BSP 2014 Advent Calendar: Day 21

Welcome to Day 21 of Bam Smack Pow’s 2014 Advent Calendar!  Only four more days left until Christmas, and that means four more superhero films will be mined for trivia.  For Day 21, we give you …

X2: X-Men United (2003)

Continuing on our path of awesome sequels, we’re going to be looking at X2: X-Men United — a film that director Bryan Singer said was inspired from the structure of The Empire Strikes Back (1980).  With a strong cast and strong script, the film broke the mantra of “movies shouldn’t have too many characters.”  Filled to the brim with mutants, critics were impressed by Singer’s balancing act between multiple plot lines and compelling character development.  Also praised for its story relevancy about the modern world, X2: X-Men United accumulated over $85 million on opening weekend and went on to earn an overall total of $407 million, with a total domestic take of over $214 million.

X2: X-Men United was directed by Bryan Singer, written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter from a story by Bryan Singer, David Hayter, and Zak Penn, and starred Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine, Ian McKellan as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto, Halle Barry as Ororo Munroe / Storm, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey / Phoenix, James Marsden as Scott Summers / Cyclops, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Raven Darkholme / Mystique, Brian Cox as Col. William Stryker, Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler, Bruce Davison as Sen. Robert Kelly, Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake / Iceman, Aaron Stanford as John Allerdyce / Pyro, Kelly Hu as Yuriko Oyama / Lady Deathstrike, and Anna Paquin as Marie / Rogue.


  • After Halle Berry won an Academy Award for Monster’s Ball (2001), the screenplay was rewritten to give her more screentime.
  • This is, so far, one of three X-Men films that Stan Lee hasn’t made an appearance in.  The others are X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and X-Men: First Class (2011).
  • Nightcrawler, played by Alan Cumming, is actually the son of Raven Darkholme / Mystique and Azazel.  Azazel made his appearance in X-Men: First Class (2011), and was played by Jason Flemyng.
  • When Magneto says, “When will these people learn how to fly?”, he’s referencing the comics where Jean Grey and Rogue have the ability to fly and levitate.
  • At Stryker’s Alkali Base, a series of X-rays can be seen on the wall of the lab.  One of the X-rays is of a left wing.  This is a comic book reference to a storyline involving the character Angel, whose wings are later lost.  Apocalypse later “gives” his wings back by giving him the ability to grow organic metal ones.  After this, Angel takes on the moniker Archangel.
  • Nightcrawler writer Chuck Austen was asked by the filmmakers if there was anything about the character that nobody else knew about.  Austen told them that since Nightcrawler has two fingers on each hand, and two toes on each foot, it would stand to reason that the character would also have two sets of genitals.
  • Bryan Singer actually got the idea for Jean Grey’s death halfway through production.  When he met with Famke Janssen about killing off her character and then bringing her back as Phoenix in the next film, Janssen happily agreed and thought it was a great idea.
  • Director Bryan Singer makes a cameo as a security guard in the scene where Professor X and Cyclops meet Magneto.
  • The film’s screenwriters, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, make cameos as surgeons in Logan’s flashback scenes.
  • Shaquille O’Neal wanted to be in the film so bad that he campaigned for it.
  • Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Nightcrawler, but Alan Cumming got the part because he spoke fluent German.
  • When Nightcrawler shouts “Gehen Sie raus! Ich bin ein Büttel des Teufels! Ich bin die Ausgeburt des Bösen!” in the church, the translation to English is “Get out! I am a minion of the devil! I am the spawn of evil!”
  • The fight between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike took the actors and crew three weeks to film.
  • Kelly Hu, who played  Yuriko Oyama / Lady Deathstrike, only had one line in the entire movie.
  • Lady Deathstrike’s deadly Adamantium claws were actually glued to the bottom of Kelly Hu’s own fingernails.
  • During an interview on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Hugh Jackman recalled a scene where he had to run down the corridor nude.  As he turned the corner, he saw female cast members and James Marsden’s mom.  She was hooting at him and waving dollar bills.
  • When Hugh Jackman’s sister visited the set, they put her in Wolverine’s full make-up and costume as a prank.  As she walked around, her mannerisms were so much like Hugh’s that Bryan Singer thought it actually was Hugh.
  • To get the cat to lick Wolverine’s claws, frozen tea was put on the tips.
  • Anna Paquin performed her own stunt where Rogue is sucked out of a jet.
  • In the final scene inside of Xavier’s mansion, viewers will notice that Wolverine’s hair sits higher than usual.  This is because Hugh Jackman was also filming Van Helsing (2004) at the time and he had long hair.  The producers of Van Helsing only allowed Jackman one day to film his final X2 scene which meant he had to wear his Wolverine wig over his long hair.
  • Bruce Davison, who played Senator Kelly, and Brain Cox, who played William Stryker, are only 27 days apart in age.  But the character of Stryker indicates that Kelly is at least twenty years younger than him.
  • Magneto’s plastic prison is an homage to Hannibal Lecter’s prison in Silence of the Lambs (1991), which also saw the character of Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, perform a daring escape.  Consequently, Brian Cox played Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter (1986), a film based on the book Red Dragon that takes place before the events of Silence of the Lambs.  Director Bryan Singer cast Brian Cox based on his Manhunter performance.
  • For authenticity, Ian McKellan worked with the screenwriters for the scene involving Bobby Drake revealing to his parents that he’s a mutant.  The writer’s wanted it to look and sound like a realistic “coming out” scenario.
  • Professor X’s wheelchair from X-Men (2001) was sold to an attorney who worked for the same law firm as Patrick Stewart’s own attorney.  When the crew discovered that they couldn’t get a new wheelchair, the attorney rented it back to the studio.
  • Scenes where Professor X freezes everyone were performed by mimes and did not require the use of visual effects for people.
  • During the Dark Cerebro scene, director Bryan Singer planned to film two scenes dealing with Cerebro’s effects on mutants.  The scene that wasn’t shot was Hank McCoy in agony and then transforming into his Beast form.  The scene that was shot was Gambit at a card game where his powers flare up.  Gambit was played by Hugh Jackman’s stunt man, James Bamford, and filmed from behind, so as to leave his identity unknown.  These scenes were completely cut, and the one that was filmed has never been shown.
  • When Nightcrawler’s skin is shown from the waist up, the make-up effort for that shot took ten hours.
  • It took five hours to apply Rebecca Romijn-Stamos’s make-up for Mystique.
  • In the X-Men (2001), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos had to wear contact lenses when playing Mystique.  In X2, Mystique’s eyes were rendered digitally.
  • Both the filmmakers and Alan Cumming agreed that Nightcrawler wouldn’t be returning for X-Men: Last Stand (2006).  The reasons were that since Nightcrawler’s appearances were so minimal, the time and effort to apply his make-up wasn’t worth it.  Nightcrawler’s absence for the third movie was explained in a video game where he eventually became an X-Men, but left the team because he disliked the violent lifestyle.
  • When Jean Grey hears people’s thoughts in the science museum, the voices are a conglomerate of later scenes.  “To the shelter!” is a line that is said by a Secret Service agent when Nightcrawler attacks the White House.  “No!” is from Wolverine when he’s separated from Gen. Stryker from Iceman’s ice wall.  And “They’re gonna kill him!” is what Rogue says to Iceman and Pyro when she pleads to them to go back and help Wolverine.
  • Jean Grey’s closing monologue in the film is the same as Professor X’s opening monologue in X-Men (2001).
  • On Lady Deathstrike’s computer screen, multiple Marvel characters and references can be seen.
  • Before the assassination attempt on the President takes place, the portraits of past presidents in the background are all presidents who were actually assassinated — Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and William McKinley.
  • During the assassination attempt on the President by Nightcrawler, Dies Irae from Mozart’s Requiem is played.  Alan Cumming, who played Nightcrawler, shares the same birthday as Mozart.
  • The Oval office is an exact replica of the real one.
  • The replica of the President’s desk in the Oval office had so much detail that it took two months to construct.
  • The Oval office recreation was so well-built that it was reused later in the television series Stargate SG-1.
  • Xavier’s mansion also appears as Lex Luthor’s mansion for The CW’s Smallville.
  • The ice wall made by Iceman in the mansion was actually real ice and it weighed 3500 lbs.
  • The beer foam seen in the bar is fake.  Bryan Singer chose this route to avoid continuity errors.
  • Pyro’s cigarette lighter has a shark emblem on it.  This is a tribute to one of director Bryan Singer’s favorite movies — Jaws (1975).
  • When Ian McKellan and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos are sitting inside the helicopter, the rotating blades were actually a visual effect.  This is due to regulations regarding health and safety where helicopter blades are not allowed to be in motion when actors are sitting inside the helicopter.
  • The set for Stryker’s underground hideout was built in an old Sears warehouse and was the biggest set in North America.  Even though the set only used half of the warehouse, it was still so immense that the cast and crew had to bike to go to the bathroom.
  • To film the Arctic scene, the cast and crew went to Alberta, Canada for its heavy snow.  But due to a rare occasion of there being no snow, the crew ended up making their own.
  • The X-Men’s famed Danger Room was to make an appearance.  The set was built, but never used due to the actual filming being too expensive.

Make sure to come back each day because we still have four more days worth of superhero film trivia for you!

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A special thanks to Eric Dufresne for his amazing geometric superhero art that’s being used as the background for the advent calendar.