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Film: X-Men
aka: X-Men

"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."
Professor Charles Xavier

An adaptation of the X-Men comic book franchise to the silver screen, which pretty much singlehandedly revived superhero movies for the 2000s.

It holds to the original premise of the discovery of mutants, humans who possess unusual abilities and superpowers and are feared by the rest of the world. The heroes are the X-Men, a team organized by powerful telepath Charles Xavier who hopes to establish peace between mutants and regular people, with a school dedicated to helping mutants understand and harness their powers for good. Various others oppose them, some militants hoping to kill them and, most prominent, Xavier's former friend Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto, who leads a counter-team who are trying to establish complete mutant domination.

The original trilogy consists of:

  • X-Men (2000) - New recruits Wolverine and Rogue join Professor X's mutant team to stop Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants from using a devastating weapon to decimate humanity.
  • X2: X-Men United (2003) - The X-Men reluctantly team up with Magneto to rescue Professor X and the students of Xavier's School from Wolverine's old enemy Colonel William Stryker who's fully intent on mutant genocide.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - An antibody for the mutant gene has been developed prompting the X-Men to defend those responsible from Magneto's growing army.

Rather than continuing the series chronologically from there, FOX decided to film a series of spin-offs and prequels. The subsequent films include:

  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) - A prequel spin-off detailing Wolverine's Mysterious Past as a mercenary for William Stryker's Team X who went rogue.
  • X-Men: First Class (2011) - A prequel depicting a young Xavier, Magneto, Mystique and Beast forming the X-Men in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • The Wolverine (2013) - A solo Wolverine spin-off set long after X-Men: The Last Stand, following Logan's adventures in Japan.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) - A combination sequel/prequel featuring the cast members of both eras, with Kitty Pryde sending Wolverine back in time from the disastrous, Sentinel-dominated future to unite the young Xavier and Magneto in the past.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) - A follow up to Days of Future Past with Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast and Quicksilver returning to face a dangerous, ancient mutant named Apocalypse.
  • An as-yet-untitled third Wolverine spin-off (2017)

Many other projects are planned for the future. A Deadpool film seems to be in the works, but may be stuck in Development Hell. A film based on the X-Force is also being developed. You can vote for your favorite film here.

The franchise is still owned by FOX, and therefore it is not part of Paramount/Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe.


The series in general provides examples of:

  • Ability over Appearance:
    • Magneto is very muscular in the comics, but the slender Ian McKellen was cast because he's one of the finest actors on the planet.
    • Hugh Jackman is a foot taller than Wolverine in the comics, but his performance has won over the fandom, and it's now difficult to imagine someone else replacing him.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Wolverine's claws
    • Lady Deathstrike's talons.
    • Wade Wilson's katanas
    • Ichiro Yashida's samurai swords which actually cut through Wolverine's claws.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Wolverine is played by the Tall, Dark and Handsome Hugh Jackman, whereas in the comics the character was the butt of jokes about his stocky build and short height. Also, rather than an ill-mannered thug, Wolverine is a James Dean-esque bad boy in the film series.
    • Inverted with Magneto. While not ugly by any means, he's considerably older than the character in the comics and much less physically imposing. While Magneto was a buff and chiseled in the comics, in the movie his white hair is the result of him being seventy-something years old. Justified, since the movies don't have the comics' sliding timescale or the multiple instances of him being de-aged and re-aged, and had to make him the realistic age of a Holocaust survivor.
      • This gets rectified when you see Erik in First Class, where his younger self is conventionally handsome.
    • Quill and Callisto get this in The Last Stand, with the former looking like an actual person rather than a freaky man/porcupine hybrid.
    • First Class does this to Sebastian Shaw, Darwin, and Riptide. Moreover, Professor X in the comics was never depicted being gorgeous like James McAvoy.
  • Adaptational Sexuality/Hide Your Lesbians: Mystique was bisexual in the comics and had a lover, Irene Addler/Destiny, who she lived with for over a century and adopted a child with (said child would grow up into Rogue). In the films, Destiny is never mentioned, Mystique isn't quite as old, and so far all her romantic interests have been men.
  • Adorkable:
    • X2: X-Men United: Nightcrawler loves to give (often interrupted) long-winded introduction speeches, playfully spies on secret meetings, and awkwardly flirts with Storm.
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Charles Xavier was a cute geek in his childhood, as demonstrated by the framed pictures of his favourite scientists next to his bed. As an adult, he uses his nerdy knowledge to woo girls at bars.
      • Hank McCoy. Soft spoken, stutters, asks Raven out on the pretext of getting a blood sample and then apologizes for being forward.
  • All There in the Script: Some characters are never named.
  • Alternate History/Been There, Shaped History: Comes in two flavors with the prequel movies.
    • Origins: Three Mile Island housed a prison where William Stryker experimented with mutants, and the infamous nuclear incident was caused by one destroying a cooling tower.
    • First Class: The Cuban Missile Crisis was caused by Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club manipulating the military of both America and the Soviet Union trying to cause the Third World War. Then the proto-X-Men foiled his plans.
    • Days of Future Past: Magneto had some hand in the "magic bullet" that killed Kennedy, Bolivar Trask is attending the post-Vietnam War Paris Peace Accords (with Mystique invading in order to kill him), and Magneto wrecks havoc in Washington, revealing himself to the public almost thirty years before the original movie. His actions are now part a different Alternate Timeline.
  • Anachronic Order: Ever since The Last Stand made it easier to go with prequels. X-Men Origins: Wolverine preceded all movies, then First Class preceded that (while also following the World War II opening flashback of the first movie), The Wolverine was a sequel to The Last Stand (with the opening being set in WWII as well), and then Days of Future Past acted as a sequel to both The Wolverine and First Class simultaneously due to Time Travel. Apocalypse is set to follow the "past" timeline as well.
  • Anti-Villain: Magneto honestly believes what he's doing is in mutants' best interest.
  • Artistic License - Biology:
    • The series has a whole collection of offenses. Mutants cannot be called another species, given that they can still interbreed freely with normal humans. Even if you don't have a biology diploma, it ought to be obvious that there could be no universal "cure" that suppressed all the flashy mutations (but not "regular" ones like, say, heterochromia?) on any given mutant without affecting anything else, and certainly not in a matter of seconds.
    • Incidental dialogue (particularly Pyro during X2) mentions "the X-gene", implying that all modern Mutations (the controversial superpower kind) stem from a single gene that appeared at some point during human history and slowly proliferated until becoming widely apparent in recent years. The Sentinels also have detectors of said gene.
  • Audible Sharpness: *SNIKT!*
  • Badass: All of the superheroes and supervillains, naturally.
  • Badass Longcoat: Sabretooth has had one in both his appearances.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: In most of the films, whatever danger the mutants face from humans is resolved not by the X-Men, but by the Brotherhood. In the first film, it's Mystique's impersonation of Senator Kelly that gets the Mutant Registration Act defeated in Congress; in X2, Magneto stops the machine that Stryker's using to kill all the mutants; and in X-Men: First Class, Magneto stops the missiles that the US and Soviet fleets shoot at the mutants. The role of the X-Men in the films is not to protect mutants, but to protect humans from the Brotherhood. It gives a sense of why the Brotherhood might attract recruits.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
    • Mystique has no visible nipples or genitalia in her standard form. Then again, her true form is basically a scaly blue creature, so nipples wouldn't have been necessary in either case.
    • Emma Frost's diamond form also features this.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game:
    • Magneto is very fond of this one—in X2 he reverses Stryker's machine to target humans rather than mutants, and in First Class he throws the US and Soviet navies' own missiles back at them. Threatening to shoot cops with their own guns in the first X-Men movie may also qualify.
    • A notable subversion—threatening to use the Mutant Cure against any mutants willing to stand against the Brotherhood in The Last Stand.
  • Berserk Button:
    • When Wolverine was cage fighting the contender was given this advice from the fight promoter.
      Promoter: Whatever you do, don't hit him in the balls.
      Contender: I thought you said anything goes.
      Promoter: Anything goes, but he'll take it personal.
    • In First Class, Hank McCoy is shown to very much dislike being mocked for his mutation. More so once he turns blue-furred.
    • Beast flies into a murderous rage after Magneto attempts to kill Mystique in Days of Future Past. Hank still harbours feelings for her.
  • Big Bad: Magneto and William Stryker alternate between the four movies. In First Class it's Sebastian Shaw.
  • Big Bra to Fill: All of the women.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • One of Charles' most admirable and flawed traits is his excessive need to protect Raven, who doesn't appreciate his coddling in the slightest. By the end of First Class, it has driven a wedge between the two of them, resulting in Raven's choosing to side with Erik and make her own decisions for the first time in her life.
    • In Days of Future Past, when 1973 Charles sees Mystique again for the first time in 11 years, he caresses her hair and shoulder as a gesture of comfort while telling her that he will keep her safe among other soothing words. When Magneto then points a gun in her direction, Xavier stands in between the barrel and his adopted sister, and Erik later has to use his power to change the bullet's trajectory so that it won't hit Charles in the head. Despite their estrangement, Xavier is willing to die for Raven to save her life.
    • It's hinted that Peter Maximoff cares a lot about his little sister by the way he holds her while they watch TV.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Wolverine does it three times: The Last Stand: After killing Jean. Origins: When his father dies, and later when his Temporary Love Interest dies.
    • Erik as a kid has a Big Nein in X-Men: First Class.
    • Xavier shouts this in First Class when Magneto pushes the coin through Sebastian Shaw's forehead and just before he tackles Magneto to the ground to try to stop him from committing mass murder against the American and Soviet fleets. In Days of Future Past, Charles yells this in panic when the guards try to shoot him and his allies in the Pentagon kitchen.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • X2: X-Men United: 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.
    • X-Men: First Class: Raven claims that her eye colour change at the pub was an accident, but Charles knows that she did it on purpose, and the audience understands that Raven's motivation for the "slip-up" was jealousy towards Amy.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • When confronted by guards in the Pentagon kitchen, Charles attempts to reassure them that he and Logan are important personnel, but one part of his speech is especially unconvincing.
        Charles: We are special operations C-B-F-E-C-I-C.
      • There's a glitch in Logan's Mental Time Travel, resulting in his past self waking up at the worst possible time, in the middle of a botched assassination, surrounded by strange people (some of whom are blue), days after he last remembers anything. Charles briefly tries to explain the situation to him truthfully, before giving up.
        Charles: You're on acid. Someone gave you really bad acid.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Rogue's superpower doesn't allow her to touch the ones she loves.
    • X-Men: The mutations produced by Magneto's machine are fatal.
    • X2: X-Men United: Jones can change television channels by blinking, but he never sleeps.
    • The Wolverine: Yukio's only mutant power is foreseeing people's deaths.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: After slipping into a deep depression, the younger Charles views his telepathy as a curse because he can no longer control it. He is unable to shut out the clamour of thoughts that he doesn't want to hear, and this causes a tremendous amount of agony, to the point where he becomes addicted to a serum which numbs his ability, allowing him to sleep at night.
      • At the age of nine, Xavier believed that he was mentally ill (schizophrenia, most likely) due to the voices in his head, and it took him three whole years to recognize that he was actually telepathic—as dysfunctional as he is in 1973, his childhood experience must have been downright nightmarish in comparison.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The only person in X3 to have blood is Wolverine. Everyone else is made out of clothes and skin. People are torn to shreds without spilling a drop.
    • In First Class, Xavier getting shot, as well as Azazel's massacre of the CIA agents.
  • Breakout Character: Deadpool was already popular among comics fans, but his reception in Origins has led to talk him getting his own feature film, though something of the sort was probably in the works anyway.
    • As of five years later, this is still just talk.
  • Broken Aesop/Metaphor Gotten:
    • On the high-power end, occurs if you buy into the analogy between mutants and homosexuality (See Fantastic Racism below); because as everyone knows, homosexuality gives you the power to trash huge buildings and massacre hordes of straight people, sometimes even against your will, and yet somehow it's still wrong of people to want to "cure" or legally restrict it in any way.
    • On the low-power end, occurs more due to mixing metaphors: The anti-mutant factions see all mutants and mutations as a bad thing, including such "dangerous powers" as having a blue lizard tongue (useful mainly for grossing out little girls) or being a human TV remote control who never sleeps; because as everyone knows, homosexuality makes people look slightly different from everyone else—or no, wait, isn't it race that does that? So yeah, meet the new racism, sort of like the old racism; which is bad. Then again, being of any particular race doesn't really give you any special powers either, so the metaphor doesn't really hold up to scrutiny there either.
  • California Doubling:
    • X-Men: The mansion interior was filmed in Casa Loma, a Toronto landmark.
    • X2: X-Men United: Hatley Castle in Victoria, British Columbia was used for the exterior and most of the interior of Xavier's school.
    • X-Men: First Class: Englefield House in Reading, UK serves as the exterior for the Xavier mansion. The small island near Cuba is actually Georgia's Jekyll Island with some palm trees.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Paris scenes were actually filmed in Old Montreal, and parts of the Pentagon (like the area where we see visitors touring the building, and when Charles and Logan are walking alone in a basement corridor) are from the Arts Building at McGill University.
  • The Cameo:
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Rogue takes this to can't kiss ever.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Sort of, since the original incident was pretty dark in itself, but Mystique poisoning Charles in the first movie becomes much more sinister in hindsight when the prequel First Class decided to retcon that the two are adopted brother and sister.
    • However, it is possible that she and Magneto may have known beforehand that the poison would have been ultimately harmless and have intended to simply keep Charles out of the way of their plan.
  • Character Development:
  • Civvie Spandex: Which was even ported to the early-2000s comics.
  • Code Name: Yeah, um, all of them. (Many of the characters have real names, but we haven't listed them. There's a character sheet for that.) Greatest lampshade comes in the first movie when Wolverine asks Xavier:
    "Sabretooth? (looks at Ororo) Storm? (looks at Xavier) What do they call you, Wheels?"
    • First Class has a scene where the younger mutants make up code names for themselves, Charles and Erik.
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Played with in just about every way possible. See the main page for details.
  • Composite Character: Some of the characters are amalgams of various mutants from the comics. Which explains weird power combinations such as Callisto.
    • Rogue in the first three movies has the comic Rogue's powers and appearance but the comic Kitty Pride's personality and relationship with Wolverine.
    • Stryker is a combination of the homonymous preacher from the arc "God Loves, Man Kills", and Weapon X's Professor Thornton.
    • Pyro combines the name and powers of his comic book counterpart with Quicksilver's attitude and original position as Magneto's Dragon.
    • In First Class, Angel has her comics powers but the wings of Pixie.
    • Shaw in First Class is a composite of Sebastian Shaw and Mr. Sinister, combining Shaw's powers and personality with Sinister's immortality and obsession with mutant genetics.
  • Continuity Snarl: Wolverine and First Class have plenty of inconsistencies for supposed prequels, specially with each other. (also, in X2 a human Hank McCoy makes a cameo, but in The Last Stand he's blue and hairy)
    • To be fair, in Wolverine and Last Stand, all supposed inconsistencies can be explained away if they're thought about hard enough or if you really try to make them fit. First Class however has no such luck, to the point of many fans believing that it's a reboot rather than a prequel.
    • Notably subverted with Mystique—her slow aging process is explained by her mutation's side effect, which is actually close to the explanation given in the comics (that shapeshifting into different people renews her cells to prevent the aging process or some such).
      • Examples in First Class: Charles being crippled in the 60s when he's shown walking in the 80s, Magneto and Charles going there separate way earlier than before, Hank's blue furry form, etc.
      • In Hank's case, at least, his nigh-obsessive displeasure with his mutant appearance could have led him to create a serum similar to what he did in First Class, so that it at least rendered him temporarily "normal". In fact, this plot point got hit on several times in Last Stand.
      • Both got a Hand Wave in Days of Future Past through a healing serum that temporarily disguises Beast and fixes Charles' spine (though in the latter's case, negating his telepathy, while he does use it in The Last Stand...).
      • Even worse is Moira MacTaggert—besides being Scottish in Last Stand and American in First Class, for whatever reason she's hardly aged in 40 years.
      • Then there's Wolverine's cameo in First Class, which, while funny, depicts Charles and Magneto briefly meeting him for the first time in the 1960s, despite the original movie seemingly depicting their encounters in that film as being the first time they have ever met. Though Wolverine not remembering them can be explained away by his memory loss at the end of X-Men Origins, that still doesn't explain why the other two men don't seem to remember him or mention that they have met before.
      • Except for the fact that they met him for ten seconds and didn't see him again until forty years later, during the events of X1.
      • First Class might have originally been intended as a case of Canon Discontinuity for the films that didn't involve Bryan Singer (Last Stand and X-Men Origins). However, Days of Future Past has decided to tackle the continuity issues head-on...
  • Cosmic Retcon/Canon Discontinuity: ...by making the events triggered by Wolverine's Mental Time Travel eventually erase The Last Stand (aside from Kelsey Grammer being the older Beast) and X-Men Origins (the film even features a different William Stryker) from existence.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Emma Frost, who appears in First Class as a grown woman, despite the film being set decades before a much younger girl with a different background but similar powers (minus telepathy) appeared in Origins: Wolverine. The girl was supposed to be Emma Frost, but this was changed at the last minute by the producers and she is not named in the movie, and even the end credits only call her "Emma" (and not "Emma Frost"). While many accused First Class of creating a plot hole, in reality they are two separate characters.
    • The Silver Samurai in The Wolverine is two separate characters. Harada, Silver Samurai's civilian ID in the comics is a ninja and Mariko's childhood friend, while the actual Silver Samurai is Ichirō Yashida, Mariko's grandfather.
  • Deus Exit Machina: In the first three films, Professor X is removed from the action so his potential Story Breaker Power doesn't resolve everything in one scene.
    • In X-Men, he is poisoned by Mystique and is in a coma for the entire final act.
    • In X2, he is subjected to illusions by Stryker's conjuring mutant son, and rescuing him is the plot. Not to mention that his powers were used against the X-Men.
    • In The Last Stand, he is killed by Jean Grey as she succumbs to the Phoenix. Though he apparently survived by transferring his consciousness into a brain-dead man's body....
    • Averted in First Class, where Xavier is active, but the bad guys have both Emma Frost and a telepathy-blocking helmet to counter him, and he's not as overwhelmingly powerful as in the chronologically-later films.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Toad in the first film; Cyclops, Xavier, Juggernaut, Callisto, Psylocke, Arclight, and Kid Omega (Quill?) in the third; possibly Fred Dukes in Origins.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Weapon X facility, and arguably the X-Mansion.
  • Enemy Mine: X2 has the X-Men teaming up with Magneto and Mystique because of a greater threat to mutant kind, Wolverine has Logan and Victor teaming up to fight Weapon XI and First Class has the USSR and the US uniting against the "mutant threat."
  • Exiled from Continuity: Thanks to a bizarre rights snafu, both Fox and Marvel Studios have the film rights to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, but with a caveat. The X-Men movies cannot reference their involvement with The Avengers or their love interests like The Vision and Crystal, while the Marvel movies cannot reference Magneto, the X-Men, the Brotherhood, or refer to the twins as mutants.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Pyro in X2, though even when he was with the heroes he was at best a jerk and at his worst clearly a sociopath.
  • Fanservice: Mystique (particularly a leg take from below in X2), some shots of the women, and the Lingerie Scene and Mystique's chest view both in First Class. Actually, all of the women in First Class (Mystique, Angel, Emma and Moira) get at least one scene where they're wearing little or nothing; for Emma and Angel it's most of their scenes. It's a little glaring.
    • For fans of the male form, Wolverine features Hugh Jackman's naked tush, Gambit's incredible handsomeness, Ryan Reynolds' arms and Liev Schrieber's ripped abs.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Don't discriminate against mutants, and don't try to cure them; because that would be racist, and racism is bad.
  • Fantastic Racism: The main driving conflict of the series.
    • The attempts by non mutants to find a cure for mutants in the films and the mutants that are ashamed of their abilities leans more towards a Gay Aesop. This parallel has been explicitly stated to have interested Ian McKellan and X-Men/X2 director Bryan Singer, both openly gay, in the franchise.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Used thematically to set up Iceman's rivalry with Pyro (which is much tighter than the two's relationship in the comics). Their battle in The Last Stand is pretty much the logical extreme.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble in First Class: Xavier (leukine), Havok (choleric), Beast (melancholic), Mystique (phlegmatic), and Banshee (sanguine).
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: A variant in Mystique's natural form.
  • General Ripper: William Stryker.
  • Genius Bruiser: Beast.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Professor X is well-educated (he has a doctorate in genetics) and carries some characteristics of a Quintessential British Gentleman.
  • Groin Attack: Mystique to Wolverine, and Wolverine to another healing mutant ("Grow those back").
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr in both First Class and when they are elderly men in Days of Future Past.
  • Hollywood Evolution: In this universe, the concept of evolution is, some people develop a random super(natural) power when they hit puberty.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Played with as a motif for the series. The humans for the most part are shown to be intolerant and hateful of mutants (with some like Col. Stryker going that extra mile to make things a living hell for mutants), wishing they could eradicate their kind, while mutants themselves don't want to harm anyone and just live peacefully among humans. Professor X tries to bridge this gap and be a goodwill ambassador on behalf of mutantkind, hoping humanity will lower their guard and learn tolerance while Magneto loathes humanity and wants mutants to use their higher abilities to step over these hateful beings and become the one true inheritor of the planet. However, his methods are often excessive and definitely give good pause to humankind's fear and shunning of mutants, so he's not helping his case. And of course, there are those mutants like Sebastian Shaw who genuinely are evil and destructive, caring not for humans or even fellow mutants (regardless of what rhetoric they try to convey).
  • I Am Very British: X-Men: First Class attempts to explain why Xavier (who is American in the comics) has a Received Pronunciation accent. He is half-British, half-American (or alternately, he's fully British, but his family moved to the United States before World War II broke out in 1939), and his speech pattern was influenced by his posh English mother; it was later reinforced when he studied at the University of Oxford.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Rogue. In a deleted scene from the first movie, she asks if Xavier can "cure" her. She takes the cure to become human in the third film.
  • I Was Quite a Looker:
  • Idiot Ball: Madrox didn't need to sacrifice himself to the military when his dupes could have fought them off while Madrox Prime escaped.
    • That's not how his power works. If one Madrox goes down, they all go down.
  • In Name Only: While deviations are to be expected in adaptations, certain characters (especially in The Last Stand) are absolutely nothing like their comic book counterparts. Callisto, Kid Omega, Psylocke, Agent Zero, and Deadpool are among the most drastic examples.
  • Informed Fantastic Racism: Government-related parts aside (that being a common thing for the superhero genre) it honestly feels like the movies spend more time talking about how much normal humans hate and fear mutants than actually showing it. This is somewhat remedied in "Last Stand," but still nothing like the comics.
  • Kill All Humans: In the second movie, Stryker wants to Kill All Mutants, then Magneto changes plans to Kill All Humans. In First Class, Shaw plots the extinction of humans so that mutants can replace them as the dominant species.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Wolverine gets a lot of screen time, just like in the comics. Magneto likes to point this out in every movie: "Once again, you think it's all about you."
  • Leitmotif:
    • In the original trilogy, Mystique has a particularly exotic one that lets you know when it's really her.
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Erik has a brooding guitar theme. If you've made an enemy of him and it kicks in, things are about to get unpleasant for you.
      • When listening to the complete score on the Blu-Ray release, Charles is associated with a simple orchestral violin melody which gradually evolves into the X-Men: First Class theme. This makes perfect sense because he's the leader of the group. "Rage and Serenity" is actually a combination of Charles' and Erik's themes.
      • Raven's scenes are usually accompanied by a piano tune.
      • Schmidt/Shaw plays a record of Edith Piaf singing La vie en rose as an establishing motif in 1944 and 1962.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Composer John Ottman elaborates on Professor X's theme in this interview.
        Radio host: We talked about Xavier's theme which almost acts as the central theme for the film because his story is so important, and it hovers around him. Since the film is about hope, and his character is about hope and rediscovering his hope, kind of a lost soul, where did you really draw the music from [...]?
        John Ottman: [...] I knew what the character's challenge was, what the film was about, so I tried to create a piece of music or a theme that could play both sides, sort of despondent and tortured, but also be designed so that it can be hopeful as it evolves later in the movie. I started sketching on an electric piano, and it sounded so cool and vintage [...]. Early in the movie, when it's just very subtly underscoring him, it's a lot of electric piano within the strings.
      • In this featurette, Ottman brings up Magneto's theme.
        John Ottman: Magneto's theme is a very simple "baauum baaaaw." That's basically it, it's so simple you can identify with it and feel it. [...] When he does his stuff at the end and you hear that big sound, it's bigger than it ever was before, and it ties things together.
  • Like Brother and Sister:
    • X-Men: First Class: Charles cites this when Raven, feeling insecure about her looks, asks if he would date her... although it falls a little flat coming right after he's answered the question with "of course" in reference to her human form, before she clarifies that she means in her real form. (Charles is being a bit obvious in invoking the trope as the film establishes that she is indeed his adopted sister.)
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Lampshaded by the older Professor X when he mentions that Mystique was like a sister to him. It's later alluded to when a nurse wonders if the blue, scaly woman at the Paris Peace Accords has a family, and Raven replies, "Yes, she does."
  • Like Cannot Cut Like: Adamantium blades, such as Wolverine vs. Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine vs. Deadpool.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: In the third movie especially.
  • Logo Joke: The first three movies feature the "X" in the 20th Century Fox logo fading out a fraction of a second later than the rest of the logo.
  • Made of Iron: Well, made of adamantium to be exact. Also, the Juggernaut, and Mystique is really hard to kill.
  • Magic Pants:
    • Averted with Mystique, who does all her shapeshifting nude and forms the clothing of her disguises with her body.
    • Played straight with Wolverine as Phoenix's attacks destroy all the rest of his clothes, as well as skin and muscle, but his pants remain. The same thing happens in The Wolverine when he shields Ichiro after the atomic bomb is dropped.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: An Xavier student in X2 (implied to be Siryn), and Banshee (who is Siryn's father in the comics) in First Class.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: Mystique's default normal human form in the film trilogy is... Rebecca Romijn.
    • In First Class, it's Jennifer Lawrence. But when Magneto says he might sleep with her "in a few years," she briefly becomes Romijn.
  • Meaningful Echo: Between two movies, highlighting the difference between the Xavier School and Magneto's views on mutants. In a deleted scene from the first movie, Bobby asks Rogue her name, she says "Rogue," and he says "What's your real name?" She tells him "Marie." Then in X2, on the plane, Magneto has a conversation with Pyro:
    Magneto: What's your name?
    Pyro: John.
    Magneto: What's your real name, John?
    Pyro: Pyro.
  • Monumental Damage: The Statue of Liberty in the original, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in The Last Stand, Three Mile Island in X-Men Origins, and both RFK Stadium and the White House in Days of Future Past.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Producer Tom DeSanto thought about the original costumes, but eventually decided they would look silly and changed to leather ones (something Stan Lee and Chris Claremont approved). Lauren Shuler Donner added that the costumes helped the X-Men "blend into the night."
    • In First Class however, the 1960s founding members of the team wear blue and yellow costumes similar to their first appearance in the '60s comics.
    • There were plans for Wolverine's yellow costume and mask to make a Cameo appearance in The Wolverine, but this was scrapped. Concept art for the suit can be found online.
  • Mythology Gag: Wolverine complains about the costumes. Cyclops: "What would you prefer, yellow Spandex?" Then in First Class, the uniforms are yellow and blue bodysuits, and the reaction of one character is "Do we really have to wear these?"
    • The explanation for how Rogue acquired the signature strands of white hair
    • Allusions to Wolverine's past
    • The way Mystique approaches Wolverine disguised as Storm– and how he identified her– is very similar to a scene from The Dark Phoenix Saga, where a Skrull named Raksor, also impersonating Storm, tried the same trick on Logan, with a similar result.
    • In the second, there is a brief exchange between Nightcrawler and Mystique who are mother and son in the comics.
    • In First Class, the helmet Erik seizes from Shaw and the repainted version in the final scene of the film resemble his helmet in the comics much more than the helmet worn by Ian McKellen, Banshee's wings are striped only to resemble the comics counterpart, and given that the movie is set in 1962, Xavier opened his school the following year... when the actual comic first debuted in 1963.
    • In the second film, Magneto says "When will these people learn to fly?", referring to the fact that some of the X-men can fly in the comics.
  • Nice Guy: Professor X opens his heart and his home to mutants who feel persecuted by the outside world.
    Logan: There's not many people that will understand what you're going through, but I think this guy Xavier is one of them. He seems to genuinely want to help you, and that's a rare thing for people like us.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • Xavier keeps Patrick Stewart's English accent.
    • Gambit doesn't sound remotely Cajun (in fact, he almost sounds like he's from Texas).
      • Somewhat justified in Gambit's case, as Louisiana and Texas, being right next to each other, share a significant degree of dialect between them.
    • While Halle Berry attempts some sort of accent in the first film, by the third she's not even trying anymore.
    • Same with Anna Paquin and Rogue, who has a slight Mississippi accent in the first movie which disappears in the sequels. Somewhat justified with Rogue as she's a teenager and growing to fit in with her classmates.
    • The North Albertan bartender in X-Men Origins: Wolverine seems to be from Tennessee for some reason.
    • First Class de-accentizes Banshee and Moira (though the latter goes from Scottish to American).
      • Basically, if you're not Nightcrawler, you WILL lose your trademark speech pattern in the movieverse. (However, it's less glaring than you think in some cases—in the original comics, after being taught English telepathically, the X-Men are noted on-panel to have no accents. It's just that we hear that once ever, characters' talk is positively filled with random words from their own languages, and every adaptation ever keeps the accent.)
    • Also based on Mystique's origins in First Class, she probably should have gained a British accent after spending 20 years there but has none. It's kind of funny how even though they're not related British Charles's "sister" sounds completely American.
      • The Xaviers lived in Westchester, New York when they took in Mystique. Charles has the accent because him and his parents are British. He and Mystique only moved back there in their late teens/early twenties so he could attend Oxford.
  • Novelization: The second and third films have novelizations by Chris Claremont; the one for the third film shows a lot more of what's going on in Jean's head than the movie is able to, appropriate from the man who wrote the Dark Phoenix Saga.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Have you read the intro for the succession?
  • Only Friend:
    • Near the beginning of First Class, Raven points out to Charles that she is his only friend. Presumably an affable fellow like Xavier would have numerous acquaintances, but his sister figure is only person he fully trusts.
    • Charles becomes this to Erik in First Class.
    • In Days of Future Past, after Past Charles isolates himself from the outside world due to his severe depression, Hank becomes his sole companion. Hank also doesn't seem to have a social circle, as he has taken it upon himself to be Charles' caretaker, which appears to be something of a full-time job.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Occasionally Hugh Jackman simply can't hide that he's Australian.
    • Michael Fassbender also lapses into his Irish origins in First Class.
      • It's somewhat unavoidably noticeable if he was speaking German the moment before and he's meant to be from the Eastern bloc.
      • Handwaveable with Magneto as he's spent years living all over Europe and learned at least four whole languages (Polish, German, French and English). It's quite possible he spent some time in the Emerald Isle and picked up a few tics.
    • James McAvoy's English accent is very good, but he reverts to his native Scottish whenever he shouts or cries.
    • The English Nicholas Hoult's American accent is consistent, but he frequently messes up on the word "professor."
  • Opposed Mentors: Pyro in the second X-Men movie had the choice between Magneto or Xavier. This is often the case with some characters in the comics too.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: (what did you expect?) First and second films. The DVD of the third shows it would also have it.
  • People Puppets
    • X-Men: Professor X briefly takes control of Toad and Sabretooth.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Xavier possesses various people around Mystique at the airport to talk to her in a casual display of how creepy his power can be when he gets creative. At the end, he also controls Magneto when Mystique knocks the latter's helmet off to free himself from the metal debris that fell on him earlier.
  • Pretty Boy:
    • Bobby Drake's dainty facial features quickly communicate to the audience that he's a good-hearted person. This is especially true in the first movie, where he was only a minor character, but viewers were able to tell right away that "the cute guy" is sincere when trying to befriend Rogue. Moroever, being forced to abandon his family in the second film is more painful when his expression is very much like a puppy dog who has just been kicked.
    • X-Men: First Class: Appearance-wise, Dr. Charles Xavier is strongly defined by his boyish appearance: he has a soft, round face, baby blue eyes, reddish lips (the colour is so deep at times that it almost looks like he's wearing lipstick), and is of shorter-than-average height. It's symbolic of his sensitive, nice guy qualities. Erik even calls him "adorable" when Charles tries the Cerebro machine for the first time.
  • The Promise:
    • X-Men: Wolverine keeps his vow to Rogue by nearly dying trying to save her life in the climax.
      Logan: I'll take care of you.
      Rogue: You promise?
      Logan: Yeah, I promise.
    • X-Men: First Class: Charles managed to uphold his promise not to use his telepathy on Raven for 18 years until the shock and pain of a bullet in his spine became too much for him to bear, compromising his concentration.
      Raven: You promised me you would never read my mind.
      Charles: I know. I promised you a great many things, I'm afraid. I'm sorry.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Wolverine requests that the younger Xavier form the X-Men regardless of the outcome of their mission.
      Logan: Whatever happens today, I need you to promise me something. [...] The X-Men, promise me you'll find us. Use your power, bring us together. Guide us, lead us. [...]
      1973 Charles: I'll... do my best.
      • And later:
      Logan: It's good to see you, Charles. It's good to see everyone.
      Professor X: (smiles warmly) Well, I had a promise to keep.
  • Psychic Radar: It's X-Men with Professor X. This was going to come up. Cerebro provides him with a massive boost, allowing him to mentally trace people all over the world. He knows as soon as he scans the school that Rogue has up and run away, too.
  • Race Lift:
    • Bolivar Trask is black in The Last Stand.
      • Now subverted in Days of Future Past, where Trask has been retconned as a different person altogether.
    • In First Class, both Banshee and Moira MacTaggert (Irish and Scottish respectively) are changed into Americans.
    • Blink is played by Chinese actress Fan Bingbing in Days of Future Past.
  • Radiation Immune Mutants: Mutants are naturally immune to radiation, which makes Magneto's mutation device harmless to them (but lethal to humans) and it's part of Shaw's plan in First Class, since mutants would live just fine despite an atomic war's fallout.
  • Ret Canon: The movies inspired a number of elements that made their way into the comics and the various cartoons:
    • During Grant Morrison's run, the X-Men adopted black leather outfits in order to better match their movie counterparts. This lasted up until Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run, where the team started wearing colorful outfits again in order to seem less threatening.
    • For a time, Mystique adopted her scaled, reptilian appearance from the comics.
    • Magneto's plastic prison was used by The Ultimates in Ultimate X-Men.
    • Ultimate X-Men also used a version of William Stryker directly inspired by his role in X-2 (in the original comics, Stryker was just a bigoted preacher).
    • Toad adopted his Adaptational Badass qualities from the movies for a while, before reverting back to being a massive loser.
    • The movie introduced the idea of Iceman being significantly younger than the original X-Men, which was used in Ultimate X-Men, X-Men: Evolution, and Wolverine and the X-Men.
    • The depiction of the Xavier Institute as an actual school for mutants was also taken from the first movie. Prior to that, the school aspect was just a cover, and the only real "students" were the X-Men themselves.
  • Retcon: At least one character per movie: Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Juggernaut and Deadpool.
    • Considering the way the movies have changed around some of the comic book characters' generations, there's likely to be more in the future if more movies are going to be made based somewhat on the comics.
    • First Class retcons certain elements of The Last Stand, notably the fact that Charles and Erik were still shown to be working together while middle-aged during the flashback sequences in the latter film.
  • Rule of Sexy:
    • Most (if not all) fans expected the young Professor X to be bald in First Class, but the studio wanted James McAvoy to keep his hair in order to retain the actor's sex appeal.
      James McAvoy: I had showed up on the first day of X-Men: First Class, and I had shaved my head because I wanted to check what it looked like about a month before we started shooting—and it looked quite good—and they were like, "No, no, no, no, we want you to have long hair."
    • In the March 2014 issue of Empire magazine, the actor states that he was more than willing to get rid of his luxurious locks for Days of Future Past, but once again the producers nixed the idea.
      James McAvoy: I wanted to go bald in this one, [...] but they didn't go for it. I was gutted.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man:
    • In First Class, Charles is the Sensitive Guy to Erik's Manly Man.
    • In Days of Future Past, Xavier in 1973 is more accurately an Overly Sensitive Guy with Wolverine taking over the Manly Man role.
  • Sequel Escalation: Each film was bigger/more expensive than the previous one, which is why Fox started spinoffs instead of an X4.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: Mystique uses this several times in the films.
    • In X-Men 2, she 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 and even Rogue, but he tells her to leave.
    • In X-Men: First Class, she upgrades her age about 15 years to please Magneto, which doesn't really work for her until Magneto tells her he prefers her without the shapeshifted appearance.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man:
    • Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class and in his elderly years is always well-dressed as befitting a professor and principal. Costume designer Louise Mingenbach refers to Professor X as "Mr. Fancy Pants" in the "United Colors of X" featurette on the X2: X-Men United DVD, and Sammy Sheldon has stated in the "Suiting Up" documentary on the First Class Blu-Ray that she made Charles' attire as stylish as she could while keeping him "honest, real, studious."
    • Almost everyone in First Class, with Azazel and Riptide standing out the most.
  • Shock and Awe: Storm.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Xavier and Magneto in the first film, First Class and Days of Future Past, less obviously in the second movie when Magneto's in his plastic prison, and alluded to again in the third at the end where Erik is at a park with a chess board...
    • The chess motif is also there to establish the attitudes of both men as The Chessmaster.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Black leather. First Class has them wear spandexy-Kevlar and denim (modelled after real life battle fatigues), and DOFP has kevlar plates mixed with spandex and regular pants.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Charles Xavier is filthy rich and he is a gentle, caring person. Certainly the most altruistic character in the franchise.
    Sean Cassidy: (in awe of Xavier's mansion) This is yours.
    Charles Xavier: (smiles) No, it's ours.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Wolverine. He's the main character of the first three movies even though he is central to the plots of none of them. See where he and ostensible team leader Cyclops are on the page image.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge:
    • Cyclops. Double points for being killed by his lover! Triple points for being a rare male example!
    • In Wolverine, Temporary Love Interest Kayla. Then subverted when we learn her death was faked and Stryker was specifically invoking this so Logan would agree to join the Weapon X program, and double subverted when she is Stuffed into the Fridge for real. Also, the old couple who help Logan and are killed by Agent Zero, and arguably John Wraith when he is killed by Victor.
  • Super Weight:
    • Type 0: Regular humans, Depowered mutantsnote .
    • Type 1: Mariko, Yukio, Shingen.
    • Type 2: Most mutants.
    • Type 3: Cyclops, Rogue, Pyro, Iceman, Storm, Wolverine, Mystique, Beast, Weapon XI (Wade Wilson), Viper, Silver Samurai, Past Sentinels.
    • Type 4: Professor X, Magneto, Jean Grey (after exposure to Magneto's machine), Sebastian Shaw, Future Sentinels, Apocalypse.
    • Type 5: Professor X while connected to Cerebro, Dark Phoenix.
  • Teleport Spam: Nightcrawler, Wraith, Weapon XI and Azazel all do this.
  • Vietnam War:
    • Alluded to by Stryker in X2, and the intro to Wolverine.
    • Mystique rescues several mutant soldiers stationed in Saigon in Days of Future Past.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: As with the comics, as mutant powers are seemingly random, some students at the school have powers are rather... unthreatening, though these characters are pushed to the background because, frankly, people don't want to watch a film about characters who's 'power' is 'being mute and having a lizard tongue'. It helps to humanize mutants as a whole, as it shows that, while some mutants are fairly dangerous and so it makes sense to be weary, they're just as likely to be harmless, and so hunting them down and treating mutants as a whole as inherently dangerous beings is rather unfair. Because of this, mutants are fairly similar to people with mental and social disorders, who're similarly just as likely to be harmless and/or benevolent despite their condition, despite being perceived as dangerous by nature.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Professor X frequently wears one with his elegant suits, and it adds a little extra flair to his aura of academic professionalism while also being an indicator of his upper-class status.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Magneto sincerely believes he is valiantly championing a righteous cause—at least as far as mutants are concerned.
    • As far as we can tell, Bolivar Trask was really just trying to unite humanity against a common enemy, unlike Stryker, who's beef with mutants is more personal and vengeful.
  • Winged Humanoid: Warren Wortingthon III has bird wings; Angel Salvatore has dragonfly wings.
  • Wolverine Claws: Obviously
  • Wolverine Publicity: Wolverine is the only character to appear in every movie. Some of his appearences are only cameos (First Class), while others are whole movies about him (XMOW and The Wolverine). The only character to be in as many films as him is Xavier, and even there he's not always played by the same actor.
  • World War II: The first film begins with a flashback as Jews are being herded into a concentration camp. X-Men Origins: Wolverine has an even shorter one in the opening credits. First Class has an extended version of the concentration camp scene from the first film. The Wolverine opens in a prison camp in Nagasaki minutes before the second atomic bomb is dropped.


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