All X-Men Movies Ranked Worst To Best
Since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox and now owns the X-Men, Deadpool, and mutants, it is only a matter of time before each is integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). 20th Century Studio’s final installment of their mutant universe came out in 2020 with the release of The New Mutants (though it was released jointly with Disney). Disney’s first official foray into the mutant universe came with their Namor (Tenoch Huerta) already marked the introduction of the MCU’s first mutant in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Meanwhile, the X-Men were mentioned for the very first time in the MCU in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Lastly, Deadpool 3 will premiere in 2024 and will see Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine officially integrated into the MCU.
However, before Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, the studio released its own X-Men film series. The studio technically released 3 separate film series tied to the X-Men: the original X-Men trilogy, the Wolverine trilogy, and the prequel X-Men tetralogy. Right now, there’s no telling who might be pulled from those films or which events/films are considered canon – if any. And so it’s not a bad idea for fans to re-familiarize themselves with the X-Men films before the MCU reboots or revitalizes the superhero team to its own liking. Here’s every X-Men film ranked from worst to best.
10. Dark Phoenix
Dark Phoenix premiered on June 7, 2019, and marked the final installment in the X-Men prequel series. Unfortunately, the series went out with a whimper instead of a bang. The film adapts a very popular comic book arc in which the omega-level mutant, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), comes closer to reaching the full extent of her telepathic and telekinetic powers and begins to lose control. Unfortunately, audiences were not impressed with the Dark Phoenix‘s adaption. What could’ve been a deep dive into Grey’s story instead turned into a poorly written film with cheesy dialogue, non-compelling action sequences, bad pacing, and a bad fumbling of a potentially intriguing feminine-centered storyline. Dark Phoenix ultimately failed to provide a purpose or reason for its adaption of a classic.
9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was one of the fan favorites throughout the course of the original X-Men trilogy. He had three films to captivate audiences with his iconic portrayal of Wolvie, so it seemed like nothing could go wrong when he finally got his first solo film with X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009. Unfortunately, while Jackman was as compelling and brutal as ever as Wolverine, his performance alone couldn’t hold up the poor film. The pacing was uneven, the script was filled with cliches (like revenge plots, sibling rivalry, and experimentation), the special effects weren’t believable, and the film lacked depth. The film also infamously butchered Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). X-Men Origins: Wolverine is entertaining and might appeal to Wolverine enthusiasts, but it does little else.
8. X-Men: Apocalypse
While not as ill-received as Dark Phoenix, X-Men: Apocalypse is where the prequel series first started to derail. Before he was Marvel’s Moon Knight, Isaac Oscar portrayed the extremely powerful ancient mutant, Apocalypse. The film sees the X-Men take on Apocalypse after he reawakens with plans to remake the world and begins recruiting mutants for his cause. X-Men: Apocalypse wasn’t terrible, but it did show signs that the franchise had run its course. The film struggled to stay true to its source material, Oscar’s portrayal of Apocalypse was underwhelming, and the film was a bit overstuffed and had some plot holes. It was still entertaining though, and included some phenomenal performances, especially from Michael Fassbender as Magneto.
7. X-Men: The Last Stand
Like the prequel series, the original X-Men trilogy also struggled to end on a strong note. X-Men: The Last Stand premiered May 26, 2006, and was a sturdy film, but didn’t quite match its predecessors. The film follows the fallout that arises after a “cure” is developed that can remove mutant powers. Magneto, believing the cure is a means to eradicate that mutant population, reforms the Brotherhood of Mutants to combat it. While the film had a strong premise with an intriguing moral commentary, it failed to examine the deeper themes of the film further. It focused a little too much on the spectacle, action, and entertainment, making it a little less serious and a little less inspiring than its predecessors.
6. The Wolverine
Despite the letdown of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Jackman’s Wolvie got a second chance with The Wolverine and didn’t waste it. The film premiered in 2013 and follows Wolverine, who is grieving Jean Grey and is summoned to Japan so that a man whose life he saved can repay the debt he feels he owes Wolverine. However, the man has other sinister plans in mind, taking Wolverine on a dangerous new adventure as he slowly learns to let go of the past. The Wolverine was a strong film that did justice to Wolverine and gave him an action-packed premise he could work with. The visuals, action, perspective on grief, and Jackman’s performance were all very good. However, some elements of the plot were a little outlandish, to the point that it bordered on cartoonish at times.
X2 premiered on May 23, 2003, and while it wasn’t quite as groundbreaking as the original X-Men films, it was a very worthy sequel. The film focuses on the genocidal Colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox) who formulates a plan to eradicate the entire mutant race using Professor Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) powers, a copy he built of Cerebro, and the telepathic powers of his own mutant son, Jason (Michael Reid MacKay). With few options, the X-Men form a shaky alliance with the Brotherhood of Mutants to stop Stryker. X2 boasted powerful performances, a high-stakes plot, strong action sequences, and strong themes. While the plot isn’t too creative and the graphics are not always compelling, X2 was still a phenomenal comic book adaption for its time.
4. X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class premiered on June 3, 2011, and marked the first film in the X-Men prequel series. The film tells the origin stories of Profession X (Daniel McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) and explores how they struck up an early friendship due to their mutant identities, but eventually went down different paths due to their differing viewpoints. X-Men: First Class was a worthy prequel to X-Men, especially because its casting was impeccable, making it a delight for viewers to see their favorite X-Men when they were young. Additionally, the action and visuals were strong, as were the acting performances. It is an X-Men film that is enjoyable and quite a lot of fun though it didn’t quite bring anything new or groundbreaking to the table.
3. X-Men (2000)
X-Men premiered in 2000 and marked the beginning of the film series. Largely seen from the perspective of Wolverine and Rogue (Anna Paquin), the film explores the growing tension between Professor X’s X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants as the mutant race continues to struggle for acceptance. X-Men laid a strong foundation for the X-Men franchise. The performances are compelling, it is loyal to the source material, the action is thrilling, and the audiences can see real-life issues and debates reflected in the intriguing storyline. While the film’s pacing could’ve been touched up a bit to keep from faltering in places, X-Men had few other flaws.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Days of Future Past premiered in 2014 and ambitiously decided to crossover the original X-Men series with the prequel series using time travel. The film follows the X-Men in 2023, where mutants are being driven to extinction due to attacks from robots called Sentinels. To save the mutant race, Wolverine travels back in time and seeks the help of the younger Professor X and Magneto to prevent the Sentinels from ever existing. X-Men: Days of Future Past is ambitious, complex, and features some timey-whimey stuff, but it does pretty much everything right. The film is unique, fresh, vibrant, and filled with compelling performances. It merges two casts that were already phenomenal, and is fast-paced and filled with big ideas, making it one of the best films in the franchise.
While the original X-Men and prequel series started with a bang and faltered at the end, the Wolverine trilogy did the opposite and saved the best for last with its final installment, Logan. Logan follows an older Wolverine and Professor X, who live a weary and hidden existence on the border of Mexico. Despite his healing powers waning, Wolverine sets out on one last mission to protect a young mutant girl. Logan was an extremely powerful adaption of the comic, Old Man Logan, filled with phenomenal performances from Jackman, Stewart, and Daphne Keene. It also featured a surprisingly dark and gritty tone and subtle themes that resonated emotionally with viewers. Logan isn’t just the best X-Men film but is a true cinematic masterpiece and one of the best superhero films ever made.
(featured image: 20th Century Fox)
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