MOTW: Five Fun Facts About the Making of "X2"

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As scientist named William Stryker discovers Professor X's secret school and Cerebro, Magneto's partner, Mystique, is planning to break her leader out of prison. But when Professor X's school is attacked by Stryker's forces, Logan, Rogue, Iceman and a few are lucky to escape. Those who remain meet in Boston, where they form an uneasy alliance with Magneto to stop Stryker and rescue Professor X.
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
June 4th, 2013

MOTW: Five Fun Facts About the Making of "X2"

In 2003, "X2," the sequel to "X-Men," hit theaters. Fans flocked to get a look at their favorite characters, such as Wolverine and Storm, from the previous movie. "X2" was also full of new characters, comic-book nods, and fun facts for die-hard fans. Almost as epic as the movie's story line is what the cast and others went through to make the film. Here's a look at five fun facts about the making of "X2."

Audiences might imagine that the makeup costs for the X-Men movies were substantial. What viewers may not realize is how much time and effort the crew and cast put into creating authentic-looking mutants. Alan Cumming, who played Nightcrawler, endured extensive makeup sessions. In order to create the waist-up look required in one scene, Cumming sat in the makeup chair for ten hours. Cumming isn't the only one who took extreme costume measures; Kelly Hu grew her fingernails longer so that claws could be glued to them. Other performers, including Rebecca Romijn, spent hours in makeup before each scene was shot.

The crew not only put effort into creating authentic-looking characters but also spent a lot of time building believable sets. They spent two months building a replica of the president's desk for the Oval Office. One set associated with the dam was in a museum; in order to make the set appear old, the design team brought in a lot of props and made numerous changes. Every change was reversible, however, because the crew had to return the museum to its original state after filming. For scenes requiring snow, the crew traveled to Alberta, Canada. Murphy's law struck, though-no snow existed when the crew arrived, and fake snow had to be used to create those scenes. Another huge set was Stryker's underground lair. The design team built the set in an abandoned Sears warehouse. The set broke records as the largest in North America, and the crew had to use bicycles to travel back and forth to the restroom.

The filmmakers kept an eye on every detail to ensure the best possible outcome for every scene. In addition to makeup and sets, filmmakers made wise decisions when it came to extras. For instance, in scenes that required everyone to stay frozen, most of the extras were actually professional mime artists. The director wanted people who were used to standing motionless for periods of time to make filming easier. One example of such a scene is when Professor X freezes everyone in the Oval Office.

One of the iconic roles in "X2" is Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. Although Jackman didn't have to endure long hours in the makeup chair, he did have his share of work preparing for the role. First, he trained extensively with a personal trainer to build his muscles and develop the fitness needed for some of the action scenes. Incidentally, the trainer he used was the same person who trained Angelina Jolie in preparation for the "Tomb Raider" movies. The somewhat slim Jackman also had to bulk up for the role as Wolverine. He worked with a nutritionist to put on twenty pounds for the role.

Despite all the work by actors and crew, not everything required by the movie could be accomplished in real life. A number of elements had to be added digitally during edit. Mystique's eyes and the marks on Cyclops' neck were added during editing. In one scene, actors were sitting in a mobile helicopter; the blades of the helicopter had to be animated after the scene was shot because regulations required no blade motion when the performers were sitting inside. One prop that would have been difficult to add in editing was Professor X's wheelchair, and filmmakers almost had to do without it. The prop was sold at auction after the first movie; the owner of the wheelchair rented it back to the studio for use in the second movie. According to reports, he didn't lease it cheaply.

In addition to fun facts about the making of "X2," a number of Easter eggs can be noticed throughout the film. Comic-book fans will recognize numerous familiar names embedded in the file list on Yuriko's computer and know that the phoenix on the back of Jean's jacket is a reference to her character's metamorphosis in the comics. Viewers with an eye for detail will also see references to numerous comic-book characters that don't fully appear in the movie, including Archangel. Overall, "X2" is an epic movie with an epic backstory; it's fun to learn about the characters and what the production team went through to bring them to life.