We’ve reached something of a milestone with the release of Logan this spring. There have now been 10 X-Men-related films released since 2000, covering multiple timelines and a few character spinoffs. All in all, while there have been hits and misses along the way, the cohesion of this sprawling 20th Century Fox franchise has been admirable.
Now, let’s go back through them all and rank them. Here are the top ten X-Men films, from worst to first.
10. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
It’s surprising that after 10 releases there’s a pretty strong consensus that this is the worst of the bunch. One set of rankings released by a site known for releasing news and reviews across the entertainment industry called the movie an “unmitigated disaster,” and it’s not the only publication out there with negative things to say about it. The silver lining is that a video game of the same name might just be the best Marvel-related superhero game in a decade. But the film is an incoherent mess.
9. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
X-Men: The Last Stand brought about a change in direction (Bryan Singer gave way to Brett Ratner), and because of that it felt very different from its predecessors. The movie was stuffed with a few too many variables and the characters felt a little tired and more ridiculous than they had before.
8. X-Men (2000)
This one had the greatest impact of any X-Men project. Not only was its 2000 release essentially the beginning of the modern superhero genre, but it established a whole cast of characters that we’re still enjoying today. Its reach also went well beyond its own box office performance A platform showcasing the gaming attractions at a variety of websites indicates that an X-Men-based slot reel is still available next to other casino arcade games. Like the movie, it helped set the tone for a genre, as there are now loads of superhero-infused slot reels across the internet. Beyond these impacts you could even say X-Men launched a few careers, and helped turn Hugh Jackman into a star! In retrospect, the movie itself too focused on setup to be a terrific film in and of itself, but that setup went a very long way.
7. The Wolverine (2013)
Jackman was terrific in this spinoff, which made up somewhat for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It was an undeniably fun outing and probably featured some of the best action we’ve seen in any of the X-Men projects. To its credit, it also feels like the most unique title of the bunch, existing almost wholly outside of the established X-Men “world.” This also brought about the easiest critique of the movie. As one review of The Wolverine put it, “Japan seems valued more for its scenery and costumes” than for any real character or substance. That’s pretty fair; this film insisted upon a Japanese setting but felt hollow in doing so.
6. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Apocalypse got a lot of tough reviews from critics, and it certainly had its silly moments. The bits in ancient Egypt that things off were particularly cringe-worthy. Still, this was a smart, well-paced project on the whole and a strong follow-up to Days Of Future Past.
5. X2 (2003)
X2 was a tremendously ambitious sequel that almost paid off entirely. It’s a little too long, and maybe slightly too crowded with mutants. But in most every other way it was an improvement on X-Men, and probably needed to be to ensure the rest of these movies.
4. X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2013)
Certainly among the best received X-Men films by critics, Days Of Future Past did a wonderful job of laying out a particularly convoluted storyline from the comics. Blending the younger mutants introduced in First Class and the “older” class of mutants from the early-2000s films, it was packed with big actors and familiar characters. But it never felt like it was stretched thin or trying to do too much. This was a clever, emotional, and immensely entertaining project.
3. Logan (2017)
We just recently reviewed Logan , so we won’t devote too much time to it here. Suffice it to say, it was a beautiful and fitting finale for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, who has largely carried this sprawling series for nearly two decades.
2. Deadpool (2016)
Sure, it was a bit of an outlier as the only straight-up comedy in the X-Men franchise, but Deadpool deserves to be near the top of this list. Ryan Reynolds did an outstanding job of bringing the Deadpool character to life, to the point that it felt like the role he was born to play. It was funny enough to satisfy those looking for something different, crude enough to earn the genre’s first R-rating, and still possessed some of the typical story arcs and action sequences that define modern superhero films. Deadpool even earned recognition at the Golden Globes, and was rumored to be in the running for an Oscar nomination!
1. X-Men: First Class (2011)
It’s debatable whether or not this is the best X-Men movie. It has a few campy moments, and certainly isn’t flawless. That said, it’s among the best standalone projects in the franchise, and it feels worthy of the top spot when you combine that with its role in the series. First Class had to revitalize the X-Men after The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine all but brought it to a grinding halt. A new cast of young, fresh-faced versions of our favorite mutants, headlined by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence, did the trick and then some.