MOTW: Top Five Quotes From "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: Red Dwarf Media
June 5th, 2013

MOTW: Top Five Quotes From "X2"

"X2," is the sequel to the huge smash hit "X-Men," which explored the contours of the moral landscape and offered a thought-provoking meditation on what it means to be human via the expedient device of indestructible mutants shooting laser beams out of their eyes. That's not a joke, by the way, the X-series, whether in comics, cartoons, or the big screen has always been chiefly concerned with using the outlandish and the extreme to offer a fresh perspective on the mundane. Also, eye-lasers.

The sequel may be, if anything, more in keeping with the original spirit of the "X-Men" franchise. While the production elements and "mutants heroically save the world" plot is standard fare, it's in the quotes from the movie that one will find the essence of the series' core philosophy. Here, then, are five of the most memorable quotes from "X2."

Wolverine: "Got any beer?"
Bobby: "This is a school."
Wolverine: "So that's a no?"
Bobby: "Yeah, that's a no."
Wolverine: "Got anything other than chocolate milk?"

The nice thing about this exchange between Bobby and Wolverine is it not only establishes their relative characters with minimal exposition and limited time, but it also helps to create a delightful mood of insouciance that will set the pace for the rest of these characters' interaction with each other. The carelessness with which Wolverine asks is rebuffed and finally expresses a kind of sneering contempt for even the institution of the school. Not just this school, but school. Wolverine is a very bad boy, after all, and while he generally winds up doing what's right for others, it just wouldn't be in keeping with his backstory to play nicely with others. This exchange expresses that with sublime ease.

Mrs. Madeline Drake: [to Bobby] "Have you ever tried ... not being a mutant?"

Yes, Bobby; have you ever tried just denying the central fact of your existence for the convenience of those around you? In a very real way, Mrs. Drake's exasperated question is asked of everyone to some extent. Even the biggest conformist in the world will sometimes find it difficult to fit in or have some private aspect that's best left discreet. Whatever it is, the world-sometimes in the guise of one's own worn-out parents-will plead what amounts to "can't you just be normal and in denial?" This is really too bad, but as every kid should learn growing up, the only practical answer is a loving but firm "no."

William Stryker: "The tricky thing about adamantium is, that if you ever manage to process its raw, liquid form, you got to keep it that way, keep it hot. Because once the metal cools, it's indestructible. But you already know that."

This one is included just for the peek it gives into the process of writing a plausible movie plot about mutants and impossible technology. Movie lines that end with something like "but you already know that" are pure exposition of exactly the kind writers aren't supposed to do. The basic rule of realistic writing is "show, don't tell," and it's obeyed for the most part. Unfortunately, when the movie deals with super powers and equally super technology, some exposition is unavoidable if the audience is to know what's going on and where to feel suspense. When, as here, it takes the form of essentially knocking down the fourth wall and reading the movie's accompanying study guide directly to the audience, it can be a lot of fun, provided the writer always remembers to add the ending "but. . ."

William Stryker: "Sergeant, kill everyone that approaches; even if it is me."

Stryker speaks this line as a form of insurance against Mystique impersonating him to penetrate security. This isn't a bad idea, and is actually the definition of tight security, but can end in tears if Stryker forgot his keys inside.

Dr. Jean Grey: "I keep feeling something bad is supposed to happen ..."

This is one of the best lines of the movie. Context actually spoils it since it stands alone so well as a way of expressing that nagging feeling everybody gets when things go too well for too long. It's as if people just aren't wired up to be comfortable for too long and have to keep pushing until it all ends in tears. Of course, all things-including thoughtful, well-written articles about movies-must end sometime, and so in a very real sense, something bad really is "about to happen" to everybody.