Ranking All 9 Films from the X-Men Universe
Written by Cameron Hoover on March 4, 2017
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the time is almost here. Logan comes out today, March 3, 2017, in what appears to be Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last film portraying superheroes Wolverine and Professor X, respectively. It has been a long ride for both of these characters, filled with lots of ups and downs along the way.
Starting in 2000 with X-Men, Jackman and Stewart laid the foundation for the first real superhero movie universe. Since then, nine films have released within the X-Men film universe, spanning multiple timelines, spin-offs, and tens, if not hundreds, of comic book characters. The films grossed over $4.3 billion in the box office.
If this is truly to be the last go around for Jackman and Stewart, they have much to be proud of. They paved the way for other superhero universes, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe which seems to be taking over the galaxy right now.
In order to celebrate the release of Logan, let’s look back and rank each of the X-Men films, from worst to first. There was a lot of good, a few bad, and then there was X-Men Origins. Be warned, some of these short blurbs may contain spoilers for the movies, but they’re old anyway.
#9: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
I’m not joking when I tell you that this is close to the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I try not to engage in hyperbole, but this film gives me heartburn every time I think about it. The movie had some serious potential. I didn’t realize it was even possible to mess up Wolverine’s origin story this bad. Director Gavin Hood had to have had his eyes closed during the entire production of this movie.
Terrible CGI, laughable acting, asinine character choices, Godforsaken casting decisions (will.i.am plays a superhero in this movie), sickening camerawork during action scenes, and some of the worst dialogue in recent memory sink this film to a level I didn’t think Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine could sink to. The scene where Wolverine boxes the Blob is cringeworthy. They sewed Deadpool’s mouth shut, which is actually the opposite of what they should’ve done. Logan’s character makes no sense.
God, I wanna be done talking about this movie. It’s so bad. If you genuinely enjoy watching horrible film, and I know there are some people like this out there, give X-Men Origins: Wolverine a try.
#8: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
For me, this movie just kind of exists. It doesn’t really add much to the X-Men series or universe. It’s sadly bland when the cast emanates potential, with Oscar Isaac in particular being sadly misused. The man is a brilliant actor, but he didn’t really have much to work with. This was the film that made me realize how much I prefer Rebecca Romijn’s Mystique to Jennifer Lawrence’s.
This isn’t really a bad movie. It’s just uninspired, and that is still just as damning for a series that has so much life breathed into it by the cast of the original trilogy. Also, 2 hours and 23 minutes of runtime is maniacal for a film this dry.
#7: The Wolverine (2013)
This is perhaps the second-most ambitious X-Men title behind X-Men: Days of Future Past, but unfortunately, The Wolverine’s plot just comes off as convoluted rather than intricate. This film tries to introduce you to too many characters at once without much backstory, and then expects you to care when they get killed by ninjas. There isn’t much emotionally at stake here for fans.
When I saw that the film was going to take place in Japan, I was excited for two things: the Silver Samurai and a Daken storyline. Daken is Wolverine’s son in the comics. However, they completely passed on a Daken storyline, and the final fight between Wolverine and the Silver Samurai felt comical. Viper – basically a Marvel Poison Ivy rip-off – felt completely unnecessary and out of place.
#6: X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
If only the third film in the X-Men franchise could’ve captured the magic of the first two and brought a satisfactory close to the trilogy peacefully. But it didn’t, and Bryan Singer has been trying to clean up everyone else’s mess ever since. Most X-Men fans really hate The Last Stand, but I just don’t see it. I really enjoyed this movie until the last act. And boy, is that last act bad.
The tone completely changes. The thing that made the first two films great was the behind-the-scenes politics of it all. But The Last Stand just deteriorated into a blow-’em-up action movie. Also, everything that happens at the end of it is undone in post-credits scenes. Literally, almost nothing happens in this movie that stays that way. It’s infuriating. If you’re upset because of a character’s death, don’t worry. They’ll be back soon enough.
However, “I’m the juggernaut, bitch!” is either the best line in history, or the worst. I haven’t decided.
#5: X-Men (2000)
Look, X-Men, I appreciate what you’ve done for the superhero movie genre, I really do. It’s just that you didn’t age well. At all. The CGI in this movie is honestly jarring at some points. The scene where the senator is slipping through the bars of his prison cell is scary at times.
The casting of this movie is damn near perfect. Having Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan on the same screen brings tears of joy to my eyes. Unfortunately, the movie just felt like it jampacked two and a half hours worth of movie into an hour and 45 minutes. It felt rushed and there was little to no character development, but it deserves its spot on the list on merit alone.
#4: X-Men: First Class (2011)
X-Men: First Class was a really ballsy move by Marvel and Fox. People LOVE Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart as Professor X, and Ian McKellan as Magneto. And Fox was just like, “Okay, but what if we took them all away and gave them all an origin story, completely disregarding the beginning of The Last Stand?” Luckily for Fox, it worked, mostly due to its stellar cast.
Leading the charge in that category was James McAvoy as a young Charles Xavier. McAvoy is one of the most criminally underrated actors out there right now, and he was phenomenal as Professor X. There were some cheesy scenes of course, namely the one where the new recruits choose their superhero names, but it was a clever way to set the series back on the right track again.
#3: Deadpool (2016)
Deadpool was Marvel and Fox’s way of dipping their toes into the water of R-rated superhero films. It works so well. Deadpool, as a character, is not one to have his mouth sewn shut. Looking at you, X-Men Origins. This film gives Deadpool a completely different backstory, completely ignoring the fact that X-Men Origins: Wolverine even exists, which I’m fine with.
Ryan Reynolds basically is Deadpool, rather than just playing him on the screen. You could tell Reynolds was just as pissed as we were when his mouth was sewn shut in his previous outing, so his loud-mouthed character portrayal is exactly what Deadpool needed. However, the film definitely could’ve done with a little extra screen time. Oh, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead sucks.
#2: X2 (2003)
This movie is so good. It is a sadder, darker side of the X-Men story to tell. There is fantastic action in this film, with CGI that still stands tall today. I love the opening scene with Nightcrawler in the Oval Office. It’s spectacular. There is even some subtle social commentary, with the scene where Iceman’s parents ask him, “Have you tried not being a mutant?”
The whole film’s story is just so good. I don’t want to spoil any of it here. Go watch it. It’s awesome. There are so many twists and turns that you’re never really sure of what’s going to come next.
#1: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
X-Men: Days of Future Past was director Bryan Singer’s way of saying, “Okay, you all have messed this up enough. Get out of my way and let me correct all of this.” And he does. He juggles three separate timelines and somehow finds a way to make it all work with aplomb. The whole cast is here: James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen as Magneto, and a whole range of other X-Men, like Colossus, Storm, Sunspot, and Quicksilver.
The scene with Quicksilver is so beautifully choreographed. There are so many stars and different X-Men to juggle here, but Singer does it so well. It feels like a better version of Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is what X-Men is supposed to be. This movie is the reason that the X-Men universe still exists today and has the ability to make sense.
Anyway, those are the X-Men movies ranked from worst to first. Here’s to hoping Logan can go somewhere near the top. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart deserve it.