X2 (aka – X-MEN 2: X-MEN UNITED)


2003

DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer

May Contain Spoilers!

Few remember that it was Blade back in 1998, which began Marvel’s rise to the top of comic book movie adaptations. Before the smash hit which was Spider-man in 2002, there was Brian Singer’s X-Men at the turn of the century. Singer returned, after its success, in 2003 with this sequel, which was clearly the best of X-Man film, up until X-Men: First Class, without a doubt.

Taking up where X-Men left off, X2 opening plays The Empire Strikes Back card, and breaks up our characters following a raid in the first act. X-Men took the franchise away from the more science fiction elements of the comic and grounded it with its World War 2 opening, in which a young Magneto (Sir Ian Mcellan) is being separated from his parents in a NAZI concentration camp and his despair leads to his metal bending power being unleashed on the gates.

Singer’s X-Men was all about social exclusion, with mutants taking on the role of social deviants, the Jews of the 1930’s Germany, the Blacks of Mississippi, or even the Christians of ancient Rome. But X-Men (2000) was quite slow and though a remarkably well made film in some respects, it wasn’t what a comic book film of the X-Men should have been. X-Men 2 most defiantly was the true realisation on this vision.

The mutants, good and bad are united by a common enemy, Striker (Brian Cox) who is an army scientist who created Wolverine back in the 60’s, and under the guise of eliminating the mutant threat, raids Professor Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) mansion, scattering some of the X-Men, such as Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Rouge (Anna Paquin), Storm (Halle Berry) and Jean Grey (Famke Jensen), whilst capturing the rest.

The groups are being hunted and will end up reuniting and fighting their way out the situation as you might expect, but with the cost of one of their number.

X2 is what X-Men should have been. It’s lighter, more exiting and just punchier, without losing any of the weight which the first movie had. The metaphor’s are well-played and are in keeping with all good allegorical science fiction or comic books. Singer sets a lot up here as well and takes the established characters for the first film and expands then quite comfortably making then film’s conclusion all the more poignant.

He left the project after this to work on Superman Returns (2006), which was not his best move when all’s said and done, though I liked it a lot more than others, but this left his establish plotting open to other interpretations and X-Men: The Last Stand was not a suitable continuation of this film. Singer seemed to take the source as seriously as the films and this showed with such loving details scatter throughout both movies.

I’m not a comic book reader, so my references are not very concise, but this is a film with oozes TLC from it’s production team and stands as one of the best comic book adaptations of the 2000’s, and it’s up against some stiff opposition from movies such as Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), the underrated Watchmen (2009) and Hulk (2003).

Overall, X-Men has never looked better, X-Men: First Class (2011) withstanding…

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