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Why we can't wait to see ''X2''

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Kelly Hu, X2: X-Men United

Why we can’t wait to see ”X2”

THE STORY Professor Xavier and his Mutant Academy come under fire after a mutant attack on the U.S. President. The government, led by a determined General Stryker (Brian Cox), launches an eradication initiative, and the superheroes must side with ”X-Men” Übervillain Magneto to save mutant-kind.

THE GOODIES Where to begin? New mutants, including Aaron Stanford (”Tadpole”) as Pyro, Alan Cumming (”Nicholas Nickleby”) as Nightcrawler, and Kelly Hu (”The Scorpion King”) as Yuriko Oyama (above). Plus, Storm (Halle Berry) has a new hairdo — closely cropped white locks — and the X-Jet has been retooled for increased screen time.

LOOK FOR X-Men like Banshee, Colossus, Gambit, Jubilee, Shadowcat, and the larger-than-life Sentinels (King Kong-size killing machines). But forget about budget-breakers like Archangel and Beast and the expensive Danger Room training grounds — which were proposed in early drafts, but dropped from the final film.

BURNING QUESTION With Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (returning as Mystique) and Alan Cumming complaining to the press about the difficulties of their makeup application, why not just recruit the Blue Man Group?

TREND WATCH Uh, comic book movies. Duh.

COULD BE The beginning of a franchise with ”Halloween”-ish endurance (”X-Men” comics rival the Bible in terms of the number of characters). Or… the end. With rumors of director Bryan Singer’s unhappiness, might he pull a Tim Burton and abandon the franchise?