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Film Review: X2: X-Men United

Updated on August 3, 2017
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Jason Wheeler is the Senior Writer and Editor at Film Frenzy. He reviews films from across the cinematic landscape.


In 2003, Bryan Singer released X2: X-Men United, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and inspired by the 1982 graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont. Starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Kelly Hu, Anna Paquin, Katie Stuart, Kea Wong and Bryce Hodgson, the film grossed $407.7 million at the box office.


After a mutant identified as Nightcrawler attempts an assassination on the president and government operatives kidnap Cyclops and Professor X, the X-Men discover Colonel William Stryker is using a mutant to project false images into other mutants’ minds and intends to kill all living mutants. Now, Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants must join forces with the X-Men to stop him.


A good film in and of itself, X-2: X-Men United is an even better film than its predecessor. Where the previous entry spent a lot of time establishing who the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants were and how Wolverine came to be associated with the former, this film jumps right in with an attack on the president. Further, with the ideologies of both groups known, it gives their alliance prior to the climax of the film more weight, showing how the two of them need to temporarily put aside their differences in order to stop a common enemy. The scenes where all of them are planning their assault on Stryker’s base are done well too, letting Pyro’s internal conflict fully develop and giving further characterization to Mystique by continuing to portray her as someone who really just wants to be left alone as she is and shouldn’t have to hide herself in order to do so. In addition to all this, the film goes further and provides more clues as to who and what Wolverine really is and where he came from, but still doesn’t completely unveil everything.

Having the X-Men unite with the Brotherhood of Mutants assists in the film delving further into many of the characters, such as the previously mentioned conversation between Mystique and Nightcrawler where the latter expresses his desire to blend in with the rest of humanity and the former maintaining they shouldn’t have to blend in to be a part of society. Moreover, Magneto’s belief in himself as someone fighting for the good of all mutants rather than a complete villain comes out when speaking with Pyro who outright says he’s known as the bad guy. Instead of accepting a role he sees as simply thrust upon him by the X-Men, he retorts by confirming it’s what they see him as and neither confirms nor denies his badness or goodness, thus letting Pyro figure out what he believes for himself. Magneto’s role as the X-Men’s main antagonist does come out in the end though, by switching the target of Dark Cerebro from mutants to humans.

Yet, the main villain of this film is Stryker, a man who hates and lobotomized his own son simply because of his mutation and utilizes his son’s powers to further his goal of killing all mutants. What’s fascinating about what he does to his son is he does it after sending him to Xavier’s school, viewing the mutation as a disease and wanting it cured. However, since he and Xavier are at odds with whether or not mutations are something to be cured, he pulled his son out. After that is where he possibly jumped off the slippery slope by claiming his son used illusions to torture him and his wife which is what drove him to lobotomize him and make an attempt to kill all mutants. On the other hand, the film implies he was already far off the slippery slope by seeing his son’s mutation as a condition and just figured he could use him as an excuse for his hatred. Nevertheless, by using his own son as an excuse for his desire to wipe out mutants and as the method for doing so as well, Stryker is a fantastic villain.

4 stars for X2: X-Men United

Awards won

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film

BET Awards

  • Best Actress (Halle Berry)

BMI Film & TV Awards

  • BMI Film Music Award

Canadian Network of Makeup Artist Awards

  • Best Hairstyling for a Feature Film

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year

MTV Movie + TV Awards

  • Breakthrough Male Performance (Shawn Ashmore)

Nominated for

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Director
  • Best Writing
  • Best Music
  • Best Costumes
  • Best Make Up
  • Best Special Effects
  • Best DVD Collection (For the “X-Men Collection”)
  • Cinescape Genre Face of the Future – Male (Shawn Ashmore)

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

DVD Exclusive Awards

  • Best Overall DVD, New Movie (Including All Extra Features)

Empire Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best Actor (Hugh Jackman)

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Best Special Effects of the Year
  • Best Action Sequence of the Year (Nightcrawler visits the White House)

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Best Action

Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards

  • Best Special Makeup Effects – Feature

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

International Online Cinema Awards

  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Best Sound Editing

Kids Choice Blimp Awards

  • Favorite Movie Actress (Halle Berry)

Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards

  • Best Sound Editing in Domestic Features – Dialogue & ADR

MTV Movie + TV Awards

  • Best Movie
  • Best Kiss (Shawn Ashmore & Anna Paquin)
  • Best Fight (Hugh Jackman & Kelly Hu)

MTV Movie Awards, Mexico

  • Sexiest She-Villain (Rebecca Romijn)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Best Visual Effects

Online Film critics Society Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

Political Film Society Awards

  • Human Rights
  • Peace

Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards

  • Best Genre Film

Teen Choice Awards

  • Choice Movie Actor – Drama/Action-Adventure (Hugh Jackman)
  • Choice Movie Actress – Drama/Action-Adventure (Halle Berry)
  • Choice Movie Actress – Drama/Action-Adventure (Rebecca Romijn)
  • Choice Movie – Drama/Action-Adventure
  • Choice Movie Liar (Rebecca Romijn)
  • Choice Movie Villain (Brian Cox)
  • Choice Movie Villain (Ian McKellen)
  • Choice Movie Chemistry (Anna Paquin & Shawn Ashmore)
  • Choice Movie Fight/Action Sequence


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