Before the likes of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy and Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was Bryan Singer’s X-Men. In a time where Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin had people convinced that there is no room for comic book movies in the modern age of movies, X-Men gave us hope. It can be argued that without the launch of the X-Men film franchise, there would be no Batman Begins, no The Dark Knight and no Marvel Cinematic universe.
So to celebrate Deadpool 2 we’ve decided to look back at all the movies in the X-Men Film Series and rank them from worst to best.
But we’re doing it with a fun twist!
Instead of just having a standard piece where one writer ranks these movies from his favourite to least favourite, we got two of our writers, Dashran and Samuel, to go their separate ways and score all these movies from 1 to 10. Then we combined both of their scores and came up with the ranking. The movie with the highest combined score placed first, while the movie with the lowest combined score placed last. What we got was a very interesting list, as these writers have different tastes when it comes to comic book movies.
This article is penned by both, Dash and Sam.
11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
By Samuel Lim
4 minutes. Overall, I enjoyed only 4 minutes of this film and even that was just the opening credits montage! Where does one even begin with a film, nay a mess like X-Men Origins? In case you couldn’t tell, the film is about Wolverine and how he came to be. Not a bad idea for a film to be fair. If only it didn’t literally contradict the timeline with pointless mutant cameos! As for the actual plot of the film, it’s bad. A cheap romance that doesn’t pay off, a mediocre revenge quest and a hauntingly bad twist that still dogs the franchise till Deadpool.
Absolutely no care was given into the story of this film, they thought simpleton action would be enough to carry it. By the way, the action here is an inept CGI catastrophe. The effects on Wolverine’s claws were weird and the I found fight scenes comical for most of the film. X-Men Origins feels like a film made by a committee, a very money hungry executive committee. Popular character of a franchise to rake in views? Check. Character cameos and callbacks to reignite nostalgia? Check. Half-baked romance subplot from some other lesser known Fox film? Ding-ding, check! How about a decent script? I’m sure that didn’t even make the checklist. This film is a soulless, blatant attempt to milk the cash cow that is Jackman’s Wolverine. Well, congrats, the milk’s spoiled and you nearly killed the cow. Last on the list? It shouldn’t even make the damn list.
10. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
By Samuel Lim
This isn’t the worst film in the X-Men Universe, that honour belongs to another. But this is the film many have credited as one of the franchise’s major setbacks. The only questions I have for director Brett Ratner is this: How? You had everything going for you. The film is a supposed adaptation of Jean Grey’s Phoenix story arc in the comics which sees her becoming an Omega Level Mutant God. And it is up to the X-Men to save her from losing herself to the overwhelming power she gains. That sounds like a solid premise for a film. It could have worked if you’d just tighten up the plot, get a better script and not kill off your key cast members so frivolously!
But, no. You just had to make the third instalment a balls-to-the-walls action fest with characters dropping like flies because it’s just so “edgy”. You could have had an epic adaptation of one of the most beloved X-Men story arcs in Marvel history. Instead, you traded it for a mediocre action film. As for the acting? Jackman tries to sink his teeth into his role as Wolverine but it never takes off cause his character is a weak, love-sick puppy. I can’t even remember what the rest of the cast did because half of them are so unmemorable and the other half is dead!
9. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
By Dashran Yohan
While most people’s most anticipated movie of 2016 was either Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War or Suicide Squad, mine was X-Men: Apocalypse. Its predecessor, X-Men: Days of Future Past, is one of my favourite comic book movies of all time. Naturally, I had very high expectations for X-Men: Apocalypse, especially considering it’s written by Simon Kinberg and directed by Bryan Singer, the same bunch of people who were behind Days of Future Past. Oh boy, did this one shit the bed big time. X-Men: Apocalypse is one of the most disappointing movies in recent memory.
It’s as if Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer were suffering from writer’s block but decided to scribble some bullshit down anyway. After about 45 minutes to an hour in, the movie’s passion decided to take a vacation and left us with a soulless, bland string of events, which led to the climax. Blue guy wants to destroy the world; good guys must stop him. THE END.
But take a look at some of the previous X-Men movies (including The Last Stand, excluding Wolverine Origins), all of which are social commentaries on LGBT, racism, politics, self-discovery and war. While the MCU was busy destroying buildings and levitating cities, the X-Men franchise focused on personal stories. Well, that ship has sailed, as Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg decided that they, too, would like to make shit explode. And make shit explode they did.
Apocalypse isn’t complete dog shit; there are many great moments in it, like the death of Magneto’s daughter and Quicksilver once again stealing the show. But overall, it’s just a forgettable popcorn blockbuster, deserving of its 8th spot.
8. The Wolverine (2013)
By Dashran Yohan
This is going to be a controversial opinion but if it were solely up to me, The Wolverine would be a couple of spots higher up on this list. Look, I get it. The not-Silver Samurai robot nonsense is worse than a high school toilet that hasn’t been washed in eight days. And let’s not even talk about venom babe or whatever that character’s name is. The third act, which is quite clearly a product of studio meddling, is rubbish. The first two acts, though, are excellent. The first two acts are dripping with James Mangold’s passion.
In fact, prior to Logan (also helmed by Mangold), it is in this movie where we first get a taste of Wolverine done right. This is a character piece that also has gritty, weighted action sequences. The movie takes place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, and Wolverine has gone to live alone in the jungles of Canada, eaten alive by the guilt of being forced to kill the woman he loves, Jean Grey. There’s also stuff about him getting entangled with the Japanese Yakuza. And there’s the phenomenal scene at the beginning where Wolverine rescues a Japanese prison guard from the Nagasaki atomic bomb. Just thinking about these great scenes and arcs makes me want to watch the movie again.
It’s a shame that the final act makes the final act of Batman V Superman feel like it belongs in the same league as The Godfather. And because of that, I understand why my buddy Sam and most people are not too fond of this movie.
7. X-Men (2000)
By Samuel Lim
In what alternate universe is First Class better than the OG film that started it all? Dash’s headcanon, probably. I mean sure, First Class has got all your young bucks and newer effects but X-Men has gravitas and well…class. Sir Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are a knockout combination and whenever they are on screen, the duo steals every scene they’re in. X-Men did an inspiring job establishing the spirit of the franchise. The X-Men aren’t so many superheroes than they are a powerful minority group and I believe director Bryan Singer kept that in mind.
Singer does not shy away from showing us the persecution and prejudice that these misunderstood people endure. The horrors Magneto witnessed and yet also the kindness Xavier has known. Both make very compelling arguments for their beliefs and share the same vision, albeit their methods differ radically. Two sides of the same coin like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. X-Men was also unique at the time because back then we weren’t used to seeing comic-book ensembles. So as a kid, watching the X-Men clash with the Brotherhood for the very first time was a real treat. A big theme of the film is also the importance of family which really did resonate with those who much like the mutants, felt like outcasts. When the team wasn’t fighting, they were playing together and talking to one another. X-Men was one of a kind for its time.
6. X-Men: First Class (2011)
By Dashran Yohan
Seriously? X-Men: First Class is number SIX on this list? That is beyond ridiculous. This is the movie that took a dwindling franchise and made it universally loved again. The first two X-Men movies by Bryan Singer are awesome, but once Singer left the franchise to helm Superman Returns, this once beloved franchise went to shits, first with Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand and then X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This X-Men film series was done for. And in a world with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, nobody would even notice if the X-Men disappeared from the face of the earth.
And then came X-Men: First Class. What on earth? And X-Men movie helmed by the dude who gave us Layer Cake and Kick-Ass?! Sign me the f*ck up.
Unlike the other X-Men films, First Class is a prequel that focuses on younger versions of Professor X, Magneto and Mystique, played by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence respectively. While Jennifer Lawrence is completely miscast, McAvoy and Fassbender are remarkable. Fassbender is a standout, in particular, delivering a layered performance that allows us to understand why Magneto eventually becomes the extremist we know him to be. The scene in an Argentinian bar is something that I can watch over and over and over again because of how magnetic (pun definitely intended) Magneto is.
My biggest problem with X-Men: First Class is its continuity issues. Why does Beast invent Cerebro when it’s mentioned in X-Men and X2 that it’s made by Professor X and Magneto? And if Mystique and Professor X have been friends since young, why do they not acknowledge each other in X-Men and X2?
I can accept The Wolverine being that low on the list. But X-Men: First Class placing 6th is a joke. Get outta here.
5. Deadpool (2016)
By Dashran Yohan
Comic-book films have become a genre of its own. And within that genre of caped crusaders and colourful costumes, we’ve seen a great diversity of approaches to it. Films like Guardians of the Galaxy have shown that they can be comedic in tone and still retain the essence of the genre. Deadpool took that concept one step further to bring us a truly unique cinematic experience. The whole thing was a crude, irreverent, profane and excessively violent affair and the public wanted more. Barring Watchmen and V for Vendetta, it was generally unheard of to have an R-Rated comic-book film.
What really made this risky venture a resounding success was the writing and performances. It’s fascinating to have the characters in the film be aware that they’re in one and makes for great material. Writer Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick outdid themselves here. Reynolds’ dedication and energy to the role of Deadpool really sold me on the film. His spot on delivery and charming personality had truly won me over. As for the action, let’s just say you won’t see anything like this in your regular comic-book movie. Decapitations, limb chopping, disintegration, gore; the film has it all! If your worried about continuity and how this film fits in the timeline, don’t. In fact the X-Men are barely in this one. So sit back, relax and get ready for some 4th wall breaking, bad guy impaling fun.
4. X2: X-Men United (2003)
By Samuel Lim
Dashran will argue all day all night that X-Men: First Class is a better movie than X2, but he’s absolutely wrong, of course. For those of us who aren’t so impressed with confusing time travel plots and Jennifer Lawrence, we prefer the more political and nuanced choice. For me on this list, that would be X2: United. Long before the idea of the Sokovia Accords of the MCU, X2 had already addressed the idea of a superhuman legislature. The plot follows Stryker, an ex-army commander who calls for all mutants to be registered and heavily policed by the government. Now the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants must set aside their differences to combat the hateful Stryker and his most deadly weapon, his mutant son.
This film truly is a hidden gem and one that doesn’t get mentioned enough. X2 is a thoughtful and exhilarating exploration of discrimination and scapegoating. The enemy of the mutants in this film is as much public perception as it is Stryker. The X-Men can’t simply kick or kill their way out of this one but they have to form difficult alliances and show the world that they can coexist. The film is chalked full of well-framed and artful action. The opening scene in which a brainwashed Nightcrawler assaults the White House in an attempt to kill the president to the tune of an orchestral theme is a sight to behold. For me, this film marks the pinnacle of the franchise before its decline and fluctuating quality over the years. X2 deserves to be higher on this list! It’s in the name, at least second place!
3. Deadpool 2 (2018)
By Samuel Lim
Though it is a recent instalment into the rich and very complicated tapestry of the world of X-Men, Deadpool 2 quickly cements itself as one of its smartest, if not funniest, entry. Deadpool 2 is hands down one of the best parodies I’ve seen in a long time. This film will take shots at everyone: comic-book fans, blockbuster culture, sequel tropes and even the very studio that made it. The balls on this movie! If you enjoyed the 4th wall breaking shenanigans of the first film, rest assured that this film brings that to a whole new level. No one is safe from Deadpool’s roast extravaganza, not even Ryan Reynolds.
The thing that makes this film so remarkable is the fact that as an action-packed comic book film, it excels. Bringing us some truly jaw-dropping action sequences (Domino’s truck run was my personal favourite) and a pretty compelling narrative. The film is such a fun romp that you can feel that giddy energy in the performances delivered by everyone in the film. Brolin and Reynolds have great chemistry on screen. One is your stereotypical macho straight man while the other is his quippy partner. Zazie Beetz as Domino also manages to hold her own among many other strong performances. Deadpool 2 is a standout film in this franchise. It might not quite have the heart or scale of the other films in the series but it certainly has the biggest pair.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
By Dashran Yohan
On my personal list, I kept switching back and forth between Days of Future Past and – spoiler alert – Logan for my 1st & 2nd spot. Both of these movies are absolute masterpieces of blockbuster filmmaking. But ultimately, I had no doubt that Logan would top the list, deservedly so as it is so much more than a fantastic blockbuster. It is a genre-transcending achievement in cinema. But that’s for later.
Days of Future Past marks Bryan Singer’s triumphant return to the X-Men franchise. While Matthew Vaughn reinvigorated the franchise with First Class, Singer tied the best parts of X-Men together, while completely erasing the shitty movies. Goodbye The Last Stand, Sayonara X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Oh, this movie is a blast from start to finish. The cool action sequences take place in the future, where Fan Bing Bing, who plays Blink, steals the show despite not having a line of dialogue. The meat of the story takes place in the past, 10 years after the events of First Class. Surprisingly, this wasn’t just the Wolverine/Hugh Jackman story, but rather, an emotional and thrilling tale with well-written characters all around, and even better performances. Even Jennifer Lawrence who as mentioned before this, is totally miscast as Mystique, delivers a fine performance.
That said, it is Evan Peters as Quicksilver that goes on to steal the show, in a thoroughly enjoyable extremely comic book-y scene.
1. Logan (2017)
By Samuel Lim
Was there a doubt that Logan would top this list? What a brilliant piece of filmmaking. For the longest time, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has been an integral part of the X-Men franchise. We’ve seen him at his best and we’ve seen him at worst, in Logan we see him for the final time. In the distant future, Xavier has managed to murder everyone he has ever cared about before becoming a disabled psionic timebomb. His less than ideal caretaker, Logan is on his last legs with his healing factor diminishing. When the both of them find a lost, little mutant girl named Laura who bears many similarities to Logan, they will travel across the country to find her a home safe from the sinister forces that created her.
Logan is a more than just a bloody good action film or a great entry into the franchise; it’s a touching character piece into the tragic life of a former broken hero. For Stewart and Jackman, this is their last ride and they deliver one hell of a performance! Years of shame and guilt that dogged both the Professor and Logan have taken its toll on them and they long for nothing more than death. While they can’t change the past, they can give Laura, who is played brilliantly by Dafne Keen, a better future and perhaps even find redemption. Logan doesn’t use its R-Rating as a license for senseless violence and profanities but to tell a beautiful story wrapped in a whirlwind of blood. This film is a rich, beautifully choreographed modern western that deserves to join the leagues of The Dark Knight and Spiderman 2. And it deserves to be at the top of this list. Excuse me, there’s something in my eye.
Hey you! Yes you, hot stuff. Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of our ranking? Do you agree with it or do you think it’s hot garbage? Share with us your ranking of these movies!