A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film's messages -- that peaceful co-existence is preferable to conflict, that tolerance is preferable to prejudice, that being different is not in any way bad -- are intrinsic to the film's plot and themes.
Positive Role Models
Not only are the heroic characters stalwart, strong and morally upright, but even the ostensible villains of the piece have a certain point to make; X-Men creator Stan Lee has often put forward that the dynamic between the leaders of the opposite sides of the X-Men mythos was inspired by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and that dynamic remains in the film.
Violence & Scariness
Largely bloodless violence, some of which involves good old-fashioned fisticuffs and stabbing, some of which involves superhuman abilities like a control of magnetism or the weather, or shooting force-beams from one's eyes. Many of the characters have invulnerability or fast-healing abilities that make their injuries sustainable. A young girl is stabbed accidentally by razor-sharp claws, but her abilities enable her to heal from her wounds. Scary, intense medical imagery. A human being liquefies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing; a blue-skinned, scaled mutant shape-shifter is, essentially, walking about naked, albeit covered by scales and cartilage that make her slightly modest.
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Light strong language, including "balls," "dick," "God," "damn," and "hell." A variation on the finger is given.
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Products & Purchases
Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. Some light product placement (Oakley Sunglasses, Mazda), but no mentions of brands.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character smokes cigars -- and is admonished for doing so. Beer and hard liquor are drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that X-Men involves a great deal of comic-book violence executed with near-bloodless restraint but, at the same time, visceral efficiency. One character is a Holocaust survivor; there's much discussion about tolerance and hatred and prejudice, all in the film's fictional context of "mutants" with special abilities appearing in the human population -- and yet, this might provide a great conversation-starter for families. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Launching a multi-film franchise, this is perhaps one of the best super-hero comic book adaptation, in part because it doesn't shy away from the big issues the comic explored, however clumsily. Instead X-Men embraces them. McKellen and Stewart are perfectly cast, and the remainder of the actors (with the exception of the seemingly-reluctant Berry) are all excellent. A super-hero film with real ambition and true talent can be very rare in Hollywood; X-Men is, alongside The Dark Knight and the first two Spider-Man films, one of the highlights in the modern exploration of the sub-genre.
Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil), X-Men is an unerringly smart comic-book adaptation. It plumbs its source material for real relevance and deeper meaning while still delivering all the biff-bam-pow action a comic book fan could want -- as well as serving as the launching pad that made Hugh Jackman a star with his work as the feral-but-stalwart Canadian mutant, Wolverine. Some of the dialogue is a bit laughable -- and Halle Berry, as the weather-controlling hero Storm, doesn't do much to help with that when she's on-screen -- but the effects are top-notch, the script is smart, and the tone of the film is pitch-perfect, giving us characters with unreal abilities at conflict in a very real world.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.