X-Men begins by introducing several of the movie’s lead characters along with their superhuman mutant powers. First is a young Eric Lensherr, later to become known as Magneto (Ian McKellen). As a young boy in war-torn Poland in 1944, Eric demonstrates his superpower of manipulating magnetic fields when he’s forcefully separated from his parents by Nazi soldiers. The movie jumps forward in time to the near future, where teenage Rogue (Anna Paquin) has run away from home after nearly killing a young boy. Rogue’s superpower enables her to suck out the life force of anyone she touches. If that person’s a mutant, she also inherits their superpowers. While on the run, Rogue meets Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a man whose superpowers enable him to heal any wounds within seconds.
Rogue and Wolverine are attacked by a mutant named Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) but are rescued by two X-Men – Storm (Halle Berry) and Cyclops (James Marsden). Storm and Cyclops take Rogue and Wolverine back to meet their leader, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), a mutant with the ability to control the minds of others. Xavier runs a school for young mutants, teaching the students how to use their superpowers responsibly.
Normal humans are afraid of mutants and their superpowers. In Congress, Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) is attempting to pass a ‘Mutant Registration Act’. This would force mutants to reveal their identities and superpowers. Magneto fears the Act will take away the rights and freedom of mutants. He’s built a machine that can transform normal humans into mutants. Magneto believes that if the people responsible for the Mutant Registration Act are transformed into mutants, they’ll no longer support their own bill. But Magneto needs Rogue’s special abilities to power his machine. Together with Mystique (Rebecca Romijin) and Toad (Ray Park), Magneto kidnaps Rogue and takes her to Liberty Island. They strap her into the machine on top of the statue of Liberty. It’s now up to the X-Men to save Rogue and destroy Magneto’s machine.
This movie contains a lot of violence. For example:
- Wolverine and another man have a fist fight in a mesh cage while people watch and cheer. Wolverine slams a man headfirst into the mesh. A short time later, the man’s unconscious body is dragged from the fighting pen. Wolverine fights a second man, who kicks him in the back and punches him in the head, knocking Wolverine to his knees. The man then kicks Wolverine several times in the stomach, the force of the kicks lifting him off the ground. Later the same man tries to stab Wolverine with a knife. He fails. Knife blades come out of Wolverine’s fists and cut the man’s neck.
- Wolverine drives a van with Rogue sitting in the passenger seat. The van hits a fallen tree, and Wolverine crashes through the windscreen. Wolverine picks himself up from the ground. There’s a bloody gash on his forehead and his bones make a cracking sound as he turns his head. A brutish-looking man (Sabretooth) attacks Wolverine, picking him up and hurling him through the air. He knocks down several trees as his body crashes into them. Sabretooth picks up a large log and hits Wolverine in the chest, which knocks Wolverine a hundred feet through the air to land on the bonnet of his van. Meanwhile, Rogue is trapped inside the van, which has caught on fire.
- Wolverine lies in bed asleep and seems to be having a nightmare. Rogue enters and stands next to the bed. Wolverine wakes up, sitting bolt upright. There’s the sound of blades coming out of his fists. Rogue gasps as three knife blades go through her back. The blades withdraw, leaving three small bloody wounds behind. Rogue touches Wolverine’s face and both their faces look old. Blue veins come up from Wolverine’s skin as Rogue sucks out his life energy. Her wounds close up and heal within seconds while Wolverine falls to the floor unconscious.
- Magneto uses his powers to lift dozens of guns into the air and point them at police. A bullet stops as it reaches a policeman’s forehead. The bullet slowly rotates and penetrates his skin, while the policeman screams in pain and fear before the bullet falls harmlessly to the ground.
- Toad falls from above and lands on top of a policeman, squashing him flat. There’s a split-second image of the squashed body beneath Toad’s feet, but no blood and gore is shown. In several other scenes, Toad uses his 20-foot tongue to catch victims and hurl them through the air.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has several scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- Sabretooth has a beast-like appearance. He has long hair, bushy eyebrows, fangs, long black claws and black eyes. He never talks, but growls like a lion.
- Mystique has yellow cat-like eyes and blue scaly skin covering her body. She can change her appearance so she looks exactly like other people.
- Toad has black eyes and a toad-like tongue that can extend 20 feet from his mouth. In one scene, he uses his tongue to catch and eat a small bird. Toad climbs up walls and across ceilings.
- Senator Kelly has his face forced against prison bars, which pushes his face out of shape and makes his eyes come out of his head. Later Senator Kelly hangs on to a cliff face by his fingertips. When someone grabs his hands to pull him to safety, his hands stretch as if they’re made of rubber. Then he falls into the sea. He walks out of the sea looking like a bloated corpse with wounds on his back. Within seconds, his body starts changing from a bloated corpse back to normal, and the cuts on his back heal.
- Another scene shows sudden disturbing images of Senator Kelly’s body expanding and changing. It looks like he’s turning to jelly and then exploding, leaving nothing behind.
- Magneto tells Rogue that he’s going to kill her and that her sacrifice will mean the survival of other mutants. Later Rogue is handcuffed to a machine that will kill her. She cries and calls for help.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Some children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
X-Men contains a couple of very low-level sexual references. For example:
- Wolverine lies on an operating table with a bare chest. He says to the woman assisting him, ‘So you couldn’t wait to get my shirt off again’.
- Wolverine flirts with a woman. When the woman’s boyfriend walks in, Wolverine asks him if he’s going to ask Wolverine to stay away from his girl.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie shows some use of substances. For example:
- Wolverine smokes cigars on several occasions.
- Wolverine drinks spirits and beer.
- Rogue is struck in the back of the neck with a hypodermic syringe, which makes her fall unconscious immediately.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Women wear low-cut tops that show some cleavage.
- A teenage girl and boy lie on a bed kissing.
- A naked man walks out of the sea and up onto a beach. His nakedness is partly hidden because his body is grotesquely bloated and distorted.
None of concern
This movie contains occasional low-level coarse language and mild name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
X-Men is a science fiction action adventure targeted at adolescent boys. It’s very entertaining for its target audience, but is too violent and scary for younger children.
The main message from this movie is that segregating people who are different is evil and will lead to civil unrest and upheaval.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:
- Self-sacrifice: on several occasions, Wolverine shows that he’s willing to sacrifice his life to protect and save Rogue’s life.
- Empathy: Wolverine shows empathy towards Rogue when he listens to, understands and responds to her distress.
You could talk about the way the movie’s presents discrimination and segregation and how that might relate to the treatment of minority groups today and in the past.