I was not impressed with the original X-MEN. That's probably why it's been about a year between viewing the first one and its sequel. But for those of you who are thinking about quitting after #1: the series gets better. This movie has everything the first one lacked: thrilling adventure, sympathetic characters, moving messages, and a creative story. And, for the most part, it's family friendly.
There's quite a bit of violence in this movie. 10-12 people are stabbed and killed by Wolverine, with no blood but accompanying sounds. Child mutants are shot with paralyzing darts and later have non-graphic tests performed on them. A man is strangled with a chain, and later drowned offscreen. Some police cruisers are set aflame, but no one is hurt. The movie opens with an assassination attempt on the President, but the assailant is revealed to be a hero, whose mind was controlled by the villain. Mild sexuality includes a scene where Mystique (able to shift forms), takes the personification of a sexy blonde and seduces a prison guard (in order to orchestrate a jailbreak). They passionately kiss and run to the bathroom (presumably for sex) before she knocks him out. I don't remember a single curse word. The movie features strong male, female, and ethnic characters who sacrifice themselves for their friends. Almost all the characters in the film put others before themselves, and those who don't are portrayed in a negative light. Faith in a higher power or destiny is shown to be helpful and comforting in times of trouble. And, the heroes and "villains" briefly unite against a common enemy (although it isn't long before they take their respective sides again).