TheX-Menfilms are an anomaly within the larger cultural monolith of superhero movies. The franchise stretches as far back as the year 2000’sX-Menand immediately stood out from other superhero properties like Superman and Batman with a more grounded aesthetic. It helped lay the groundwork for the wave of superhero films that audiences are still enjoying today. It would be an understatement to say that the series has been uneven — many of the films have been plagued by serious production and story problems, from insurmountable creative differences between directors and producers to frequent soft resets of the universe.
Despite that, many X-Men movies have earned significant praise. Actors in the franchise evenwant to returnto their characters. It’s not hard to see why: since their inception in comic-book form, theX-Menhave captured the hearts of anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Frequently, members of the group of mutants face significant social ostracization and are labeled freaks and inhuman by the society they occupy. Their strength as a group derives from that common struggle, and as a result, audiences of all backgrounds have been captivated by these fictional individuals who claim power from their pain.
Updated May 22, 2023, byDanilo Raul: If you love theX-Menfilm franchise, you'll be happy to know we've updated this article with additional content.
Although this chapter of the mutant franchise is closed, with most players moving on to new ventures, there's still one last bullet in the chamber.Deadpool 3began filming recently. The film will bring back Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and Brianna Hildebrand and Shioli Kutsuna, reprising their roles as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio, respectively. Following Patrick Stewart's appearance as a variant of Professor X inDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it appears the originalX-Menfilm series might get one final send-off before the MCU introduces their version of the team. That being said, here are all 13X-Menmovies ranked.
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13 X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
Dark Phoenixis the second live-action adaptation of the comic book story centered around Jean Grey, a dangerously powerful mutant consumed by a cosmic force that grants her extraordinary psychic abilities at the cost of her deteriorating mental state. Sophie Turner gives the character an admirable performance, supported by the expectedly great talents of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Nicholas Hoult, reprising their roles from the previous films. As the fourth installment in this series ofX-Menfilms, this one fails to bring more color to the story.
Despite costing so much money ($200 million),Dark Phoenixlooks surprisingly cheap. What was originally meant to be a new chapter for the franchise was then awkwardly forced to become the final film in the franchise following Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox. The movie underwent numerous rewrites and reshoots, including changing the titular aliens from the Skrulls since they were going to be inCaptain Marvel that same yearand also changing the entire climax.Dark Phoenixis a true whimper for the franchise to go out on.
12 X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
In a change of pace for the series, which had focused primarily on the X-Men as a team,X-Men Origins: Wolverinechose to tell a secluded tale of Wolverine's journey. Hugh Jackman, who has achieved legendary renown for his portrayal of the grim, troubled superhero, is the standout here. His performance grounds the script, which frequently borders on trauma porn and depends on a number of increasingly trite reveals that leave the viewer more exhausted and confused than excited. Coupled with the dumbfounding decision to silence the first iteration of Ryan Reynolds's Deadpool, the movie ends up slogging through uninspired scenes of pain toward an unsatisfying conclusion that doesn't offer the titular character either growth or peace.
X-Men Origins: Wolverinewas plagued with issues from the start, with a full, unedited version of the raw footage leaking online. Post-production sadly didn't fix many problems, as the film relies on using too much eye candy while lacking a cohesive story. The presence of some mutants in the movie makes no sense; this movie is also famous for throwing a wrench in the franchise's continuity.X-Men Origins: Wolverinewas adisappointment at the box officeand forced Fox to reevaluate their franchise approach.
11 X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Oscar Isaac playing the most powerful mutant in history sounds like a success of a premise. Immediately,X-Men: Apocalypse's problem becomes clear. Why does Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) want to take over the world? It's apparently because he just does. When the central conflict in the story commits so heartily to being bland and underdeveloped, every aspect of the rest of the movie suffers as a result.
Related:X-Men Comics That Inspired the Movies
Despite the usual strong performances from the cast, the plot fails to convey any gravity because each action that advances the plot forward occurs because the script deems it necessary, not because the characters seem driven to do things on their own. And after the success ofDays of Future Past,the failure ofX-Men: Apocalypseseems all the more unfortunate. Instead of handing this film off to the younger versions of Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Jean Grey, they are awkwardly supporting characters for retreads of storylines for Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique.Days of Future Pastset up an exciting future, andApocalypseseems afraid to move forward in a meaningful way.
10 The New Mutants (2020)
AlthoughThe New Mutantsare not strictly part of the mainlineX-Menfilms, the association of the new characters with the X-Men makes the movie an important addition to the list. Unfortunately, the film does little to elevate it beyond standard superhero fare with all the beats you've seen now dozens of times. Five teenagers, each with latent mutant abilities, find themselves trapped in an insidious medical facility designed to test them and constrain them. They work through the trauma of their respective pasts to defeat the villain, and that's about as exciting as it gets.
The New Mutantsis another premise that fails to deliver in its execution, especially since the script doesn't know what it is. The movie plays like a horror thriller for the first half of its duration but switches gears to full superhero drama in the midst of it. This was a movie that notably was set for release in 2017, delayed multiple times, and by the time it came out in 2020, it wasduring the middle of the COVID-19 pandemicand marked the end of theX-Menfilm franchise before they join the MCU.
9 Deadpool 2 (2018)
Like theNew Mutants, Deadpool is not a part of the X-Men team in the traditional sense. However, given his frequent association with them in the comic books, theDeadpoolmovies deserve a place on this list. This movie took all of what madeDeadpoolgreat and built on it.Deadpool 2's slapstick humor is back along with the fourth wall breaks, and Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool finds the perfect straight-man villain to play off of in Josh Brolin's Cable. And who could forget that stripped, heartfelt rendition of "Take on Me" by Aha?
Deadpool 2 does suffer a bit from the common comedy sequel formula, enchanting a lot of first-film jokes and doing them again. Yet the movie also did try to deliver a rather emotional story, and pairing Deadpool with a kid is a clever mood. Also, the addition of Zazie Beetz Domino makes it worth a watch.
8 X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
After directing the first twoX-Menmovies, Bryan Singer decided to step away fromX-Men: The Last Standand focus attention onSuperman Returns. This, unfortunately, meant that the third iteration in the firstX-Menseries suffered from two changes in leadership, first to Matthew Vaughn (who would later directX-Men: First Class) and then to Brett Ratner.
What followed was a half-hearted successor of a film, lacking the rich depth and gravity of the first two. The central political division in the plot, about whether or not a cure for mutants is appropriate or not, created a suitably dramatic element. However, the rest of the story became just another rote blur of superpowers and action sequences that undermined the depth of the premise. Yet the movie does feature some exciting action scenes and does provide some form of a happy ending for the series.
7 Deadpool (2016)
The firstDeadpoolwas one of the few standouts of superhero cinema that shook up the form. Incorporating fourth wall breaks, surreal humor, and a metric ton of guts and gore, this movie is a non-stop thrill ride from beginning to end. Reynolds brings a signature nonsensical attitude that makes each scene its own group of punchlines. It's now hard to imagine, but at one point, a Deadpool film seemed like an impossible ask from 20th Century Fox and a movie that would never get made. When it did, it became thehighest-grossing film in the X-Men franchiseat the time, only to be surpassed by its own sequel.
6 The Wolverine (2013)
James Mangold seemingly did the impossible withThe Wolverineto piece together and elevate the elements of the deeply followed predecessor,X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Set in Japan, this film follows Logan and an old friend that seeks to alleviate Logan of his pained immortality by taking it into his own body. Mangold's direction, specifically his ability to highlight smaller character moments and allow them to breathe between bouts of action, makes this film more dramatic and enjoyable than many others in theX-Menfranchise.
The Wolverinelaid the groundwork for what Mangold would do with Logan, putting Wolverine in a different genre while questioning his own mortality. While Logan certainly is the better film,The Wolverineshowed that theX-Menfranchise was big enough to go small.
5 X-Men (2000)
The first film in the sprawling franchise has truly stood the test of time. Even though half its runtime is spent making introductions,X-Menwisely focuses on the introspection of these characters as they come to terms with their strange abilities. Where future films in the franchise would resort to cinematic shorthand to describe the pain of mutant abilities, this one spends time creating intimate relationships between characters who genuinely feel like outsiders.
Related:X-Men: All the Movies in Chronological Order
X-Menis short, not only to the rest of the films in the franchise but other superhero movies, and at times feels more like a pilot for the widerX-Menfranchise. Yet it worked, laying the groundwork for a series that would run twenty years. Decisions like casting Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Hugh Jackman to the iconic Mystique design to the team's signature black leather costumes become recognizable pieces of pop culture that loomed large over the franchise.
4 X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
X-Men: Days of Future Pastfinds Professor Xavier, Magneto, and Logan united in an effort to save humanity and mutants from the monstrous Sentinels, an abomination of technology that seeks to hunt and kill mutants and humans alike. Sending Logan back in time, the X-Men weave in and out of different major political backdrops of the late 20th century, trying to prevent the creation of the Sentinels in the first place.
Days of Future Pastwas an epic X-Men film, uniting the original cast with those introduced inFirst Class. Weaving the two plot lines and adapting the iconic comic storyline that honored the original material while also making it works as an adaptation,Days of Future Pastwas an exciting return to the form for Marvel's merry band of mutants. Honestly, the most disappointing aspect of it is how every major character introduced inFirst Classthat wasn't a younger version of a previous X-Men is killed off-screen between movies.
3 X-Men: First Class (2011)
X-Men: First Classshares the heart that madeX-Men(2000) so impactful with audiences. Coming 11 years after the original, it carries the task of being an origin story without succumbing to the mistake of discarding those important character-building moments that many other films in the franchise would ignore. McAvoy and Fassbender meet the task of playing believable and vivid younger counterparts to the legendary Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, respectively.
There is enough build-up from both the script and the actors such that their eventual ideological divide allows the drama to climb to new heights - and just like that, the film has provided the rich context and detail that makes the soul of theX-Menstory resonate with so many. Director Matthew Vaughn brought a new colorful, vibrant visual pallet to the franchise that harkened back to the original comics. In 2011 fans seemed to have written theX-Menfilms off in favor of the newly emerged Marvel Studios films, butFirst Classshowed this franchise still had potential.
2 X2: X-Men United (2003)
Before there wasThe Avengers, there wasX2: X-Men United.Featuring the first large-scale superhero team-up story in recent memory,x2took everything great about 2000'sX-Menand made it greater. Despite including enough heroes to make Sam Raimi's knees buckle, the story never suffers from the weight of all these perspectives. Instead, they become cohesive under the script's direction. The stakes are higher, the action is more explosive, and several of the main cast refine their performances to make this sequel unforgettable.
Whilex2is one of the best films in the franchise, it also cemented a misconception in the mind of most audiences, placing Wolverine front and center as the face of the franchise. While it's true the popular canuck is the most enduring face in the team, Cyclops is the defacto field leader of the group, and he was mostly relegated to a background character for the rest of the entries. A shame, especially considering James Madersen was an apt choice to play the X-Men's titular character.
1 Logan (2017)
Doubling as a meta-narrative on the over-saturation of superhero films,Loganis one of the few movies in its genre that dares to ask questions far beyond the scope of your typical action flick. Featuring a world-weary, older Logan and an ailing Professor Xavier, the plot of the film does not center around bombastic action or convoluted world domination plots. There is a villain, but the film's true antagonist is time and its unceasing march toward death. What is the legacy of a life lived in violence? Are we defined by our darkest moments?
Combining these poignant questions with beautiful cinematography, a script heavily inspired by old westerns, and the masterful directorial hand of James Mangold,Loganis a movie that is far more than the sum of its parts. Logan was one of the rare superhero movies to be recognized at the Academy Awards, as it was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. It is not only one of thebest superhero movies evercreated but also one of the best films of the last ten years.