X-Men 2 (I chose to use the international title because, let’s face it, X2: X-Men United sounds corny) was released in 2003, a full three years after its predecessor. A lot of superhero flicks are made based on general guidelines of characters over the entire history of a publication. That’s not a bad way to go, because it keeps hardcore fans from getting extremely offended when their favorite storylines get messed up. X-Men 2, however, got brave.
The film is based loosely on the “God Loves, Man Kills.” In the original story, William Stryker is a religious fanatic who believes it is his “calling” to wipe out all mutants. He does kill his mutant son Jason, along with his wife, and believes mutants are the result of prenatal corruption by Satan. As part of this life mission, he arranges to have Xavier kidnapped, brainwashed, and attached to a machine that, using Xavier’s brainpower, will destroy all mutants. To stop him, the X-Men are forced to join forces with Magneto.
The film’s story is in many ways very similar to this. Basically Stryker is a military man instead of a religious fanatic and he was connected to Wolverine’s creation. His son Jason is still alive, but was driven insane while at Xavier’s school, which in turn drove Stryker’s vendetta.
I’d like to point out here that the inclusion of Nightcrawler was a huge bonus. He’s always been my second favorite next to Wolverine (because Wolverine is legit). In the film, Kurt is a very interesting character. The film begins with him attempting to assassinate the President. He fails, and the X-Men find him and bring him in. He proves to be a very good-hearted character (possibly the most sincere of all of the X-Men), and is Catholic, which to my best knowledge is not the case in the original comics.
Overall, the film does a pretty good job at telling the story. The unlikely alliance between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants is believable, which is saying a lot considering the animosity that exists between the two parties. As to the quality of the movie, especially as compared to the first, I must say: “Well done, Bryan Singer. Well done.”
However, I have another interest in this movie. People don’t change the source material for no reason. What do the changes say about the film’s worldview? As I said in my last post, the X-Men franchise has long been about civil rights, and the film franchise has hinted at promoting the homosexual agenda (for my thoughts on that aspect, you can find the review here: http://wp.me/p3FU0B-32). The original story had a very clear message: religion is an obstacle to liberty. Yet changes were made. Stryker was turned from a religious fanatic to a military man and the Nightcrawler, a sincere protagonist, was given a religious background.
I don’t know if it was Bryan Singer’s intention to make the story less offensive to religion (even more sympathetic towards religion, when considering Nightcrawler), as a matter of fact I kind of doubt it was his intention. Nevertheless, that’s what the end product looked like.
However, that’s only worthwhile if you know the backstory. The story can be evaluated on other terms, as well. There’s the veiled pro-homosexual allusions which are problematic. There are also a few moments of sexual content that are problematic, not to mention unnecessary. Beyond those content issues, the story seems to emphasize again the difference of two ideologies pushing for the same thing. Xavier wants equality through peace, but Magneto wants it through violence. When the unlikely alliance reaches Professor Xavier, who is hooked up to the machine, they use a new tactic. Breaking his bond with the good guys, Magneto uses Mystique to tell Xavier to kill all of the humans instead of the mutants. He’s stopped, but it shows something that’s sometimes missed: equality is not hating the other side. That’s something that’s missed sometimes in the search for equality, and a good take-home lesson.
God did create all of us equal. That doesn’t mean he approves of all of our lifestyles. But he did create all of us equal, and we ought not to be clashing because of demographical differences, and certainly not hating others because we want our group to be higher. That’s exactly what was happening in the New Testament between Jews and Gentiles. Paul dealt with that in Galatians:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.