Length: 134 minutes / 2.23 hours
I’ve often held that the sequel of a superhero film is better than the original. Most superhero film franchises start out with an origin story, so by the time the second film comes around, all the “exposition” is out of the way and the heroes can really take on some powerful villains. However, since X-Men (2000) didn’t have much of an origin story, its sequel, X2 is almost relegated to the fate of a “flashback” sequel. Still, the darker tone does help set it apart from its predecessor, which is nice.
Granted, the choice of exploring Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) past was a good one, considering the strength of the character. Heck, he got two more movies outside the main X-Men saga, so clearly he’s a fan favorite. What’s nice about the superhero sequel is that most comic book story arcs are short enough that they can be incorporated into a single film. In this way, X2 could almost stand by itself, much like its predecessor could. In fact, X2 almost follows the same formula as X-Men by not actually delving too deep into any single character’s origin story. All the supporting characters are useful and relevant, which is important for a series that relies on the teamwork of a group of mutants.
This film also mostly avoided the trope I like to identify as “the trilogy conundrum”. Because it could stand alone as its own film, especially for those already familiar with the characters and premise, there isn’t a need for it to be a cliffhanger to motivate people to see the third film in the trilogy. If you can ignore the glow in the water at the end of the film, it hardly has much of a connection to X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) at all.
Pretty good as far as first sequels go, I give X-Men 2 3.5 stars out of 5.