Mutant. And Proud

X-Men: First Class

The start of the prequel-ish series and brings in James McAvoy (I adore him in Becoming Jane and he’s Tumnus the Faun in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) to play Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender (he’s the reason I went to watch the Jane Eyre movie that came out around the same time and led me to actually reading the book [that sometimes works]) to play Erik Lensherr.  Oliver Platt (Porthos in the 90’s Three Musketeers) is simply “Man in Black Suit,” though Kevin Bacon (star of Footloose) brings dimension to Sebastian Shaw.  Jennifer Lawrence (this came out a year before the first Hunger Games film, where her fame skyrocketed.  She has since won a Golden Globe for American Hustle and an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook [no, I have not watched those, but I love her in this role]) is Raven, while Nicholas Hoult (now you see him all the time for ads for The Great, and he’s remarkable in Tolkien) is Hank McCoy, and Lucas Till (the new MacGyver) is Alex Summers.  A few older adults are familiar; Rade Serbedzija (Prince Kragin in the first Downton Abbey movie and Gregorvitch in Deathly Hallows, and Emile de Becque in the TV movie of South Pacific with Glenn Close) is the Russian general, Glenn Morshower (he shows up in a bunch of TV shows, usually as someone in charge) is General Hendry, and the senior William Stryker is played by Don Creech (yep, that’s Mr. Sweeney from Nickelodeon’s Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide).

The film begins the same as the first X-Men film, in Poland in 1944.  But this time, we see someone watching young Erik Lensherr pull down the gates.  This man is known as Klaus Schmidt and he’s very interested in discovering Erik’s abilities.  The Nazis are only partially correct in their idea of genes unlocking a new age, but Schmidt is focused on latent abilities.  He offers Erik chocolate to move a metal coin.  When that fails, he brings in Erik’s mother and threatens to shoot her after the count of three, unless Erik can move the coin.  Sadly, the teenager cannot move the coin, and Schmidt shoots Mrs. Lensherr.  Erik goes on a rampage, destroying everything else metal in the room, to Schmidt’s great delight.  As a “reward,” he gives Erik the coin at the end, noting that he can unlock the boy’s gift with rage and pain (that does not bode well).  At the same time, in Westchester, New York, a young Charles Xavier discovers a young Raven in his kitchen.  At first, she morphs into Mrs. Xavier, but Charles quickly realizes she’s a fake since his mother has never stepped foot in the kitchen and has never offered to make him hot chocolate.  But when Charles realizes it’s another mutant, he’s excited, as is Raven.

Eighteen years later, in Geneva, Switzerland, Erik tracks down a former Nazi banker to make him give up the location of Klaus Schmidt.  He’s sent to Argentina, where he notices a photo of Schmidt aboard a ship based out of Miami.  Erik kills the men, after remarking that he is Frankenstein’s monster, and he’s looking for his creator [this sequence highlights Michael Fassbender’s talent with languages].  At the same time, Charles is finishing his degree at Oxford University and hitting on girls in pubs, while his “sister” Raven watches on.  While Charles praises pretty girls for their “mutations,” such as two-colored eyes and brown hair, Raven has to hide her true form in order to fit in.  She mocks a girl for saying “mutant and proud,” but the relationship between Charles and Raven is very sweet: Charles is very much a brother by saying that the overall concept of his sister dating is that “any man would be lucky to have you,” while the actual thought is, “you’re my sister, I don’t think of you that way.”  And he genuinely fears Raven slipping up and what the consequences would be.  [And excellent editing, playing Charles’ thesis over the scene where Erik walks into the bank, stating “the mutated human species meant the extinction of its less-evolved kin.”]

In the States, CIA agent Moira McTaggert is investigating the Hellfire Club in Las Vegas, discovering several officials and important people are all meeting, including General Hendry, so she sneaks in.  And overhears Shaw pressuring the general to put nuclear missiles in Turkey, extremely close to Russia and almost certainly a declaration of war.  But some of his mutant companions help sway the general.  When her report is not believed, she sets out to find an expert in genetic mutation.  Which leads her to Charles, who initially tries to flirt with her, until he discovers that there is something more interesting going on.  So, Charles and Raven accompany Moira back to the CIA headquarters, where Charles gives his presentation, but isn’t taken seriously, until he uses his abilities.  Of course, they think he’s a spy, until Raven transforms into Styrker.  They’re still not trusted, so the man in the back ground [Oliver Platt] offers to house them in his facility, since it’s secure and off-premises.  Then a lead comes in about Shaw’s whereabouts, and Charles persuades Moira to take him.

Erik has caught up to Shaw (who is in fact Klaus Schmidt) after Shaw has killed Hendry by demonstrating his mutant power: he absorbs energy and can redistribute it, which also keeps him young.  Erik is knocked off the boat by Shaw’s associates, then uses the anchor to begin tearing the ship apart.  Emma Frost and Shaw escape into their submarine, which Erik attempts to stop using his powers.  But the U.S. Coast Guard is also on the scene, with Charles on board.  Charles senses Erik in the water, after mentally running into Emma, who is also a telepath.  Charles urges Erik to stop and let the sub go; he’ll drown.  When the man doesn’t listen to him, Charles jumps into the water himself and calms the man down.  “You’re not alone.”

Charles brings Erik back to the “Covert CIA Research Base,” where they investigate the application of paranormal powers in a military setting.  Or as Charles jokingly calls them, the “mutant division.”  They meet young Hank McCoy, who on top of being extremely intelligent, has abnormal feet.  Charles accidentally outed Hank, but Raven is pleased to meet the young man.  It’s someone else who has a physical mutation.  Hank has developed a supersonic plane [looks an awful lot like the SR-71 Blackbird], (which appears in the other X-Men films).  When the two teens talk afterwards, Hank wants some of Raven’s blood in order to develop a serum that will mask their physical mutations, but not their actual powers.  Erik walks by in time to stop a kiss, but also points out they shouldn’t have to hide.  Erik is still bent on revenge, but Charles stops him before he leaves.  Charles wants to help Erik, and stresses that Erik has a chance to be a part of something bigger.  Erik in fact, stays, but they find out that the missiles have been placed in Turkey and Shaw is on his way to Russia.  He also has a helmet that blocks a telepath’s ability to read his mind.

It’s time for Charles and Erik to gather mutants of their own.  Hank developed a transmitter, he calls Cerebro, that can amplify Charles’ brainwaves and abilities, so Charles can locate other mutants.  Hank suggests shaving Charles so the helmet would fit closer, to which Charles definitively says “don’t touch my hair.”  They first find a club dancer whose tattoos are actually wings; then there’s a cab driver, then Alex Summers who is in solitary confinement.  Next, there’s a teenaged boy on a date, but he can drive fish away.  They find Wolverine in a bar, but all he says is “go fuck yourself,” and they leave.  The teens get to know one another and show off their powers and decide on nicknames.  The club dancer is Angel, the cab driver is Darwin, because he adapts to survive.  Raven becomes Mystique and the red-headed boy is Sean and he goes by Banshee because of his sonic blast.  Alex becomes Havok due to his laser blasts.  Erik and Charles are trying to plan their next step and are disappointed to find the kids having a party and goofing off (and destroying part of the building).  Raven does manage to tell them their nicknames; Charles is Professor X and Erik is Magneto.  The adults head off for Russia to hopefully head Shaw off, but he doesn’t show, Emma is leading the meeting with the Russian general.  Erik is determined to take her instead, so Charles chases after him.  Erik wraps Emma in metal hard enough to crack her diamond form, which allows Charles to read her mind for Shaw’s plan: place U.S. missiles in Turkey, place Russian missiles in Cuba and then make a nuclear war happen.  “Radiation gave birth to mutants; what will kill the humans will only make us stronger,” and Shaw can take over the world.

Shaw, in the meantime, has discovered that Erik and Charles are recruiting, so he heads for Virginia to find them.  His minions accompany him and start ripping the agents apart.  The agents attempt to protect the kids, even though some of them were teasing them not too long ago.  Until the last guy is very eager to hand the mutant teenagers over to the psychopath.  Shaw only wants to make an offer to the kids, saying that the humans will eventually rise against the mutants and they need to pick their sides now: either wait to be enslaved, or rise up to rule.  Angel willingly goes with Shaw.  Darwin starts to go with Shaw, then signals for Alex to let loose a laser, hoping to take out the bad guy.  Unfortunately, they did not realize that Shaw would absorb the power, then feed it to Darwin.  Shaw, Angel, and his minions leave.  When Erik and Charles return, Charles initially wants to send the kids home, but they point out it’s too late for that.  Erik convinces Charles to train the teenagers.  And Charles knows where.

At the mansion, Charles teaches each teenager that they need to control their powers, not let their powers control them (we see this lesson repeated in the previous trilogy).  Seeing Sean learn to fly is humorous, just the way he falls into the bush, and then Erik simply pushing him when Charles tries to let him out of trying.  It’s Erik who points out to Raven that she is splitting half of her attention in order to look normal.  She wants society to accept her, but she won’t accept herself.  And Charles and Erik work together, Charles showing Erik that he doesn’t need to use anger to fuel his power; that true focus lies between rage and serenity.  Charles feels the good in Erik.  Hank finishes the serum and shows Raven, but she’s realized the truth in Erik’s words and it doesn’t help that Hank calls the serum a cure.  She’s finally mutant and proud.  When Hank tries the serum, it initially works, but then goes the wrong way.  Meanwhile, Erik and Charles are playing chess and discussing the mutant issue, fundamentally on opposing sides, but for the moment acting like gentlemen.  Raven sneaks into Erik’s room to wait for him and even tries her older form, but he doesn’t say “perfection,” until she’s in her natural blue form.  She confronts Charles afterwards and he struggles to see her point.

The team heads out to try to put an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis, using the plane that Hank developed.  He’s now blue and furry, thanks to his serum, but he’s now become Beast.  When they reach the embargo line, Charles makes the Russians fire on their own ship, so the Americans won’t have to fire and then start the war.  They figure Shaw is nearby, perhaps underwater, so they use Sean as sonar (and he stays away from Erik, so he won’t get pushed out).  Shaw is indeed on site and plans to become the weapon, draining the nuclear reactor of his sub.  But Erik manages to lift the sub out of the water and crash it on the beach.  The plan crashes shortly after.  Erik heads for the sub, and Beast, Havok, and Banshee take on Angel, Riptide, and Azazel.  Erik realizes that smashing the mirrored walls of the reactor will allow Charles telepathy to work, so he can freeze Shaw.  Shaw attempts to win Erik over to his side, and Erik admits that Shaw made him into a weapon.  Then Erik puts on the helmet so Charles can’t stop him from using the coin to pierce Shaw’s head in final retaliation for killing his mother.  [Excellent editing, following the path of the coin and overlaying Charles’ face occasionally, indicating that he feels what Erik is doing.]

Stryker is causing problems and orders both sides to hit the mutants on the beach.  This just adds fuel to Erik’s argument that the humans are against the mutants and they all need to band together.  Charles still holds hope that there are some good humans out there.  Erik manages to stop the missiles and turns them back to the ships, but Charles tackles him, breaking his concentration so the missiles start exploding in midair.  The two men wrestle, then Moira starts shooting at Erik.  He deflects the bullets, but one lands in Charles’ back.  Erik retaliates by cradling his friend and strangling Moira.  Charles points out this was Erik’s doing.  He releases Moira, but pleads with Charles that he needs the man by his side; they’re brothers, they want the same thing.  No, my friend, we do not (and we’re hit by James/Charles’ piercing blue eyes).  Erik leaves Charles, makes one last plead to gain allies.  Raven steps towards him, though she detours to her brother, who gives her permission.  “Mutant and proud,” are her parting words.  The rest of the team swarm their leader and Charles can only say he can’t feel his legs.

They’re back at the mansion, formalizing plans to make it a school.  And Charles has to protect the anonymity of his students, so with a kiss, he wipes Moira’s memory.  Erik breaks Emma Frost out of prison, now wearing the repainted helmet and a cape and going by Magneto.

This has become my favorite X-Men film, because it’s a story that can really stand on its own.  They make it fit well into the Cuban Missile Crisis, so we wonder, could this really have happened?  There’s also more energy to the movie.  It’s nice to see older Charles and Erik get along on occasion, but it’s even better to see how they started.  Yes, some continuity snarls show up, but since none of the movies were exactly planned out years in advance to fit together, it still works.  And I probably allow much more leeway since I have never read the comics.  It’s also not as dark as many of the previous movies were.  Several mistakes were made by characters in complete innocence.  The soundtrack also heightens the energy of the film, with the electric guitar and steady pace.

And yes, I totally subscribe to the theory that Charles and Erik are a couple. And utterly adore the new fact that Charles and Raven are siblings. These people need more hugs!

Fanfiction Recommendations:

I love blueink3’s Rumor Has It, which picks up where this film left off and adds an unknown child of Charles’ to the mix.

Up Next: Days of Future Past

“Logan, my tolerance for your smoking in the mansion notwithstanding, continue smoking that in here and you’ll spend the rest of your days under the belief that you’re a six-year-old girl.”

X2: X-Men United

The leads from the first film are back and joined by Brian Cox (Agamemnon in Troy, Argyle Wallace in Braveheart, and Killearn in Rob Roy) as Colonel William Stryker and Alan Cumming (Boris in Goldeneye) as Kurt Wagner.  And once again the film opens with an introduction about mutation and the comment from Professor Xavier that “sharing the world has never been humanity’s defining attribute” [and who else thinks this is something Captain Picard would tell another being?]  After that, the action kicks off with a mutant who can pop around in a cloud of blue smoke attacks the president, but once he’s shot, he leaves behind a knife with a banner reading “Mutant Freedom Now” on it.  Logan has made it to Alkali Lake in Canada, but it’s deserted.  He does spy a white wolf, which can hold various symbolism, including a search for truth I believe.

Back in civilization, Jean, Storm, and Scott are leading a field trip and a trio of teenagers, John, Bobby, and Rogue, get in a bit of trouble.  Jean is also experiencing some problems with her powers; they’ve been off in a way since Liberty Island.  Her dreams have been worse and she feels something terrible is going to happen.  Professor Xavier has to freeze the food court and reprimand John for showing off in front of humans.  But then the news story comes in about the attack on the President, so they quickly leave.  Colonel Stryker visits the President to request authorization for a special operation, namely to “investigate” Xavier’s school for children.  He has access to Eric Lensherr, which Senator Kelly is very interested in (reminder, that is Mystique in disguise).  The President agrees that Stryker may “enter, detain, and question,” but he doesn’t want to see a dead mutant kid on the news.  Kelly warns Stryker about turning this into some kind of war.  (We can tell there is something suspicious going on.)

Logan returns to the mansion and gets left to watch the children while Jean and Storm track down the mutant who attacked the President [there is an error in editing; Jean comments to Logan they’re going to Boston before Xavier uses Cerebro to find the mutant.]  Scott and the Professor are going to visit Eric.  Charles realizes that Stryker has been using Eric against his will for information against Charles; gas is pumped in and the two older mutants collapse.  Stryker’s assistant takes care of Scott.  Jean and Storm are able to find the mutant, a teleporter named Kurt Wagner, known in the Munich circus as the Incredible Nightcrawler.  He remembers the attack, but like he was watching himself and couldn’t stop it.  The back of his neck is scarred (like Magneto’s).  Mystique shifts into Stryker’s assistant in order to find out information on the prison where Eric is kept; she also discovers plans for a second Cerebro at a classified location. 

Meanwhile, Rogue is very happy to see Logan back at the school and introduces him to Bobby, her boyfriend (and isn’t that a whole load of awkward).  Logan wakes in the middle of the night, at the same time that black ops men break into the school and shoot stun darts at the children.  Some are able to get away, led by a kid that can cover himself in metal.  John and Bobby go back for Rogue while Logan takes out the men.  Logan instructs the big kid to watch after the other children.  Rogue convinces Bobby to go back for Logan, who is now distracted by Stryker; he remembers this man for some reason and Stryker seems to know things about him.  Bobby erects an ice wall between Logan and Stryker.  Logan tells Rogue, “Go I’ll be fine.”  “But we won’t,” she responds.  So Logan takes the three teens.  They head to Boston, where he knows Jean will be.  Bobby suggests they go to his parents’ house for clothes and he has to reveal that he’s actually a mutant.  His younger brother is upset and his mother asks him to try to “not be a mutant” [cringe].

Stryker has kidnapped Charles and Scott and is using his own mutant son to control Charles, having him send illusions into Charles’ head.  Charles protests Stryker’s use of his son, but Stryker also won’t admit that the young man is his son whom he’s holding prisoner.  His true son died; this is simply mutant number 143.  He will admit that mutants serve a purpose, as long as they can be controlled.  Charles also realizes that it was Stryker who arranged the attack on the President.  Create a situation where his expertise will be required and manipulate the situation to get what he wants.  He needed a reason to attack the school and get the specifications of Cerebro.  After the attack, the President gave him permission.  And breed enough fear against mutants, his method of controlling them will be desired.  Mystique charms a man and drugs him in order to gain access to Eric’s prison; by injecting him with lead that Magneto pulls out of him and creates pellets to free himself.

Jean is able to contact Logan, but Bobby’s brother called the cops.  Logan tries to calmly talk his way out, but with his claws out, he’s shot for his trouble.  John, who controls fire, shoots fireballs at the cops, until Rogue uses her power to stop him and put the fires out.  Jean and Storm pick up the teens and Logan.  Then two other jets come up on the mutants’ jet and Storm has to distract them.  They take a hit and Rogue is sucked out of the plane, though Kurt rescues her.  Magneto helps land the plane and both groups have to work together to free Charles.  Stryker’s son, James, is putting the illusion in Charles’ head that he has to use Cerebro to locate all the mutants.  But the danger is, if Charles concentrates on all the mutants too long, he can kill them.  Which is what Stryker wants.  Jean is able to read Kurt’s mind to discover that the secret base is underneath Alkali Lake.

They send Mystique in as Wolverine since Stryker is less likely to kill him on sight, but Mystique will be able to man the control center.  She gets in, but Stryker recognizes that she is not the true Wolverine, thought she is still able to complete her part of the mission.  She lets the others in.  Storm and Kurt will free the other children the men captured, while Jean goes with Magneto and Mystique for Charles.  Wolverine sneaks out to go after Stryker.  Jean runs into Scott, who is being mind-controlled, so Magneto and Mystique go on to Cerebro on their own.  Wolverine finds the lab from his nightmares and faces off against Stryker’s assistant, who is also a mutant with adamantium nails and a healing ability like Wolverine’s.  He manages to win by injecting her with more adamantium.  Then he goes after Stryker and is ready to kill him, despite Stryker’s insistence that he will tell Logan everything.  Except he finds out that the dam is going to flood their escape route and goes back in to save his new friends.

A blast from Scott knocks both him and Jean out and when he wakes, he’s back to normal and Jean’s injured her leg.  Kurt and Storm manage to get the children and Mystique and Magneto do find Cerebro.  “From here it doesn’t look like they’re playing by your rules.  Maybe it’s time to play by theirs.”  Instead of simply pulling Charles out, Magneto has James tell Charles there is a change of plans.  Kill all the humans now.  Storm has Kurt teleport her inside since Magneto and Mystique have left.  She freezes the inside so James has to stop his control.  Kurt gets Storm and Charles out and they are all almost to the spillway when Logan closes the door, right in time to keep them from being flooded.  He leads them out, but Stryker’s helicopter is gone, courtesy of Magneto and Mystique.  They’ve also gained a follower in John, who goes by Pyro.  Magneto told him on the way in that his power makes him a god among insects.  Stryker is still alive and once again tries to convince Logan he’s only an animal and who else can give him the truth?  Well, Logan will take his chances with the mutants.  Stryker shouts after him “one day someone will finish what I’ve started!”

Rogue and Bobby have brought the jet around to rescue everyone, but it won’t start again.  Jean senses that the dam is about to give, so she limps out of the plane.  She starts it and gets it in the air and won’t let the ramp back down for Scott to come after her.  She also manages to keep the water away from the jet and uses the Professor to say good-bye to Scott.  Then the jet is in the air and she drowns in the water.  All Logan can say is “she’s gone,” and Scott finally breaks down.  But they’re not finished yet.  The Professor freezes a press conference in the Oval Office and points out the truth of Stryker to the President and urges him to work together for a better future rather than repeating the mistakes of the past.  Back at the mansion, Charles tries to comfort Logan and Scott, but they don’t seem terribly convinced.  He then goes on to start a lesson with the students on T.H. White’s Once and Future King, which Eric was reading earlier in jail.

The pairings and relationships in this movie…to start, it seems like Rogue may view Logan more as a surrogate father-type figure, since she’s dating Bobby and Bobby seems like a nice guy.  He’s not trying to push Rogue, but he would enjoy a kiss once in a while.  And it evens works for a second, until it lasts too long.  And Logan probably views Rogue in a protective sense, but he doesn’t grill Bobby.  As for Logan and Jean; that is a ship that never should have set sail.  While Logan’s reaction to her death tugs at the heartstrings, I definitely side with the notion that she should be with Scott; she has a history with him and an understanding.  And yes, the two men are united for a moment in their grief for the loss of Jean, but even with Logan telling Scott that Jean chose Scott, I don’t see these two becoming friends.  Then there’s Mystique obvious interest in Wolverine which could be interesting in one respect, though creepy how she switched through the various ladies (one of whom may have been Rogue and yeah, definite creepy factor there).

There are hints of Jean’s growing power throughout the film and that is an epic display at the end, lifting the jet and holding back the dam at the same time.  And we are left with the notion at the end that all may not be what it seems.  But Magneto may be right, that there is a war coming and these are the warning shots.

Up Next: X-Men: The Last Stand

The First Step Into a Larger World

X-Men

The first of a whole series of films made, including a prequel set.  It has a stellar cast, helmed by Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean Luc Picard of Star Trek: Next Generation, John Gaunt in Hollow Crown, he voiced the Pharoah in Prince of Egypt, he appeared as King Richard at the end of Robin Hood: Men in Tights and an overall acting career that dates back to the sixties) as Professor Charles Xavier and Ian McKellen (Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies [the director, Bryan Singer, even adjusted the filming schedule so Ian could travel to New Zealand], Cogsworth in the live action Beauty and the Beast, Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code, and a career as long-spanning as Stewart) as Eric Lensherr/Magneto [the two actors are friends in real life and it’s adorable].  This was Hugh Jackman’s first major role (he had done a recorded stage production of Oklahoma before this and was known elsewhere for his singing, but most American audiences knew him from X-Men first) as Wolverine (he goes on to star in Australia, Kate and Leopold, Van Helsing, The Greatest Showman, and Les Misérables, and is now on Broadway in The Music Man).  Halle Berry (Jinx Johnson opposite Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, the titular Catwoman in the 2004 film, and she won the Oscar in Monster’s Ball) is Storm, James Marsden (Prince Edward in Enchanted, he appears in Hairspray and 27 Dresses as well) is Cyclops, while Famke Janssen (Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye, so that’s two Bond women in this movie) is Jean Grey.  You kind of can’t tell, but that’s Rebecca Romijn (Eve Baird in the Librarians series) as Mystique and Ray Park (you can’t recognize him in his other role either, but he’s Darth Maul in Phantom Menace) as Toad.

The film opens with narration on mutation and evolution, explaining that in this universe, mutants are the evolution of humans.  Then we’re in 1944 Poland, at a concentration camp as evidenced by the yellow stars the prisoners are wearing.  A family is torn apart and the mother cries for her son; he reaches out to her, despite guards holding on to him and pulls the metal gate back before he’s knocked out.  Time jump to the “not too distant future” in Mississippi.  A teenage couple is discussing the girl’s desire to go on an adventure.  When she kisses the boy, he becomes paralyzed and non-responsive.  She screams at her parents “don’t touch me.”  Meanwhile, there is a Senate hearing going on about a mutant registration act, headed by a Senator Kelly, who views all mutants as dangerous while Dr. Jean Grey is trying to explain that they are still people and often their mutations are brought on at puberty by heightened emotions.  After the hearing, two older gentlemen have their own conversation.  Charles is in favor of hope, while Eric views humans as lesser beings; “we are the future,” he tells Charles and warns him not to get in his way.

The teen girl has made her way to Canada where she enters a bar with a cage fight going on and meets “the Wolverine,” a champion fighter.  She warns him afterwards of a man threatening him, but Wolverine has claws that extend from his hands, so he’s got it covered.  Later, Wolverine, whose real name is Logan, discovers the girl as a stowaway and his heart is kind enough to not simply leave her on the side of the road.  Her name is Marie, but she goes by “Rogue” now.  They get in an accident and Logan is thrown from the truck.  He faces off with another mutant, while Marie is stuck in the truck, about to go up in flames (thanks to Logan’s cigar).  They are saved by two other mutants, one who controls the snow storm and one with laser eyes.

When Logan wakes up, his first instinct is to escape, though there is a voice following him and leading him to…Professor Charles Xavier.  And his school for the gifted, a cover for mutants.  His primary instructors are Storm, Cyclops (real name is Scott), and Jean Grey.  Marie is attending classes and hopes to fit in with the other wayward students.  Charles explains about their counterparts, led by Magneto, who foresees a war involving mutants.  Magneto was an old friend of Charles’, when he went by the name Eric Lensherr.  Charles also knows that Logan has lost his memory of his life before the incident that gave him an adamantium skeleton.  He makes a deal with Logan; give Charles forty-eight hours to discover Magneto’s plan and then Charles will use his skill at mind reading to help Logan discover his past.

In the meantime, Magneto has Mystique kidnap Senator Kelly and he uses a machine to expose the Senator to radiation.  Kelly ends up a mutant (whose body can now squeeze through bars), just like the Brotherhood of Mutants.  Afterall, humans fear what they don’t understand, so Magento is changing their minds about mutants.  Back at the school, Marie visits Logan when he has nightmares [why, not explained, and someone really ought to be asking that question]; he’s startled awake and accidentally stabs Marie.  Before she collapses, she touches Logan and heals herself, but knocks Logan out.  Charles explains once Logan wakes, that Rogue’s gift drains the life force of someone, and in the case of mutants, borrows their powers for a time.  Outside, Rogue’s new friend Bobby tells her to leave.  Except it’s not really Bobby; the yellow eyes give her away as Mystique.  Charles introduces Logan to Cerebro, the machine he uses to find other mutants, since their brainwaves are different.  He sends Cyclops and Storm after Marie, but Logan also goes.  Then Mystique gains access to Cerebro and plugs in a poison.

Logan is the one to track Marie to the train and comforts her.  He suggests she gives the school another chance because the Professor is one of the few people who understand what is going on and may be able to help her.  Logan also promises to take care of her, managing to give her a hug without skin contact.  But Magneto and his goons find them, Sabretooth and Toad taking on Cyclops and Storm while Magneto tears apart the train and throws Logan back so he can take Marie.

Logan intends to go back out to find Rogue, while Storm urges him to fight with her and Scott.  That’s when Senator Kelly shows up at the school, begging for help.  Charles reads his mind and finally realizes what Eric’s plan is.  To use his machine to turn the world leaders gathering at a U.N. Summit on Ellis Island into mutants so that the mutant cause becomes their cause.  And since the machine weakens him, he’ll use Marie’s power to transfer his power through her to power the machine.  However, a side effect of the machine causes Kelly to dissolve into water.  Charles attempts to use Cerebro, but is poisoned.  So the four adults have to work together to take on Magneto and his Brotherhood and rescue Marie.  Logan makes a crack about their suits and Cyclops comes back with a joke about wearing yellow spandex (apparently what they wore in the comics).

It’s an interesting fight since Mystique can transform into anyone on the team, so at one point we have two Wolverines fighting each other.  Storm eventually electrocutes Toad, Scott saves Jean, and when Logan returns, Scott knows it’s the real him because he calls him a name.  But Magneto pins the team and raises the machine.  Logan eventually stabs himself with his claws to get free, then takes on Sabretooth.  He helps the others get free and has them raise him up to Marie.  Cyclops gets a shot at Magneto, distracting him enough for Logan to slice the controls.  Marie now has a white streak in her hair and isn’t breathing at first.  Logan takes off his glove and attempts to siphon his power.  There’s a delayed reaction and Marie starts breathing, but Logan’s wounds begin bleeding.

Charles recovers and gives Logan a clue that there is an abandoned facility at Alkali Lake in Canada that may hold some answers.  Mystique survived and is posing as Senator Kelly so now he’s changing his view on the mutant registration law.  And Charles visits Eric in a plastic prison to play chess.  Eric asks his old friend if he stays awake at night, worried that someone may come for his children?  Charles responds: “I feel a great swell of pit for the poor soul who comes to that school looking for trouble.”  They’re still on opposite sides of the war, but they’re still old friends.

I have to admit, after watching the later X-Men and other superhero movies, this one feels a bit slow.  I understand that it sets up a lot of what takes place in later movies, but I had trouble getting back into the film after several years.  Of course, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are excellent.  I think Hugh Jackman’s performance gets better over time in the movies.  Jean is a bit flat and Cyclops and Storm are almost relegated to sidekicks.  As for the “love triangle” between Logan, Jean, and Scott; there is absolutely no chemistry between any of them and the only reason Logan is at all interested in Jean is because she’s pretty.  They have no interaction before he’s interested.  I do appreciate how they all work together at the fight at the Statue of Liberty at the end.  Also, looking back at the relationship between Rogue and Wolverine, it doesn’t sit quite right.  You can clearly tell that Rogue has a crush on Wolverine, but due to the age difference and the fact that they had only just met, it’s a bit awkward.  Now, it is sweet that Wolverine is concerned about Rogue and even persuades her to return to the school and promises to take care of her.

Up Next: X2: X-Men United