A pharmaceutical company called Worthington Labs announces that it has developed an inoculation to permanently suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their powers, offering the so-called “cure” to any mutant who wants it; the cure is derived from a mutant boy named Jimmy. While some mutants are interested in the cure, including the X-Men’s Rogue, many others are horrified by the announcement. In response to the news, the X-Men’s adversary Magneto raises an army, warning his followers that the cure will be forcefully used to exterminate the mutant race.
Cyclops, still heartbroken about the loss of Jean Grey, returns to Alkali Lake, where Jean sacrificed herself to save the X-Men. Jean appears to Cyclops, and as the two kiss, Jean changes and appears to kill Cyclops. Sensing trouble, Professor Charles Xavier sends Wolverine and Storm to investigate. When they arrive, the two X-Men encounter telekinetically floating rocks, Cyclops’ glasses, and an unconscious Jean. Meanwhile Magneto ambushes a military transport and frees Juggernaut, Mystique and Multiple Man, during which Mystique blocks a shot of the mutant cure aimed at Magneto, only to be left behind because she is not “one of them” anymore.
Xavier explains that the majority of Jean’s power is seated in her unconscious mind and that, as a result, her powers are largely fueled by instinct, and not under her complete control. In fact, when Jean was a little girl she was so powerful that he had to put telepathic blocks on her mind to help keep her powers under control. Her bottled up powers manifested themselves as an id-like alternate personality called the “Phoenix” — a purely instinctual creature, ruled only by its own violent desires. Wolverine is disgusted to learn that Xavier has kept Jean in check telepathically, but when Jean awakens, he realizes she is not the Jean Grey he knew. Wolverine asks about Cyclops, but she cannot remember and fears she killed him. Jean pleads with Wolverine to kill her before she harms anybody else, but when he refuses and offers to have Xavier help her, the Phoenix surfaces and telekinetically slams Wolverine into a wall. She then flees to her childhood home. Magneto, also aware that Jean’s powers are loose, meets Xavier at Jean’s house. The two men plead for Jean’s loyalty until the Phoenix resurfaces, unleashing her devastating power. Furious at being caged within Jean’s subconscious for twenty years, she destroys her family’s house and engages in a psychic battle with Xavier. She eventually overpowers and disintegrates Xavier then leaves with Magneto, temporarily weakened.
Following the losses of Xavier and Cyclops, and pained by her inability to get physically close to her boyfriend, Rogue decides to take the mutant cure. The X-Men regroup and confront Magneto’s army, which is attacking the pharmaceutical company’s laboratory on Alcatraz Island. The battle begins when Magneto moves the Golden Gate Bridge to land at Alcatraz Island, which is being guarded only by a company of soldiers. The Brotherhood’s first charge is ineffective as Magneto is unable to destroy the soldiers’ plastic weapons. The first group of mutants, which Magneto refers to as “pawns”, are hit with the cure cartridges and depowered. Arclight destroys the weapons with her shockwave, as the X-Men arrive. During the battle, Kitty Pryde leaves to save Jimmy and at the end of the battle, Iceman goes one-on-one with Pyro, where he transforms his entire body into ice and ends up defeating him, Beast injects Magneto with the cure, nullifying his mutant powers. After this, Wolverine nearly coaxes Jean back to sanity. However, soldiers arrive and fire upon Jean. The Phoenix quickly emerges and begins to disintegrate everything and everyone around her, vaporizing the soldiers. While the other X-Men flee to safety, Wolverine fights his way to Jean, relying upon his healing abilities to save him from her destructive power. Momentarily gaining control, Jean begs Wolverine to save her. Telling Jean he loves her, Wolverine reluctantly kills her with his claws.
Despite the X-Men’s losses, life goes on. The school will continue, even without Xavier. Rogue returns and tells Iceman she had to take the “cure.” The two reconcile and continue their relationship now able to touch each other. Magneto, now an ordinary man, sits at a chessboard and reaches out toward a metal chess piece that trembles slightly — indicating that the cure might not be as permanent as originally thought. Following the closing credits, Dr. Moira MacTaggert checks on a comatose patient who greets her with Xavier’s voice, implying that he has transferred his mind into this new body.
This is a fitting end to the X-Men saga. The characters have come a long way on screen since the first film, and the ending leaves you wondering if there will be a fourth.
There are those that have bashed this film for its bastardizing of “The Dark Phoenix” saga. I could do that, but I’ll leave that to true fanboys. I will say that it could have been handled better and closer to the actual story rather than some writer who probably saw the comic cover or heard the story and decided to write a screenplay based on that.
It was good to see Beast and Angel. However, I was a little disappointed because they made a huge to do about Angel being in the film and he was barely in the film, and on top of that he wasn’t involved in any of the fight scenes. It is my opinion that if they were going to have him and the cure storylines, then go on a and turn him into Archangel while you’re at it.
I have to wonder why, if Cyclops is supposed to be the leader of the X-Men, that in the movies he’s treated as nothing more than a glorified extra. In this one, he gets killed and they only briefly mention it. WTF?!?
There is no weak link in the X-Men trilogy, but this one seems to try its hardest to earn that dishonor. While it is an excllent film, it strays the farthest from the source material, thus alienating its core fan base, the fanboys and ruining a perfectly good storyline that could very well have been the basis for this film on its own. Still, its worth watching.
4 out of 5 stars