'X-Men 2': How Its Action Still Bests the Superhero Movie Competition

Even Christopher Nolan might have something to learn from Bryan Singer's 2003 movie.
20th Century Fox/Photofest

It's hard to top a classic.

With Logan one week away, it's time to look back at the crowning achievement of the X-Men franchise: 2003's X2: X-Men United. Judging by the reviews, Logan may be able to unseat it as an all-time favorite, but until then, writer and critic Chris Hartwell is taking a closer look at the action of X2 to understand what makes it tick, and he even manages to make a convincing argument as to ways it tops fan favorites like Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (no easy task). 

Here are just a few of the categories Hartwell highlights:

The fights have meaningful stakes: The fight between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike doesn't just look cool, it actually matters. The audience is reminded that Stryker — the only man who can answer Logan's questions about his past — is getting away, and the longer the fight goes on, the less likely Logan will ever get those answers.

The fights have purposeful choreography: Early on, it's established what powers each mutant has and what their limits are — the exact opposite of the much-maligned Deadpool end boss scene in X-Men Origin: Wolverine, where endless powers are revealed, or the Ice Man vs. Pyro battle in X-Men: The Last Stand, which is just one guy endlessly shooting the same thing at another guy whose power counteracts it. 

Bryan Singer defines his geography: Huh. Never noticed this one, but there's a full two minutes of establishing what the Weapon X lab looks like before the fight between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike. And in the Nightcrawler White House raid, the cameras pan and push through doors to show the viewer Nightcrawler is actually getting closer to the president. Viewers know where they are, which is a rarity in blockbuster filmmaking. 

There's plenty more unpacked in the video below. 

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