As Logan hit cinemas yesterday we are celebrating the X-Men franchise. I will be ranking all the first nine X-Men films, from the original through to X-Men Apocalypse. I won’t be including Logan as this was written before the release of the film, if I were to now include it, it would unquestionably be number 1. You can also find my Logan review here.
9) X-Men Origins: Wolverine – There is so little that is good about the first Wolverine spin of film that it’s ridiculous. This is a film that cast Will.I.Am in a fairly major supporting role and that’s one of the least of its problems. The script is bad, the story decisions they made were weird, large part of the film were incredibly dull, and the special effects look terrible. Oh and don’t even get me started on what they did to Deadpool. Actually you know what, it would be quicker to tell you what I liked about the movie. Jackman is ultra buff as Wolverine, Liev Schreiber is great as Sabertooth, they brought in fan favourite Gambit, and the opening credit sequence is brilliant. That’s really about it. This film is appalling, and not even rewatchable for laugh out loud entertainment value.
8) X-Men: The Last Stand – To be fair The Last Stand went through a lot of production issues. But that doesn’t excuse its many faults, so it’s definitely deserving of one of the lowest spots on this list. They introduced a lot of characters that people wanted to see in an X-Man film, including Angel, Beast and Colossus, yet don’t really deliver on any of them. The worst offender has to be Vinnie Jones’ Juggernaut who becomes an absolute laughing stock with his “I’m the Juggernaut b***h” line. It wasted the Dark Phoenix saga on another Magneto trying to end humanity storyline, and killed of Jean’s boyfriend Cyclops within the first few minutes, proving that it was possible to treat the character worse than Singer had, and removing that major character dynamic in favour of a Logan and Jean story. This was a hugely disappointing end to that trilogy of films, a theme that continues in our next pick.
7) X-Men: Apocalypse – The newest effort from Bryan Singer really wasn’t great. It was just so generic and extremely derivative of what had come before in the franchise. The Quicksilver scene, seen it before. Magneto struggling with morality, seen it before. Wolverine appears and kills a load of people, seen it before. They even completely reused dialogue in a way that was so on the nose it was painful. They got Oscar Isaac, such a great actor, to play the villain Apocalypse in the film, but then reduce him to standing in blue pain shouting bland villainous statements about world destruction. There was absolutely nothing new or fresh about the film at all, instead it just meandered through the franchise’s old glories.
6) The Wolverine – The Wolverine is an odd film, it always seems to take. Fair amount of flack, but it’s really not bad. There wasn’t anything that I particularly disliked about the film, but equally there isn’t much that’s memorable about it. Sure I think there is a fair amount of wasted potential from the Wolverine in Japan storyline, but similarly it’s a great improvement on the first solo effort.
5) X-Men – It was never going to be easy to establish the X-Men universe. They had to nail the tone, the characters, and the casting of a lot of major and famous characters. For the most part Bryan Singer got it absolutely right, although James Marsden’s Cyclops always got a raw deal from Singer. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine has become so iconic in the role that I don’t think anyone wants to see another actor take over the role for a whole. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are nearly perfect as the older versions of Charles Xavier and Magneto. It’s far from perfect, Halle Berry’s storm is pretty bad, and as villains Sabertooth and Toad were pretty uninspiring. But this was great groundwork for the franchise as a whole.
4) X-Men Days Of Future Past – Days of Future Past was a truly ambitious ensemble effort. It coupled a lot of classic characters, with the new generation, not to mention several new mutants in both timelines. I don’t think that Bolivar Trask and the sentinels were used quite as well as they could have been, instead making this a story about Mystique’s motivations, presumably because hey had now Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence in the role. But I think the film is mostly good. Quicksilver absolutely steals the film, but McAvoy and Fassbender continue to play off one another brilliantly. This was really Jackman’s last role in a main X-Men film, and you could see him getting pushed to the side to accommodate Lawrence’s presence, despite her seeing lack of interest in the franchise based on a fairly phoned in performance.
3) X-Men: First Class – The franchise was dead after the dual failings of The Last Stand and the Wolverine Origins movie, but somehow Matthew Vaughn managed to revive it, with an ingenious prequel reboot, featuring a younger cast. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were inspired choices to take over from Stewart and McKellen as both manage to bring the gravitas the characters need but in a younger body. The decision to place the film back in the 60s and tie it in nicely with the Cuban Missile Crisis was another good choice. I also like the fact that they didn’t use many front line X-Men characters, apart from Charles and Magneto the only really well know X-Men were Mystique and Beast.
2) Deadpool – Deadpool just about counts as an X-Men film as it does include Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, but really this is Deadpool’s show. It’s nearly endlessly rewatchable with a hilarious Screenplay, which offers some comedy for just about everybody. This is the role that Ryan Reynolds was born to play, as he cracks jokes, Meta 4th Wall breaks, and plenty of comic book and film references. It’s so much fun, manages to tell an origin story in a fun new way, and lets the character shine. The story is a little formulaic, basically amounting to three action set pieces, and everything else being built around it, but it really works.
1) X2 – What could possibly beat Deadpool? Well a film that shows the X-Men at their very best. This is the best of the three different times they’ve tried to tell Wolverine’s origin stories. Brian Cox is brilliant as antagonist William Stryker, and his connection Charles Xavier is brilliant. The inclusion of some of the new mutants, especially Nightcrawler was great. It also features three of the great action sequences in the franchise, the opening with Nightcrawler, Wolverine’s rampage through the School, and his fight with Lady Deathstrike. There is so much great stuff in this movie, with Magneto’s plastic prison and escape, the awkward coming out scene with Iceman’s parents, and great groundwork laid for the Dark Phoenix saga, which sadly wasn’t capitalised upon.
What is your favourite X-Men film? Have you seen Logan yet? Where would you rank in the X-Men universe? Let me know in the comments.