X2 (often promoted as X2: X-Men United and promoted in the UK as X-Men 2) is a 2003 superhero film based on the fictional characters the X-Men. Directed by Bryan Singer, it is the second film in the X-Men film series. It stars an ensemble cast including Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Alan Cumming, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Brian Cox, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Halle Berry and Kelly Hu. The 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.
Development phase for X2 began shortly after X-Men. 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 for rewrite work, changing characterizations of Beast, Angel and Lady Deathstrike. Sentinels and the Danger Room were set to appear before being deleted because of budget concerns. Filming began in June 2002 and ended that November. Most of the filming took place at Vancouver Film Studios, the largest soundstage in North America. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas adapted similar designs of John Myhre from the previous film. X2 was released in the United States on May 2, 2003 and became both a critical and financial success, earning eight nominations at the Saturn Awards and grossing approximately $407 million worldwide.
Nightcrawler, a teleporting mutant, attempts to assassinate the President of the United States in the White House, but he fails and escapes after being shot by the vice president. Wolverine heads to Alkali Lake but finds nothing left of the base. He returns to the school, reunited with Rogue, her boyfriend Iceman, Cyclops, Storm, and Jean Grey. He is requested by Professor Xavier to watch over the children at the school, while Storm and Jean find Nightcrawler with the help of the professor and Cerebro.
Cyclops and the Professor visit Magneto in his plastic prison to see if he had any part in the attack on the President. Reading Magneto’s mind, the Professor discovers that a covert government operative, William Stryker, has been extracting information from Magneto. A trap is sprung and Cyclops and the Professor are captured by Stryker and his assistant Yuriko Oyama. A military raid of the X-Mansion begins, with the soldiers sedating every student they find. However, the plan backfires when Wolverine strikes back and kills a large number of Stryker’s men, while Colossus, Rogue, Iceman, Pyro, and most of the students escape through a series of hidden tunnels in the school. Wolverine confronts Stryker, who fails to shed any light to his past. Iceman returns, saves Wolverine by creating a wall of ice between him and Stryker, and they both escape through one of the tunnels. Stryker’s soldiers had already succeeded in sedating six students and managed to break inside Cerebro.
Impersonating Senator Robert Kelly and Yuriko, Mystique gains information about Magneto’s prison and provides a means for him to escape. Wolverine, along with Rogue, Iceman and Pyro head to Iceman’s (Bobby Drake’s) parents’ home in Boston. After a 9-1-1 call from Bobby’s brother Ronny, the police arrive just as the group is about to leave. The X-Jet arrives to pick them up but are attacked by the Air Force, however, they manage to defeat them, and the X-Men team up with Magneto and Mystique. Magneto has learned Stryker orchestrated the attack on the President and has been experimenting on mutants, using a drug injected directly into the back of the neck to control them. Jean reads Nightcrawler’s mind and determines that Stryker’s base is located at Alkali Lake, inside the dam where he plans to kill the world’s mutants by building a second Cerebro.
Through his son, Jason, Stryker gains control over the Professor. His son is able to project powerful visions in the mind, blinding a person to reality, and through this the Professor is brainwashed to use Cerebro to find and kill all mutants. Mystique is able to infiltrate Stryker’s base by impersonating Wolverine as the X-Men followed. Storm and Nightcrawler search for the kidnapped students. Jean, Magneto, and Mystique are attacked by a brainwashed Cyclops while trying to rescue the Professor and in the process caused damage to the generators that keep the dam from collapsing. The force of Jean’s telekinetic blast awakens Cyclops from his brainwashing, and Wolverine simultaneously finds Stryker in an adamantium smelting room along with Yuriko, who is revealed to be Lady Deathstrike. Wolverine manages to defeat Deathstrike and then finds Stryker on a landing pad, where Stryker attempts to bargain Wolverine for his life with stories of his past.
Storm and Nightcrawler find the children and break them out of their cell. Magneto and Mystique managed to kill the rest of Stryker’s men by setting off their grenades, and Magneto stops Jason and the Professor before the mutants are killed. While disguised as Stryker, Mystique uses Jason to convince the Professor to kill all humans; she and Magneto then use Stryker’s helicopter to escape Alkali Lake, chaining Stryker to concrete rubble. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler teleports Storm inside of Cerebro where she creates a snowstorm to free the Professor from his telepathic illusion.
They all then escape from the base, only to discover that Magneto, Mystique, and Pyro had escaped on the helicopter. Fortunately, Iceman and Rogue arrive with the X-Jet and everyone gets on board. The dam bursts, flooding the landscape and killing Stryker. A malfunction aboard the X-Jet prevents it from taking off; Jean leaves the jet and creates a telekinetic wall as a shield against the flood. She activates the X-Jet’s primary engines before releasing the torrent of water down on herself.
The X-Men are able to supply the President with files from Stryker’s private offices, and the Professor warns him that humans and mutants must work together to build peace or they will destroy each other through war. The next scene returns to the school, with Professor Xavier, Cyclops, and Wolverine talking about Jean’s past. They are then interrupted by Colossus and a large number of the students who are supposed to be in their next class. While they leave, Wolverine told Cyclops that she made a choice and that it was him, to which relieved Cyclops a good deal. The film ends with a voice-over by Jean Grey on the process of evolution (a speech originally made by the Professor in the introduction of the first film). The camera floats over Alkali Lake, showing a vague shape of a ‘Phoenix’ flying above it.
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First Published: Dec 24, 2011 – Last Updated: Apr 8, 2013