main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: X-Men

"Trust a few. Fear the rest."

X-Men is the first movie in the X-Men film series directed by Bryan Singer, based on the celebrated comic book franchise of the same name.

It starts with some guy with claws, and a runaway teenage girl who accidentally puts her boyfriend in a coma by kissing him. She's named Marie, but calls herself Rogue, and hitchhikes with the guy-with-claws ("Logan") until they get attacked by a big guy who also has claws, just less cool ones, and then are rescued by a guy wearing a weird visor and a woman directing a snowstorm.

Um...okay, so, comic books can be a little goofy at times.

Logan wakes up in the infirmary of a school. Unlike most schools, this one teaches Mutants—people like Logan who have unusual powers. The school also has its own team of superheroes: the X-Men. The bald, wheelchair-bound psychic Professor Xavier runs both the school and the X-Men, and he offers for both Logan and Marie to stay with them.

After introducing these major characters, the movie gets to work on the plot: Magneto (the boss of the bad guy with claws) has invented a machine that turns humans into mutants (with the unfortunate side effect of killing them shortly after). He mounts the machine in the torch of the Statue of Liberty, with the intention of using it on a major UN Conference. Unfortunately, using the machine that much would kill him, so he kidnaps Marie (aka Rogue) with the intention of forcing her to absorb his powers and run the machine for him. Wolverine leads the rescue effort.

Fun fact: David Hayter wrote the original screenplay, and Joss Whedon did an uncredited and almost entirely unused rewrite.

Followed by X2: X-Men United.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: We have Wolverine talking to Rogue on the train to convince her that she can find a place at Xavier's school.
  • All There in the Script: Averted. In his commentary Bryan Singer specifically mentions that he remembered that he had to namedrop Toad and Mystique, lest they just be the "nameless minions of Magneto."
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film starts with Magneto as a boy in a concentration camp.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Magneto's mutation machine. It is never explained what exactly it's doing to so specifically alter a person's genome (namely, activating the latent X-gene in normals).
  • A Storm Is Coming: Said by a security guard as the X-Men, including Storm, fly past hidden by fog.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The Mutant Registration Act is defeated due to the Brotherhood unintentionally killing the Act's main supporter and Mystique replacing him later on.
  • Balls of Steel: During a cage fight, Wolverine's opponent is told, "Anything goes, but you hit him in the balls, he'll take it personal." Sure enough, the poor fool tries it—there's an audible "ping"note , and Wolverine kicks the tar out of him.
  • Big Applesauce: A justifiable location for a meeting of Heads of State, as it is the home of the U.N.
  • Big Bad: Magneto.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Perhaps stretching the trope too far, but Sabretooth (big), Mystique (thin), and Toad (short).
  • Blade Brake: Wolverine averts a fall off the Statue of Liberty by hooking one of the points of the statue's crown, then spinning around it to land on top. The point falls off only after he's done.
  • Blessed with Suck: The mutations created by Magneto's machine are stated to be fatal.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The film had this trope for the political hearing which Jean Grey debated with politicians concerning mutants. Both sides brought up good points which was the intentions of the director.
  • Broken Aesop: One of the taglines for the movie was "Trust some. Fear the rest." Imagine this being applied to any minority group.
  • California Doubling: The mansion interior was filmed in Casa Loma, a Toronto landmark.
  • Captain Obvious: Storm's much maligned observation: "Do you know what happens to a toad when it's hit by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else." This was supposed to be the payoff to a Running Gag where Toad constantly brags about things a toad can do. For some reason, it was left in as an Orphaned Punchline.
  • Car Cushion: Sabertooth has a variation of this. Granted, it's a boat, not a car, but still, closest they could've done at Liberty Island. Sabertooth's healing factor lets him walk away uninjured.
  • Code Name: Wolverine ridicules the fact that they have code names. Which is some Hypocritical Humor on his part, as he does too.
  • Color Me Black: A Fantastic Racism variant is used, when Magneto turns anti-mutant Senator Kelly into a mutant.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: After Wolverine finds Rogue stowed away in his truck, he's about to leave her by the side of the road until he realizes he can't.
  • Cool Bike: Cyclops' motorcycle that Wolverine *ahem* borrows to get to the train station.
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer:
    • A review, this one appearing in the New Times Los Angeles, blasted the film for departing from the comic's signature yellow-and-blue costumes, and for giving Magneto, the "master of all evil", a sympathetic Holocaust-survivor backstory. Which shows that he did actually read the comic... in the '60s, and not once since.
      • Similarly, a New York Times piece on Valkyrie erroneously claimed that Bryan Singer came up with the idea of Magneto's Holocaust backstory.
    • A negative review of People Magazine, among other things, said, "Since when do superheroes have such traumatic backstories?" Oh, since about 1939?note 
  • Creator Cameo:
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Senator Kelly melts from his mutations.
  • Darker and Edgier: In this film, you can pinpoint the exact moment the world started taking comic book films seriously. Here's a hint: it takes place inside a concentration camp...
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Mystique impersonates Senator Kelly's aide who Magneto casually mentions "has been dead for some time" then effectively becomes Senator Kelly after his artificial mutation apparently kills him.
  • Death by Cameo: Two of the writers (one of them being David Hayter) show up as cops who are taken out in a sneak attack by Sabretooth and the Toad.
  • Designated Girl Fight: The film averts this, with Storm and Jean Grey fighting Toad in the final fight, with Wolverine taking on Mystique. Both fights are quite close before the good guys win in both instances.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Magneto's description of God sounds a lot like Professor X. Doubles as Fridge Brilliance after it's revealed in X2: X-Men United that Magneto views mutants to be gods among insects, and there is no one in the world he respects (and loves, as we learn in X-Men: First Class) more than his old friend.
    Magneto: I've always thought of God as a teacher, a bringer of light, wisdom, and understanding.
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Rogue tries to wake up Wolverine during a nightmare and he attacks her. Good thing he can heal and she can steal his powers...
  • Downer Beginning: The film starts in a concentration camp.
  • The Dragon: Sabretooth is arguably Magneto's primary dragon, though Mystique and Toad also fight.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Colossus can briefly be seen sitting near the basketball court. He gets much more screen time and a few lines it the next two movies.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The machine turning ordinary humans into mutants has metal rings spinning very fast.
  • Feel No Pain: Inverted, where Rogue asks Wolverine if his claws hurt when he extends or retracts them. He grimacingly says, "Every time."
  • Fight Clubbing: Wolverine takes part in one of these at the start of the film.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Brotherhood of Mutants
  • Follow the Leader: The success of this film, followed by the great success of the Spider-Man Trilogy, unleashed a deluge of modern Super Hero-inspired live-action like Daredevil and Batman Begins. Even obscure properties like Namor were optioned for movies.
  • Flipping the Bird: Wolverine flips Cyclops off with one of his claws during the climax.
  • Foreshadowing: The "X-Men 1.5" Director's Cut has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Deleted Scene where the energy pulse from Magneto's device washes over the X-Men. Jean Grey is the only one who shows a physical reaction to the flash; this would seem to be the event that activated the Phoenix Force which would become so important in the next two movies. The second film acted as if this scene had been left in, with Scott and Jean discussing how her powers had changed since the Statue of Liberty.
  • Funny Background Event: Magneto is giving out orders in his barren cave-office as a Newton's Cradle clicks back and forth on his desk. As he turns to leave, the little metal balls clatter to the floor, revealing that there were no wires and it was just him mentally fidgeting.
  • Glassy Prison: Although not made out of glass, Magneto is imprisoned within a plastic, transparent prison at the end of the movie.
  • Go Karting with Bowser: Professor X playing chess with Magneto.
  • Groin Attack: During the fight in the Statue of Liberty, Mystique knees Wolverine in the groin, and you can hear an audible 'ping' (balls of Adamantium).
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted. In the scene outside the train station (where Magneto confronts the police) which, if you watch the making-of video, is revealed to have been shot in broad daylight. It looks like night and the clear lighting of the characters and location is from police floodlights.
  • Hypocrite: Magneto is willing to sacrifice Rogue but not himself in the advancement of his cause. Beautifully called out by Wolverine, who tells him: "You're so full of shit. If you were really so righteous, it would be you up in that thing."
    • Of course, the biggest irony of that is, if he had been willing to sacrifice himself, the plan would have worked.
  • I'm Melting: Seen after Senator Kelly befriends Storm.
  • Impostor Exposing Test: Averted in this hilarious exchange:
    Wolverine: Hey, hey! It's me.
    Cyclops: Prove it.
    Wolverine: You're a dick.
    Cyclops: Okay.
  • Ironic Echo: Professor X asks Magneto "Why do you come here?", referring to the Mutant Registration Act hearings; Magneto replies “Why do you ask questions to which you already know the answer?” The roles are reversed at the end when Magneto is in prison and Charles comes to visit him.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Used by Magneto to terrifying effect.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Rare physical version:
    Rogue: When they [the claws] come out... does it hurt?
    Wolverine: Every time.
  • It's All About Me: When everyone is certain that Magneto is trying to kidnap Wolverine, only to discover that he's actually after Rogue.
    Wolverine: What do you want with me?
    Magneto: You? My dear boy, whoever said anything about wanting you? *glance towards Rogue, cue Oh Crap expression from her and Wolverine*
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before: Played Serious. When they are examining Wolverine's x-rays and Jean is telling everyone about his adamantium covered skeleton, Xavier ominously says, "Experimentation on mutants isn't unheard of, but I've never seen anything like this before..."
  • I Will Show You X:
    Magneto: What are you looking for, Charles?
    Xavier: I'm looking for hope.
    Magneto: I will give you hope. And I ask one thing in return: don't get in my way.
  • Jammed Seatbelts: Rogue gets caught in a burning truck this way at the beginning of the film. Wolverine, who was not wearing his, gets thrown a good twenty feet out through the windshield and is only saved from serious injury or death by his unbreakable bones and Healing Factor.
  • The Lady's Favour: Gender-switched. Wolverine gives his dog tags to Rogue as he's leaving to learn about his past, promising that he'll come back for them. It's not intended to be romantic, since his feelings for her were more like a big brother.
  • Lampshade Hanging: During the scene in which Wolverine becomes acquainted with the X-Men team and their adversaries, he repeatedly draws attention to their goofy code names. Later in the film, Cyclops heads off fanboy criticism by remarking on the film's deviation from classic X-Men outfits: "Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?". Magneto takes the opportunity to subtly lampshade Wolverine's Spotlight-Stealing Squad nature in each movie of the trilogy:
    "Once again, you think it's all about you."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In response to Wolverine's complaint about their black leather uniforms, Cyclops says "Would you prefer yellow spandex?"
  • Macho Masochism: When asked to put out his cigar, Wolverine looks around to find something to stub it out on, but doesn't find anything within reach, so he resorts to his own palm. It's not a case of machismo; his own regenerating skin was the only option at the moment, (Other than his boots, which is how non-mutant smokers usually put things out).
  • Mass Empowering Event: Magneto's plan is to turn all the world leaders into Mutants.
  • Monumental Battle: The final battle takes place at the Statue of Liberty, with Wolverine and Sabretooth having a battle atop its head.
  • Monumental Damage: The climax takes place atop the Statue of Liberty, but other than the destruction of her torch by Magneto's machine (and a ray of her crown sliced off by Wolverine's claws) it is otherwise unharmed.
  • Mythology Gag: When Wolverine questions the team's uniform, Cyclops sarcastically asks if he would rather dress in a yellow spandex (Wolverine's suit in comic books is yellow with blue ornaments).
  • No-Holds-Barred Contest: The film has an example in the cage fight that introduces Wolverine, again toyed with a little: "Don't kick him in the balls." "I thought you said anything goes." "Anything goes, but he'll take it personal."
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Wolverine's powers of healing are drained by Rogue, he ends up regaining every injury he's suffered over the course of the last two days.
  • Not My Driver: Mystique and Toad kidnap Senator Kelly by piloting his helicopter to Magneto's island. Somewhat justified: as Mystique can shapeshift to look like anyone at all, she murders and impersonates the senator's real staff
  • Not Wearing Tights: Lampshaded and played semi-straight, which has the characters wearing dark-color body armor-suits. Wolverine (newly recruited) comments on the outlandishness of the outfits, to which Cyclops jokingly asks, "Would you prefer yellow spandex?" In reference to the early uniforms of the X-Men comic book (and main color of most of Wolverine's comic book outfits.)
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Hugh Jackman slips into Australian the first time he says, "Storm" (just before "What do they call you? 'Wheels'?"). And also in the truck, right after Rogue tells him that he should buckle up. And again when he says to Jean "Couldn't wait to get my shirt off again, could you?".
    • Anna Paquin at least attempted to remember to give Rogue a southern accent on occasion.
    • Halle Berry speaks, very briefly, in a vaguely foreign accent. This is made even more evident if you watch some of the deleted scenes. She completely abandons this by the end of the film. She may have been angling for a Sub-Saharan African accent, what with Storm being from Kenya in the comics. But it's worth noting even director Bryan Singer referred to it as an "attempt" in his DVD commentary.
  • Opening Monologue: "Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, and normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward."
  • Orphaned Punchline: The infamous "toad hit by lightning" line is actually one, as the only remnant of Joss Whedon's Running Gag of him spending the film bragging about things toads can do.
  • Phlebotinum Bomb: At the end of the film, Magneto tries to use a weapon that is supposed to turn normal humans into Mutants, but will actually kill them.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: To stop the machine, they needed both Storm's power and Jean Grey's finer control to get Wolverine up to the torch, Wolverine's claws to land and to break the machine, his healing to bring Rogue back from near-death, and Cyclops' long-range Eye Beams as a back-up plan.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: Mystique sabotages Cerebro to knock out Professor X next time he goes to use it.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The film has the machine that turns ordinary people into mutants powered by Magneto—but using it weakens the power source (likely killing him if he uses it on full power), so he forcibly has the power-stealing mutant Rogue absorb him and uses her to power the machine.
    • In the original draft for the movie, Magneto actually wanted to use Wolverine instead as a sort-of living antenna to amplify his powers, apparently due to his Adamantium skeleton.
  • Power High: An inversion is evidenced.
    Rogue: "Does it hurt when [your claws] come out?"
    Wolverine: "Every time."
  • Pull the I.V.: Wolverine wakes up at the medical room of the X-Men base and promptly rips out the needles. Doesn't bleed thanks to his hyper regeneration.
  • Red Herring: Magneto looking at Wolverine's dogtags before asking Sabretooth, "Where is the mutant now?" This is to mislead the audience into the same line of thinking as the heroes, that Magneto is after Wolverine, instead of his true target Rogue.
  • Remake Cameo: The truck driver who gives Rogue a lift in the beginning is played by George Buza, the voice of Beast on X-Men: The Animated Series.
  • Roofless Renovation: Cyclops accidentally destroys the roof of the train station with his optical blasts. When he later chides Wolverine for something else, Wolverine counters "I'm not the one who gave the train station a new sunroof!"
  • The Runaway: Marie a.k.a Rogue runs away from home after her power manifests itself while kissing her boyfriend, causing him to have a seizure and fall into a coma for three weeks.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    Magneto: Why do none of you understand what I'm trying to do? Those people down there, they control our fate and the fate of every other mutant! Well, soon our fate will be theirs.
    Wolverine: You're so fulla shit! If you were really so righteous, it'd be you in that thing.
  • Sigil Spam: A more subtle version was done in X-Men. Not so much the logo, but X's were put everywhere they could, particularly the underground doors. Magneto, by contrast, had a lot of "O"s everywhere.
  • Spot the Impostor: The film has Mystique pulling that trick too. However, Wolverine can smell the difference between Mystique and Storm, so he doesn't fall for it. Later, Cyclops asks Wolverine to confirm he is the real thing:
    Wolverine: You're a dick.
    Cyclops: Okay.
  • Staring Kid: The boy on the beach stabbing the jellyfish stares at the mutated Senator Kelly when he emerges from the water and his gill slits disappear into his back. Of course, nearly everyone else on the beach stares too (including Stan Lee in his usual cameo appearance).
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: Storm does this for the artificially mutated Senator Kelly.
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die: The film has Toad fried by lightning. Sabretooth doesn't return except for a prequel, but that is more Put on a Bus.
  • Super Registration Act: As expected, the film features a sub-plot in which a senator tries to get a mutant registration act. It fails but the threat of such an act hangs over the characters' heads for the rest of the series.
  • Take That Kiss: Wolverine fights Mystique whilst she's disguised as himself, The audience knows which character is which when Mystique-as-Wolverine mockingly pursues her lips and makes a kissy noise at the real Wolverine.
  • Terrible Trio: Magneto's minions: Mystique, Toad, and Sabretooth.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Magneto tries to invoke a sympathy version of this by turning all the world leaders into mutants, it being less "I'm going to make humanity my bitch!" and more "I'd better pull back on the anti-mutant rhetoric and policies since I'm one now."
  • Trust Password: After being fooled by Mystique one too many times, Cyclops demands that Wolverine prove he is who he says he is. Wolverine's response: "You're a dick." It works.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: The film is set in "the near future". The World Trade Center is still standing, which seems to make the 'future' early 2001.
  • Two Shots From Behind The Bar: When Logan threatened a customer with his claws, the bartender quickly aimed a shotgun point blank at his head. He promptly sliced the shotgun in half, demonstrating why you should never bring a gun to a clawfight.
  • Unflinching Walk: Storm, quietly advancing on Toad.
  • The Voiceless: The Brotherhood members never speak. Mystique is silent but for one line early on, except when she's disguised. It's quite effective and adds to her, well, mystique. Sabretooth has two lines, Toad has three.
  • Wake Up Fighting: Wolverine does this to Rogue, however goes too far and instinctively stabs her in the chest.
  • Weaponized Landmark: Magneto hid his mutation inducing device inside the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Senator Kelly’s desire to introduce a Mutant Registration Act is born out of fear for others, and such fear isn't entirely unfounded.
    • Magneto. His plan is actually rather benevolent and would finally end the division between Mutants and the rest of Mankind, while sacrificing only Rogue to make it work. It's a good plan, it's just a shame his machine doesn't work!
      • Still, Xavier desiring to stop him is apt for someone with his point of view (that is the world is fine as it is, it's everyone living in it that needs to learn how to get along with things as they are and accept everyone for their differences).
  • Wham Line: Wolverine and Rogue have been chased and attacked several times by Magneto's band of mutants. The X-Men come to the conclusion that Magneto's after Wolverine, possibly due to his self-regeneration abilities. Then Magneto corners the pair in a train station and has Wolvie completely at his mercy...
    Wolverine: "What do you want from me?"
    Magneto: "You? Whoever said we wanted you?" *turns to look at Rogue*...
  • Why Won't You Die?: As Storm flies out of the elevator shaft, Toad complains "Don't you people ever die?" (in a possible reference to how Death Is Cheap in the comics)
  • You! Exclamation: During the climax, when Magneto traps the heroes in the Statue Of Liberty, he greets them with "Ah, my brothers!"... then casts a glare at Wolverine and snarls, "...and you."
  • You Keep Telling Yourself That: When Magneto is making his final speech to the heroes about how the turn-everyone-into-a-mutant-beam is going to bring peace to the world and is worth the sacrifice, Wolverine is not impressed. He quips that if Magneto really believed everything he was saying, he would have just used himself to power the doomsday apparatus rather than Rogue. One realizes that, if Magneto had in fact done this, his plan would have succeeded without a hitch (though considering that he sees himself as the one thing keeping mutants out of the death camps, he wouldn't sacrifice himself unless he was 100% certain of the outcome).

O Brother, Where Art Thou?Nebula AwardThe Lord of the Rings
X-MenFilms Of The 2000s-FranchisesX2: X-Men United
X-MenFranchise/X-MenX2: X-Men United
X-MenHugo AwardX2: X-Men United
Wolf ManImageSource/Live-Action FilmsDemoted to Extra
X-MenSuperheroX2: X-Men United

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy