X-Men: The Last Stand
The third in the original trilogy of X-Men films. There are a few new faces in the crowd, including Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Hank McCoy and Ellen/Elliot Page as Kitty Pryde. But the film starts with a flashback to twenty years prior, where Erik and Charles meet the Greys, proving that the two men were indeed friends and began searching for mutants together, though their outlooks already differ. Charles comments on his feeling of the misuse of power to Erik and they try to present a united front for Mr. and Mrs. Grey. They ask to speak to Jean privately and Charles warns her that she has more power than she can imagine, but she should control it lest it controls her. Jump to the “not too distant future” and Ororo and Logan are teamed up with some of the older teenagers, fighting against giant robots. It’s only a simulation to get them to work as a team, which Logan is not keen on. But he’s only a sub, because Scott hasn’t been the same since Jean’s death. So when Scott starts hearing her voice again, he heads out alone to Alkali Lake to investigate.
Meanwhile, there is a meeting with the Department of Mutant Affairs, a relatively new department put in place by a sympathetic president, headed by Dr. McCoy. They hope they are a step closer to re-capturing Magneto because they have managed to capture Mystique/ Raven Darkholme. Dr. McCoy theorizes that yes, Magneto will come for her. But there is more troubling news; a “cure” for mutants has been discovered. It is an antibody, naturally produced by a mutant boy that permanently suppresses the X gene. When McCoy visits the boy, his blue fur fades away, revealing a human hand. News spreads and some mutants are for the cure, like Rogue, and many are against. Magneto speaks to a group, warmongering that the government will force the cure upon mutants. He recruits more mutants to his Brotherhood, claiming that the other option is genocide.
With his new crew, Magneto is able to find Mystique, along with a few more newcomers. The Juggernaut is played by Vinnie Jones (he has been in episodes of NCIS: LA and MacGyver and was Labarge in The Musketeers and Gareth in Galavant), and they gain a man who can duplicate himself. But when they try to get away, one of the guards was not completely unconscious and fires off a shot of the cure towards Magneto. Mystique stands in the way and turns human. Then Erik leaves her because she is “not one of us anymore.”
At Alkali Lake, Jean is still alive, though she doesn’t know how. And she can control Scott’s laser eyes; she wants to see them. They kiss, but something is wrong. Back in New York, Charles senses something and sends Ororo and Logan to investigate. When they arrive at the lake, stones are floating, as are Scott’s glasses. Logan finds Jean, still alive, but no sign of Scott. Back at the mansion, Charles reveals to Logan that because of Jean’s immense power, Charles put in physic barriers to help her control her power, meaning she developed dual personalities: Jean and Phoenix. Now, with what happened at the lake, Phoenix may be getting free. Logan now distrusts Charles, so when Jean awakes, he makes out with her, though he too sense something is off. This is not the Jean he knows. She becomes confused when Logan asks “where’s Scott?” She pleads “kill me before I kill someone else,” but Logan doesn’t.
She returns to her old home, where Charles and Erik meet up again. Erik is determined to recruit Jean to his side and points out that Charles never let her fully be herself and tried to control her. Charles insists he is helping her. Jean’s powers flair and while the two mutant groups face off against each other, Charles turns to dust. Erik is horrified and tries to tell Jean to stop, but he is comfortable with taking Jean with him at the end. Logan and Ororo are left to mourn. Bobby comforts Kitty after the funeral [because that’s what this movie really needed was a teenage love triangle] and Rogue decides to leave. Logan lets her, though cautioning her that she should go because it’s her decision, not because of some boy. But Rogue has always wanted to be able to touch people again after her mutation developed.
In the Brotherhood camp, the other members don’t trust Jean, and former student Johnny spouts he would have gladly killed the Professor, if given the chance. Erik retorts “Charles Xavier did more for mutant than you’ll ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live.”
Events only escalate. Magneto sends Pyro to torch a cure facility, bumping into Bobby looking for Rogue. Magento also issues a threat to humanity, so in retaliation the Army is deployed, making sure to use no metal. McCoy returns to the school, that Ororo keeps open. Logan begins to hear Jean and goes looking for her, overhearing Magneto’s rallying cry to the Brotherhood. Their plan is to go to Alcatraz Island, where the boy forming the cure is kept and burn it to the ground. With information from Mystique, the President hopes to entrap Magneto, but when the raid goes down, all the mutants they saw turn out to be just the replicating man. The X-Men form up and go to Alcatraz to face off against the Brotherhood. Magneto is fine with letting the meaningless hoards of his troops go first and be shot with the cure by the Army. He holds his more powerful allies in reserve, sending a few of the newcomers to take care of the kid. Kitty heads in to save the kid, distracting the Juggernaut. Pyro and Bobby get the rematch they’ve been waiting for, with Bobby ultimately freezing Johnny. Logan works with the team and distracts Magneto while Hank comes from behind and jabs Magneto with the cure.
When we think that the X-Men have won, reinforcements arrive and Jean’s powers obliterate them. Erik murmurs “what have I done?” as he escapes. The rest of the X-Men get the remaining people off the island and Logan faces off against Jean. His healing ability gives him the time to get close, though it is painful. His claws are out and Phoenix growls “you would die for them?” “No, for you,” Logan admits. Jean comes through for a moment, pleading again “save me.” “I love you,” Logan declares as he runs Phoenix through.
The world attempts to return to normal, rebuilding the Golden Gate Bridge that Magneto destroyed. Xavier’s school re-opens, with headstones for Jean, Scott, and the Professor. Hank McCoy is the new representative for the whole United States to the United Nations. In the theatrical version, Rogue did take the cure so she can touch people (I prefer the alternative scene where she didn’t take it, because she realizes it is important to be a mutant, whether she can kiss her boyfriend or not). At the end, Erik is disguised as an old man in a park, attempting to move chess pieces like he used there. There is also a scene amidst the credits where the coma man that was part of an ethics question earlier wakes up with Charles’ voice.
We’ll notice more once we get to the prequel trilogy that some of the backstories no longer line up. But Erik’s comment about Charles is the nicest thing he’s said in this trilogy and you want to see a glimmer of humanity in Erik. Then we recall he didn’t do that much to keep Jean from destroying Charles and his friend’s death does leave an opening for his own agenda to make traction. And his decision to let Phoenix free comes back to bite him in the butt later, so maybe Charles wasn’t in the wrong.
The romantic relationships still fall flat to me. [Though the thought did pop into my head during the scene between Logan and Jean/Phoenix in the mansion: “it’s the return of Onatopp”]. And I do want to know, did Jean really kill Scott, or if Charles can come back, can Scott? Is the cure a permanent thing, considering that Erik must feel something to think he can try to move the chess pieces. And how is he not in custody? Many questions, with no answers, the least of which, the actual ethical question of Charles taking over a coma patient.
My final thoughts? I love the gravitas that Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart bring to Magneto and Charles Xavier; they’re wonderful together. The story itself was lacking, I feel. I’m looking forward to diving into the prequel-ish trilogy, but first:
Up Next: X-Men Origins: Wolverine