X-2: X-Men United
Director(s): Bryan Singer
Writer(s): Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty
Release Date(s)May 2, 2003 - Wide
Read our review.
Director Byran Singer, armed with a bigger budget and longer shooting schedule, brings an X-Men sequel to the screen that delivers more effects, more locations and more depth than its predecessor. Singer’s love and understanding of the comic book genre meant that he didn’t think he could improve the film just by adding more explosions. Freed from having to introduce the special powers of most of his characters, Singer had more story time to delve into their pasts, their relationships and their personal demons.
Producer Ralph Winter believes Singer is the perfect helmer for this task: “Bryan has great insight into what makes the series such a popular piece of pop culture. And his ability to make these characters real — like they live next door — even though they possess incredible and sometimes dangerous powers, is pretty extraordinary.”
Singer doesn’t just see X-2: X-Men United as just a sequel; it’s the continuation of a series. “Like any good comic book, the X-Men universe is designed to expand,” Singer says. “These stories can go on forever. This continuation of the saga has provided me with an opportunity to expand the storylines and the characters — and to have a lot more fun. X2 is edgier, darker, funnier and more romantic than its predecessor.”
In many ways, the film echoes current battles on the American homefront. After an attack on an American landmark, there’s a political outcry to pass the Mutant Registration Act, that would help catalog and track mutants. Just as in all walks of life, there are good mutants (Professor Xavier and his X-Men) and bad mutants like Magneto and his followers. There are also those in the government who would use these fears and divisions to further their own goals.
“One of the things I wanted to introduce into the story was a human element as the villain,” Singer explains. “That menace is a danger to all mutants and, subsequently, to mankind. The conflict is a bold reminder of the prevailing themes in the comic book lore; in this movie, one man’s fear of the unknown could lead to a level of intolerance of catastrophic proportions.”
Singer also finds the time to focus in on the personal issues of the various mutants. Hugh Jackman, who saw his star skyrocket with the first X-Men film, loved that side of his character.
“Oh, man I had a blast,” says the actor. “Wolverine is getting closer and closer to finding out about his past…the clues are starting to come together…more and more information is coming his way. He’s having more nightmares and more flashbacks so the mental torment is getting stronger, too. Then, out come the emotions which he tries to repress but he really just gets grumpier and a lot angrier and, well…just beware when that happens. By the end of the movie, he’s got a pretty darn good idea about what his past is all about. Retribution may very well be in store for those responsible.”
Stage and screen veteran Patrick Stewart also agrees that the depth of the work provides for a more involved experience for the audience.
“When you take material that already exists and is so loved,” says Stewart, “there is an absolute seriousness about retaining the quality of the original material. In writing a screenplay about the X-Men lore, you can’t approach it ironically or tongue-in-cheek or with the intention of making fun of it. The core…the heart…of the original comic books must remain the central focus and Bryan, the writers and the studio have been very faithful to those origins. The imaginative enhancement and expansion of this second film is absolutely thrilling,” says Stewart. “The degree to which they have added new dimensions and new perspectives has raised the bar, and the audience will be clamoring for more.”
Read our review.