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Saturday February 24th 2024

X-Men 2 (X2) | 2003

X2 location: Hatley Castle, Vancouver
X2 location: ‘Professor Xavier’s academy’ in ‘Westchester’: Hatley Castle, Vancouver | Photograph: Wikimedia / John Maushammer

The sequel to X-Men moves from the East coast of Canada to West coast, forsaking Toronto for Vancouver, British Columbia, with Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) joining forces against mutantophobic militarist William Stryker (Brian Cox).

Stryker’s underground lair was built in the Mammoth Studios, a former Sears department store and warehouse, which boasts the largest soundstage in North America.

Professor Xavier’s school seems to have undergone a little mutation of its own. It’s now Hatley Castle, Royal Roads University, Colwood on Vancouver Island, across the Georgia Strait, 60 miles west from the city of Vancouver itself. There are ferries from Vancouver to Victoria, which is just a few miles east of Colwood, or you can fly direct to Victoria International Airport.

Built in 1908, Hatley Castle served as dormitory and mess hall for cadets and staff officers at Royal Roads Military College and is now the administrative centre of Royal Roads University. There are guided tours.

The Castle has been seen in loads of TV shows, including Poltergeist: The Legacy, Smallville, The Killing and Arrow, and on the big screen in X-Men: The Last Stand and Deadpool.

And late reshoots meant that the school mutates once again, for the final scene. The exterior is an outtake (of Toronto’s Parkwood Estate) from the first movie, and the interior, with Xavier reading The Once and Future King to the kids, is Littleton Park House, on the lot of Shepperton Studios, southwest of London. As such, it’s not really surprising that the mansion regularly features on screen, in films such as The Omen, The Pure Hell Of St Trinian's, The Mummy and Batman Begins. The studio is not open for yours. Shepperton was built around the old mansion at Littleton Park, which was built in the 17th century by a local nobleman called Thomas Wood.

Another brief diversion (filmed after the Vancouver shoot had wrapped) sees the pillared court at the west entrance to Los Angeles City Hall, 200 North Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles standing in for the ‘Washington DC’ capital building as the fake Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) morphs back into Yuriko (Kelly Hu).

Pyro (Aaron Stanford) flips out after being provoked by local lads – foreshadowing his defection to the mutants’ militant wing – on a trip to the ‘science museum’. You won’t be able to visit the museum, which was created in Vancouver’s public convention centre, the Plaza of Nations, 750 Pacific Boulevard, on the False Creek waterfront at Concord Pacific Place. Built for Expo ’86, the centre’s future is in doubt and part of it has already been demolished.

X2 location: St Andrew’s Wesley Church, Nelson Street, Vancouver
X2 location: the 'Boston' church in which Nightcrawler is discovered: St Andrew’s Wesley Church, Nelson Street, Vancouver | Photograph: Wikimedia / Torecles

Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Storm (Halle Berry) head up to ‘Boston’ to track the mutant who invaded the White House. The church in which they discover Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), is St Andrew’s-Wesley Church, 1012 Nelson Street, at Burrard Street, downtown Vancouver. The same church pops up again for the mutant action meeting in X-Men: The Last Stand.

The snowbound ‘Alkali Lake’ dam is between Upper  and Lower Kananaskis Lakes in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park near Kananaskis, Alberta – which was also featured in Brokeback Mountain.

For the dambursting sequence, a 60-foot model was recreated in Van Nuys, just north of LA.