X2: X-Men United

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
X2: X-Men United Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Fun but violent sequel has peril, cursing.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 135 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 59 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Like the comic, this film can be seen as a metaphor for those -- young people in particular -- who stand out from the pack because they're different. It stresses that it's those who are different and willing to embrace what makes them unique who bring about evolution and progress in the world.


Positive Role Models & Representations

Professor Charles Xavier always wants what is best for the "mutants" who attend his school. The X-Men are brave, devoted to their professor and school, and loyal to one another.



While the violence is generally cartoonish and in the vein of comic books and other action movies, there's a scene of forced sexual coercion during which Mystique forces herself on a prison guard, where they end up in a bathroom -- the initiation of oral sex strongly implied. In fight scenes, characters claw other characters to death, a mutant kills a squadron of police officers with fire, and the U.S. president gets pinned to his desk while a mutant sticks a knife inches away from his face. Characters are thrown, stabbed, punched, kicked, and tossed around.


Mystique wears a skin-tight outfit that looks like a nude body covered in blue and green paint. 



"S--t," "ass," "t-t," "d--k," "hell."


Characters drink Dr. Pepper. When Wolverine drinks beer, he reaches for Miller Genuine. The film is also tied to vast quantities of X-Men merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen characters smoke at a mall. Wolverine often smokes a cigar. The president of the United States pours himself a drink of unknown alcohol, but doesn't act drunk. Wolverine asks for and drinks beer, but doesn't seem drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that X2: X-Men United is the action- and violence-packed second film in the X-Men blockbuster movie franchise. The action in the fight scenes is unrelenting and, though cartoonish and rooted in comic books, features moments where the president of the United States is pinned down on his Oval Office desk by a knife-wielding mutant, police officers are burned to a crisp, and soldiers are clawed to death by Wolverine. There's a scene of forced sexual coercion during which Mystique forces herself on a prison guard, where they end up in a bathroom -- the initiation of oral sex is strongly implied. At other moments, characters are kicked, thrown, and shot at. Teens smoke in a mall, and Wolverine is often seen with a cigar in his mouth. There's occasional profanity ("s--t," "ass," "t-t," "d--k," "hell") and some product placement as characters drink Dr. Pepper and Miller Genuine Draft. On a positive note, the X-Men are brave, devoted to their professor and school, and loyal to one another.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13-year-old Written bymonico October 1, 2018

For Kids 12-14yrs WITH Supervision & Scene-Skips, 15-18 w/Some Supervision

I think review written by TC on July 11, 2017 is right on. I agree. Plus adding my own hopefully-helpful tips. The movie is good (as far as xmen can be) but... Continue reading
Adult Written byT C July 11, 2017

Not for under 16 years old

Seriously? Why are there no other reviews about the human version of Mystique aggressively forcing herself on the prison guard in the bar bathroom to the point... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byMJ33 February 27, 2021
X2 is a fantastic addition to the X Men franchise, just as exciting as the one before. Theres a lot of bloodless violence, brief cursing, and some sexual innuen... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byGusAllen9 February 22, 2021

What's the story?

In X2: X-MEN UNITED, the ubiquitous Brian Cox (of Adaptation, The 25th Hour, The Ring, and The Rookie) as Colonel Stryker wants to wipe out the mutants. Stryker and his soldiers invade the school run by wise and benevolent mutant Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart). They capture Xavier and some of the students. Stryker plans to use Xavier's brain and the machine he developed to track down and destroy every mutant. Meanwhile, Magneto (Ian McKellen) is in an enormous plastic prison, unable to use his powers because they require metal. He is able to get out after metal is smuggled in to him, and must work with Xavier's mutants (the X-Men), his former enemies, to defeat Stryker.

Is it any good?

This sequel is bigger, badder, and better than the first film, bringing back the excellent special effects, attractive stars, and fun action sequences, and the perfect popcorn-movie tone. That said, while this movie is all about the action, there are so many characters that it's hard to include them all in anything meaningful, giving parts of X2: X-Men United the feel of a prolonged introduction.

The comic's fans want to see every character up on the screen, and the movie tries to make it happen. But the result is that it's hard for people who are not familiar with the stories to keep everyone straight or develop much of a commitment to any of them. Halle Berry and Anna Paquin in particular are still criminally underused. The most memorable character is Mystique, played by Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, who is so good that she can even act under all that blue paint and those sequin-like scales. Alan Cummings is a welcome addition as Nightcrawler, but his German accent and Biblical references seem out of place and attracted some laughter from the audience. This is handled with more sensitivity in the comic books, where he is portrayed as a devout Catholic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the the mutants' fight for acceptance in X2: X-Men United mirrors the struggle to overcome racism and other forms of bigotry in our society. Is the metaphor effective?

  • If you saw the first X-Men movie in this series, which do you like better? How are they different?

  • How well do you think comic books translate to feature films? Which comics-based movies have made the best adaptations?

Movie details

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