The second movie in the X-Men
film series after X-Men
, X2: X-Men United
(sometimes promoted as just X2
) involves mutants who are being mind-controlled somehow, starting with Nightcrawler attempting to assassinate the President; government operatives then kidnap Cyclops and Professor X.
The X-Men investigate and find out that the two are related: the soldiers are under the command of Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox
), who is using a mutant to project false images into other mutants' minds. By brain-washing Professor X into overpowering
the "Cerebro" telepathy machine
, he intends to kill all currently-living mutants. Magneto and his Brotherhood Of Mutants ally with the X-Men to stop this from happening (hence the subtitle of the movie: "X2: X-Men United"). Meanwhile, Wolverine delves into his past involvement with the "Weapon X" project, which (of course) Stryker was in charge of.
Not to be confused with the series of sci-fi videogames by the name X
, whose second entry is entitled X2
Followed by X-Men: The Last Stand
This film provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: William Stryker lobotomized his mutant son Jason and reduced him to a wheelchair-bound source of mind control serum. He even stops referring to his son by name, calling him "Mutant 143." Xavier is horrified that William would do this to his own son, but William claims that his son is already dead, just like the rest of mutantkind.
- Actionized Sequel: X-Men had a few fight scenes, but much of the screentime was devoted to explaining mutants and setting up the character relationships. This film, however, had several fight scenes and let Wolverine really cut loose.
- Action Prologue: Nightcrawler inside the White House.
- Aerial Canyon Chase: Lacking a conveniently placed canyon with which to perform this, Storm uses her weather manipulating powers to create one from tornadoes, giving the X-Men a chance to escape. It has the added benefit of making sure the inevitable crashes aren't actually fatal for their pursuers, but also the downside of allowing a clean missile lock.
- A Glitch in the Matrix: During Jason Styker's initial attempt to trap Xavier within an illusion of the mansion, it doesn't work because Xavier notices that he's standing up. Jason's next attempt has him sitting in a wheelchair.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Halfway through her death scene, the mind-control serum wears off and Deathstrike is allowed a few tragic seconds of clarity to realize where she is and what's happened to her; the look on her face says it all.
- The All Solving Hammer: Magneto accuses Wolverine of this mentality when discussing how to work the spillway mechanism.
Magneto: What do you intend to do? Scratch it with your claws?
- All There in the Script: They never namedrop "Lady Deathstrike." Although she is called Yuriko and she's still called Deathstrike in the promotional material.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: General Stryker's forces take over the X-Men mansion.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Stryker claims that he and Wolverine were partners before Wolverine lost his memory.
Stryker: You were always an animal, Wolverine. I just gave you claws.
- Based on the prequel film, Stryker appears to have been projecting his own moral vacuum onto a member of the subspecies of humanity he despised.
- And I Must Scream: Stryker's mind control serum makes the victim obedient, but their real self is still in there, fully aware and incapable of controlling their own body. Look at the sheer horror on Deathstryke's face when the serum controlling her briefly wears off. Particularly when she looks at her hands and remembers the pain of being bonded with adamantium, likely because she was being controlled during that, as well. Scott similarly tells Jean he couldn't stop himself from trying to kill her.
- Anti-Hero: Mystique and Magneto are Nominal Heroes.
- Artistic Licence Biology:
- When discussing the mutant gene, Pyro says that it is passed on by males. If the gene was on the Y chromosome, then there would be no female mutants. Then again, no one states the mutant gene is specifically in the Y chromosome.
- The iron injected into the prison guard wouldn't have gone unnoticed, least of all by the guard himself. Iron injections have a risk of anaphylactic shock—high enough that many doctors won't prescribe them unless the patient has no other option—and are incredibly painful.
- Asshole Victim: Mitchell Laurio. He's a thug who's shown to enjoy beating up an old man stripped of any powers that would allow him to fight back, so no one minds too much when Mystique sets him up for a death allowing Magneto to escape.
- Lady Deathstrike.
- Nightcrawler tears through the White House and beats the Secret Service like they stole something.
- Colossus easily trounces highly trained military operatives.
- Badass Bystander: One of the random kids at the school turns out to be Syrin. When the spooks invade the school, she starts screaming and everyone in the entire building starts bleeding from the ears.
- Badass Teacher: At the end of X-Men, Magneto asks Xavier what happens when someone finds out about his mutant school, and Xavier replies that he has a great deal of pity for anyone who comes to the school looking for trouble. In this movie, he's proven right, when the teachers and caretakers fight side by side with some of the more powerful mutant students.
- More accurately: Wolverine kills a lot of black ops soldiers very efficiently and violently. Colossus hits a couple, and Siryn holds them up by screaming but that's it.
- Though he was probably referring to himself, since Stryker's forces only attacked when they knew that Xavier wasn't there, having incapacitated him first. Xavier also claims that if he wanted to, he could make Wolverine spend the rest of his life believing he was a "six-year-old girl with pigtails," simply for ignoring his rules about smoking in the mansion! He was joking that time, but imagine the carnage Xavier could cause if he ever got downright furious?! note .
- Bait the Dog: Magneto and the Brotherhood team up with the X-Men in an Enemy Mine battle against a racist, genocidal military colonel. Magneto's more or less leading a rescue mission to save Professor Xavier, and the two teams fight together so well (the movie's even subtitled "X-Men United") that you can't help but cheer him on and start to wonder if, all things considered, he's really such a bad guy. And then he proceeds to remind the audience that yes, he really is a villain, when instead of rescuing him, he tries to use the captive, brainwashed Xavier to kill every non-mutant on Earth.
- Beam-O-War: Jean Grey used the shield variation against Cyclops' eye beams while he is mind-controlled. This is used to show how much stronger Jean Grey is here than she was in the first film.
- Beard of Evil:
- William Stryker.
- Mitchell Laurio may be more on the 'asshole' side rather than the 'genocidal' side, but there's no denying he's an unshaven sadist.
- Because I'm Jonesy: Mystique does something similar to this with Lady Deathstrike and an office janitor though she doesn't say anything to the real janitor when she passes him. She later tries posing as Wolverine to infiltrate Stryker's base. But if there's one thing Stryker knows, it's his own work, and he isn't fooled.
- Bed Trick: Mystique shape shifts into Jean Grey in an attempt to sleep with Logan. One could probably say it was subverted, since Logan found out pretty much in the first minute when he felt a scar he previously had left on Mystique.
- The novelization claims he identified her by scent before she even entered his tent, but he played along until he got bored/annoyed/angry, it's not especially clear which.
- Beneath Notice: Mystique disguises herself as a janitor. In fairness, it was the building's actual janitor. People could have easily mistaken her for the janitor they knew. Though it does cause the real one to do a Double Take when he sees her.
- Best Her to Bed Her: Mystique tries to seduce Logan/Wolverine in this film because he defeated her in combat in the previous one, complimenting him that "nobody ever left quite a scar like you did". Logan is not interested. Later films show that Mystique is capable of having loving, if not necessarily intimate, relationships with other mutants even if they didn't actually beat her (Charles Xavier, Magneto).
- Big Bad: Colonel William Stryker. In the final part, Magneto hijacks and alters Stryker's plan.
- Big Damn Heroes: Magneto, of all people, when the Blackbird is about to crash into the forest.
- Bilingual Bonus: Kurt.
- Blatant Lies: Bobby Drake presents Wolverine to his parents (who think he's been attending a normal prep school) as "Professor Logan." This in itself is borderline, but when the Drakes ask Wolverine what he teaches, he replies tersely, "Art." The trailers for the film played this to maximum effect by intercutting the question and the response with a shot of Logan, claws extended, screaming and leaping towards the camera.
- Blessed with Suck: Jones can change television channels by blinking, but he never sleeps.
- Bloodless Carnage: This is in full force, where Wolverine slashes, impales, and generally slaughters about a dozen of Stryker's soldiers storming the school, with not a single drop of blood spilled.
- Bloodstained Glass Windows: Storm and Jean have a brief fight with Nightcrawler in a cathedral.
- Bloody Murder: Mystique smuggles metal into the government's plastic prison (where Magneto is being held) by injecting a security guard with some sort of iron-rich solution.
- Bookcase Passage: Xavier's School for the Gifted was shown to have secret passages hidden along the hallways.
- Bookends: Closes with Jean Grey (in narration) giving the same spiel about evolution that Professor X narrates over the opening of the first film.
- Brain Bleach: William Stryker reveals that his wife drilled a hole in her temple to 'bore out' the illusions projected by their son, Jason.
- Lady Deathstrike is mind-controlled by Stryker and she comes out of it for a brief moment only for Stryker to forcibly reapply another dose of mind-control.
- Nightcrawler is also brainwashed by Stryker.
- Brainwashed and Crazy:
- Done to Nightcrawler with a mind-control serum in to make him kill/try to kill the President (it's not clear if he was meant to succeed or die in the attempt). He snaps out of it and escapes when a bodyguard shoots him. This is also done to Cyclops later in the movie and had already been done to Deathstryke.
- Also Charles Xavier, by William Stryker's mutant son Jason, who is himself Lobotomized and Crazy.
- Breaking Out the Boss: Mystique plays a critical role in breaking Magneto out of his plastic prison, by injecting iron into the bloodstream of one of the security guards so that he can kill the guard by extracting it from him and use it both as a weapon and a transportation method.
- Brick Joke: When Logan volunteers to open the doors to Stryker's base, Magneto says "What are you going to do, scratch [the controls] with your claws?" This is exactly how he closes the floodgates at the end.
- Call Back: When the mutants are flying to Alkali Lake, Magneto and Mystique sarcastically say that they like the white parts of Rogue's hair. Those parts were turned white by Magneto's machine during the climax of the first X-Men movie.
- Camping a Crapper: One of Magneto's guards is seduced, drugged, and injected with iron in a toilet stall. This leads to his death when Magneto extracts the metal from his veins. Ouch.
- Can't Have Sex, Ever: Multiple characters point out the inherent problems faced by Iceman and Rogue.
- Captain Obvious: Stryker and a mook at the dam base.
Can you override the spillway mechanism? Mook:
Everything's controlled from inside that room. That's why the doors are so thick. Stryker: Oh?! Really?!
- Bonus points because Stryker had built the damn base, and has worked there longer than that Mook, probably all his current Mooks.
- Cardboard Prison: Magneto smashes his way out of prison the second he gets his hands on some metal. The method he and Mystique used to get the metal into his cell in the first place was one they could have used whenever they felt like it, so presumably they had already worked out the plan so that as soon as Mystique was able to find out where his prison was (and the name of a guard working there) they were ready to go.
- Catapult Nightmare: Logan dreams of his past.
- Catchphrase Interruptus: Nightcrawler repeatedly tries to introduce himself to people by saying "My name is Kurt Wagner, but in the Munich Circus I was known as the Incredible Nightcrawler," but always gets cut off before he can finish.
- Chained to a Rock: Magneto chains Gen. Stryker to a concrete slab, where he is later smashed by a wall of water from a shattered dam.
- Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Inverted during a conversation between Magneto and Pyro.
Magneto: What's your name?
Pyro: [with slight hesitance] "John."
Magneto: What's your real name, John?
Pyro: [grabs a small amount of fire from the lighter Magneto is holding and lets the fire rest in his hand] "Pyro."
- Coming-Out Story:
- Referenced: "Have you tried... NOT being a mutant?"
- This has now gone and spawned its own trope.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Nightcrawler uses a trenchcoat, cap and dark glasses to sneak into the White House. Remember, your taxpayer dollars go to the guys whose job it is to stop suspicious threats like this. Although it does help that he can, ya know, teleport past any checkpoint.
- Continuity Cameo:
- Beast making a hairless appearance.
- Even more subtle than a brief cameo, in the second movie the real names of several mutants, including Gambit, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, were briefly seen on a computer screen as being some of the prisoners in a mutant prison. Only three, Gambit, Banshee and Quicksilver, wound up appearing later (or rather, earlier) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
- Conveniently Coherent Thoughts: Played with somewhat, when Jean Grey starts to lose control of her psychic abilities. Apparently she can usually tune out the garbage and focus on the particular thoughts she's looking for, but when her powers start to malfunction, she hears every thought of every person in the very crowded museum she's in. This gives her a headache, which causes her to involuntarily short out all the TV screens around her.
- Could Have Been Messy:
- Pyro fails to actually kill the cops, and Wolverine manages to avoid stabbing any humans unless they invade his home. Cue cheering when he is finally given an "acceptable" target.
- Even when Stryker's men invade the school, Wolverine stabs about 10 dudes full in the chest with both blades, yet somehow spills no blood whatsoever.
- Creator Cameo:
- Both director Bryan Singer and cinematographer Newton Thomas Siegel appear as guards in Magneto's prison. Singer gets his own pic, uniform and all, while the rest are given stock male photos. He also wheels the professor into the cell. The other security guards for Magneto's prison are all named after production staff.
- Screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris also appear as surgeons on Wolverine's flashback.
- Creepy Child: Jason Stryker, the son of Col. William Stryker, is a mutant with illusionist and mind probing powers who has been lobotomized by his father so that he follows his every word. When he tries to fool Charles Xavier into using Cerebro for him and Stryker, he creates a scenario in which he is represented as a young, slightly creepy girl who asks Xavier to look for all the mutants. The only thing letting on that they are one and the same is that they both share the same asymmetrical eyes.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: During the climax, William Stryker recognized that the mutant that had just been captured wasn't the real Wolverine and ordered "him" shot immediately. Also, aware that Mystique was loose in the base, he ordered the platoon of soldiers guarding Dark Cerebro to kill anyone approaching—even if it was him.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Nightcrawler looks like a dark blue demon but is strongly religious and helps the good guys.
- Demoted to Extra: Cyclops is captured fairly early on and doesn't come back until the end.
- Director Vocabulary Calendar: For a laugh, watch the director's commentary some time and take a swig each time Bryan says "ultimately." If you make it all the way through, your liver will never recover.
- Disappointed In You: Xavier is disgruntled by Pyro's mischief at the museum.
Professor X: The next time you feel like showing off, don't.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Bobby "comes out" with his mutant powers to his parents, who respond, "Have you tried ''not'' being a mutant?" Director Bryan Singer is bisexual and actor Ian McKellen is gay, and they assisted in writing this scene, basing it on a "coming out" conversation.
- The Dog Bites Back: Magneto to Stryker when he finally gets a chance to get some payback for his treatment in prison. An earlier script was going to have Magneto kill Stryker (which would be more in character) and the X-Men find Stryker's body when they escaped from the facility—but that was changed for the sake of letting Wolverine have one last conversation with Stryker. And honestly, Magneto probably took quite a lot of enjoyment in leaving Stryker chained up to wait for death.
- Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Storm calls down several tornadoes to get rid of some pesky jetfighters trailing the Blackbird. The scene is very cool to watch, until you realize that there's no way the Blackbird itself could have gotten away and Storm probably laid waste to the entire New York countryside in the process.
- This is Storm, though. She has everything under control.
- Not to mention that these funnel clouds were in the upper atmosphere, and did not necessarily have to extend all the way to ground level.
- Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Mystique attempts to do this to Wolverine by shifting to look like Jean. She's on top of him and they're shedding clothes before he realizes who she truly is. Plays on All Men Are Perverts when she proceeds to turn herself into Storm and Rogue, suggesting one of them might be what he "really wants." It's not quite so bad in the novelization, when Wolverine knows it's Mystique the entire time but chooses to play along for a while.
- The Dragon:
- Mystique is Magneto's primary dragon.
- Lady Deathstrike is the dragon of William Stryker.
- Dramatic Landfall Shot: The closing shot.
- Dramatic Necklace Removal: Played straight at the end with Wolverine's dogtags.
- Dying as Yourself: Lady Deathstryke who is kept under the control of the villain by use of a formula which periodically has to be renewed; as indicated by her eyes changing color. Under his control she has a fight to the death with Wolverine which ends when he runs her through—moments before the formula wears off. We see her eyes change and she looks at him before dying.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Dr. Henry McCoy A.K.A Beast appears briefly on TV in the bar.
- Easily Forgiven: Averted. When Magneto and Mystique team up with the X-Men to stop Stryker from killing every mutant in the world, Rogue must be restrained from using her powers on Magneto, who tried to kill her in the first movie.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The underground base becomes a plot element when the Spy Satellites actually detect the Cool Ship in its hangar underneath the Mutant Academy. William Stryker uses this evidence to convince the President to okay a commando strike on the school, secretly to further his plan to wipe out all mutantkind. Stryker's also got an Elaborate Underground Base of his own.
- Elemental Absorption: Rogue absorbs Pyro's powers and uses them to put out the fires he had created, though she doesn't directly absorb the fire.
- Enemy Mine: The entire point of the film: the X-Men team up with Magneto and Mystique to stop a human villain from killing all mutants. Right up until Magneto and Mystique decide to invert the attack and have all the non-Mutants killed instead.
- Evil All Along: Magneto, who, right after saving the mutants of the world, can't resist seizing the opportunity to use Stryker's technique against humanity.
- Evil Cripple: Jason Stryker Mind Raped his parents so severely that his mother took a power drill to her temple to get the images out. He was experimented on by his father, a mutant-phobe, and turned into a living Lotus-Eater Machine in a wheelchair in contrast to Charles Xavier, who is with the good guys. Jason is portrayed sympathetically, but his appearance is definitely intended to be creepy.
- The tie-in video game seems to suggest he was not all that evil, the good side of his personality helping Nightcrawler defeat The Master Mold.
- Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Pyro explains how his powers work to Magneto. That's right, tell the guy who controls magnetism that you're useless without your metal lighter. He does switch sides later on, but it still is pretty stupid to tell anyone how your powers work.
- False Flag Operation
- Fan Disservice: Mystique tries using her powers to shift into various women to seduce Wolverine. It's straight-up fanservice until she turns into Rogue, who in this movie series takes the "young protégée" place that girls like Jubilee and Kitty Pryde have had, and then into Stryker of all people.
- Foreshadowing: When Professor X is having difficulty trying to get a lock on Nightcrawler, Logan flippantly asks if he can't just concentrate harder. Xavier replies dryly, "If I wanted to kill him, yes." Later Stryker gets Jason to brainwash Xavier into doing precisely this—only on a much larger scale.
- Forgiveness: Nightcrawler tells Storm that he didn't hate people who were scared by him when he was working at the circus; he pitied (and this probably implies that he also forgave) them instead.
- Forgot About His Powers: Wolverine realizes that Mystique is disguised as Jean Grey by feeling the scars on her belly rather than by her smell, which he was established to be able to do in the first film when she tried the same trick with Storm.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: William Stryker's computer desktop is a treasure trove of shout outs. You'll see folders marked things like 'Victor Creed', 'Omega Red', 'Maximoff (2)', 'Project: Wideawake', 'Franklin Richards', and so many more!
- Glamour Failure:
- Despite being a Shapeshifter, Mystique can't seem to hide the scars Wolverine left behind on her.
- Likewise, Stryker isn't fooled when Mystique masquerades as Wolverine. One thing he knows better than anyone is his own work.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Wolverine. Especially getting shot in the head at practically point blank.
- Handy Cuffs: Happens in the movie, where William Stryker has Wolverine handcuffed with special cuffs in the front. Unfortunately it isn't Wolverine but Mystique in his form, and she quickly shapechanges out of the cuffs.
- This is one relatively rare case where it's justified; Wolverine has retractable claws on the back of his hand that are sharp enough to cut through metal. The cuffs were designed to keep his hands where everyone can see them and he can't cut the cuffs off himself. they're also specially designed to point his hands in such a way that if he were to pop his claws all he would do is stab himself in the chest and neck.
- Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?:
- Trope Namer. Bobby Drake's parents find out that he's a mutant and have pretty much exactly this reaction. Complete with his mother asking him “if he’s tried... not being a mutant?”. The filmmakers consulted Ian McKellen for the scene due to his experience being gay during much less forgiving times. Many viewers consider it narm, but this is likely the point, as many a homosexual who have endured the 'real' version of the line have likely wondered how close family could seriously ask such an ignorant question.
- This pops up a second time. When Nightcrawler asks Mystique why she doesn't use her shapeshifting powers to blend in with normal humans, she replies, "Because we shouldn't have to."
- Heroic Sacrifice: Jean Grey. When the Blackbird is frozen at Alkali Lake with the dam about to burst in mere minutes, she steps off the jet and uses her now heightened telekinesis to break the ice and allow the jet to lift off, at the same time psychically restraining her teammates to keep them from stopping her. She frees the jet seconds before she is seemingly crushed beneath tons of rushing water.
- Hijacked by Ganon: Magneto works with the X-Men without much protest or animosity to save mutant-kind, but once he foils Stryker's plan he reminds us that he is the Big Bad of the series and turns Strkyer's Cerebro on normal humans.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Stryker's mutant-killing machine is ultimately turned on humans instead, which naturally includes Stryker himself. It gets shut off before it can do the job, of course, but it was long enough to make sure Stryker never escaped.
- Honey Trap: Mystique seduces one of the guards from Magneto's Tailor-Made Prison, then roofies him so she can inject him with an iron solution that Magneto uses to escape.
- Idiot Ball:
- The entire broken dam scene. Iceman and Storm could have conceivably saved the day without needing a Heroic Sacrifice, since both are capable of manipulating the temperature of water. Likewise, Jean's actions could have easily been done from the safety of the plane. The characters come to the conclusion that Jean did it deliberately, rather than a mere lack of forethought.
- Rogue attempting to fly the Jet, without any training in its operation, simply because she was getting impatient. It predictably crashes only a few seconds after take-off and ends up being damaged, forcing Jean to sacrifice herself.
- Earlier, Xavier has a minor but understandable one. He notices that Deathstryke is starting to regain control. He's smart enough not to say anything, but the fact that he keeps glancing over to her alerts Strkyer, allowing him to give her another dose of serum to keep her obedient.
- The fight at Bobby's house is one for the cops. There have to be half a dozen of them, and despite the fact that they have their weapons in hand and trained at the mutants, none of them open fire on Pyro once he starts slinging fire around. This when they had already demonstrated willingness to use deadly force (on Wolverine, so it doesn't count, but they didn't know that).
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: This is the fate for Jean Grey at the end of the movie for both Cyclops and Wolverine - though Cyclops, being married to her, takes it a lot harder. Of course she comes back with an appropriate Face-Heel Turn.
- Immune to Drugs: Wolverine gets shot with Instant Sedation darts and doesn't stop charging. A moment later he yanks the darts out and shakes his head as if to clear it, but continues on like nothing happened.
- Indy Hat Roll: Mystique slides under a door while flipping off the men shooting at her.
- Instant Sedation:
- The military guys use Instant Sedation darts on the students when they invade the school. While they knock out the children instantly, Cyclops was protected by the armour under his clothing and multiple darts fail to have any effect on Wolverine. Justified by his larger body mass, Healing Factor, and adrenaline as well, since he doesn't show any effects while killing the immediate threat. After all the enemies in his vicinity are neutralized, he pulls the darts out and shakes his head, indicating he was becoming at least a little woozy or disoriented. Removing the source of the sedative lets his healing eliminate the rest of it in his body.
- Mystique's drugged beer also takes effect the second Mr. Laurio downs the last of it, where the pills have settled.
- Ironic Echo: Magneto sarcastically comments: "Wolverine, whoever goes into the dam needs to be able to operate the spillway mechanism. What do you intend to do? Scratch it with your claws?" Later on, that's exactly what he does (well, a bit more than scratch) to save all the protagonists from being drowned by the flood approaching down the spillway — smash a fist full of claw into the mechanism.
- Is That What He Told You?: Magneto says this almost verbatim to Pyro in ("Is that what they say?"), regarding him being "the bad guy". It wasn't a lie, so much as a point of view.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Stryker yells "Shoot it!" in reference to Wolverine (sort of).
- It's All About Me: Magneto calls Wolverine on this (lampshading the obvious to fans)...
Magneto: Mystique has discovered plans of a base that Stryker's been operating out of for decades. Only we don't know where it is. We thought one of you might.
Wolverine: The professor already tried [to look for hints about Stryker in my mind].
Magneto (sighs): Once again, you think it's all about you.
- It's the Only Way: Jean Grey sacrifices herself, supposedly because it's the only way to save the team; there has been considerable debate among fans about the multiple other ways they could have survived, or ways she could have saved them that would not have involved her death.
- Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Mystique shapeshifts into a janitor to get in and out of a government facility with information on Magneto's prison guards. She employs Obfuscating Spanish when challenged. "Estoy echando la basura. Garbage." Leads to an amusing scene where she walks by the actual janitor, who's dumbfounded to see himself walking by (and is also an example of Making Use of the Twin).
- Ronnie, Bobbie's brother, calls the cops on Bobbie and his friends under the pretense that they were holding his family hostage.
- Likewise Pyro, who, swayed by Magneto's words, starts falling into the dark side. Even escalating the whole situation with the police by openly attacking them when the others were trying to halt the situation peacefully - though to be fair, one of the cops had just shot Logan in the head.
- Mitchell Laurio is an insecure, sadistic slob.
- Karma Houdini: As mentioned above, Ronnie alerts to the police about the mutants' whereabouts, lying that he and his parents are being held hostage. He receives no comeuppance for this; although it's debatable that, once the heat of the moment is over, he has to live with the fact that he betrayed his brother and sold him out.
- Kill All Humans: Magneto tries to wipe out all humans by reversing the polarity of Stryker's mutant-killing technology.
- Kubrick Stare: Magneto in his plastic prison.
- Large Ham: The scene where a drugged Magneto talks to Xavier comes to mind.
YA SHOULDA KILLED ME WHEN YA HAD THE CHANCE!!
- Large Ham Title: The film gives us "Kurt Wagner... but in the Munich Circus I was known as The Incredible Nightcrawler!"
- Like Cannot Cut Like: Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike both have the adamantium claws/fingernails.
- Load-Bearing Hero: An unusual example is seen in the film, as Jean Grey telekinetically holds back a giant wave of water to allow the rest of the team time to escape from it, dying in the process. Overlaps with Martyr Without a Cause considering that there are at least three other team members present whose powers might have been useful (Storm, Iceman, and Nightcrawler), and with the four of them working together they might have been able to get everyone out alive. She never gives them the chance to try.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Jason Stryker is a mutant with this power, who uses it on Professor Xavier in an effort to break his will. At one point, he shows Xavier a vision where he is able to walk again.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Siryn, one of the students has this power. She wakes up as Stryker's men are sneaking around and screams, which alerts everyone else in the mansion.
- Making Use of the Twin: When Mystique walked past the janitor while doing some undercover work.
- Manchurian Agent: In conjunction with Brainwashed and Crazy.
- Market-Based Title: The film's simply called X-Men 2 in the UK, France, Brazil, Finland and several other countries.
- Martyr Without a Cause: Jean Grey, who sacrifices herself while holding back a giant wall of water to allow the rest of the team time to escape. There were at least three other team members (Storm, Iceman, and Nightcrawler) with powers that would have been useful in this situation, and with all four of them working together, they at least stood a chance of getting everyone out alive. She never gave them the chance to try. In the original script she just does it from inside the jet.
- Mind-Control Device: Stryker keeps mutants in his thrall with the help of a drug made from a psychic mutant's spinal fluid.
- Mind Rape: The backstory of Col. Stryker involves his telepathic son, Jason, mind-raping him and his wife with hallucinations so horrific that the wife took a power drill to her temple to get the images out.
- Mook Lieutenant: Colonel Stryker has Lady Deathstrike as his dragon; the Special Forces under his command are lead by Sergeant Lyman.
- Mundane Utility: When Logan wants a cold drink, he gives a Dr Pepper to Bobby "Iceman", who uses his powers to chill the drink.
- Mythology Gag: After Magneto saves the Blackbird, he says "When will these people learn to fly?", referencing the fact that several of the X-Men can fly in the comics.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Rogue's impatience makes her indirectly responsible for Jean's death, due to crashing the Jet and causing the vertical takeoff to go temporarily offline. Furthermore, since the Jet appears to have been only about a few hundred metres from the facility, she really didn't need to fly to pick them up anyway.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Colossus' voice was dubbed, apparently to add to his Arnold Schwarzenegger resemblance.
- No Endor Holocaust: As pointed out in this abridged script, when Stryker first makes Xavier use the other Cerebro to try to kill all mutants in the world (of which there are hundreds of millions). We are shown the X-Men writhing in pain. Then Magneto comes and rewires Cerebro to kill humans instead. All 6 billion of them. While Xavier is stopped a few minutes later, this means that for several minutes, every human in the world (including pilots, surgeons, high-rise construction workers, etc.) were immobilized with pain. Guess what, no collateral damage is mentioned. However, given that the president seems about to do something drastic with regards to mutants before Xavier stops him, there may, in fact, have been tremendous damage.
- Xavier tells the President that there have been loses "on both sides," implying fatalities -either directly or indirectly- from the Cerebro incident. This could be more of an Inferred Holocaust.
- No Matter How Much I Beg: General Stryker tells his men to kill anyone approaching the room where a brainwashed Professor X is using his mental powers to find and kill all the mutants.
"Even if it's you?"
- Mystique is in play, so he has good reason for that order— Not that it matters, as Mystique doesn't even come near the room before Magneto triggers the guards' grenades. It's the thought that counts...
- No Sell:
- Professor Xavier, being the world's most powerful telepath, is too powerful for Jason's Mind Manipulation fluid to control him. So Stryker puts a Power Nullifier on Xavier and has Jason telepathically assault him continuously... and even then, it takes the better part of two days for Jason to wear down Xavier.
- Magneto performs a No Sell of his own, thanks to his telepathy-blocking helmet: while the mind-controlled Xavier is attacking the mutants of the world with his powers, Magneto is completely immune to the psychic attack that has literally every other mutant on Earth writhing on the ground in agony. For good measure, once he's managed to temporarily disable Cerebro and stop the attack, he finds himself face to face with Jason, who makes one final attempt at telepathically attacking him- to no avail; cue horrified stare from Jason, as Magneto smugly taps the side of his helmet by way of explanation.
- Not Right in the Bed: Mystique disguises herself as Jean Gray to seduce Wolverine. In addition to the changed behavior, Wolverine immediately spots the ruse because of his Super Senses.
- Number One Dime: Wolverine throwing away his dog-tags at the end shows how he's decided to leave his past where it lays and move on to the future.
- Oblivious Janitor Cut: Gets egregious, when a janitor walks past Mystique disguised as him.
- Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The film goes by a few different titles, perhaps because "X-Men United" sounds like a soccer team to viewers outside the U.S.
- Oh, Crap:
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Mozart's "Dies Irae" underscores Nightcrawler's attack on the White House.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Hugh Jackman's delivery of "You don't wanna go that way, trust me" sounds mildly Australian.
- Opposed Mentors: Pyro had the choice between Magneto or Xavier. This is often the case with some characters in the comics too.
- Overly Long Tongue: A kid is briefly seen sticking out a long, blue-black tongue at a girl in a museum, showing he's a mutant.
- Party Scattering: Near the beginning, Prof. X and Cyclops are captured at the same time but taken to different areas where different things happen to them. Storm and Jean go after Nightcrawler and eventually run into Magneto. The government kidnaps several mutants and take them to their facility. Wolverine and a few of the students escape the mansion and hide out at Iceman's house for a while. They come back in the third act.
- Phlebotinum Bomb: Cerebro is redesigned to kill only mutants..and then redesigned to kill only non-mutants.
- Pineapple Surprise: Magneto pulls the pins from a squad of soldiers all at once using his powers.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Stryker's mind-control serum is derived from chemicals secreted by the brain of his own son, Jason; though still alive and still capable of using his impressive powers of illusion, Jason's been given a lobotomy to make him more pliable and is confined to a wheelchair- complete with a shunt in the back of his head used for collecting the fluid.
- Power Perversion Potential: The film had Mystique shift into various women to try and seduce Wolverine. It seemed to be working, too... until she shifted into someone he thought of like a daughter.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
Pyro: You know all those dangerous mutants you hear about in the news? I'm the worst one.
- Product Placement: Logan searches for beer in the mansion. After learning there is none, he settles on, of course, a Dr. Pepper. Later at Bobby's house, he raids the fridge for beer. Several bottles of Dr. Pepper can be seen inside the fridge.
- Psychic Radar: It's already been seen in the previous film that Cerebro amplifies Xavier's powers to give him greater range and accuracy. Here he uses it to allow him to track even a mutant who can teleport and it's further revealed that he can use it to sense the location of every mutant or every human on the planet. Concentrating hard enough will give them all a really serious Psychic Nosebleed... followed by death.
- Psychotic Wink: Magneto performs one after admonishing the (dead) guard for unwittingly aiding in his escape.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic who questions if his demonic appearance is a curse from God for some misdeeds that he must atone for.
- Removing The Earpiece: Wolverine does this when the rest of the team are discussing their plan and he realizes if it goes the way they're hoping it will, he won't get a chance to confront the guy who holds the information about his past. When they next look up, he's gone.
- Revealing Injury: Wolverine recognises a disguised Mystique by the claw-marks he gave her in the previous film.
- Scare Chord: Pyro's leitmotif contains some scarechords, most evident when he uses his powers on the policemen.
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: Mystique and a prison guard. Sure, she drugged and injected him with iron, so that Magneto could rip it from his blood and escape, but he got to make out with Rebecca Romijn. Lucky bastard. This trope is basically lampshaded when Magneto tells the guard that he should never trust a beautiful woman — especially one who's interested in him.
- Schrödinger's Butterfly: The deleted scenes show that Jason didn't just make Xavier think he was back at the institute, he made him think that he succeeded in convincing Jason to let him escape from the Lotus-Eater Machine.
- Screaming Woman: Subverted, when the soldiers attack, a girl starts screaming. She's Siryn, and screaming is her superpower. She nearly defeats the soldiers that way, and although she still gets knocked out, her scream wakes up all the other mutants and gives them a chance to escape.
- Sequel Hook: The Phoenix underneath Alkali Lake.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: Interestingly done, where Rebecca Romijn played Mystique in disguise — sans makeup.
- Shapeshifting Seducer: Mystique seduces a guard by taking the form of a hot blonde so she can use him in Magneto's escape from prison. She later uses it on Logan by trying to seduce him in the form of Jean Grey. Logan catches her, and she goes through several other forms, including Storm, Rogue and even Stryker, but he tells her to leave.
- Shapeshifting Squick: Mystique seduces Wolverine. He's fairly surprised when she mimics Storm, a little conflicted at Jean Grey's appearance, but profoundly creeped out when he sees her shapeshift into Rogue (essentially a movie version of his traditional underage female sidekick). Turning into Brian "Original Lecter" Cox was just icing on the Do Not Want cake.
- Shared Unusual Trait: Jason Stryker has differently-colored eyes, as does the illusory little girl he creates.
- Ship Tease: Nightcrawler and Storm. It doubles in content if you read the novelisation.
Nightcrawler: I'm not going anywhere, Ororo.
Storm: I like it when you say my name...
Nightcrawler: I like saying your name...
- Shoot Everything That Moves: Col. Stryker tells his mooks that after he leaves, they are to shoot anyone who comes down the corridor, even if it was him. He knew that Mystique was on-site.
- Shooting Superman: After using their tranq darts on some of the students, two of Stryker's men are confronted by Colossus. The big guy activates his power, but the agents try firing anyway. After the darts bounce off of him, Colossus throws the agents through a wall.
- Shout-Out: Mystique scrolls through a list of mutants on a computer, searching for Magneto. All of those names are from the comics. While all of those names were in a single folder, Franklin Richards had a folder all his own.
- Shown Their Work: The screenwriters did research on how to blow up a dam for the climactic scenes of the movie; this went mostly unremarked upon in the film (though no doubt the director and effects artists got some use out of it), but was described at some length in the novelization.
- Sickly Green Glow: Stryker's secret base is entirely lit in an unhealthy green light.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Jean, to Wolverine: "Women like to flirt with a dangerous man. They don't marry him. They marry the good guy."
- Skyward Scream: Logan does this in a flashback where he wakes up in a tank of water with no memories and metal claws shoot out of his hands.
- The Sleepless: The kid who can change channels by blinking.
Wolverine: Shouldn't you be asleep?
Mutant Child: I don't sleep.
- Slipping a Mickey: Mystique slips a drug into Magneto's guard's drink in order to knock him out so she could inject enough metal in his body for Magneto to sense and manipulate to break out of prison.
- Spared by the Adaptation: The novelization spares Jean Grey because of Fridge Logic: why did she have to leave the plane to levitate it to safety? Instead she levitates it from the inside and gets saved with everyone else.
- Spot the Impostor: The trope is averted when Stryker is able to recognize his "handiwork" on sight — it's enough to fool the soldiers, but somehow the Colonel can tell with one close-up look. Which actually isn't that surprising. Parents can tell the difference between identical twins even when others can't.
- Spotting the Thread: Wolverine figures out Mystique isn't Jean because she has the scars where he stabbed her in the previous movie. Later in the same movie, Stryker takes one look at Mystique from across a large room and knows she's not Wolverine simply saying "I know my own work".
- In the novelization, it's her smell that alerts Wolverine even before he exposes the scars, but he plays along to try and find out what she wants.
- Standard Snippet: Mozart's Dies Irae plays during the opening scene where Nightcrawler is bamfing through the White House, and it's arguably the most memorable music moment in the entire series.
- The Stool Pigeon: Magneto was a Lacerated Larry in the beginning: It is strongly implied that Stryker had arrived at Magneto's cell beforehand and injected him with the same brainwashing serum from his son to get him to lure Professor X into his prison so X could be captured.
- Superhero Movie Villains Die: Colonel Stryker, Lady Deathstrike, and Jason Stryker are killed.
- Superpowerful Genetics: The mutant gene is said to be passed down from the father (but not explicitly stated to be located on the Y chromosome). Though given the tension of the scene, it seems likely that Pyro was simply exploiting Mr. Drake's ignorance to make him squirm.
- Super Smoke: The film portrays Nightcrawler's teleportation in this way. Rather than vanishing in a puff of smoke like in the comics, he seems to dissolve into particles, then the particles rush to another location almost immediately and reconstruct into Nightcrawler.
- Sword Sparks: Numerous sparks fly in Wolverine's battle with Lady Deathstrike. Notably, since sparks are made by little bits of metal flying off the blade, this should be impossible in an adamantium-on-adamantium duel, since adamantium is invulnerable.
- Take That: Logan desperately tries to change the radio on the car when *NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" plays after Pyro turns it on.
- Taking the Bullet: Subverted when Colossus covers some young students from gunfire, telling them to escape. And then proceeds to kick ass.
- Tears of Blood: Flavor two example: When Lady Deathstrike fights Wolverine at the end, her defeat by having liquid adamantium injected into her makes it look as though she's crying tears of liquid metal.
- Technopath: The film has a boy who changed the TV by blinking, and later controlled a computer display the same way. Don't know if he's up to turning a toaster into a lethal weapon, though.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The X-Men have to team up with Magneto and Mystique in order to prevent William Stryker from wiping out mutantkind in its entirety. Magneto and Mystique betray them once the threat has passed, and take Pyro with them after his Face-Heel Turn.
- Tele-Frag: Nightcrawler cites this as the reason he refuses to teleport anywhere he can't see.
- Teleport Spam: Nightcrawler's attack on the White House, where he's kicking, throwing, punching, and just beating the crap out of every agent from every angle, with the last one in glorious slow motion.
- That Man Is Dead: The film features an interesting inversion, when Magneto strikes up a conversation with Jonathan Allerdyce;
Magneto: What's your name?
Magneto: What is your real name, John?
Jonathan: ... Pyro.
- Throwing Out The Script: The President discusses his speech as he walks down a hall with some staffers, then his speech is in the teleprompter, and he's going live when Professor X and the rest of the X-Men pay him a visit and provide him with documents from Col. Stryker's office. The X-Men leave, time resumes for the staffers, and the President touches the file on his desk and begins to improvise...
- Time Stands Still: The audience is led to believe this has happened at the beginning of the film, although it transpires that in fact Professor X has used his mind-controlling powers to put everyone on "pause".
- Too Dumb to Live: So, you have a school for the members of a severely hated group, and this school possesses very advanced technology. Why on earth do you not have a security system? I mean, even if you don't do anything to stop invaders from just climbing over the wall and jumping through the windows, at least have an alarm so they don't catch half of everyone asleep!
- Trailers Always Spoil: The soundtrack has a track named after a character death (and it's punny: "Death Strikes Deathstryke").
- Translation Train Wreck: A simple search of dialog online turned up a copy of the film made much more introspective by adding the subtitles to Amélie.
- Trouble Magnet Gambit: Mystique puts a syringe filled with iron in solution into an off-duty guard's butt. How bad this would be for him in the long term is unknown considering that he seems only a little bit under the weather the next day but he's also hung over and recovering from some kind of drug. But long-term effects don't really matter because Magneto uses the extra iron in the guard's blood to escape, killing the guard and that's definitely fatal.
- Viewers Are Morons: Originally, Xavier's hallucination of him returning to the mansion was much more convincing, with scenes of him teaming up with Jason to free Scott and hypnotizing a guard into helping them escape via a helicopter. The problem was, the screening audiences mistook the hallucination for the reality of the movie and were confused by how later scenes conflicted with that.
- Villainous Rescue: Plane's going down! Wait, why's it slowing down? The damage undoes itself, and you finally see... Magneto calmly holding the Blackbird in place.
- Weaponized Ball: Magneto breaks out of his custom made jail cell by pulling the iron from the blood of a guard. He then forms the iron into small balls which he uses as offensive weapons, smashing his cage and killing the rest of the guards.
- Weaponized Teleportation: Nightcrawler's attack on the White House.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
- Bobby Drake. As his visit to his parents shows.
- One of Stryker's commands for Jason was "make me proud." In turn, Jason's illusory self can be heard whimpering, "He's going to be so mad at me!" when Storm disrupts his control of Xavier..
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Colossus and most of the student body flee the Mansion, and disappear from the film without a single further reference.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Two students at Xavier's school whose mutant powers definitely qualified: One of them could change TV channels just by blinking his eyes, thus giving him the same super-powers as a hand-held remote control; and the other had a blue forked tongue and nothing else. Though this is the only thing we saw them do, so they could well be cases of Flight, Strength, Heart or Mundane Utility.
- The TV-channel-changing kid told Wolverine that he doesn't sleep. And who knows, maybe he can control other electronic devices, but he is a bit young to be joining the X-Men quite yet.
- Blue-tongue kid is allegedly the film's version of Artie Maddicks, a mutant with the ability to project holograms of his thoughts to communicate with others and disorient foes.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: The X-men, particularly Wolverine, slaughter countless random commandos yet spare the life of Big Bad Striker. Wolverine also kills Lady Deathstrike, who was Brainwashed and Crazy just like Nightcrawler was.
- While You Were in Diapers: Stryker says this to Senator Kelly (or who he thinks is Kelly) in X2: X-Men United. "I was piloting Black Ops missions in the jungles of north Vietnam, while you were sucking on your mama's tit at Woodstock, Kelly."
- The White House: Nightcrawler breaches security at the White House and comes within an inch of stabbing the president before being winged by a Secret Service agent, allowing him to break his mind control.
- Window Love: Wolverine and Stryker, with a semitransparent sheet of ice between them.
- You Are Number Six: General Stryker had his son Jason lobotomized after lashing out against him and his wife. Since then, the General simply refers to him as "Mutant 143". When Professor X expresses his shock over it, asking why he'd do this to his own son, Stryker simply answers with: "No, Charles. My son is dead. Just like the rest of you."
- You Shall Not Pass: The ending is an example of this trope, with Jean Grey staying behind to hold off the inevitable just long enough for the rest of the team to escape. Although everyone, including her, thinks that No One Could Survive That, she manages to survive.