X2 (also known in promotional materials as X2: X-Men United, and X-Men 2 internationally) is the 2003 sequel to X-Men, once again directed by Bryan Singer. The premise, inspired by Chris Claremont's graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, pits the X-Men and their enemies, the Brotherhood, against the genocidal Colonel William Stryker. He leads an assault on Professor Xavier's school to build his own version of Xavier's mutant-tracking computer Cerebro, in order to destroy every mutant on Earth.
Development phase for X2 began shortly after X-Men. David Hayter and Zak Penn wrote separate scripts, combining what they felt to be the best elements of both scripts into one screenplay. Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris were eventually hired for rewrite work, changing characterizations of Beast, Angel and Lady Deathstrike. Sentinels and the Danger Room were set to appear before being deleted because of budget concerns. Filming began in June 2002 and ended that November. Most of the filming took place at Vancouver Film Studios, the largest soundstage in North America. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas adapted similar designs of John Myhre from the previous film. X2 was released in the US on May 2 2003 and became both a critical and financial success, earning eight nominations at the Saturn Awards and grossing approximately US$408 million worldwide. It was followed by another sequel, X-Men: The Last Stand without Singer returning as director.
Nightcrawler, a teleporting mutant, attempts to assassinate the President in the White House, but he fails and escapes. Wolverine reappears after discovering nothing at Alkali Lake, while Storm and Jean find Nightcrawler with the help of Professor Xavier and Cerebro. Cyclops and Professor X visit Magneto in his plastic prison to see if he had any part in the attack on the President. Reading Magneto's mind, Professor X discovers that a covert government operative, William Stryker, has been extracting information from Magneto. A trap is sprung and Cyclops and Professor X are captured by Stryker and his assistant Yuriko Oyama. A military raid of the X-Mansion begins, with the soldiers sedating every student they find, some escape, while Wolverine finds Stryker, but is unable to find anything about his past.
Impersonating Senator Robert Kelly and Yuriko, Mystique gains information about Magneto's prison and provides a means for him to escape. Wolverine, along with Rogue, Iceman and Pyro, heads to Iceman's home in Boston. After a 9-1-1 call by Bobby's brother Ronnie, the police arrive just as the group is about to leave, ensuing into a dispute with Pyro. The X-Jet arrives to pick them all up, and the X-Men team with Magneto and Mystique. Magneto has learned Stryker orchestrated the attack on the President and has been experimenting on mutants, using a drug injected directly into the back of the neck to control them. Jean reads Nightcrawler's mind and determines that Stryker's base is located at Alkali Lake, inside the dam. He has also stolen enough equipment from Xavier's own Cerebro unit to build a second Cerebro, with which he plans to kill all the world's mutants.
Stryker gains control over Professor Xavier through his son, Jason Stryker, who is able to project powerful visions in the mind, blinding a person to reality. Professor X is instructed to use Cerebro to find and kill all existing mutants. Mystique infiltrates Stryker's base using a number of disguises. As the X-Men enter Storm and Nightcrawler pair off, searching for kidnapped students. Jean, Magneto, and Mystique are attacked by a brainwashed Cyclops on their way to rescue Professor X, causing damage to the generators that keep the dam from collapsing. The force of Jean's telekinetic blast awakens Cyclops from his brainwashing. Wolverine finds Stryker in an adamantium smelting room along with Lady Deathstrike. Wolverine and Deathstrike begin fighting, but it ends with Wolverine killing her. Wolverine finds Stryker on a landing pad, while Stryker attempts to bargain Wolverine with stories of his past. Wolverine leaves him for dead, stabbing him and chaining him to the helicopter wheel.
Mystique, disguised as Stryker, uses Jason to convince Professor X to kill all humans. Magneto and Mystique use Stryker's helicopter to escape Alkali Lake, chaining Stryker to concrete rubble, and are also joined by Pyro. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler teleports Storm inside of Cerebro, where she frees the Professor from his telepathic illusion. A malfunction aboard the X-Jet prevents it from taking off, and the dam finally bursts. The flood gets stronger, drowning Stryker. Jean leaves the jet and creates a telekinetic wall in order to stop the wave, and at the same time raises the jet above the flood waters; all the while surrounded by a corona of fire. Jean activates the X-Jet's primary engines, before releasing the torrent of water down on herself. The X-Men are able to supply the President with files from Stryker's private offices, and Professor X warns him that humans and mutants must work together to build peace, or they will destroy each other through war. The film ends with a voiceover by Jean Grey, on the process of evolution. The camera floats over Alkali Lake, showing a vague shape of a Phoenix in the lake.
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine