As Logan hits cinemas and the world prepares to bid farewell to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and a generation of X-Men movies, let’s take a look at the 9 films in the franchise to date, and rank them from best to worst.
10. X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
Awful dialogue. A bastardisation of the Dark Phoenix saga. Way too much Halle Berry. This was our first taste of an X-Men film without soul, and it remains the series’ weakest moment.
Sporadically witty but overwhelming adolescent, Tim Miller’s R-rated ‘Pool do-over is a tiresome barrage of masturbation jokes and gratuitous gore.
8. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
Though its humourless depiction of Deadpool is one of comic-book cinema’s most appalling errors, Origins: Wolverine has moments of gritty enjoyment: Liev Schrieber, Will.I.Am and Dominic Monaghan make the best of their roles.
7. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse is perhaps the stupidest comic-book villain ever put on screen, but Apocalypse is otherwise solid operatic fun, with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender delivering superb performances amidst the surrounding chaos.
6. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
A well-intentioned but extremely messy mutant clusterf*ck, Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise tries to balance flashy futuristic action (horribly executed) with a 1970s aesthetic as Wolverine travels back in time. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are horribly wasted, as is villainous Peter Dinklage. This film does NOT hold up well to repeat viewings.
Bryan Singer establishes the series’ unique campy/serious tone with this enjoyable adventure, which has a gloriously-short 104-minute running time. Oh to return to such simple times…
4. THE WOLVERINE
A smart, pulpy Japan-set spin-off for Jackman’s Wolverine, at his most vicious and nuanced (pre-Logan, that is). James Mangold directs with tremendous energy, and the various Kurosawa-inspired set-pieces are stunning.
3. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Matthew Vaughn, the best director ever to make an X-Men movie, injects a thrilling new life into the series with this alt-history Cuban Missile Crisis reboot. Fassbender and McAvoy are perfectly cast as young Magneto and Xavier. Sexy, funny and very groovy.
Dark, realistic and incredibly cineliterate, Jackman’s final Wolverine adventure is an admirable glimpse at what might’ve been had previous X directors been given more creative freedom (and R ratings). Logan is flawed (thin villains and the third act descends into mild farce), but is the closest this franchise has gotten to genuinely great cinema.
1. X2: X-MEN UNITED
One of the finest comic-book movies of its time, Singer’s second instalment is a fast-paced, terrifically-acted and surprisingly poignant portrait of the mutant struggle, with some superbly-staged action and- in Bryan Cox’s Stryker- the franchise’s finest villain.