A freakin' radio. That's literally the best they ever do with long distance communication in the whole series. The gaping cellphone shaped hole in the X-Men's universe would be easy enough to ignore if it weren't for this:
"Can you hear me now? No? Then why don't we go pick up some goddamn iPhones."
That is the cellphone-looking device Wolverine uses to try to communicate with the rest of the team after they're separated in X2. But rather than functioning like an actual cellphone, it doesn't seem to have any buttons, and when he tries to use it, all he gets is static. When Wolverine gets into closer proximity to Storm and the others, his "phone" begins to ring and he is able to communicate with the radio frequency the jet is using ... and only the jet. At this point it becomes clear that the device Wolverine had been carrying the whole film -- the one that the filmmakers seem to have designed to look like a cell phone -- was actually a fancy-looking walkie-talkie.
Maybe there's some deleted scene where the X-Men explain that they've intentionally decided to steer clear of cellphones because they're traceable. Except the FCC and FAA are more than capable of tracing and tapping radio waves as well, which they totally do in X2. Two jets meet up with the X-Men jet and are instantly listening in and broadcasting into their channel before shooting them down.
"You guys realize this is the 21st century, right? My kid could hear you on his walkie-talkie."
So to recap, the filmmakers actively remind us of the existence of cellphone technology while refusing to give our heroes access to it. This leaves, "the filmmakers are screwing with us" as the only remaining logical explanation.
How It Would Have Changed Things:
All three films involve situations where the simple ability to talk on the phone might have averted a disaster (for example: every time Rogue runs away and gets in trouble), but the second one takes the prize.
Much of the plot of X2 hinges on everyone's inability to communicate with people that aren't standing right there -- since Wolverine can't get the shitty walkie-talkie to work after the mansion is attacked, he decides to drive all the way to Boston to Iceman's house, along with Rogue and Pyro. At this point Iceman's brother calls the police ...
"He must be some sort of wizard!"
... who shoot Wolverine in the head, causing Pyro to go completely berserk -- thus taking his first step into the dark side. Later, during the climatic sequence at the dam, Rogue, Iceman and Pyro are waiting in the jet but start getting restless because they haven't heard from the rest of the team. Rather than calling them, Pyro decides to go out and find everyone -- finding Magneto instead, and being persuaded into joining his side. By the third film, Pyro is completely evil, and it all happens because superheroes don't carry phones.
And see how else Hollywood grossly misuses technology in 6 Baffling Flaws in Famous Sci-Fi Technology. Or check out what we'd be doing if old-timey tech was still around in If The Modern World Ran On Medieval Technology.
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