I’d long considered X2: X-Men United superior to the first film. Revisiting it, I’m not so sure. The opening set piece with Alan Cumming launching a teleport assault on the White House still thrills, but the film never matches this height.
Clocking in a half-an-hour longer than its predecessor, I noticed the extra runtime. Ian McKellan, my favorite part of the first film, takes a backseat to this film’s chief adversary, played by Brian Cox. Cox’s character, though entertaining, proves disposable. And while I applauded the first film’s ability to introduce several characters and juggle several plot lines, this entry lacks that deft touch. It leaves multiple plot threads unresolved, introduces some convenient happenstances, and reduces Cumming’s character to little more than a plot device.
It’s not a bad movie, just one that compares to “middle-chapter” Marvel movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron. Unfortunately, the planned third chapter never materialized. Instead, we got X-Men: The Last Stand.