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X-Men: From the Best to the Worst

Updated on March 3, 2017
Alec Zander profile image

Alec is an up-and-coming film critic with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his reviews and articles will help launch his career.

Prologue

Since the first X-Men film hit the big screen in 2000, the superhero genre took off. Several hero films have been rebooted or given second attempts but not the X-Men films. The X-Men Cinematic Universe, or XCU as I call it, has had mostly hits but they have had some clunkers too. Here are the X-Men films from best to worst.

Best #1: Logan

Logan is the film the superhero genre needed. With it being Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman's final performances as their respective characters, the film promised to be emotional and a true gut-punch of a film.

The story follows James Logan Howlett, also known as Wolverine in his X-Men days, as he cares for an old and sick Charles Xavier. Charles was a mentor, a friend, and pretty much the only father figure Logan had. Logan has gotten old too, having lived a long life of over 150+ years thanks to his healing ability. He probably would still be going strong had it not been for the adamantium in his body which has been slowly poisoning him for around 50 of those years.

Logan took a job as a limo driver in order to save money to buy a boat so he and Charles could live on the sea. Charles had an ailment which caused him to have violent seizures. Since Charles is a telepath, however, the seizures cause damage to the world around him. The only way to make sure he doesn't have them is if he takes his medication. Logan figured if he could get them onto the sea, then his seizures wouldn't harm anyone else.

Logan received a call one day from someone asking for a ride. A Mexican woman and a young girl were in trouble and needed a ride to North Dakota in search for a safe haven called Eden. Logan didn't want to do it, but reluctantly agreed. The woman was murdered, however, and Logan came to find out that the young girl, Laura, was a mutant. Not just any mutant, however. Laura was a genetic clone of Logan's, making her his daughter. The men who are trying to capture her soon find her with Logan, which forces him to take Charles and Laura and go on the run.

Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart poured every drop of talent they had into their roles, giving their final bow as Logan and Xavier an unforgettable one. Newcomer Dafne Keen was remarkable, showing off a talent that not many youngsters have at that age. I look forward to seeing where her future in film leads.

In conclusion, the film was magnificent in every way. It dared to do what other superhero genre films haven't done before which was be in-your-face real. Most superhero genre films tell stories about remarkable people that always bounce back no matter what hits them and still manage to save the day. Logan, however, told a story, a down-to-earth human story about two men who meant so much to so many but have gotten to the point in their lives where no one could save them. It was a story that showed heroes for what they are: mortal, fragile, and in need of a little help sometimes. That aspect was touching, heartbreaking, and breathtaking. I give Logan a perfect score of 4 out of 4.

Best #2: The Wolverine

Years after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine is still haunted by the death of Jean Grey, the love of his life. She had become the Phoenix and was quickly becoming a one-woman nuke. Wolverine was forced to kill her to save humanity. Afterwards, he went into seclusion, living in the wild and vowed never to kill ever again.

A woman finds him and says an elderly man on his deathbed in Tokyo wants to see Wolverine one more time. Reluctantly, Wolverine agrees. Turns out, the man was the same man that Wolverine saved during the dropping of the atomic bomb. From here, the film becomes a dramatic action-fest that is not only pleasing to the eye but also a beautifully told story of redemption.

The acting is superb. Hugh Jackman stepped up his performance for this role, never disappointing. The pain and anguish that Wolverine feels is splendidly visualized and well-acted. The humor, whether intended or not, fits perfectly in the situations it's presented.

The CGI was impressive. I never once thought that something looked cheesy or fake. The train sequence was especially remarkable, considering how long and strenuous the scene was. It's not easy fighting on top of a train that is going 300mph, but the crew made it real.

In conclusion, I have a heavy heart because Jackman has announced that he will be retiring from the role after the third Wolverine stand-alone feature. I can't imagine anyone being better at slashing and grunting than Hugh Jackman is. We still get to enjoy him in Days of Future Past and Apocalypse and, of course, the final Wolverine film. We can still enjoy his performance for the time being. Whatever lies in store for the future of the X-Men franchise, I am looking forward to it.

I give The Wolverine 4 out of 4.

Best #3: X-Men United

X-Men United took what made the first X-Men great and expanded the world, bringing in new threats, new friends, and bringing back old ones as well.

The film does a magnificent job of paralleling the issues between mutants and humans with our society today. How many times does one race look at another race with distrust because of the actions of a few? It happens all too often and frankly, it's not fair. The philosophical points that are made throughout this film, and the entire series for that matter, are quite relatable and important topics that need to be and should be discussed openly. Kids and teens that see these films may take comfort in the fact that if their heroes are different and still find a way to keep going then they can too.


The camera work throughout this film is remarkably beautiful, especially during the "attack on the Oval Office", the "raid on the X-Mansion", "Magneto's escape from his plastic prison", and finally the climactic flood towards the end. The Nightcrawler's teleportation special effects are astounding. The acting is still just as strong and the newly introduced mutants are a pleasure to see. Though it's never disclosed just how Mystique survived Wolverine's stab attack from the first film, she's a welcome return all the same.

In conclusion, look deeper into the film rather than focusing on what's on the surface because underneath is where the true beauty lies. I give it a 4 out of 4.

Best #4: Deadpool

Remember when filmmakers tried to bring Deadpool to the screen for X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Remember how terrible it turned out? Good news! Thanks to the timeline change after Days of Future Past, Deadpool became the Merc with a Mouth that he was always intended to be.

Wade Wilson has finally discovered the girl of his dreams. After a year of uninterrupted "loving", Wade proposes. The same night, he discovers that he has cancer in his liver, lungs, prostate, and brain. He knows he's going to die and he's quit caring. Just when all hope seems to be lost, a stranger finds him and gives him an offer too incredible to believe: they will cure his cancer and give him abilities one could only dream of having. Wade reluctantly agrees and, after many days of torture, becomes disfigured but is cured of cancer and given immortality. He takes on the alter ego Deadpool and sets out to hunt down the man responsible for his disfigurement.

The action sequences are incredible. The choreography of the fights are masterfully stylized. The CGI was never cheesy or silly in any way. Even the eyes of Deadpool's mask were CGI in order to make him expressive but you can't tell it.

The one major thing about Deadpool as a character is that he is always making pop culture jokes plus he can break the "fourth wall", meaning he can talk directly to the audience while other characters just think he's crazy. He is, of course, beyond crazy but that's beside the point. I was concerned about the comedy being unnecessarily silly and that the fourth wall breaks would be awkward. I was thoroughly impressed with director Tim Miller's approach to the material as well as the writers' ability to keep the film funny and interesting.

I do, however, recommend that parents take precaution before letting their kids see this. It's sad that I even have to warn parents about an R RATED FILM, but there were young kids in the theater when I went to see it. It is mildly gory but has adult language and graphic nudity.

In conclusion, Deadpool is a wild, hilarious, and action-packed film that will please fans of the comics and perhaps create new fans. I give it a 4 out off 4.

Best #5: X-Men: First Class

Is it okay to be different, or is it shameful? Should one cover up his or her oddities or let the world see him or her in the natural form? Those are questions everyone struggles with, especially Raven. She was born blue and soon discovers she has the ability to mimic any form she visualizes. She meets Charles Xavier, who finds mutations fascinating and worth being proud of. He also feels that it is important to hide in plain sight so as to not alarm or frighten normal humans.
Erik feels differently. In a fit of rage, he accidentally used his power to manipulate metals, which only brought pain and heartache to his life. He has come to believe that mutants should be able to be themselves in public, regardless of what normal people think. Erik believes mutants are better than humans whereas Charles believes everyone should strive for equality whether they have abilities or not.
The story is wonderful, really bringing out the emotion and the tension between Xavier and Erik, especially toward the end when Erik confronts his archenemy.
Most of the characters are interesting, except for a couple that seemed rather pointless. Angel can fly and spit fire. That's cool for a couple uses, sure, but she was pretty useless over all. That's the reason I deducted 0.5 from my rating. Other than that, the film was perfect.
In conclusion, Xavier and Magneto are in extremely capable hands. McAvoy and Fassbender played off each other quite well, and both embodied their characters just as well as Stewart and McKellan. Definitely include this on your watch list if you haven't seen it already.

I give it 3.5 out of 4.

Day 6: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Everyone has things in their past that they would love to change, but how huge of a difference would it make if those decisions actually could be changed? That's the major point of discussion after seeing the newest X-Men film, Days of Future Past.

The X-Men are in a war, fighting for their lives and loves. They have made many mistakes on the way, which have led to being slaughtered by an army of "power-adaptable" robots. By "power-adaptable", I mean that, if one is destroyed by, say, Iceman, then the other machines will adapt to the ice powers so none of them can ever be destroyed by ice again. This adaptability has made these machines virtually unstoppable, forcing Professor Xavier to make a difficult, desperate, necessary decision: send Wolverine back in time to stop the assassination of the machines' creator, Mr. Trask.

Whatever each viewer may think about the movie as a whole, it is a fact that this film is much more serious in tone than the others. Because of this, the acting is much improved, the CGI feels much more realistic, and the story is brilliant. It has its flaws, but the overall result is a thought-provoking film that just may cause viewers to think twice about certain decisions they may make in the future.

There is one scene in particular that stood out to me above all others. Young Xavier enters Wolverine's mind, seeking out Future Xavier. The result is a face-to-face meeting between the young and the old Xavier. The scene was absolutely brilliant and,in my humble opinion, was the heart of not only this film but also the X-Men universe.

Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellan both return as young and old Magneto respectively. Both actors have never ceased to impress me with their work in film. Fassbender gets better with age and McKellan has already achieved greatness.

In conclusion, Days of Future Past isn't the best of all the X-Men films but it is high on the list. It holds a series of heartrending moments, some of which are surprisingly in the final scene. This film will change the future of what I call the X-Men Cinematic Universe. As Xavier says: "The future is never truly set."

I give it a 3 out of 4.

Best #7: X-Men

The basic concept of X-Men is what is so awe-inspiring. The idea that there are those among us with abilities beyond the extraordinary, abilities that could hurt or help, destroy or build. They look just like us but they are not one of us. Rogue is a girl who can borrow from one's life-force. Because of her gift, or her curse depending on how you look at it, she is incapable of skin contact. If she fell in love, if she had a moment of weakness, or if she was upset and needed a hug, she couldn't touch someone without hurting them. In fact, she did hurt someone. She hurt a boy that she liked very much. Because of her fear of what she could do, she ran away to Alaska where she meets the one and only Wolverine.
For those of us who have watched the X-Men movies since 2000, we all know who Wolverine is and what his ability is. But for anyone that may be new to superheroes or mutants, Wolverine has metal for bones because of an insane experiment performed on him by General Stryker. Wolverine has always had the ability to heal quickly, but now he has metal claws that come out of his hands. He's the most famous of the X-Men, outside of, perhaps, Professor X or Storm.
Rogue and Wolverine get into an accident, which ultimately leads them to the place that will change their lives: Xavier's School for Gifted Young People. Now, I can't go into much more detail without spoiling the movie for you, but let's just say that it's a thrill ride. The philosophy behind the Mutant Registration Act, who's the good side and who's the bad side, is remarkably well organized to where you are actually contemplating if Proessor X is in the right or if Magneto is. Whose side are you on?
In conclusion, X-Men may have it's faults, but it is a fun ride that you won't soon forget.
3 out of 4 stars.

Worst #3: X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse was a well-written and well-acted film that both shocked in places and disappointed in others.The trailers built it up to be a major spectacle that rivaled even the best of the major superhero showdown films. Alas, it did not live up to that hype. That's not to say that it was a bad film because it wasn't. It was very good, just not what it could have been.

The acting was splendid all around. Not once was I unconvinced or uninterested because of any one person. Oscar Isaac mastered the role of Apocalypse, bringing new depth to his acting chops and certainly spicing up his resume. The next addition is Olivia Munn, who played Psylocke. Not much is known about her and her character doesn't get much of a chance to develop. She does a wonderful job with what she was hiven, however, and I look forward to seeing her in future films. Next up is Evan Peters, who returns as Quicksilver. He was last seen in Days of Future Past, and is the true star of Apocalypse. Quicksilver made the movie, basically. if he hadn't been in it, then it would have been completely dismal. Most of the other people in this one were also in X-Men: First Class, all of which have improved since then. Oh, just a forewarning, don't let the hardcore comic fans get you excited for Jubilee. They saw her for a split-second in the trailer and started hyping her up. She's barely in the film.

The story itself was well-written but the major problem was that there wasn't much focus to it. It seemed to be focused on Apocalypse, as the title suggests, but then it does a complete 180 and focuses on Mystique and Xavier. Disappointingly enough, Michael Fassbender's Magneto only had a couple central scenes and was mostly pushed aside.

In conclusion, I deem the movie worthy of a theatrical viewing but don't expect magnificence. It has its flaws and it has its successes. What disappoints me the most, though, is that they made a 2.5 hour film that doesn't tell us anything other than what we already know from the trailer.

I give it a 2.5 out of 4

Worst #2: X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand chronicles the uprising of the Brotherhood, led by Magneto. The humans have invented a "cure" that will rid mutants of their abilities. Magneto is convinced that this is an act of war and must be met with war itself. As the Brotherhood meet the human military in battle, the X-Men defend the human side, not because they agree but because they want few casualties.

There are several new mutants introduced in this film that had very little screen time. There are several instances where we aren't shown what happened to them. Actually, that's the main problem with this film. There's so much started, but hardly any conclusions. So many questions are still unanswered by the end that it's frustrating.

The effects were splendid, however, and the big war was definitely worth the wait. The acting is just as good as United, so Last Stand does at least deserve credit for that. There are a few moments throughout Last Stand that are heartbreaking, most of which belong to Ian McKellan's Magneto and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine.

In conclusion, the film does try, but it also rushes and doesn't fill in all the questions that pop up constantly throughout. The biggest question? How is the scene after the credits even possible? The good news is, the film at least tried. I've seen worse and Last Stand is nowhere near horrendous. Last Stand is just simply average.

I give it a 2 out of 4.

Worst #1: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

The CGI in the original X-Men film was pretty darn good. Now, considering X-Men Origins came much later, you would think the CGI would be much better, right? Well, if you haven't seen this one yet and are expecting stunning visuals, you're going to be disappointed. However, the action and the acting are good and sometimes even thoroughly convincing.

Speaking of acting, Ryan Reynolds does an amazing job considering the bulk of his scenes have his mouth sewn shut. He's playing none other than Deadpool, also known as The Merc with a Mouth, and he can't speak after the introduction and raid scenes.

Another problem is the fact that Gambit is introduced. Why, you ask? Because this is a prequel and Gambit is not seen or even mentioned in any of the other X-Men films. He seemed like a cool character, though, and even played by a good actor. But why leave us wondering what happened to him after he ran off on his own?

In conclusion, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a good concept, almost like a present, but wrapped in ugly paper and given to a not-especially-liked relative. When you are having your next X-Men marathon, pretend this one was never made.

I give it a 1.5 out of 4.

Which XCU film was your favorite?

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Conclusion

The X-Men Cinematic Universe has been around for 17 years now and has not been rebooted yet. It's still going strong and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. But with the events of Logan still fresh in mind, what does this mean for the future of the XCU? Well, for now, we still have the stories set in the younger years and we also have more Deadpool coming our way. They have ideas; let's just hope they are great ideas.

© 2017 Alec Zander

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