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The first movie in the X-Men Cinematic Universe (and the first movie set entirely in the Old Timeline), the movie starts with some guy with claws, and a runaway teenage girl who accidentally puts her boyfriend in a coma by kissing him. She's named Marie, but calls herself Rogue, and hitchhikes with the guy-with-claws ("Logan") until they get attacked by a big guy who also has claws, just less cool ones, and then are rescued by a guy wearing a weird visor and a woman directing a snowstorm.
Okay, so, comic books can be a little goofy at times.
Logan wakes up in the infirmary of a school. Unlike most schools, this one teaches Mutants--people like Logan who have unusual powers. The school also has its own team of superheroes: the X-Men. The bald, wheelchair-bound psychic Professor Xavier runs both the school and the X-Men, and he offers for both Logan and Marie to stay with them.
After introducing these major characters, the movie gets to work on the plot: Magneto (the boss of the bad guy with claws) has invented a machine that turns humans into mutants (with the unfortunate side effect of killing them shortly after). He mounts the machine in the torch of the Statue of Liberty, with the intention of using it on a major UN Conference. Unfortunately, using the machine that much would kill him, so he kidnaps Marie (aka Rogue) with the intention of forcing her to absorb his powers and run the machine for him. Wolverine leads the rescue effort.
- Actor Allusion: Toad whirls a pipe in a menacing manner, a reference to how his actor Ray Park played Darth Maul.
- May or may not be intentional, but Professor Xavier's wheelchair sure looks a lot like Captain Picard's command chair onboard the Enterprise.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Magneto's mutation machine. It is never explained what exactly it's doing to so specifically alter a person's genome (namely, activating the latent X-gene in normals).
- Big Applesauce: A justifiable location for a meeting of Heads of State, as it is the home of the U.N.
- Color Me Black: In a Fantastic Racism version, Magneto turns anti-mutant Senator Kelly into a mutant.
- Conscience Makes You Go Back: After Wolverine finds Rogue stowed away in his truck, he's about to leave her by the side of the road until he realizes he can't.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Senator Kelly melts from his mutations.
- Darker and Edgier: In this film, you can pinpoint the exact moment the world started taking comic book films seriously. Here's a hint: it takes place inside a concentration camp...
- Death by Cameo: Two of the writers appear as guards who are killed.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Rogue tries to wake up Wolverine during a nightmare and he attacks her. Good thing he can heal and she can steal his powers...
- Foreshadowing: The "X-Men 1.5" Directors Cut has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Deleted Scene where the energy pulse from Magneto's device washes over the X-Men. Jean Grey is the only one who shows a physical reaction to the flash; this would seem to be the event that activated the Phoenix Force which would become so important in the next two movies. The second film acted as if this scene had been left in, with Scott and Jean discussing how her powers had changed since the Statue of Liberty.
- Hollywood Darkness: In the scene outside the train station (where Magneto confronts the police). If you watch the making-of video, you can see it was shot in broad daylight.
- Monumental Battle: On the Statue of Liberty.
- Mythology Gag: When Wolverine questions the team's uniform, Cyclops sarcastically asks if he would rather dress in a yellow spandex (Wolverine's suit in comic books is yellow with blue ornaments).
- No Ontological Inertia: When Wolverine's powers of healing are drained by Rogue, he ends up regaining every injury he's suffered over the course of the last two days.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: To stop the machine, they needed both Storm's power and Jean Grey's finer control to get Wolverine up to the torch, Wolverine's claws to land and to break the machine, his healing to bring Rogue back from near-death, and Cyclops' long-range Eye Beams as a back-up plan.
- Shut UP, Hannibal: Wolverine calls Magneto out on his hypocrisy for making Rogue take his place in the machine that will most likely kill her: "You're so full of shit! If you were really so righteous it'd be you in that thing."
- Staring Kid: The kid on the beach poking a jellyfish stares at Senator Kelly after he emerges from the ocean and absorbs his gills. Of course, everyone is staring at him, but the kid gets special emphasis.
- The Runaway: Marie a.k.a Rogue runs away from home after her power manifests itself while kissing her boyfriend, causing him to have a seizure and fall into a coma for three weeks.
- Throw It In: A couple of Hugh Jackman's lines (usage of Wolverine's classic "Bub", and also, the page quote of Code Name was supposed to end in "Baldie", not "Wheels").
- Two Shots From Behind the Bar: When Logan threatened a customer with his claws, the bartender quickly aimed a shotgun point blank at his head. He promptly sliced the shotgun in half, demonstrating why you should never bring a gun to a clawfight.
- Weaponized Landmark: Magneto's mutation machine is hidden in the Statue of Liberty.