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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Regarding Ronny's motive for selling out his brother: Was it simply prejudice against him being a mutant? Or — because he did it after Bobby showed a display of his powers and said "I can do much more than that" — was he actually jealous of Bobby for being a mutant and having cool powers?
    • Did Jean commit her Heroic Sacrifice because she genuinely thought it was the only way to save her friends? Or was she Driven to Suicide because she felt the Phoenix inside her was about to take over her body? A few hints across the movie point to the latter interpretation, such as Jean claiming early on that she was losing control over her powers and could feel that something terrible was about to happen; or how she disables Nightcrawler shortly before her death, preventing him from coming back to save her.
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  • Can't Un-Hear It: Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler.
  • Creepy Awesome: Nightcrawler looks like a fearsome blue devil and tears through Secret Service Agents like nobody's business, is there any question why he's so popular?
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Despite little characterization beyond being Magneto's lackey, Rebecca Romijn's take on Mystique got more praise as the years went by, as many prefer the Dark Action Girl persona to her Adaptational Heroism in the prequel trilogy.
    • Yuriko has barely any role in this film beyond acting as Stryker's mind-controlled bodyguard, but her incredible fight scene with Wolverine and her tragic death made her very popular. There were even plans to bring her back in the sequel, though it was canned when Bryan Singer declined to direct it. Fans would have to settle for a small Shout-Out in X-Men: Days of Future Past, when a Sentinel briefly uses her power to impale Sunspot.
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  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The US Government has learned about Stryker's crimes and is growing to accept mutants, but the Inferred Holocaust caused by Dark Cerebro has affected the entire world. Nothing is preventing any other nation to declare an all out war against mutantkind; in fact, this is exactly what happens five films later, with the invention of the Sentinels.
  • Even Better Sequel: The first film was a solid endeavor, depicting a lot of colorful characters while looking to find the emotional core behind each one. This film builds on that to have a stronger story, expanded roster, and better realized action sequences (compare how slow Wolverine vs. Sabertooth feels compared to the slash and stab fest of Wolverine vs. Lady Deathstrike).
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The Phoenix appearing in Alkali Lake is treated optimistically, with triumphant music to boot. However, the sequel reveals she is a complete psychopath who overrode Jean's original personality.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
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    • After X-Men: First Class had established that Charles and Raven grew up together as foster siblings, it's rather cruel of Mystique not to warn Professor X that Stryker was planning on attacking the school. Although she and Xavier are estranged beyond repair by this point, you'd think that Mystique would still be concerned about the safety of fellow mutants (especially those who are children) even if she had stopped caring about Charles like a brother.
    • Near the end, Stryker's grave warning is, "One day, someone will finish what I've started!", and mutant genocide actually does become reality in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The colonel wasn't making an empty threat at all; he was plainly aware of Trask Industries' progress on the Sentinels, and he knew it was only matter of time before the robots were sophisticated enough to slay even the most powerful mutants.
    • When Bobby informs Logan that there is no beer at the school, it's obviously because Professor X doesn't want to encourage underage drinking, but there is an additional reason for the alcohol-free environment: X-Men: Days of Future Past reveals that Xavier was a drunkard in between 1963 and 1973, so naturally his older, wiser self doesn't want to be tempted by drink and risk a relapse. Plus, if one of the students were to get drunk, a loss of control of their powers (or a misuse of them due to compromised judgment) could be more than slightly dangerous.
    • Lady Deathstrike dies when Wolverine injects her with a load of liquid adamantium, and she falls with an audible clank. Come 2014 in Death of Wolverine, Logan gets spilled on by a vat of liquid adamantium, covering him from head to toe.
    • Logan adds a whole new layer of this. "Someone will finish what I've started," Stryker says. In Logan, we find out that he probably meant Zander Rice, who actually succeeds in wiping out the mutant gene.
    • You know that cool scene in the beginning, when Xavier makes his entrance by freezing everyone? In Logan it's not so cool when one of the seizures Charles is now prone to sends out uncontrollable psychic waves that lock down everyone within his (very wide) range to the point of not even being able to breathe. We find out that the first time this happened, the X-Men and many and many other innocent people were wiped out, hence Logan beginning with Logan, Caliban, and an Xavier addled by a combination of his disease and the medications that prevent similar flare-ups being all that's left of the X-Men. Two throwaway moments in this film foreshadow how the entire X-Men saga ends as a "Shaggy Dog" Story, if not a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story, provided no one changes history DOFP style again.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: An imprisoned Magneto warmly greets Professor X with, "Charles Xavier, have you come to rescue me?" As it turns out, Charles did indeed rescue Erik Lehnsherr from drowning in X-Men: First Class, and this is how their friendship began. Despite the danger Erik was in in 1962, both men still look back on the memory with some fondness. Also, depending on whether a similar scene occured in the revised timeline after X-Men: Days of Future Past, Erik could also be referring to the time Charles rescued him from another Tailor-Made Prison in that film.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Magneto asks Wolverine "Once again, you think it's all about you." In the pre-Deadpool (2016) era, Erik would go on to become the main figure on all of the movie posters besides X-Men: First Class.
    • The odd pairing of Azazel and Riptide as Shaw's henchmen in X-Men: First Class, considering the Ship Tease between the similarly-powered Nightcrawler and Storm in this film.
    • One of the guards present during Magneto's breakout looks a lot like Michael Fassbender. Magneto also gets heat for his actions from a mutant student for the second time. And in a jet scene, no less! Slightly harsher given he nearly paid the ultimate price in this film...
    • Bobby confessing to his parents about being a mutant is played very much like a coming-out scene. Ian McKellen actually provided some coaching to make the comparison that much more realistic. In 2015, Iceman came out as gay in the comics.
    • After Bobby hands over his mother's '70s-era clothing to Rogue, she replies, "Groovy." A young Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class would use the word groovy in his geeky pick-up lines, and most of X-Men: Days of Future Past takes place in 1973.
    • The reason why Stryker can tell that "Wolverine" is an impostor is because the former had a scuffle with Mystique in 1973 when she freed mutant soldiers who were meant to be transported to Trask Industries. Stryker had witnessed firsthand her shape-shifting abilities.
    • In X-Men: Apocalypse, an adolescent Scott steals one of Professor X's vintage cars to drive himself and three of his classmates to the mall, so Logan "borrowing" Cyclops's sports car without the latter's permission becomes karmic in retrospect.
    • Pyro leaves Professor X's side and joins Magneto's (whom John shares a lot more in common with) near the end of this movie. In X-Men: Apocalypse, this imbalance gets corrected when Quicksilver, Erik's estranged son, chooses Xavier as his mentor after the climax instead of his father because Peter's personality is closer to Charles's.
    • When Mystique browses through Stryker's list, it can be seen that it includes Kenuichio Harada. It's later revealed in The Wolverine that Harada is not a mutant.
  • Ho Yay:
    • So, so much between Wolverine and Stryker, thanks to the subplot of Stryker being the key to his lost memories. When they first see each other after years and are they separated by a wall of ice from Iceman, the two invoke a Window Love moment with the other's shadow on the ice. When Mystique is attempting to seduce Wolverine, she first takes on the form of Jean, then Rogue, then Stryker, as she says "what do you really want?" Also, Stryker speaks of thinking Wolvering was one of a kind before admitting he was wrong, as he sics Lady Deathstrike on him; the implication she's a Replacement Goldfish for Wolverine is hard to ignore.
    • Unshaved Mouse found a lot between Wolverine and Iceman in their scene in the kitchen. Without context — Iceman blows on Wolverine's coke bottle to cool it down.
    "Actually, between this and the “coming out” scene later, the movie seems to be leaning pretty hard into the “Bobby is gay” metaphor..."
  • Inferred Holocaust:
    • Someone must have been killed by Dark Cerebro affecting the whole world (people having surgery, in traffic, landing planes, etc.). Towards the end, Professor X does mention something about "casualties on both sides," which could be a way of acknowledging this, but it is left ambiguous.
    • Storm sets off a bunch of tornadoes in the New England countryside while trying to lose the military jets going after her.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Well, now they know, Bobby, just let it go" is what some fans like to say to Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman regarding his interaction with his family, when they are shocked and uncomfortable about having a mutant son.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Stryker's plan to wipe out all mutants on the planet certainly qualifies.
    • Magneto crosses the line when he is trusted with stopping this by the X-Men and does... by reversing it to wipe out all humans on the planet, leaving his old friend Xavier to die in the process.
    • Stryker's son Jason crossed it in the past by mentally tormenting his mother until she killed herself, and even after being lobotomized and placed under mind control in the present, he still shows repressed sadistic pleasure in manipulating Xavier's mind. Mitigated in the video game, where it's revealed that he had a Split Personality and only the evil side is culpable of all this.
    • Ronny, as a lesser extent, qualifies when he sells out his brother and his friends.
  • Rainbow Lens: After Bobby, surrounded by his mutant friends, tells his parents he's a mutant, his mother asks him when he first knew, blames herself, and asks him if he's tried not being a mutant while his brother storms out of the room and calls the police.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Nightcrawler subduing the entire security force in the White House by himself is one of the most impressive action scenes in the series.
    • Wolverine's duel with Lady Deathstrike, due to being far more violent than any other fight in the series, as well as its tragic ending.
    • Jean Grey's sacrifice, if only because it sparked endless debates over whether her death was necessary or not.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • While the previous film is criticized for not expanding on Logan and Sabretooth's rivalry from the comics, this one faces the same issues with Wolverine's lack of interaction with Lady Deathstrike. Yuriko has barely any characterization, being brainwashed for the entirety of the film and completely cold and apathetic towards everything as a result.
    • Cyclops. The main leader of the X-Men is taken out a few minutes into the film and doesn't come back until near the end. He doesn't even get to do anything heroic, as he is brainwashed by Stryker and accidentally destroys the Alkali Lake dam, triggering the events which ultimately cost him his girlfriend's life.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Pyro snapping and fireballing the cops at the Drakes' house. It's meant to be a sign that he's about to make a Face–Heel Turn. But in the span of about twelve hours, he got flushed out of his own school and had to flee armed soldiers in the middle of the night, the cops were called on him and his friends when they didn't do anything wrong, and Logan was just shot in the head in front of them; Pyro doesn't know about his healing ability, so he'd obviously think he was dead and they could be next. It's fairly understandable the kid would snap.
    • Yuriko's death via being injected with liquid adamantium is seen as a little too extreme, considering she was brainwashed by Stryker just like Nightcrawler. Her shocked, anguished look when the mind control fades away while she's dying only makes it worse. Although the video game showed that Death Is Cheap for her, and that she is evil when not under mind control.
  • What an Idiot!: Yuriko finds a janitor inside an office with vital information that requires her own fingerprints to enter, but she lets him out without too much fuss. Surprise, he was actually an enemy agent, and now he has the location of Magneto's cell! Although it's easy to think Ms. Oyama's brainwashing would have stunted her judgement, the fact that she does office work for Stryker's secret projects in the first place establishes that she should be perfectly capable to think rationally.
  • The Woobie: Bobby becomes one in this film. When he's reunited with his parents, he has to confess his secret, and the whole ordeal implies he'll be estranged from them for a while. What's more is that he can't have any intimacy with his girlfriend.

X2: Wolverine's Revenge:

  • Complete Monster: The Professor, real name Truett Hudson, is a mastermind behind the Weapon X project, an experiment designed to create the perfect killing machine. To this end, the Professor experiments on a least a dozen people, turning them into mindless feral mutants, before he gets his hands on Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth, and Logan, aka Wolverine. Kidnapping the two, the Professor commits a number of painful experiments on them, wiping their minds and turning them into perfect soldiers. When Logan escapes and confronts the Professor, the latter informs him that he injected all Weapon X subjects with the Shiva Virus, which would kill them in a few years, leading to Logan starting to search for the cure several years later

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