Considered by comic book fans to be one of the better film adaptations to spring from the pulp genre, X-Men is an exciting, well-crafted action picture that shuttles the career of director Bryan Singer from the world of low-budget, independent filmmaking into the mainstream studio fold. The film's Achilles heel is its complicated juggling act of multiple characters and plot lines, but Singer must be forgiven for squeezing a story that has unfolded over 30 years into a two-hour time frame. For the most part he succeeds admirably, maintaining an obvious affection and regard for his tale's comic book roots and making the essential artistic choice of taking it all seriously (as the series of sequels that followed Batman (1989) prove, a tongue-in-cheek approach can become quickly wearisome). Singer also scores on the casting front, with strong performances from several of his key players, most notably veterans Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. The cast standout, however, is Australian newcomer Hugh Jackman, who bites into his role of Wolverine with leonine aggression, preserving a sense of latent intelligence just under the surface of his broiling, testosterone-fueled anger. X-Men will make Jackman a star, and with a healthy box-office tally, it's a safe bet that 20th Century Fox will be making a sequel.