Phoenix from the Ashes? Or Just a Pile of Dust? All X-Men Films Rated
No spoilers for 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' are contained in this article.
Starting in 2000, the X-Men franchise is the longest-running Marvel film series, with it being older than both the Spider-Man franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The films helped thrust the Marvel comic book movies into the mainstream, after years of being in DC’s shadow. However, the movies featuring the mutant family have had polarising reviews, with the general consensus being that the series is quite hit-or-miss. So like when the Phase 1 MCU films were ranked, when did they hit the mark? And when did they miss by a mile? Let’s have a look.
The film that started it all off features a stellar cast, including the perfect casting of Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and Ian McKellan as Magneto. The film—which presents mutant powers as an allegory for coming out—focuses on the stories of young mutant Rogue, coming to terms with her powers, and the weathered Wolverine, looking for answers about his past. The film has certain nods to the comic books, including the use of the infamous X Jet. However, not all of us are lucky enough to own an X Jet of our own to get around. Non-mutants like us have to use aeroplanes to get around the world, but parking can be expensive. However, with Parking At Airports you can park for less, meaning you’ll have more money left over to spend on your holiday.
Built on what it set up in the first film. It explores Wolverine’s past, and makes Hugh Jackman the lead. The film explores deep, dark themes as well as packing a punch with varied action scenes. It is also faithful to the rest of the ensemble cast, bringing in supporting characters like Iceman and Pyro, and introducing the comic book favourite Nightcrawler into the universe through Alan Cumming’s portrayal.
'X-Men: The Last Stand' (2006)
Widely perceived as the first mis-step of the series. Directed by Brett Ratner, who didn’t helm the previous two, failed to faithfully adapt the Dark Phoenix storyline from comic book to screen, with it being intertwined with a mutant cure storyline. The acting from the likes of Jackman and Famke Janssen were praised, as well as the action scenes. However, you can never not unwatch this portrayal of the classic Juggernaut by ex-footballer Vinnie Jones.
'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' (2009)
In what was meant to be the first in a range of films exploring the past of the X-Men, this film fills in all the gaps that were still present in the first two X-Men films, but also features the series’s first continuity question, as the film focuses on the relationship between Wolverine and his brother Sabretooth, who features in the first trilogy but is seen to have no relationship with Wolverine when they fight in the first film. Origins was remembered for the wrong reasons, including a jarring cameo from Will.i.am and a butchering of the Deadpool character.
'X-Men: First Class' (2011)
Initially intended as a soft reboot of the series, James McEvoy and Michael Fassbender made their debuts as Professor X and Magneto. Directed by Michael Vaughan, this film breathed new life into the flagging series. It was set during the Cold War in the 60s, and featured Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, introducing the Hellfire Club into the X-Men film canon. Bringing a fresh energy into the series, it was widely praised.
'The Wolverine' (2013)
Largely forgotten in the X-Men canon, this film took Wolverine out of the American mutant bubble and threw him right into the middle of an inter-familial struggle in Japan. Featuring no characters from any of the previous five films, this felt like a fresh take on the character whilst not really feeling like an X-Men film.
'X-Men: Days of Future Past' (2014)
The return of Patrick Stewart and James McEvoy saw both versions of Charles Xavier come together, which built on what was set up in First Class whilst continuing the story from both The Last Stand and Wolverine. Despite containing a lot of continuity errors which conflicted with previous films, these were broadly overlooked because the acting and the story were strong.
Unlike Deadpool’s portrayal in Origins, this one was faithful to his comic book counterpart. Again depicted by Ryan Reynolds, this F-rated comedy film was something completely different and added a different dimension to the Fox series. Whilst the story is a fairly basic origins story, what makes this film special are the jokes and the characterisation.
'X:Men: Apocalypse' (2016)
With Days of Future Past, it had a lot to live up to, but didn’t quite hit the mark. Being released in the same year as Batman vs Superman and Captain America: Civil War, this fun yet run-of-the-mill flick was judged harshly by critics, but is a decent enough addition into the X-Men mythos.
Seen as a high-quality standalone feature, this was the send-off both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart deserved. In this James Mangold-directed western-inspired film was set in a dystopian future in which all mutants were dying out. Worth watching alone just for the Wolverine v X-24 fights.
'Deadpool 2' (2018)
This one, like the first, was critically acclaimed by critics and adored by fans of the comic books. The more complex story, the easter eggs nodding to the rest of the universe and the hinting of the X-Force were particular highlights.
'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' (2019)
Sadly another failed adaptation of the Dark Phoenix saga. Whilst the story is more faithful, the performance of Sophie Turner of Jean Grey was seen as wooden, and the idea to set it in the 90s, despite the characters not aging since First Class set in the 60s, was also questionable.