International film poster
|Directed by||Bryan Singer|
|Produced by||Tom DeSanto
Lauren Shuler Donner
|Written by||Michael Dougherty
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Cinematography||Newton Thomas Sigel|
|Editing by||John Ottman
|Studio||20th Century Fox
Bad Hat Harry Productions
The Donners' Company
XF2 Canada Productions
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||May 2, 2003|
|Running time||136 minutes|
|Followed by||X-Men: The Last Stand|
X2 (often promoted as X2: X-Men United) 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 Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, 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. Wolverine reappears after discovering nothing at Alkali Lake, while Storm and Jean find Nightcrawler with the help of Professor Xavier 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. Wolverine confronts Stryker, who makes several interesting comments on their past together: however, Wolverine is forced to flee before he can gain more information.
Impersonating Senator Robert Kelly and Yuriko, Mystique gains information about Magneto's prison and provides a means for him to escape. She drugs one of magneto's guards with a high concentration of iron, into his blood.(While the guard was unconscious) Upon the guard visiting, magneto forcibly drains the iron out of the guard, giving magneto three smalls silver spheres to escape. With the metal, the prison guards don't stand a chance, as magneto breaks free out into the open world. Wolverine, along with Rogue, Iceman and Pyro, head to Iceman's (Bobby Drake's) parents' home in Boston. After a 9-1-1 call the police arrive just as the group is about to leave. The X-Jet arrives to pick them up 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; the X-Men enter and 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 cause damage to the generators that keep the dam from collapsing. The force of Jean's telekinetic blast awakens Cyclops from his brainwashing and at the same time Wolverine finds Stryker in an adamantium smelting room along with Deathstrike, who engages him in a furious duel to the death. 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. However, Wolverine refuses, and returns to save his friends from the collapsing dam, leaving Stryker chained to the helicopter.
While disguised as Stryker, Mystique uses Jason to convince the Professor to kill all humans and Magneto and Mystique 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. The group flee to safety, and Wolverine encounters Stryker one last time: in spite of Stryker's taunts, Wolverine chooses to stay with the X-Men, and leaves Stryker to die. The dam bursts, flooding the facility and drowning Stryker, but a malfunction aboard the X-Jet prevents it from taking off. As the flood gets stronger, Jean leaves the jet and creates a telekinetic wall in order to stop the wave and raises the jet above the flood waters. Jean 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 film ends with a voiceover 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 in the lake.
Although the character of Senator Robert Kelly was killed in the first film, Bruce Davison reprised the role for scenes where Mystique uses his persona to infiltrate the government. In other cameos, Katie Stuart appeared 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. Hank McCoy appears on a television during the scene where Mystique drugs Magneto's prison guard. Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, the film's writers, cameo in scenes of Wolverine's Weapon X flashbacks as surgeons. Shaquille O'Neal wanted a role in the film but was ignored by the filmmakers.
The financial and critical success of X-Men persuaded 20th Century Fox to commission a sequel instantly. Starting in November 2000, Bryan Singer researched various storylines (one of them being the Legacy Virus) of the X-Men comic book series, choosing God Loves, Man Kills as the premise. 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". Singer and producer Tom DeSanto envisioned X2: X-Men United as the film series' 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. An homage to Dougherty's and Harris' efforts of 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 screentime. 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." Dyas and sculptor James Jones merged several Sentinel designs into a final maquette of an almost hollow robot who could compress into a disk shape. Animating the Sentinel would have cost $7 million.
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner had hoped to start filming in March 2002, but production did not began 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 not enough snow was produced in Kananaskis, Alberta. An excessive 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.
Michael Kamen, composer of X-Men, offered his services to compose the film score, but Singer opted for fellow collaborator John Ottman, who also assisted in editing the film. Ottman established a new title theme, as well as themes specifically for Magneto, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Mystique and Pyro. Although Ottman tried his best to keep Kamen's basic approach of the previous film, Ottman also found inspiration from X-Men: The Animated Series. Minor compositions of Mozart's Requiem were used for the opening scene with Nightcrawler at the White House.
Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel and Singer credited Road to Perdition as a visual influence. Though Sigel filmed X-Men in the anamorphic 2.40:1 format, he opted to shoot X2 in Super 35mm 2.35:1. 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 more zoom lens 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—85 feet. John Myhre served as the production designer on X-Men, but Singer hired Guy Dyas (X2 was Dyas' first film as 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 ft (7.6 m) high and 28 ft (8.5 m) wide. Cinesite created 300 visual effects shots, focusing on character animation, while Rhythm and Hues created over 100.
One scene depicts Mystique going through files on Yuriko's computer. Bryan Singer purposely included various characters and hints of storylines in the X-Men comic book on Yuriko's computer screen. Singer "finds great difficulty in adapting all this stuff into a two—two and a half hour long movie".
Among the following mutant files are of Gambit, Cannonball, Husk, Silver Samurai, Garrison Kane, Magneto, Artie Maddicks, Multiple Man, Karma, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Proteus, Danielle Moonstar, Storm, Beast, Feral, Banshee, Black Tom Cassidy, Lila Cheney, Sabretooth, Sunspot, Polaris, Psylocke, Iceman, Blob, Skin and Wild Child. There are also folders seen on the desk, including Omega Red, Project Wideawake, Franklin Richards and Cerebro.
Closer inspection reveals that Stryker is keeping files on Pyro, Sabra, Dr. Ceclia Reyes, Synch, Penance, Nightcrawler, Mystique, Lady Deathstrike, Copycat, Deadpool, Cyclops, Dazzler, Fenris, Jamie Braddock, David North, Sunfire, Boom Boom, Mimic, Dr. Nathaniel Essex, Toad, Wolfsbane, Strong Guy, Kitty Pryde, Sauron and Forge. There are also files on Alpha, Beta and Gamma Flights, Weapon X, Project Wide Awake, Dept H, the Brotherhood, Graymalkin, Zero Tolerance, Massachusetts Academy, Blackbird, the Danger Room, Legacy, Morlocks, Xavier's School, Omega Red, Cerebro, the Salem Centre, Franklin Richards, Kevin McTaggart and Trash.
The first cut of X2 was rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America, due to more violent scenes concerning Wolverine when Stryker's army stormed the X-Mansion. Very few seconds were cut to secure a PG-13 rating.
X2 opened in America on May 2, 2003, accumulating $85,558,731 in its opening weekend in 3,749 theaters. The film grossed $214,949,694 in North America, while earning $192,761,855 worldwide, coming at a total of $407,711,549. X2 was a financial success since it recouped its production budget three times. X2 debuted simultaneously in ninety-three countries, the largest North American and international opening ever at the time. In addition, the film is the fifth highest grossing film based on a Marvel Comic book, and was the sixth highest of 2003, also earning $107 million in its first five days of DVD release.
X2 had a video game tie-in on X2: Wolverine's Revenge, which has nothing to do with the events of the film, although Patrick Stewart voiced Professor X. X-Men: The Official Game bridges the storyline between X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand. Specifically, it explains Nightcrawler's absence from The Last Stand. Chris Claremont wrote a novelization of the film, which left out its secretive cliffhanger.
Based on 217 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, X2 received an average 88 percent overall approval rating; the film was more balanced with Rotten Tomatoes' 37 "Top Critics", receiving an 82 percent approval rating. By comparison, Metacritic calculated an average score of sixty-eight from thirty-eight reviews.
Roger Ebert wrote "the storyline did not live up to its potential" and was critical of plot holes. He was impressed, however, by how Singer was able to handle so many characters in one film. 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."
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 quoted, "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. Empire called X2 the best comic book movie of all time in 2006, while Wizard named the film's ending as the twenty-second greatest cliffhanger of all time. In May 2007, Rotten Tomatoes listed X2 as the fifth greatest comic book film of all time.
X2 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 with its costumes, makeup, special effects and DVD release, coming to a total of eight nominations. The Political Film Society honored X2 in categories of Human Rights and Peace, while the film was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).
|Awards and achievements|
|Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
X2, released in 2003 is the second of a series of three films based on the X-Men comic series. It follows X-Men and preceeds X-Men: The Last Stand In this film, the heroic team of mutants must form an uneasy alliance with former enemy Magneto to stop an obsessed military scientist from exterminating all mutant-kind. Based on characters from Marvel comics.