“X-Men: Apocalypse,” the latest film in the comic book franchise about mutants living in the good ole U.S. of A won’t hit theaters for another two weeks. Before it does, now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the rest of the franchise, good and bad.
Because this will look at the movies as a whole, the list will have some spoilers.
X-Men: The Last Stand
Let’s start with the bad, aka, the worst “X-Men film. Directed by Brett Ratner, “X-Men: The Last Stand” is a great example of a movie simply biting off more than it can chew. The movie juggles two huge plot threads, Jean Grey’s character dealing with the Phoenix and the cure to mutant powers.
If the movie had focused 100 percent of its time to making a good Phoenix movie or taken the other route and been all about the cure, it could have worked. Unfortunately, the movie tries to force them together, creating a convoluted mess. On top of that, the movie absolutely wastes characters like Angel and Cyclops.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” has a ton of issues and its low ranking on this list is warranted. That being said, it’s not nearly as bad as “The Last Stand.” Yes, Taylor Kitsch was wrong for the role, the adamantium bullets were a cop out, Deadpool was horribly portrayed and the pacing was all over the place.
However, as a straightforward action film, it’s not all bad. Despite poor CGI, seeing Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine take down baddies and make quips is entertaining enough. Wolverine deserved a better origin story, true, but this one gets a pass in my view for having some excitement.
Released in 2013, this is the time they got a “Wolverine” movie right. Besides a romance that felt rather rushed at points, “The Wolverine” is a solid, well paced action picture exploring who Logan has become and who he was.
The action in the movie is especially well done, with one scene on a train in particular being a total thrill ride. While being a fantastic action movie, though, the true “X-Men” movies, including the following, surpass it.
“Spider-Man” from 2002 gets most of the credit for creating the frame work for the superhero origin story in the new century, but I see “X-Men” as being the film to show that the comic book genre itself can work in a modern way.
Coming on the heels of the 90s superhero era, which seemed to go off the rails with “Batman & Robin” in 1997, 2000’s “X-Men” was like a breath of fresh air. Gone were the over the top villains, heavy camp and basic superhero narrative.
Bryan Singer instead delivered a fairly grounded picture, with deep characters who were trying to figure out their place in the world, namely Rogue and Wolverine.
Even the villain Magneto, played wonderfully by Ian McKellen, was much more intriguing than most other villains at the time.
In a way, “X-Men” was the perfect lead in to the modern superhero era since it does follow a group of people dealing with prejudice instead of a single vigilante.
With all that said, though, there are some problems. Cyclops was never really portrayed all that great by James Marsden and the movie overall feels a bit dated.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
There’s a ton to like about “Days of Future Past,” the scene featuring the image above is one of them. The movie took on the gargantuan task of correcting the mistakes of “Last Stand,” effectively putting a nice bow on the original trilogy and set up a new series of “X-Men” films, and pulled it off.
On top of that, it manages to be a good film, too. With all the plot threads going on, it’s really impressive that the movie was able to come together as well as it did.
What keeps it from being one of the best, though, are a couple of things. First, whenever you go into time travel territory, you deal with some plot holes, and “Days of Future Past” has its share. Second, the movie could have given more screen time to Magneto, Mystique and Quicksilver.
For years this was the quintessential “X-Men” movie. It perfectly showcased the differences in ideology between Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr while still showing their commonalities. It also displays how different levels of government react to certain mutant events. Most importantly, though, it builds on everything that the 2000 film established, especially with the characters.
The action was also phenomenal in this picture, from the scene where Wolverine has to fight off a bunch of special ops at the mansion to an opening sequence at the White House.
Until 2011, this was my favorite “X-Men” movie.
X-Men: First Class
By the time Matthew Vaughn directed “First Class,” the series as a whole seemed to be on life support, with “Last Stand” and “Origins” both being critically panned and earning little fan support.
Fortunately, Vaughn reinvigorated the franchise with this installment, which recaptured the energy that the original two brought to the screen.
This one was smart, heartfelt and had some solid humor. Additionally, it featured a plot that allowed its main characters to really develop.
Speaking of characters, the actors who portrayed them were perfect choices. Jennifer Lawrence brought a whole new take on the character, allowing her to actually be a person rather than just a mute assassin.
Stealing the screen, though, were James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who both capture the emotions and viewpoints of the characters to perfection. They also make the characters their own, rather than attempting impersonations of the other iconic actors who have played them.
Agree or disagree with the list? Leave a comment down below and say how you’d rank the “X-Men” movies.