Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.
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.
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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: Dark Phoenix
Finally, the Dark Phoenix story gets the recognition it deserved. Last Stand gave us a minor taste of the Phoenix's power and a lot of people were upset with how the story was handled. I think most comic fans will agree that Dark Phoenix gave the story justice.
The film opens with the President calling on the X-Men to assist in a space mission that's gone horribly wrong. Mystique leads the group in an attempt to save the lives of the astronauts who are trapped on their damaged shuttle. Our heroes notice that some kind of dark mass is quickly creeping toward the shuttle. As the X-Men move quickly to save everyone, Jean risks her own life to ensure everyone else's safety. Jean and the mass merge, causing her already impressive powers to magnify to levels that no one else can fathom. With her mind and the strange mass battling internally, can Jean control her newfound power or will the Dark Phoenix wipe out the X-Men and the world with them?
A lot of people would certainly consider it a risky move to hire the same writer who wrote The Last Stand, widely renowned as the worst entry in the X-Men saga. Thanks to Simon Kinberg's brilliant Days of Future Past, he reset the timeline and got a second chance. Dark Phoenix was fantastically written and closed the loop, bridging past and future together. There were still a few questions left unanswered, but that's what our imaginations are for, right?
Sophie Turner's acting was her best yet, and yes that includes Game of Thrones. The vulnerability and fear that she showed while on the verge of a nervous breakdown from not knowing what was wrong with her was by far the most effort she's put into a role so far. James McAvoy, an already accomplished actor, pushed his role as Charles Xavier even further than before to reach a deep, emotional level. The only one of the group that I was unimpressed with was, surprisingly, Michael Fassbender. Ever since First Class, Fassbender has peeled back layer after layer in Magneto's character development. In this film, however, he seemed like he was just kinda there with no real purpose. It's almost like Kinberg wrote him in just so the whole group would be back for the final film. I do feel like Jessica Chastain's Vuk character and her whole alien species were underdeveloped and not thoroughly utilized to their full potential.
In conclusion, despite its faults, Dark Phoenix was the story we comic lovers deserved. It tied everything together almost perfectly and gave our heroes one last chance to shine before being rebooted and absorbed into the MCU in a few years. I give Dark Phoenix a 3.5 out of 4.
Best #6: Deadpool 2
Deadpool 2 promised us more thrills, more action, more laughs, and some over-the-top fight sequences. I'm happy to say it kept its promise and provided some smart and surprisingly emotional entertainment. With surprise cameos and a surprise villain, the film is a great sequel, but does it live up to the first?
Deadpool 2 follows Wade Wilson aka Deadpool as he tries to balance his superhero life and his love life. After tragedy strikes, we get a Bond-esque opening with a song performed by none other than Celine Dion. We're then launched into the main story. Deadpool teams up with Colossus and Negasonic in order to help a kid with some fiery mutant abilities. Things go sideways when time-traveler Cable shows up. Cable has come from a future where his family, along with other families, have been killed by a dangerous mutant named Firefist. Cable is convinced that the kid Deadpool was trying to help is in fact that mutant in the future and has come to the past to kill him before he becomes a killer. Deadpool organizes the X-Force in order to stop Cable and hopefully give the kid a reason to change.
So, obviously, a lot happens in the film. It has a two-hour runtime and yet it still fits more story into it than any other X-Men film. There's actually some emotional moments as well, which was a breath of fresh air.
DP2 relied heavily on shock value, which I believe actually did hurt the film in some cases. While shock value can be a good thing, I felt that the film wasted time on a huge setup just to have the shock value moment undo it all. While the cameos were cool, it just wasn't worth it.
Aside from that, the film soared. Josh Brolin was the perfect casting choice for Cable, and Ryan Reynolds once again proves that no one else could be Deadpool. Zazie Beetz impressed me thoroughly as Domino and I hope we get to see more of her in the future.Unless the Fox/Disney merger ends the series, we probably will see more of Domino and Cable considering how the film ends. Whoops, was that a spoiler? Uh, spoiler alert.
In conclusion, if you loved the first Deadpool then you will most certainly love Deadpool 2. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and I look forward to seeing more from the entire cast. I give the film a 3.5 out of 4.
Best #7: 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.
Best #8: 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 #9: 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.
BEST #10 - The New Mutants
Okay, someone explain to me why The New Mutants received so much hate. The film had a fantastic story and could stand on its own so newcomers can enjoy it all the while tying into the X-Men Universe and foreshadowing the events in Logan. It also ties into Deadpool 2, revealing that the Essex Corporation has multiple mutant rehabilitation houses. So, yes, Josh Boone was wildly mistaken. This does not take place in the main timeline, but rather the timeline created after Days of Future Past. I will include a complete movie timeline at the bottom of the article.
The New Mutants introduces Dani Moonstar, a young girl who lost her father and has been "taken in" by Essex to be studied. They believe she's a mutant, they (and Dani) just don't know what her power is yet. As strange things begin happening at the institution, it's becoming abundantly clear that Dani's power is stronger and far scarier than anyone realizes.
When the film began, I admit that I thought the acting was a bit subpar. Gradually, it did get better as the film went along. Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor Joy did remarkably well with their respective accents. Every now and then I could hear Maisie's revert back to her own accent but she picked it right back up with no problem. The CGI was good except for the Smiley creatures. They looked a little ridiculous when they were supposed to be frightening. Everything else looked on point, though.
I loved the story more than anything else. It spoke volumes about mental illness and learning to trust others when you feel like you can't. I also loved the dynamic between Dani and Rahne. Despite Dani's power, despite her loneliness, despite her depression, Rahne didn't give up on her. There were so many good, heartfelt messages sprinkled into the film.
In conclusion, please don't write this off as a bad film just because Rotten Tomatoes says so. It is a good film with good intentions. It may not be the best in the series, but it holds its own. I give The New Mutants a 3 out of 4.
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 given, 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.
The Timeline - It's really not as confusing as people think!
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- X-Men: First Class
- X-Men United
- X-Men: The Last Stand
- The Wolverine
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- (When Logan goes back in time, it's the 70s - after he breaks away from the group ran by Stryker and after the events of First Class. Lumberjack life happens in timeline A but never happens in timeline B due to being captured at the end of DOFP)
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix
- (Some form of X-Men 1-3 happens here, just not exactly like it happened before)
- The New Mutants
- Deadpool 2
- (the end of DOFP happens here - Logan is a teacher along with Storm, Beast, Cyclops, and Jean Grey)
The X-Men Cinematic Universe has been around for 19 years and has finally come to an epic conclusion. Now that Disney has bought out Fox, the X-Men are being absorbed and rebooted into the MCU. When will we see the new cast? We aren't sure. What we do know is that Fox's XCU has been a wild and fun ride and our heroes' futures in the MCU will be interesting without a doubt.
© 2017 Nathan Jasper