Wolverine's off exploring his ice bound origins, Jean Grey's worrying about her emerging Phoenix powers and her boring Mum haircut (probably). Thanks to Monster's Ball and eye candy turns in Die Another Day and Swordfish, Storm is now allowed in-front of the camera. She gets to lead a reconnaissance mission and fly a ridiculous plane that looks like a Lockheed SR-71 designed by Japanese toymakers. Storm also has a much better haircut than Jean Grey. How's that for a promotion? Rogue's thriving at school; she's landed herself a new boyfriend, Iceman, who looks like Zack from Saved by the Bell and does very little even when the group is threatened with fifty foot waves. You'd think his total mastery of background water vapour would be a boon. Oh and Cyclops still has a curtain fringe and a blue Mazda that he doesn't drive? They're struggling to find things for him to do.
X2 is more confident and assured than its predecessor. Action peaks early with the introduction of a teleporting goblin named Nightcrawler. Every dust-up after is just okay. Each of the X-Men are finally allowed to be a gifted, individual components instead of a bunch of irritating bores. Wolverine is still the matinee star focus mind you, fighting female opposites and dimly snooping around military mutation tanks, but at least we aren't asked to consider everything in this world from his perspective. The bad mutants get a push too - Mystique is easily the most capable character in the whole film, quietly accomplishing amazing feats while the rest struggle with basic heavies. Magneto gets so much dramatic lifting that his character starts to feel schizophrenic. I understand the impetuous. Sir Ian McKellen is so good he'll make it all look like a breeze - and he does - but by the end Magneto is less a consistent organic character and more a rolling plot generator. In particular, his decision to leave Professor X to the wolves has the distinct whiff of bullshit about it.