Last year, 20th Century FOX was sold to Disney, reuniting almost all the Marvel stories. One of the last of the FOX-produced X-Men films, New Mutants, debuted at the end of August. It was long-awaited and has been much maligned. Some have called it the worst X-Men film. I disagree, but it got me thinking about the world created by FOX. So this week’s Binge Watch is about those X-Men films. There have been 11 counting New Mutants (but not including Deadpool, which feels like its own thing). Below is my ranking of the 11 films.
Let the X-powered Binge Watch begin!
11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
About: Look, Wolverine is a great character and I really like Hugh Jackman in the role. After a somewhat underwhelming third X-Men film, I was interested and excited about stand alone adventures. This one made me less excited. Sure, Jackman is fine, and there’s an unfortunate version of Deadpool played by Ryan Reynolds here, but mostly the film is a misfire. In fact, as you’ll see, there’s only one great stand-alone Wolverine film.
10. Dark Phoenix (2019)
About: Look, I was as excited as the next person to see the Jean Grey/Phoenix story told again. But this wasn’t an improvement over the first time. In fact, I nearly put this as the bottom film on this list. It was an inglorious end for the prequel cast, whose films seemed to get worse the more of them that were made. This doesn’t work on any level.
9. The Wolverine (2013)
About: This second Wolverine stand alone film was an improvement on the first, but not a big improvement. There were some interesting visual moments, and again Hugh Jackman is great, but the film itself is OK at best.
8. The New Mutants (2020)
About: This is the newest film released, and it feels a bit like a horror film. It didn’t totally work, as many have noted. And yet, I don’t think it was bad. The film was entertaining, didn’t wear out its welcome and seemed to have stronger performances than something like Dark Phoenix, which had a lot more budget and hype. Rumors of its disappointment have been greatly exaggerated.
7. X-Men: The last Stand (2006)
About: This was the third X-Men film, and the first shot at the Jean Grey/Phoenix plotline. It isn’t great, but it’s executed a lot better than what happened with Dark Phoenix. (I guess by now you’ve gathered I don’t care for that film.) It’s a tough end for the original cast together, but thankfully they were able to come together one last time in a far better film.
6. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
About: This was the third film made with the re-boot cast, and the first one that doesn’t really land. While it’s better than Dark Phoenix, it’s got lofty ambitions that don’t quite land. I still love James McAvoy-Jennifer Lawrence-Michael Fassbender in this cast, but this one is more spectacle than satisfaction. Oscar Isaac is a great actor, but his casting and character here just doesn’t quite land for me. Still, it was at least an entertaining blockbuster.
5. X-Men (2000)
About: The film that started it all and, if we’re being honest, kicked off the modern wave of comic book films. Jackman is great here, as is Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Ian McKellen as Magneto. The relationship between Professor X and Magneto was always one of my favorite things about the X-Men, and in both incarnations it’s the casting and their relationship that makes it hum.
4. X2 (2003)
About: Sequels are tricky, but this is one of the rare sequels that surpasses the original film. Of the original cast films, X2 is largely regarded as the best. Jean’s sacrifice at the end to save the team, combined with the foreshadowing for her turn as Phoenix was a powerful ending. Too bad it just didn’t pay off.
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
About: The 1970s setting, the merging of the two casts and the way Wolverine ties it all together helps make this pop. I greatly enjoyed seeing all these characters come together and the way this film works. It was probably the last of the big blockbusters in the franchise that delivered a satisfying theater-going experience.
2. Logan (2017)
About: Jackman’s last go in this role, a part that he dominated for nearly two decades. This is a darker, grittier X-Men film. It’s rated R and earns that rating, but it delivers a bittersweet and epic ending for both Charles Xavier, as played by Stewart, and Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine. James Mangold delivers a great story well told here.
1. X-Men: First Class (2011)
About: This is not only my favorite X-Men film, it’s one of my favorite films. McAvoy and Fassbender knock it out of the park. The 1960s origin story, the plot and the action all work in spades here. Director Matthew Vaughn delivers a beautiful film, beautifully told. Kevin Bacon is a great foil as well, and the final clash delivers on all the promise of the set up. But it’s about the relationship between Charles (McAvoy) and Erik (Fassbender), their friendship and the conflicting ideology that sets them at odds. That is best delivered in this film of all the X-Men films as well. If you only see on X-Men movie, make it First Class.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.