Classic Scene #1: “A God Among Insects”

A God Among Insects
from X-Men 2 (Bryan Singer, 2003)

The Scene: With the members of the X-Men scattered across the country following an attack on the mansion, the remaining members are forced into a shaky alliance with a recently escaped Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen). Whilst on board the X-Jet, Magneto doesn’t let the temporary truce stand in the way of taunting Rogue (Anna Paqiun) and trying to charm a new recruit…

Deconstruction: In a movie where the studio wants the focus of the action and the star power, it’s rare to find a scene that plays on the dialogue and actors skill, let alone one so deftly handled. In terms of cinematography Singer keeps things pretty standard in close-ups and two shots as needed, likewise the soundtrack is reigned in, leaving the director free to work solely with the actors.

The scene opens by reminding viewers that Magneto, up until now viewed as a more sympathetic character after his cartoon villain role in the first outing, hasn’t changed his spots with the Sahara dry “we just love what you’ve done to your hair”, a comment aimed at Rogue, reminding us of the events in the previous film. This leaves him free to sell his ideology to Pyro (Aaron Stanford).

Seeing Sir Ian McKellen oozing such charm and character is to be expected – his delivering of the script is spot on – but the surprise comes from Stanford. A stronger performance when placed next to his reinvention as a Dragon Ball character in ‘X-Men 3’, Stanford in this scene is at once nervous, outwardly cocky and finally feeling as though he’s found the mentor that Xavier never was for him. Magneto runs circles around the naive mutant and although it isn’t spoken, the viewer understands that his loyalty has shifted.

A mention to Rebecca Romijin, whose crafty smile speaks volumes about her relationship with Magneto.

Best Bit: “So they saw that you’re the bad guy.”
“Is that what they say?”

The line – he nailed it.