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Ranking every "X-Men" movie from worst to best

Writer: Casey Chong


Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) in a scene from "X-Men: Dark Phoenix".

For today's generation, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) might be the one that popularised the superhero genre.

But way before the MCU and even other prior successful superhero franchises like Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" and Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy, it was Fox's "X-Men" franchise that helped redefined the aforementioned genre in the first place.


For almost two decades since Fox made its debut with "X-Men" back in 2000, the franchise has endured a series of highs and lows.

With "X-Men: Dark Phoenix" now in cinemas, here is every "X-Men" movie that's been released from 2000 to 2018, ranked from worst to best.

11) "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009)

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) square off in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine".

If anything, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" was unfavourably known for its notoriously-troubled production than the movie itself. Original director Gavin Hood, who famously directed the 2005 Oscar-winning "Tsotsi", reportedly got "fired" over an angry dispute with the Fox studio. Veteran director Richard Donner of 1978's "Superman" fame was eventually brought in to doctor most of the movie-a result that soon became a hodgepodge of a mess, complete with a generic storyline and cheesy dialogues. It is the kind that belongs to the 80s and 90s era of action movies used to be dominated by beefcake stars like Schwarzenegger and Stallone. The short running time (107 minutes, to be exact) doesn't help either, which is obviously not enough to cover the origin of Wolverine along with the introduction of the Weapon X storyline. The saving grace elements are Hugh Jackman's committed performance as Wolverine while some of the action sequences, particularly the much-publicised motorcycle chase scene involving a helicopter, a tank and a few Hummers are reasonably entertaining.

10) "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006)

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Storm (Halle Berry) in a scene from "X-Men: The Last Stand".

"X-Men: The Last Stand" could have been a potentially great movie to wrap up the trilogy if only original director Bryan Singer didn't choose to leave the franchise for "Superman Returns" instead. What we have here is a hack job, thanks to Brett Ratner a.k.a. the "franchise killer" who single-handedly ruined the once-promising "X-Men" franchise into a typical, effects-laden summer blockbuster. Nothing wrong with that, except this is an "X-Men" movie we are talking about. One that practically cares more about staging a crowd-pleasing spectacle than emotion and a good storyline. The worst part of this movie is how Ratner along with screenwriters Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg chose to kill off some of the well-known mutant characters in the most abrupt way possible. The only thing about this ill-fated (though financially-successful) sequel that's worth mentioning here is the visually-spectacular moment where Magneto single-handedly lifts part of the San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge with his superpower.

9) "X-Men: Apocalypse" (2016)

En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) in "X-Men: Apocalypse".

Of all the "X-Men" movies under the direction of Bryan Singer, "X-Men: Apocalypse" was easily his weakest one the franchise has ever made. The major setback of all is the titular antagonist a.k.a. En Sabah Nur himself played by Oscar Isaac. His supposedly intimidating character is greatly reduced into a stereotypical villain that feels like a relic of the past. But "X-Men: Apocalypse" still has its few moments, namely the lavish ancient Egypt-set prologue and a particularly strong emotional beat involving Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto's tragic moment that showcased some of Michael Fassbender's finest performances to date. Then, there's Evan Peters who steals the show for the second time in a row following 2014's "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" with an elaborately-staged, slow-motion rescue scene set to Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams".

8) "The Wolverine" (2013)

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in a scene from "The Wolverine".

First, the good news: "The Wolverine" is marginally a step-up over the disastrous "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", but this sequel to that 2009's "X-Men" spinoff has its fair share of flaws, namely James Mangold's erratic pace along with Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Mariko (Tao Okamoto)'s unconvincing romance and a disappointing CG-heavy finale between Logan and the Silver Samurai. And yet on the other hand, kudos still go to James Mangold for delivering some worthwhile moments, particularly during the first 30 minutes involving a thrilling foot chase and a fight scene atop a speeding bullet train. Likewise, Hugh Jackman displays a solid dramatic flair to his iconic Logan/Wolverine role while Japanese supermodel Rika Fukushima is surprisingly better than expected in her spot-on spunky role as the red-haired Yukio, especially given the fact this is her first acting debut.

7) "X-Men" (2000)

Hugh Jackman's first appearance as Wolverine in the first "X-Men".

Long before "Iron Man" single-handedly turned the otherwise erratic superhero genre into a serious moneymaking business in Hollywood, let's not forget it was Bryan Singer's "X-Men" that deserved to be credited for jumpstarting the flagging genre back to life. This is especially true following the late-1990s' embarrassing failure of "Batman & Robin" back in 1997, which was then largely blamed for "killing" the superhero genre. Viewing it by today's standard, the first "X-Men" may have been admittedly dated but at the same time, it's hard to deny Singer's strong contribution of putting together a superhero story that involved lots of characters in one movie. The action may have been hardly spectacular here but the story and some of the character dynamics, namely Hugh Jackman's Wolverine as well as Patrick Stewart's Professor X and Ian McKellen's Magneto, are effectively handled altogether.

6) "Deadpool 2" (2018)

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) pokes fun on John Cusack from "Say Anything..." in "Deadpool 2".

Here's the thing about "Deadpool 2": the second movie is no match to the more superior 2016 original and largely suffered from the typical "sequelities" syndrome, a popular Hollywood term commonly refering to inferior sequel(s) to a successful predecessor. The self-indulgent screenplay may get a little too carried away but director David Leitch, who replaced original helmer Tim Miller, does a fine job in the action department mixing CG and practical stunts with a strong visual flair. Then, there's Ryan Reynolds, who delivers a perfectly witty performance as the titular character while some of the franchise newcomers; notably Josh Brolin's perfectly gruff performance as the time-travelling Cable and Zazie Beetz's feisty turn as Domino, are both a welcome addition in this sequel.

5) "X-Men: First Class" (2011)

The younger cast of Matthew Vaughn's prequel/reboot hybrid of "X-Men: First Class".

After "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" hit an all-time low in 2009, the franchise obviously needed a major makeover. As a result, Fox (again) took a huge gamble by partially rebooting their franchise with a 1960s-set prequel under the direction of Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn himself is no stranger to handling the superhero genre, given his past experience in "Kick-Ass" the year before. The origin story of how X-Men first came together is well put together, but the real highlight of this prequel is the introduction of a younger cast playing the iconic characters. This includes James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who both successfully made the respective younger versions of Professor X and Magneto their own, and not to forget the memorable antagonist played by the great Kevin Bacon as the mutant Nazi scientist, Sebastian Shaw.

4) "Deadpool" (2016)

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) in a highway scene from "Deadpool".

Fox has a tendency of placing risky gambles in their movies, which is evidently seen via the "X-Men" franchise. They faltered in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" but manage to step up with the prequel/reboot hybrid of "X-Men: The First Class". Then along came "Deadpool", which thankfully belongs to the latter category. It was the first "X-Men" movie that received an R-rating (that's equivalent to an 18 rating for our local censorship board). An undeniably huge risk, but thanks to Tim Miller's efficient direction along with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's frequently witty screenplay, "Deadpool" is a unique beast of its own. It is also a refreshing change of a pace from the usual superhero genre - the kind that isn't afraid to showcase extreme gore and violence in a gleeful fashion. The jokes come thick and fast, filling the movie with enough quips and in-jokes that reference every pop culture from Sinead O'Connor to the "X-Men" movies. Of course, most of the movie's surprise success is largely attributed to Ryan Reynolds' spot-on performance as the wisecracking Deadpool. He certainly owns the role and it's hard to imagine anyone else pull it off.

3) "X2" (2003)

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) in a scene from "X2".

Traditionally, a sequel is rarely better than the original, but Bryan Singer, who previously kickstarted the franchise with the first "X-Men" in 2000, did the impossible by crafting a superior sequel. "X2", which also known as "X2: X-Men United", certainly qualifies as one of the best superhero sequels ever made with better action (e.g. The opening fight scene involving Alan Cumming's teleporting Nightcrawler in the White House and the final showdown between Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Kelly Hu's Deathstrike quickly come to mind), special effects and a stronger storyline. The characters are equally engaging, with Jackman once again being a scene-stealer as usual while the introduction of Brian Cox as William Stryker is a welcome addition.

2) "Logan" (2017)

Hugh Jackman plays an older and grizzled titular character in "Logan".

Hugh Jackman's swan song as Logan/Wolverine is a fitting send-off to his iconic character that put him into Hollywood superstardom in the first place. It was also his finest performance yet - the kind of a solid anti-hero role that echoes in similarity with Alan Ladd's Shane and Clint Eastwood's William Munny in 1953's "Shane" and 1992's "Unforgiven". "Logan" is again directed by James Mangold, who made a huge improvement over his 2013's "The Wolverine" by making use of the R-rating to stage graphically-violent setpieces. The story is appropriately sombre in tone but co-writer Mangold doesn't forget to inject some wry humour into the movie. Aside from Jackman, the movie is equally blessed with solid supporting roles including Patrick Stewart's grizzled role as the elderly Professor X and 11-year-old Spanish newcomer Dafne Keen's breakthrough performance as the feral Laura.

1) "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" (2014)

(L-R) Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy)
and Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in "X-Men: Days Of Future Past".

This is it: the best and ultimate "X-Men" movie thus far still belongs to "X-Men: Days Of Future Past". Famously self-styled by director Bryan Singer himself as a inbetweenquel, the sequel to Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" successfully combined the old and new cast together in a seamless manner. With strong input from Simon Kinberg's screenplay, Singer made good use of the time-travel concept to "course-correct" the entire franchise in general. And even though one might argue such decision messes up the timeline of the "X-Men" movies, the movie is largely well-told over the course of its 131-minute running time. The ensemble cast from both the original and current version of "X-Men" movies are top-notch. The technical credit from production design to costume design deserves a special mention for bringing the overall 1970s feel and look to life. "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" also featured some of the franchise's most awe-inspiring action set pieces including a cool slow-motion moment where Evan Peters' Quicksilver uses his super-speed ability to take down the prison guards in a kitchen and an epic scene where Magneto lifts an entire stadium.

Cinema Online, 05 June 2019


Related Movies:
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (05 Jun 2019)
X-Men: First Class (02 Jun 2011)
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (22 May 2014)
The Wolverine (25 Jul 2013)
X-Men: Apocalypse (19 May 2016)
Logan (02 Mar 2017)
Deadpool 2 (17 May 2018)
Deadpool (11 Feb 2016)

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