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X2 casts net wider than the Big Two
Alan Cumming (left) and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, cast members of X2: X-Men United, at the film premiere in Los Angeles. (Reuters)

Los Angeles, April 29 (Reuters): It’s bigger, faster and darker than the original movie, so perhaps it’s not surprising that it is receiving a bigger screen debut than Spider-Man or Harry Potter.

It’s the new X-Men film, X2: X-Men United, and studio Twentieth Century Fox hopes the sequel story about a universe of mutants will kick off this week with a box office bang.

X2 opens in 93 countries and territories around the world, marking the broadest opening ever for a movie — wider than Harry Potter and Spider-Man.

The first film, 2000’s X-Men, raked in the cash — $294 million worldwide on a reported budget of $75 million, prompting film makers to believe the sequel could be even more profitable if they ratcheted up the action.

To some fans of the comic book series, the initial X-Men movie lacked energy and excitement that might be expected of the comic franchise.

Not so X2. In early screenings in Los Angeles, fans have been cheering their favourite characters like Wolverine, Magneto, Storm and Mystique. With a budget of more than $100 million, the sequel was free to show the fire and ice, claws and body armour that are the hallmark of X2.

X2 takes up where the first film left off, with Sir Ian McKellen’s metal-controlling villain Magneto locked up in a plastic prison and Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier still teaching gifted young mutants.

But a high-profile attack by a mutant with the ability to teleport — Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler — brings renewed attention to the brewing differences and struggles between mutants and humanity.

The attack draws in William Stryker, a military man with a shady past and even more suspect motives, to try and gain control of the “mutant problem”.

It also draws back Logan, the clawed mutant known as Wolverine, to Xavier’s school. Played by Australian actor Hugh Jackman, Wolverine takes an aggressive role defending his fellow mutants. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos plays Mystique.

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