X-Men: The Last Stand ending explained: Being human

X-Men: The Last Stand is one of the most divisive superhero movies of all time, and its ending has a lot to do with that. Let's break down the 2006 film's conclusion.

Phoenix vs Charles Xavier  - Charles Xavier Death Scene - X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) Movie Clip
Phoenix vs Charles Xavier - Charles Xavier Death Scene - X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) Movie Clip / BestScene
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Fox's X-Men franchise dominated the box office throughout the 2000s, flying the flag for the superhero genre at a time when there weren't that many caped crusaders on the big screen. The saga had already seen two very successful outings by the time 2006 rolled around and its third installment, X-Men: The Last Stand, ended up becoming the most expensive movie ever made at the time. Thankfully, it made even more money for the franchise as its most successful film at the time.

The movie was a divisive one for fans though, with a number of jaw-dropping moments and story developments leaving many of them uncertain about the direction the film series was going in. It's hard to argue with that given how shocking those moments were, and none were more shocking than the end of the movie. With that, let's dive into all of the major plot points in The Last Stand's ending sequence and what it meant for the franchise.

X-Men: The Last Stand post-credits scene explained

Post-credits scenes are synonymous with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Fox was out here doing it even earlier than the MCU, with X-Men: The Last Stand featuring one of the most shocking in the genre's history.

The scene features Moira MacTaggert checking on a comatose patient only to be greeted by what sounds like the voice of Professor Charles Xavier. It's a shocking moment because Professor X died much earlier in the movie when his body literally disintegrated in a battle of the minds with Jean Grey. So does that mean he is alive, after all? The short answer: Yes.

If you remember, in the opening act of the movie, Charles told his students about a mutant born with a fully functioning body but without a consciousness, meaning that the man needed medical assistance to remain alive. He then theorized about the possibility of placing another person's consciousness into that body one day and whether it would cross the line. Well, it looks like he found a way to place his own consciousness into that man's body.

Charles has perhaps the most powerful mind of all mutants, so it isn't really that surprising that he managed to survive an attack that disintegrated his body. The question is: Where did he go from there?

We'll not get into too many spoilers in case you're watching the X-Men franchise for the first time, but as The Last Stand was the end of the original trilogy and the saga took a different direction after that, we never really get those answers. We will say this though: It's not the last time you see Patrick Stewart in the franchise.

Logan kills Jean Grey to free her

One of the primary storylines in X-Men: The Last Stand revolved around Jean Grey's transformation into the Dark Phoenix. It was a separate personality within Jean that Professor X had once walled off in her mind in order to allow the real Jean to live her life. Unfortunately, her sacrifice (and apparent death) in X2 allowed the Phoenix to break free and kill.

But Jean was still in there, forced to watch her alternate self kill her loved ones and reign down horror on the world. There was no greater example of that in the film that its final battle when an attempt by the military to inject her with the mutant "cure" sent her over the edge. The Phoenix began disintegrating everything within sight - a moment that made even Magneto ask himself what he had done by freeing her.

Wolverine managed to make it to her and, upon reaching the real Jean within, killed her with one swift blow with his claws. She lifelessly collapsed into Logan's arms as he groaned in pain - distraught that he had to kill the woman he loved.

Throughout the whole movie, Logan had to contend with the fact that he may have been forced to kill Jean. He didn't want to believe it because of how much he loved her, but he knew that he was the only one who could get close enough to do it. Not only was Logan strong enough to get close to her (his skin healed everytime it began to disintegrate), he was able to get through to her; so when Jean asked him to kill her, he reluctantly obliged.

Magneto gets his powers back

Another major plot point from the ending of the movie saw Magneto injected with the mutant cure. It took place during his attack on Alcatraz Island when he battled Wolverine, which provided the perfect distraction for Beast to inject him with it. Horrified that he had become human, Magneto retreated back over the bridge and disappeared into the night. However, when we saw him again in San Francisco, he was alone under the bridge playing chess. Although human, he attempted to move one of the pieces with his mind... and it wobbled.

Needless to say this suggested that Magneto's powers had begun to return to him, which raises questions about the long-term effectiveness of the mutant cure. This was pretty much confirmed when he returned in direct sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past with his powers intact. It's never addressed as to how he got his powers back, but you can pretty much guess - something that writer Simon Kinberg also spoke about:

"There is a scene before the credits where Magneto's playing chess, and you see that he can just make the chess piece move, so there's a hint that he's starting to regain his powers. The leap from there was that cure from The Last Stand didn't work exactly the way they thought it would, and so we just leaped forward however many years, and he's got his powers back."

So if you haven't yet seen the rest of the X-Men movies, you can rest assured that Magneto is back at it with his powers sooner rather than later (and the same appears to go for Rogue, who willingly took the cure in the movie). Sure, an explanation would have been welcome, but as the sequels tackle a different storyline, it's understandable that they just let the time jump do the talking.

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