Franchises of All Time
The "X-Men" Films
X2: X-Men United (2003)
X-Men (2000) | X2: X-Men United (2003) | X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) | X-Men: First Class (2011) | The Wolverine (2013)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Film Plot Summary
In the film's exciting opening sequence, Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner (Alan Cumming) - a blue-demonish, tattoo-covered, prehensile-tailed, yellow-eyed, pointy-eared mutant (with a strong Catholic faith) was introduced. He used his power of teleporting to unsuccessfully attempt to assassinate US President McKenna (Cotter Smith) in the Oval Office. Pretending to be one of the White House tour members (and wearing sunglasses and a long coat), he split off from the group and attacked, using his amazingly quick teleporting ability. When he was prepared to stab the President with a knife marked by a rubber tag reading: "MUTANT FREEDOM NOW," he was shot in the arm by a wounded guard and forced to escape.
The next scene was set at Alkali Lake (controlled by a huge dam) where Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) reappeared and came across a lone white wolf. He only found the frozen base and abandoned structural remains of the Alkali Lake Industrial Complex (of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources). He was searching for more information about his origins.
Mutants Storm/Ororo Monroe (Halle Berry), Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) suffering from telepathic glitches and scary nightmares, and Cyclops/Scott Summers (James Marsden) were heading up a student field trip to NY's natural history museum, leading young superhero mutants from Professor Charles Xavier's (Patrick Stewart) X-Mansion School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester County, NY. Jean sensed something terrible was about to happen. In the Food Court of the museum, Pyro/John Allerdyce (Aaron Stanford) had an altercation with other bullying non-mutant teens, causing a fire which Iceman/Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) extinguished with his icy breath. [A third student Marie/Rogue (Anna Paquin), Bobby's girlfriend, was with them.] Professor Xavier appeared after freeze-framing the scene, to teach a lesson about showing off in public.
A TV news report told about the recent White House attack on the President, unfairly claiming from sources that it involved "one or more mutants." It was unclear whether Brotherhood of Mutants leader Magneto/Eric Lensherr (Ian McKellen) in his plastic prison cell (to nullify his powers) had orchestrated the attack. Professor Xavier was using his Cerebro machine to try and track the erratic movements of the assassin before the authorities caught him.
In the Oval Office, the President met with retired military scientist Colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox), a power-mad covert government operative whose main genocidal objective was to destroy every mutant on Earth. Also in on the meeting was prejudiced anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison) who had supported the Mutant Registration Act that would eliminate peaceful co-existence. Kelly's objections to Stryker's strident wishes failed. Stryker suspected the X-School as a cover-up for mutant activity after exhibiting surveillance photographs (showing a jet parked under the basketball court). He explained that he had retrieved some of his information from one of the mutant terrorists captured on Liberty Island (in the previous film). He was accompanied by his long-fingernailed personal assistant Yuriko Oyama (Kelly Hu), aka assassinatrix and martial artist Lady Deathstrike. In the hallway, yellow-eyed mutant Mystique/Rebecca Darkholme (Rebecca Romijin-Stamos) revealed that she was impersonating Kelly.
Logan (lacking memory) returned to the school after conducting a search in the North to discover more about his haunted past. He was asked to 'baby-sit' the students, while Jean and Storm were being sent to Boston by Professor Xavier to locate the assassin. Stryker (and his guard) visited mutant leader Magneto in his plastic prison cell. After the guard struck Magneto, Stryker placed a chemical serum on the back of his neck to control him - and learn everything about Cerebro. Meanwhile, Professor Xavier was demonstrating his powerful Cerebro machine to Logan, explaining how it could connect him to every living person or thing (including mutants) on the planet - the white lights were humans, the red lights were mutants. It might also help him locate the assassin. Wolverine asked for the Professor to read his mind again for more information about his past (including his amnesia, his adamantium skeleton and claws, etc.), but Xavier explained that he couldn't ("the mind needs to discover things for itself").
Disguised by shape-shifting as Senator Kelly and then as Yuriko Oyama, the blue-scaled Mystique broke into Colonel Stryker's computers in his Washington DC offices to learn more about information already acquired on: (1) Eric Lensherr, (2) the prison and its guards. She also began looking at confidential information on Cerebro - she saw that he was planning to build another Cerebro labeled Cerebro 2, although the location of the base of operations and the construction site was 'classified.' When the real Yuriko entered the offices, she impersonated the night-time cleaning janitor in order to escape.
After flying to Boston in the X-Jet, Storm and Jean located the fast-moving, teleporting German-speaking assassin Nightcrawler in an empty cathedral. After they subdued him with their powers, they realized that he had been coerced - with the same mark on the back of his neck that allowed Stryker to control Magneto. At the same time, Scott/Cyclops and Professor Xavier were visiting Magneto in his plastic prison, where Magneto revealed that frequent visitor Stryker had been questioning him. He also pointed out that Stryker's mutant son Jason had once been a student at Xavier's School. Magneto confessed - to Xavier's horror - that he couldn't help telling Stryker "everything." At the moment that Magneto uttered: "the war has begun," an invisible gas was pumped into the prison chamber and both of them went unconscious. Outside the cell, Cyclops fought against the prison guards but was knocked out by Stryker's powerful assistant, Yuriko/Deathstrike. [Xavier and Cyclops were abducted by Stryker and Deathstrike.]
Meanwhile, Xavier's school was assaulted by Stryker-led helicopters/soldiers, as Wolverine helped to lead a partially-successful counter-assault of the mutant students defending themselves with their powers. Some were able to escape through a series of underground tunnels, although some of the students were captured. After personally taking charge, Stryker face-to-face confronted Wolverine, hinting that he had experimented upon him 15 years in the past. To protect him, Bobby/Iceman erected a thick ice-wall between them so the conversation abruptly ended. The few remaining mutants and Wolverine fled in Cyclops's car speeding toward Boston (enroute stopping at Bobby's house) to meet up with Storm and Jean Grey.
Stryker's next move was to enter Professor Xavier's Cerebro machine where he ordered: "Take what we need, gentlemen." In a bar, Mystique (disguised as seductive female Grace) flirtatiously met Magneto's guard Mitchell Laurio (Ty Olsson), drugged his beer with knockout pills, and then in a mens' room toilet stall injected him with iron (a silver-colored fluid). She was aiding the plan for Magneto's escape - to occur shortly. [Slightly later in the film, Laurio (injected with iron) brought a tray of food to Magneto in his plastic prison, when Magneto sensed: "There's something different about you...Too much iron in your blood." He levitated Laurio, extracted the iron from his body into his hand as a black cloud - killing him, and then formed small iron ball-bearings used to shatter the plastic enclosure to effect his jail-break escape.]
When abducted Professor Xavier awoke at Alkali Lake (Stryker's headquarters), he found that he was being held captive by Stryker and assistant Deathstrike (who was also controlled with the serum administered to the back of her neck). Xavier was wearing a metal neural inhibitor brace on his head to prevent him from using his psychic powers. They again talked about Stryker's mutant son Jason, who had left Xavier's school after one year, and then blamed his parents for his condition. Jason had used his destructive power of illusion to cause his mother to take a power drill to her temple "to bore the images out." Without even reading his mind, Xavier knew that Stryker had arranged the assassination attempt to influence the President. Admitting that the potion he used to control other mutants wouldn't work on Xavier, Stryker introduced his mutant son Jason/Mutant 143 (Michael Reid McKay) to manipulate Xavier's mind with powerful illusions. The vegetative, sick-looking, mute boy was wheeled in, also confined in a wheelchair, and a few scenes later, Jason - with an intense power to control minds - had recreated himself as a little girl and was leading the Professor into another illusionary fabrication - the Cerebro dome.
Outside Boston, Bobby's parents were surprised to find Logan and the others in their house. When Bobby revealed to them that he was a mutant, they were disturbed about it and naively asked: "Have you tried not being a mutant?" Bobby's younger brother Ronny called 9-1-1 to report intruders in the house, while a TV broadcast referred to "several fugitives from the facility" (or school). After police surrounded the house and Logan was ordered to drop the knives (his knuckle-blades), he said he couldn't retract them - and was shot in the forehead (but he soon healed and survived). Pyro flung blasts of fire at the officers and police cars, after which Rogue extinguished the flames with icy air absorbed from Bobby's ankle.
The group of mutants were picked up by the X-Jet piloted by Dr. Grey, then headed back to the NY Mutant School while chased by two F-16 Air Force fighters. Storm (using her powers) deterred the pursuit by creating giant swirling tornadoes, and telekinetically-skilled Jean steered one fired missile off-track, but a second missile exploded near the X-Jet and caused damage. Rogue was sucked out of the plane but rescued by Nightcrawler's teleportation ability. To their surprise, Magneto (with Mystique) had temporarily joined forces with the X-Men - he repaired the hole in the crippled ship and prevented it from crashing. Over a night-time campfire, he then explained how he was combating Stryker, who had invaded the school's mansion to acquire Cerebro or use "enough of it to build one of his own." (Stryker was actually building his own version of Xavier's mutant-tracking, mind-linking computer named Cerebro 2.) Abducted Professor Xavier would be kept alive and forced to operate Cerebro 2, to target all of the connected mutants and kill them - Stryker's genocidal plan. Stryker was also unique in his ability to manipulate adamantium - the metal on Wolverine's bones.
Mystique had discovered plans of a base that Stryker had been operating from for decades - where he was building the second Cerebro. Jean Grey read Nightcrawler's mind to reveal the base's location, at Alkali Lake. It was an underground base of operations - the reason that Wolverine hadn't found it. The next day, the group flew to Stryker's base, where in the underground bunker, Stryker was holding captive some of the kidnapped students from the school - explaining morbidly: "When I build a machine, I wanna make sure that it's working." When the mutants arrived at the base, Mystique shape-shifted into Wolverine, entered the spillway, was allowed handcuffed entrance into the bunker, and then in her own guise fought several guards before entering the lab's heavily-fortified control room and sealing herself in.
As Stryker attempted to blow the doors and make his way in, the remainder of the mutant rescue group gained entrance (except for three of the students left at the jet). Meanwhile, the little girl (Jason) and Professor Xavier entered the Cerebro room - which appeared as state-of-the-art but really was just a grungy dome. The group divided up, one to rescue the other children held in a lower-level containment cell, and the other to locate Professor Xavier in Cerebro. Wolverine had disappeared, going it alone to search for the lab for the secrets of his past. Inside the Cerebro dome, Stryker ordered Jason: "It's time. Time to find our friends...All of them. All of the mutants...Everywhere" - a command to have the Professor kill all the mutants through Cerebro.
Having been taken prisoner earlier, Cyclops had been secretly manipulated by Stryker through the back of his neck. Jean noticed the tell-tale mark, and prevented Cyclops from optically blasting them with his powerful eyes. She told Magneto and Mystique: "Go, I'll take care of him." They dueled against each other, slamming their bodies into the machines and walls of the dam until the structure started to leak and break apart and rumbles were heard. Their battle ended when Cyclops was restored to his real self ("It's okay, it's me"), and he helped the injured Jean. The children were successfully rescued by Storm and Nightcrawler.
In the laboratory, Wolverine remembered his past (through flashbacks) when X-rays were taken of his bone structure as adamantium (liquid metal) was painfully and torturously applied to his skeleton (to make him indestructible), and he was repeatedly dunked under water. He also recalled when he escaped naked and screamed when he first saw his claws. Stryker and Deathstrike met up with Wolverine, when Stryker hinted that she also had been equipped with adamantium claws and had regenerative abilities (Wolverine gasped: "Holy s--t!"). In a thrilling showdown-duel to the death, the two fought until Wolverine stabbed her in the abdomen with an adamantium nozzle and filled her body with the metal liquid - killing her.
In the Cerebro dome, the Professor's intense concentration to kill mutants began to work. Many of the mutants collapsed from a loud humming noise in their heads. Magneto halted the attack by donning his helmet and closing the dome to make it harmless. After reconfiguring the interior tiles of the dome, Mystique (disguised as Stryker) reversed Jason's directions that caused Professor Xavier to begin killing all humans instead of mutants ("There's been a change of plan"). The girl (Jason) instructed Professor Xavier: "Now find them. Find them all - the humans. Find all the humans. Every one"). Mystique and Magneto then escaped in a helicopter.
Meanwhile, Stryker fled outside to a helicopter although Wolverine trailed him, impaled him and demanded answers ("You cut me open. You took my life!..Who am I?"). Stryker attempted to bargain with Wolverine, telling him that he had volunteered for the procedure, adding: "You are just a failed experiment. If you really knew about your past, what kind of person you were, the work we did together. People don't change, Wolverine. You were an animal then. You're an animal now. I just gave you claws." Alarm signals blared from the dam, signaling that the dam was ruptured and that flood water would rush onto the spillway to relieve pressure. Enraged, Wolverine chained him to the helicopter wheel ("If we die, you die") and left to assist his friends.
The rescue group approached the Cerebro chamber where Professor Xavier's concentration was now targeting humans. Nightcrawler teleported himself and Storm inside of the dome, where she freed Professor Xavier from Jason's telepathic illusion by freezing the room. Jason relented, revealing Xavier, just as the dome's interior ceiling tiles began to fall. Nightcrawler snatched away Storm and then the Professor to rescue them from the destruction, but Jason was left to die inside the dome. With Wolverine's help, the entire group (including rescued students) avoided the flooding spillway as their exit, and made it to the snowy outdoors. [In a cross-cut scene, Magneto and Mystique had come upon Stryker, incapacitated at the helicopter. To escape Alkali Lake, they flew off after chaining Stryker to the dam's concrete rubble, and they took Pyro with them.] With the helicopter gone, they were rescued by a frightened Rogue, unsteadily piloting the spinning X-Jet to the helicopter pad where it made an emergency landing. Wolverine spoke to Stryker, chained down by Magneto, who asked: "Who has the answers, Wolverine? Those people? That creature in your arms?" Wolverine responded that he would take his chances with his fellow mutants, as Stryker shouted back: "One day, someone will finish what I've started, Wolverine! One day!"
Vertical thrusters malfunctioned and power problems made it impossible for the X-Jet to take off, and everyone appeared doomed. As the dam burst and the flood waters rose, Stryker was drowned. Jean Gray left the jet to momentarily hold off the flood waters with her telekinetic powers, and to lift the X-Jet above the torrent (Jean: "I know what I'm doing. This is the only way"). She was surrounded by a glowing orange corona of fire as she perished and sacrificed herself in the overwhelming disaster, but saved the others. Everyone was devastated and sorrowful about her loss.
In Washington DC, the President's televised nationwide speech (about a "growing threat within our own population") from his office was interrupted when the lights went out (and the forces of nature were controlled by Storm). Everyone was frozen in place - except for the President. Before him were the mutants and Professor Xavier, who presented him with files from Stryker's private offices. He warned about the need for mutants and humans to live together peacefully rather than war together - otherwise both groups would be destroyed. It was "a moment to repeat the mistakes of the past, or to work together for a better future." The US President was stunned and silent, and not knowing how to continue on with his speech, when conditions returned to normal.
The film concluded with Jean Grey's voice-over, while the camera viewed Alkali Lake (a vague shape of a Phoenix floated over the water):
Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)
A true sequel, with most of the characters returning from the original film, with some additional ones. Two new young X-Men were introduced: (1) Rogue's (Anna Paquin) mutant student boyfriend Iceman/Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) (he had only a minor role in the first film), and (2) their angry young friend Pyro/John Allerdyce (Aaron Stanford).
With a production budget of $110 million, and box-office gross receipts of $215 million (domestic) and $407.7 million (worldwide). It was the second highest-grossing film of the original trilogy.
Set-pieces: whirling Nightcrawler's attack on the White House, Stryker's assault on the X-Men school, Magneto's jail-break, Deathstrike's and Wolverine's battle to the death, and the final collapsing dam sequence.
Dr. Jean Grey
Professor Charles Xavier
Colonel William Stryker
Yuriko Oyama/Lady Deathstrike
Jason Stryker/Mutant 143
(Michael Reid McKay)
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