The X-Men Franchise has undoubtedly had its ups and downs when it comes to the quality of its films. We’ve got everything from abysmal to perfection. So with the release of the 10th instalment of the franchise, Logan (review is up on my blog), I thought it would be cool to rank all 10 films in order from worst to best. This is my personal list, so you may not agree completely with my list, but I hope you enjoy anyway. Thanks for reading!
- X Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
I think this is the film that most people would rank as the worst in the franchise. Wolverine’s origin story is supposed to be painful and brutal, yet the laughable script of this film gives us anything but that. Hugh Jackman is the redeeming factor about the film, as he is working as hard as ever, yet there are so many factors working against this film. The action is lifeless, the special effects are worse than the original film that come out nearly a decade before, and there are so many wasted characters that had such high potential. The Blob, Sabretooth, Gambit and of course Deadpool (WHY WOULD YOU SEW HIS MOUTH SHUT?!). With the film trying to tackle too many aspects of Wolverine’s mythology, the film is a jumbled mess and the only film in the franchise that I would definitely not want to watch. (3/10)
- X Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Despite the fact that this film was the first major disappointment in the franchise after two well received films, I don’t think it’s as terrible as most believe. There are undoubtedly tons of problems with the film as a whole, the biggest being the butchering of the Phoenix character. One of the most intriguing characters in the X-Men universe is wasted in this film, and it makes the climax to this original trilogy overall disappointing. Despite this, the performances are solid throughout, and the final battle does have some impressive moments. Yes Juggernaut is laughable in this film, but at least the film is entertaining in essence. So overall, not a good film but not a terrible one. It’s watchable, and I feel that’s about as much praise as I can give it. (5/10)
- X Men Apocalypse (2016)
The problem with X Men Apocalypse was that it was coming off a fantastic instalment in the series. We’d had Days of Future Past a couple of years earlier and Deadpool only a few months before. The trailers got me so excited, with the young X-Men promising to partake in an epic battle against the legendary Apocalypse and his four horsemen. But that’s the problem. Whilst there are some excellent moments with the heroes of the film, such as Quicksilver’s saving of the students of Charles’s school, the villains are completely bland and forgettable. There is an exception for Magneto, with Michael Fassbender delivering a heart-breaking performance in one scene, yet he is the only standout villain. Psylocke, Storm and Angel have little to no dialogue and almost nothing to do, and Apocalypse was about as cliché as you could get. Therefore there is little tension within the narrative, and I was disappointed overall. However, Wolverine does have an incredible scene, which gives some credit to the film. (5.5/10)
- The Wolverine (2013)
Wolverine’s second solo film was certainly an improvement over Origins: Wolverine, that’s not saying much. Directed by James Mangold (Director of Logan), The Wolverine is a fine film. And that’s about as much detail as I can go into. There’s nothing that this film does that I would say is awful but despite this, there’s nothing utterly outstanding about the film other than a heart pounding bullet train fight sequence. The setting of Japan is stunning and there is some brilliant cinematography here. It was also intriguing to see how Wolverine grieves for the death of Jean Grey. However, the use of the Silver Samurai was average and Viper was a pretty poor villain in my opinion. There’s some admirable fight chorography when it comes to Wolverine fighting a legion of ninjas, yet overall, the film is a serviceable entry to the franchise that doesn’t do anything extraordinary. (6.5/10)
- X Men (2000)
Bryan Singer changed the nature of cinema in a way back in 200 when he directed the first X Men film. If it wasn’t for this film, the current trend of superhero films may never have taken off. What was so commendable about this film was that it introduced a huge number of fantastic characters that may have been unknown to the mass audiences. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen make their mark on their now iconic roles as Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto respectively. Not only that, we were introduced to the incredible world of Mutant warfare, with an impressive action piece taking place within the Statue of Liberty. It’s also interesting to show life in Professor X’s school for mutants that are indicative of the comic books. Despite the fact that superhero films are now far more impressive visually that makes this film seem somewhat dated on another viewing, there is complexity in the characters and their relationships in this film, an impressive start to a now famous franchise. (7.5/10)
- X Men First Class (2011)
This was the prequel that the franchise deserved. Telling the story of how Professor X and Magneto met as young men and how they founded the school for mutants, First Class is brilliant in that it examines characters we have seen on multiple occasions in a completely different light. Seeing how characters such as Mystique interacted with Professor X and Magneto makes rewatching the original trilogy even more interesting, as this film adds layers to these characters. There are some impressive action set pieces and in fact incredible visuals in general. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are amazing as the two leads, making these characters even more empathetic than they already were. My only issue with the film is the villain of the film, played by Kevin Bacon. I can’t actually remember his name. Also, side adversaries such as Azazul and Emma Frost are bland, and don’t provide a memorable threat for the film’s narrative. But overall, this is an impressive film that regained audience’s hope in the franchise after The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. (8/10)
- Deadpool (2016)
What a surprise! This film started out as test footage on YouTube, with the outcry of fans being heard by Fox, and now we have the funniest Superhero film of all time. Ryan Reynolds has made this role his own undoubtedly. He even had some impressive moments in Origins: Wolverine. Yet it’s nothing compared to what we receive in this film. The merc with a mouth is foul and absurdly violent, and the shock factor on initial viewing makes this an unforgettable cinematic experience. Not only does this film contain some incredible action, the comedy factor is insanely high. Even the opening credits had some hilarious references to popular culture and previous films in the franchise and this are intelligently implemented into the film. Deadpool also contains a believable romance, which actually has some powerful emotional impact. T.J Miller provides an amusing performance as Deadpool’s friend Weasel, and Deadpool has some entertaining mutant support from Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Even the villain works well in this film, which was yet another pleasant surprise. Despite the film not having the same impact on a second viewing, Deadpool is certainly worth a watch if you don’t enjoy the X-Men franchise as a whole. (8.5/10)
- X 2 – X Men United (2003)
It’s so rare nowadays to see a sequel that not only matches the quality of the original, but surpasses it. Well, lucky for us, X2 – X Men United was an example of one that certainly surpassed the original. The characters were explored further, with some interesting insight into Wolverine’s origin (that was actually done more effectively in this film than the film dedicated to that storyline). There were also some standout side characters that were introduced in this film, most notably Nightcrawler who has an incredible opening scene in the white house. The ambitious nature of this sequel is respectable, especially as this was a risk following a well-received first instalment at a time when Superhero films were not as ever-present as they are now. The villain of Stryker allows for some intriguing confrontations involving Wolverine, layering an already three dimensional character. The duel between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike still holds up in my opinion, and Magneto’s prison break highlights his menacing nature. Wolverine also gets to show off some of his brutality in the school raid scene, hinting at his ravenous nature that we delve into in later films. A worthy sequel that to this day holds up against the huge quantity of superhero films released in the present day. (9/10)
- Logan (2017)
I know this is going to be cheating a bit, but I’m basically going to copy and paste my conclusion from my Logan Review with a couple of tweaks, because I feel that it sums up my overall impression of this thrilling conclusion. Logan is definitely in contention for the best film in the X-Men franchise, despite how dramatically it deviates from any of the other films. It’s disturbing, stunning and emotional all at the same time, bringing us a film that does justice to one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time. Definitely see this one even if you’re not a fan of comic book films in general. It’s truly special. So yeah, that was basically my conclusion from my full review. It’s a tricky one, because I’ve only seen this film once. Maybe at some point in the future when I see the film multiple times, the film may become my favourite entry of the franchise. On the other hand, the film may dip in quality in the future. But for now, after reflecting on my initial viewing of the film, Logan earns its spot situated only second to one of my personal pick for the best film in the X Men franchise. (9.5/10)
And that film is…
- X Men Days of Future Past (2014)
So when I said in my intro that the franchise has delivered perfection, I was referring to this film. Condensing the epic scale of the comic book storyline on which this film is based on into a 2 hour film seems impossible, yet Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise he began is a truly spectacular achievement in filmmaking. Not only do we witness the return of fan favourites Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in some haunting and atmospheric battle sequences against the sentinels of the future, but we also delve into the 1970s, continuing the adventures of young Professor X and Magneto. It was also amazing to see characters such as Storm, Iceman and Colossus back in action. Hugh Jackman seamlessly jumps back into the role of Wolverine, and his interactions with the younger version of his mentor are absolutely fascinating. Jennifer Lawrence gives her best performance as Mystique, as well as Nicholas Hoult delivering a memorable performance as Beast. Peter Dinklage is a layered and intriguing villain in the form of Bolivar Trask, and the use of the sentinels in both the past and present segments of the narrative are totally effective. The hybridity of science fiction and drama creates an engaging and exciting experience within the X Men universe, rewriting the timeline in an ingenious manner. Thanks to this film, the weaker entries of the franchise no longer have an effect on the overarching narrative of the franchise, highlighting how this film reinvented the entire franchise in a gloriously fresh manner. The film ends with one of the coolest sequences in any film I have ever seen, and was overall just incredible. The only noticeable flaw that I had with the film was that a couple of side characters that seemed to have potential didn’t get as much screen time as I hoped for (Bishop, Sunspot and Blink), yet they were used excellently with what scereentime they had. This film to me is not only one of my favourite superhero films, but one of my favourite films of all time. (9.9/10)
So that’s my ranking of the X Men Franchise, an uneven journey with some extreme highs and some extreme lows. That being said, we should be applauding the franchise as a whole for rejuvenating a genre that was thought to be dead and buried. And look at the state of superhero films today. Without X Men, would we have The Avengers (arguably my favourite film of all time)? It’s certainly an influential and game changing franchise, and one that I hope will continue for many instalments and years to come.
Thanks for reading!