) from 37 reviews.
Roger Ebert was impressed by how Singer was able to handle so many characters in one film, but felt "the storyline did not live up to its potential". In addition, Ebert wrote that the film's closing was perfect for a future installment, giving X2 three out of four stars. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it was rare for a sequel to be better than its predecessor. Turan observed that the film carried emotional themes that are present in the world today and commented that "the acting was better than usual [for a superhero film]". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote that Hugh Jackman heavily improved his performance, concluding "X2 is a summer firecracker. It's also a tribute to outcasts, teens, gays, minorities, even Dixie Chicks." Empire called X2 the best comic book movie of all time in 2006, while Wizard named the film's ending as the 22nd greatest cliffhanger of all time. In May 2007, Rotten Tomatoes listed X2 as the fifth greatest comic book film of all time.
The film won the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. In addition, Bryan Singer (Direction), Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty (Writing), and John Ottman (Music) all received nominations. It also received nominations for its costumes, makeup, special effects and DVD release, amounting to a total of eight nominations. The Political Film Society honored X2 in the categories of Human Rights and Peace, while the film was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle was critical of the storyline, special effects and action scenes. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal specifically referred to the film as "fast-paced, slow-witted". Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post wrote "Of the many comic book superhero movies, this is by far the lamest, the loudest, the longest". Richard Corliss of Time argued that Singer depended too much on seriousness and that he did not have enough sensibilities to communicate to an audience.
|X2: Original Motion Picture Score|
|Film score by|
|Released||April 29, 2003|
|John Ottman chronology|
|X-Men soundtrack chronology|
The film's score was composed by John Ottman, a regular collaborator with film director Bryan Singer. The soundtrack album X2: Original Motion Picture Score was released on April 29, 2003. Ottman used a sample of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem as the basis for the music in scenes featuring Nightcrawler. As well as the music on the album, tracks by Conjure One and 'N Sync also featured in the film.
On July 19, 2012, La-La Land Records issued an expanded version of Ottman's score, including the specially recorded version of Alfred Newman's Twentieth Century Fox fanfare incorporating Ottman's film theme.
|2003 album track listing|
|1.||"Suite from X2 "||7:11|
|2.||"Storm's Perfect Storm"||2:18|
|7.||"Rogue Earns Her Wings"||1:35|
|9.||"Magneto's Old Tricks"||4:59|
|11.||"If You Really Knew"||3:21|
|12.||"Playing With Fire"||2:45|
|13.||"Death Strikes Deathstryke"||4:52|
|14.||"Getting Out Alive"||3:59|
|16.||"We're Here to Stay"||1:48|
|X2: Original Motion Picture Score (Expanded)|
|Film score by|
|Released||July 19, 2012|
|Label||La-La Land Records|
|X-Men soundtrack chronology|
Boldface and a indicate previously unreleased material.
|2012 album track listing – Disc 1|
|1.||"Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare"||0:22|
|5.||"Jean's Hallucination / Something Terrible"||1:03|
|10.||"You Remember Him"||2:32|
|11.||"Mansion Attack / Don't You Remember / Escape"||7:53|
|12.||"Opening Cerebro / Bottom's Up"||1:55|
|13.||"Jason's Story / Harmless Kiss"||3:29|
|15.||"What Bobby Can Do / Finding Faith"||2:51|
|18.||"Storm's Perfect Storm / Missiles"||2:07|
|19.||"Fireside Chat / Flashback / Jean and Logan / You Know What I Want"||5:02|
|20.||"God Among Insects / Where Is Everyone?"||2:08|
|2012 album track listing – Disc 2|
|1.||"The Children / Something's Wrong"||2:36|
|2.||"Augmentation Room (Death Strikes Deathstrike)"||4:45|
|3.||"Deathstrike Dies / Magneto's Old Tricks"||5:52|
|4.||"Wolverine to the Rescue"||8:10|
|5.||"Rogue Earns Wings"||2:20|
|6.||"Goodbye / We're Here to Stay"||7:08|
|7.||"Evolution Leaps Forward"||3:09|
|8.||"Suite from X-Men 2 (End Credits original version)"||7:11|
|9.||"Evolution Leaps Forward (original version)"||0:48|
|10.||"Suite from X-Men 2 (End Credits film version)"||9:07|
X2 is included in the X-Men Trilogy 4K UHD Blu-Ray set which was released on September 25 2018.
After the success of the second film in the franchise, a sequel titled, X-Men: The Last Stand was released in 2006, albeit not directed by Singer.
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