Xavier’s gifted youngsters have made their big screen appearance for the last 20 years, beginning with Bryan Singers X-Men and concluding with their long awaited film The New Mutants. In 1993, 20th Century Fox claimed the rights of the X-Men from Marvel and that is when they began launching their film series. Since then Disney bought out Marvel but still lacked still lacked the rights to a large part of the Marvel Universe. Universal owned the Hulk; Sony owned Spider-Man and Ghost Rider; and Fox also owned Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. Throughout the last couple years those companies lost the rights for those characters, reverting back to Marvel. But Fox has managed to still produce successful X-Men films, allowing them to retain the rights of the franchise. Finally in 2019, Disney decided to just buy 20th Century Fox and end their run of X-Men films. Still, we remain optimistic for the future of the mutants with Disney and their incorporation into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite where the mutants go, we will always share a love and appreciation for the universe Fox established and the films they left behind. Which is why we are going to be looking at all the X-Men films by Fox and ranking them worst to best.
13. Dark Phoenix (2019)
We are kicking off this list with one of the most recent entries in the franchise with the third film in the new altered universe of X-Men films. Simon Kinberg wrote the screenplay the last time they attempted to adapt the Phoenix Saga from the comic books, and decided to give it another shot by writing and directing this film. The story of this film follows a cast of much younger actors portraying the X-Men to face off against a threat they never saw coming, one of their own. Jean Grey is involved in a cosmic accident that unleashes an inner power that has been dormant inside of her, the power is so strong it transformers her into the Phoenix. Along with an Alien race that want to use her abilities for their own personal gain, the X-Men must defeat this alien race and battle against one of their closest friends. Unfortunately this film manages to be worse than The Last Stand, you would think that Kinberg and the studio would learn from their previous mistakes but instead manage to make a film that is even less interesting than the original. It’s sad that the X-Men themselves ended their run with this disaster of a movie.
12. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Apocalypse was the sign for the downfall of this franchise, as the film that came before Dark Phoenix. Taking place in the 1980’s, the new team of mutants prepare to face off against one of their most powerful foes in a god like mutant Apocalypse. The most powerful mutant the world has ever seen, Apocalypse is reborn and believes the world is disillusioned and needs to be cleansed. Recruiting Storm, Angel, Psylocke and Magneto to participate in his new world order. Charles Xavier and Mystique now must use Charles young students and prepare them for the coming battle that is about to take place. While this film was also a dud, it wasn’t as bad as Dark Phoenix. The film still felt cohesive and exciting, especially with first appearance of new actors taking on Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Jean Grey and Storm. James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique return and still manage to give justice to their performances even after how accurately their characters were portrayed in previous installments. One of the many aspects of the film that doesn’t work though, is Oscar Isaac take on Apocalypse. Unlike some of the other villain portrayals in previous films, Isaac as the god like mutant just doesn’t sell as someone who comes off as threatening.
11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Be honest, how many of you watched the unfinished pirated version before it hit theaters. If you did and thought the special effects improved in the final cut, you would be absolutely wrong. Meant to be the beginning of origin films based on the many X-Men related characters, starting with their most popular mutant Wolverine. Exploring deeper into Wolverine’s life as James Howlett and later Logan, and the events taking place leading up to his procedure that grafted adamantium onto his bones. What seemed like a simple task for the producers to create a film about one of the most beloved Marvel characters turned out to be a massive disappointment. Cheesy dialogue, terrible effects, and a disservice to the characters. After three films with Logans amazing looking metal claws, this film manages to somehow do something we expected from the first X-Men movie by making his claws look fake and coated in CGI. Regardless of it all though, this film still manages to be entertaining. Hugh Jackmans first solo film as Wolverine was going to entertain no matter what, he is this character. No matter how bad the film might be, his iteration of Wolverine will always give elevation to the movie.
10. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Remember how we were talking about Simon Kinberg’s first stab at the Dark Phoenix storyline? This was the first attempt. Blending two stories together for this film. The X-Men are still mourning the sacrifice of Jean Grey, but when she suddenly returns things don’t seem to be normal with her. As they try to discover how she managed to return from the dead, she begins to display incredible strength in her abilities that forces her friends to fight against her. Meanwhile, the government has created a cure for the mutant gene and intend on using it to begin the elimination of mutants. Magneto sees this as a threat and declares war against the government, the only thing standing in Magnetos way are the X-Men. What put this film lower on our list is the potential it had, even if they pushed aside everything with Jean Grey. Focus more on the internal conflict the mutants face with a cure and how it is changing the world around them. Explore more of the difference between characters like Rouge or Storm and how the cure could benefit one more than the other. While this film didn’t live up to the last two, it still had compelling ideas.
9. The New Mutants (2020)
I am sure many have seen the bad reviews surrounding the final film in the franchise, don’t believe all of them. While this film isn’t one of the best, it still holds up better than the Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix. This time, we are introduced to a new group of young mutants in an alternate style on comic book films with horror themes. Introducing Rahne, Illyanna, Sam, Danielle and Roberto as teenaged mutant trying to learn their new abilities are locked inside a facility by Dr. Reyes as they attempt to tap into their powers. However, the mutants begin to realize there is something far more sinister behind their stay at this unknown facility. From the director of The Fault in Our Stars, Josh Boone. The film doesn’t come off as a young adult movie, but isn’t scary enough to be considered a horror film either. Instead it comes off as a dark coming of age film but with superpowers. But after a three year delay, there was so much anticipation behind this film. And although it didn’t live up to those expectations, it didn’t diminish them either. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but it also isn’t as bad as what some people might think.
8. The Wolverine (2013)
One only complaint I ever hear about this movie, is how boring it is. Which may be true, but it was still a step up from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan is invited to visit a man he saved during World War II and make him mortal. When Logan refuses the man dies, while attending his funeral Logan encounters an attack and realizes he isn’t healing the way he use too. Now stuck in Japan, Logan must now battle against the Yakuza without the use of his healing factor. While The Wolverine isn’t the most action-packed film of the X-Men saga, it still remains completely necessary in the universe. At the time James Mangold was known for his films Knight and Day, Walk the Line and Girl, Interrupted. When he came on to direct The Wolverine, there was never any doubt he could make a deeply emotional and thought provoking film, putting Logan into situations we have never seen him face in previous films. It may not be one of the better X-Men films, but instead it was a stepping stone to the story Mangold wanted to tell with his next installment Logan.
7. Deadpool 2 (2018)
One of the most anticipated sequels on this list after the massively successful first film, Deadpool 2 brought back Ryan Reynolds to play the Merc with the Mouth. After Wade Wilson takes a life changing loss, he begins to seek out a new purpose in life. While helping the Colossus during an X-Men mission, Wade meets Russell a young mutant with explosive abilities. When the kid is kidnapped, Wade realizes his purpose and puts together a team of mutants to rescue the young man before Cable gets him first. This film manages to bring back everything that worked so well for the first movie. Blood, violence, harsh language, a tsunami of inappropriate jokes and making another comic accurate version of Deadpool fans crave. John Wick producer David Leitch replaced Tim Miller for the director’s chair and elevated the action set pieces for the second installment. And just when you thought Josh Brolin couldn’t be in enough comic book films, he comes on to play Cable. Another show stealer comes in Zazie Beetz as Domino, a mutant with the ability of luck. If you think that is a lame ability, just watch this movie to be proven that luck can be cinematic.
6. X-Men (2000)
The film that started it all as one of the films that helped change the course for comic book movies. Director Bryan Singer introduces us to world where humans and mutants live in a fearful world of each other. While the evil Magneto believes there is a war approaching between humans and mutants, Charles Xavier instead choses to teach mutants to control their powers and live in peace with mankind. The film is mostly told from Wolverine and Rouges perspective though, as they are both introduced to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Logan is seeking closure and understanding from where he came from, while Rouge is seeking a place to fit in and control her abilities. But when Magneto begins his plans for mutant domination Logan joins Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey in the battle against Magneto and his followers. This film did a lot for comic book films today, showing us that these types of stories and characters can be interpreted into a film with thought provoking themes and unique story telling. Producers managed to stay true to the source material of the comics, while giving it a modern flavor that made this fictitious world something believable within our own world.
5. X-Men: First Class (2011)
What was intended to be a prequel, later changing into a soft reboot. Before they were Professor X and Magneto, they were allies. Working together for the greater good of mutant kind, First Class tells isn’t just an origin story for one character but rather for many. Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr put their skills and abilities together to help other mutants who seem lost or out of control with their powers. However, Erik has alternate agendas when an enemy from his past gets involved. Sebastian Shaw intends to use his abilities to wipe out mankind, motivating Charles to assist Erik on his quest for revenge. One of the best parts of the comic books was the relationship between Erik and Charles, as both intend to do right by their species but with different methods. That is what this story captures so well by telling an origin story for Professor X, Magneto, The Brotherhood of Mutants and the X-Men. Asking audiences to pick a side, but giving you enough information to doubt your beliefs. At the same time, giving one of the most dangerous villains in the X-Men universe a sympathetic backstory that pushes your beliefs even further. Basically, this movie did what Captain America: Civil War did before that film.
4. Deadpool (2016)
The film that began a new trend for R-Rated comic book films. Wade Wilson is a gun for hire, but meets Vanessa and quickly falls in love. Later Wade discovers he has cancer and is offered the chance to cure his illness. He accepts the offer, but ends up in a facility that uses torturous methods to reveal peoples mutant gene. After weeks of torture, his ability to heal is finally exposed but also leaves him disfigured. Now Wade sets out on a quest for revenge against the people that changed him. Deadpool comics were always mature for readers, the character was never really made for children. And because of that, 20th Century Fox never saw the potential for a solo Deadpool movie. After the studio failed to bring the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, many fans where begging for another but more accurate version of Deadpool. Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds managed to put together a short animated screener for their vision of the film. The footage leaked online and thus began the quest to get the film made, when it finally released it blew away expectations. Both films have done so well and become so popular, Ryan Reynolds has forever laminated himself onto the character.
Also Read: X-Men: 10 Coolest Deadpool Costumes [Ranked]
3. X2: X-Men United (2003)
Very rarely do we get a sequel that surpasses the original, but we managed to get it with this installment. Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair to give us a story taking place several months after the first film. Magneto remains imprisoned inside a facility specialized in maintaining his abilities, but Mystique has devised a plan to break him out. Meanwhile, Xavier’s mansion is attacked by a special task force ran by William Stryker. Majority of the students manage to escape leaving Wolverine, Iceman, Rouge and Pyro on the run. Elsewhere, Professor Xavier and Cyclops travel to meet with Erik but things go south when they are ambushed by Strykers men. Now Stryker has control of Xavier, making him a threat not only to our heroes but all mutant kind. Understanding the threat they face, the X-Men join forces with Magneto to bring down Stryker and save Charles. This film managed to improve from the first on every level, from the score by John Ottman to the fight choreography this film set the standard for every X-Men film that came after it. One of the most memorable aspects of the film was showcasing more mutants and their abilities with characters like Iceman, Pyro, Nightcrawler and even Magneto.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Just when you thought the series was losing momentum, this entry comes in and saves the day. The future is in disarray by the creation of the Sentinels, machines created by Dr. Bolivar Trask to adapt to mutant abilities and kill them. The remaining mutants including Professor Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine and Kitty Pryde among many others fight for their lives against the mutant threat. With Kitty’s newly developed power to send someone’s subconscious into their younger body, make a final attempt to save mankind and mutant kind from extinction. Sending Logan into his younger body, he must now find a young Charles Xavier to form the X-Men and stop Mystique from causing the events that lead to the creation of the Sentinels. Of course one of the most exciting parts of this film is the merging of the original cast from the first three films and the new cast established from X-Men: First Class. But after the disaster that was X-Men: The Last Stand, Bryan Singer returned to the franchise to fix the mistakes and inconsistencies from the previous films. If you thought that overabundance of characters would be a problem for this film, the producers manage to give this film an amazing balance of storytelling and action.
1. Logan (2017)
Undoubtedly the greatest X-Men film in the series. In an alternate future established from Days of Future Past, Logan’s healing factor is debilitating causing him to heal slower and die faster. Making money as a limo driver to afford medications that can control Charles psychic seizures, he hopes to hopefully make enough to afford a boat and get himself and Charles away from the rest of the world. An extremely profitable proposition is offered to him when a woman begs for his help to take a young girl to a specific location and save her from being found by a mutant corporation. Although he declines, he is later forced into accepting the woman’s offer which puts him and Charles on the run from the same people hunting the girl. Even though The Wolverine managed to be low on our list, we did mention its purpose for Mangolds production of this film. After the success of Deadpool, Fox finally greenlit Mangold to create an R-Rated Wolverine movie and what a profitable choice that ended up to be. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give performances and display a story that is so well crafted and so emotional, it is worthy of being one of the greatest comic book films of all time.
While we hate to see this incredible run of X-Men movies end, their comic book influence and popularity will undoubtedly keep them relevant in cinemas. Now with Marvel Studios having the rights back, we are excited to see what Kevin Feige has planned for Xavier’s gifted young mutants and the ones who chose to fight against them.