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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: X2: X-Men United

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“X2: X-Men United”
Rated PG-13
2003

Juggling at least seven different plots, 2003’s 133-minute “X2: X-Men United” wasn’t much for the whole brevity thing as was its 104-minute predecessor.

Good thing, as Bryan Singer’s introductory “X-Men” film felt tentatively truncated in hesitant hopes these mutants at large would generate a franchise.

Singer’s first blockbuster foray into directorial carte blanche effortlessly entertained, thanks to brisk pacing and Singer’s own sure-handed direction. (When Singer bailed on a hastily thrown-together third installment to film “Superman Returns,” that job went to Brett Ratner — a director marking the franchise only with feces.)

Struggles with rage, alienation and faith rarely shine through explosions and rescues, but Singer paid as much attention to storytelling as spectacle — allowing “X-Men’s” messaging to make its points without sappiness.

Ramping up the political undertones of human-mutant relations, “X2” puts harmonious coexistence asunder after a presidential assassination attempt. Fearing war, X-Men leader Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) uncovers a mutant-genocide plot hatched by General William Stryker (Brian Cox), who harbors personal hatred for the species.

Though blockbuster bloat was inevitable (a pull-out-all-the-stops finale goes on too long and romantic entanglements ensue among nearly every X-Man and Woman), “X2” dexterously balances action, comedy and drama.

A battle between Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) evokes the climactic brutality of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” and the introduction of another wheelchair-bound mutant proves a powerful, uncommonly somber moment.

As its mutant characters differ from humans, “X2” evolved differently from most other comic-book cash cows into something sadder, saucier and significantly smarter.

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12 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: X2: X-Men United”

  1. […] “Empire Strikes Back” of the “X-Men” series, “X2″ not only followed up on the pretty-darn-good original film but improved upon its every aspect — […]

  2. Brandon Scales says:

    It was a good movie but the best one in the series that I have seen is the current one X Men First Class. It was real good but the best one. It was full of action and diffrent and returing characters from the first one.

  3. […] until “X2: X-Men United” did I see the real potential for comic-book movies. After the ’90s Batman films and the first […]

  4. Kyke K says:

    This was a great x-men movie! Can’t wait to see the new one out!

  5. Christian says:

    I need to see X-Men 2 again. Just watched X-men and X-men: First Class over the weekand. So good!!

  6. Joe Shearer says:

    Hey Chad. I’m not sure who you spoke with, but X2 is almost universally considered one of the best comic book movies ever made (in fact, be watching for it on my list of the best comic book movies coming this week). The Nightcrawler stuff is phenomenal, especially the opening scene, Wolverine continues his great arc, and most of the main characters are used well (except Cyclops; I’m not a fan of how he was used throughout the series as a second banana). The third film, "X-Men: The Last Stand" is the one that is considered inferior. Brett Ratner stepped into that one, there are multiple deaths among main characters for no real reason, and then the film virtually undoes itself with a strange ending.

  7. chad cowgill says:

    From what I hear X2 was the must unliked of the three X-Men movies in the trilogy. But no one could ever give a reason and I could never really understand what made people hate it. Maybe it was over their heads for a comic book movie and they could not quite grasp the meaning of it, or the multiple meanings really.

  8. Nick Rogers says:

    And, of course, thanks for reading and commenting!

  9. Nick Rogers says:

    Helen: Definitely. I also liked the first "X-Men" film, but it was clearly whittled down to soften the blow had it flopped. After two bad "X-Men" films ("Last Stand," "Wolverine"), I’m excited to see the next two based solely on their directors’ track records: Matthew Vaughn (next summer’s "X-Men: First Class" prequel) and Darren Aronofsky (2012’s "The Wolverine").

  10. Helen says:

    When I play the "sequels that are better than the original" game, X2 is one of the movies I cite (and not because I didn’t enjoy the first X-Men!).

  11. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Rogers and The Film Yap, Rick Todd. Rick Todd said: Heroes of the Zeroes: X2: X-Men United | THE FILM YAP: Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers' daily, alphabetical … http://bit.ly/f5oXSP […]