All the X-Men movies ranked worst to best. The whole lot.

Bryan Singer’s original X-Men premiered in cinemas at the turn of the century, kickstarting a superhero boom that’s still very much front and centre in cinema today.

The X-Men movies took comic books seriously, exploring themes of isolation and prejudice present in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Marvel creations. It’s fair to say that without the X-Men movies there’d be no Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy.

X-Men also paved the way for numerous sequels and spin-offs, growing a famously convoluted, branching timeline and some movies of incredibly varied quality. Here they are, from worst to best.

11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Oh, Fox. If this is how you try to make up for The Last Stand, we need to have a serious talk. Logan’s origin story proves, at best, an unnecessary and forgettable outing that could have been so much more.

For all his hard work, Hugh Jackman couldn’t elevate this film above its poor script, by-the-numbers storytelling and laughably bad CGI. Thankfully, they made another, rather different Deadpool film to help us forget what they did to the character in this movie (more about that below).

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

For evidence of how important Bryan Singer was for making X-Men a success, look no further than this monstrous result of his departure from the franchise. (He left to make Superman Returns, so no-one comes up smelling of roses in this story.)

Replacement director Brett Ratner took the seminal ‘Dark Phoenix Saga’, drained all elements of its glorious cosmic drama and gave us Dark Willow Mk 2 as the villain, while the core characters were slowly killed off or sidelined. Days of Future Past would eventually write The Last Stand out of existence but alas, only in Fox’s fictional universe. We’re starting to see a pattern of retcons emerging…

9. The Wolverine (2013)

A significant upgrade on X-Men Origins, the second Wolverine spinoff took a leaf out of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s classic comic-book run to send Jackman to Japan.

The fish-out-of-water story gave this film a stand-alone feel – The Wolverine is a clear breakaway from the X franchise thanks to its amped-up samurai narrative. Jackman, of course, is terrific in the title role as we track the character from World War II soldier into the present day. The lack of a strong villain ultimately hinders proceedings, but overall it’s a solid entry and the mid-credits scene is a fanboy-pleasing doozy.

8. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

While drawing heavily on the well-received X-Men: Days of Future Past (but set 10 years later in the ’80s), Apocalypse made a valiant effort to bring the classic, giant blue villain of the title to the big screen. Oscar Isaac did his valiant best as Apocalypse, but couldn’t quite overcome a pound of make-up and a quartet of much-hyped but largely mute minions.

Still, the newest class of X-Men – with Game of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler – were hugely likeable, and a hint at classic stories to come in the final act were enough to keep fangirls and boys squealing and excited for more.

7. X-Men: First Class (2011)

Recasting Professor X and Magneto may have felt like madness back in 2011, but James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender proved to be spectacularly good in Matthew Vaughn’s prequel First Class. Anchored in the swinging ’60s, this felt a bit like a classic Sean Connery Bond flick with added superpowers. Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr’s turbulent early relationship was explored, as well as the origins of fan favourites Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult).

A combination of humour, engaging performances and set pieces made this a winner. This is the only X film not to feature Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen (although there’s a cheeky Jackman cameo), and the fact their absence isn’t felt is a credit to how good First Class is.

6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

After a fallow period, the X-Men films of recent years have come back strong. After the sort-of-reboot that was First Class, Days of Future Past brought two strong casts together for what might be the only time. The dystopian future contrasts nicely with another strong period setting, and after a few dummies, Jackman reminded us just how entertaining he could be as Wolverine.

Evan Peters steals the show as Quicksilver (horrible costume aside), while McKellen and Stewart got to resume their on-screen bromance, with everything wrapping up in a schmaltzy but satisfying epilogue.

5. Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool was the film that was never supposed to happen. Over 10 years in the making, and hamstrung by Wade Wilson’s appalling treatment in the dreadful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the smart-mouthed mercenary’s chances didn’t look good.

But Ryan Reynolds proved us wrong in spectacular style. The differences between this and all other X-Men films can be a little jarring, and not every one of the seven million jokes finds its mark, but Deadpool is a raucous ride mixing humour and drama into a movie worthy of Marvel’s weirdest and best-loved hero.

4. X-Men (2000)

As the first film to really show that it was possible to bring quality superhero action to the big screen, X-Men stands as an important picture beyond the confines of our list. The film deftly juggles a wide and varied cast in classic X-Men style, smoothly introducing us to the world of the mutants and the themes of intolerance that the franchise has always held at its centre.

Pitch-perfect performances from McKellen, Stewart, Jackman, Anna Paquin and Famke Janssen and a sharp script (toads struck by lightning notwithstanding) were only let down by a plot that couldn’t quite match their potential and a finale that’s largely underwhelming.

3. Deadpool 2 (2018)

We were a bit dubious that Ryan Reynolds could strike lucky a second time, but under the guidance of John Wick‘s David Leitch Fox delivered a movie that was stronger and more consistent that the original – and as up-to-date as you could wish.

The comedy is more consistent, the cast is broad and the most diverse we’ve seen in a mainstream superhero movie, and the silly antics are balanced with genuinely touching moments. Deadpool 2 is in conversation with the other superhero events of the time (including Avengers: Infinity War and the DCEU), commenting on their tropes and tweaking their noses. This might be the most thoroughly modern superhero movie yet.

2. Logan (2017)

One of the best things that Fox has done for its X-Men franchise is its recent willingness to allow filmmakers to explore themes and genres outside the bounds of the main movies. Deadpool set the tone with its comedic antics, but James Mangold (creator of mediocre The Wolverine) took things to a whole other level with the gripping, emotionally raw Logan.

Drawing on Westerns (like 3:10 to Yuma, which Mangold himself remade in 2007) and gritty indie thrillers, this is a bleak vision of the future in which mutants are all but extinct and Wolverine must protect a young girl who is very much like himself. It stands largely unconnected from the rest of the series, while still drawing on the amazing connection developed between Jackman and Stewart over 17 years of collaboration on the franchise.

This is the perfect send-off for Jackman, and a testament to the potential of the genre. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll wonder if Marvel Studios and Warner Bros will be able to step up their game and match the brilliance of Logan.

1. X2 (2003)

Not only is X2 the best X-Men, it’s right up there among the best the superhero film genre has to offer. Singer’s sequel began with a stunning action sequence showing Nightcrawler breaking into the White House and didn’t let up from there.

X2 was a perfect synthesis of thrilling spectacle and rich thematic resonance, harkening back to the very best X-Men comics (the film was inspired by the God Loves, Man Kills story).

Stryker’s plan to develop his own Cerebro and wipe out all mutants upped the stakes from the debut outing, and sent the film to an emotional climax that saw Jean Grey (the film is Janssen’s finest X hour) sacrifice herself at Alkali Lake. Simply put, this is a stunning film whether you like superhero movies or not.

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