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Ranking The X-Men Films

While the franchise is not nearly as possible as Batman or Iron Man, The X-Man Franchise is one of the most important for superheroes in film. Since 2000, the X-Men films have played a huge part in making the superhero genre work on the big screen. With the release of Logan, let’s look at the history of the X-Men franchise.

10. X-Men Origins: Wolverine  

What’s Good:

Any movie that has Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine has an automatic plus. Jackman has brought everyone’s favorite clawed bad boy to life through his charm and grit. On paper, Origins: Wolverine has a lot of promise, not only giving an origin story to Wolverine, but also introducing (and re-introducing) other classic X-Men characters. The dynamic between Wolverine and Sabretooth (played well by Liev Schreiber) is solid, with their complicated relationship being the film’s best strength.

What’s Bad:

Much of the promise this film had is squandered by its horrible execution. It’s well known that director Gavin Hood was controlled by the studio in directing the film, and that is clearly felt. The introduction of characters like Gambit and Deadpool are done horribly, with their roles being meaningless to the story at hand. Considering this was a big blockbuster, the effects are horrendous, with Wolverine’s claws being laughably bad. After an interesting backstory, almost everything goes wrong, as this film still ranks among the worst super hero films ever.

9. Deadpool

What’s Good:

Compared to how the character was portrayed previously, Deadpool is a massive improvement in many respects. Ryan Reynolds clearly knows and loves the character, doing a good job of bringing the character to life. Tim Miller’s direction delivers with a lot of style, as the film goes all out with its R-rated attitude. The inclusion of other X-Men like Colossus also works fluently with the story and the humor.

What’s Bad:

While many people are big fans of this film, personally I just don’t find it all that enjoyable. Most of my issues come from the script, which is frankly a mess. Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese write a script that flirts with being subversive, but still falls into the clichés of the genre. The humor itself falls flat for the most part, with a lot of the jokes feeling more juvenile than intelligent. There’s certainly something to admire about Deadpool, but its execution doesn’t quite stick the landing.

8. X-Men: Days of Future Past

What’s Good:

This is one of the most revered X-Men for good reason. It’s certainly one of the most ambitious superhero films ever made, combining two eras of superheroes together. The cast is very good, with Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, and Patrick Stewart sharing the screen in epic fashion. Let’s not forget either about the fantastic Quicksilver bit, with Evan Peters stealing the show with just one scene. Bryan Singer also does a fantastic job directing the inventive action setpieces.

What’s Bad:

This ranking is going to upset some people, but personally my thoughts on this movie are mixed. There is certainly a lot to admire to about the movie, but I think this is another case where the script hurts the film. This narrative is just so ambitious that it often leaves a lot of character development in the dust. For that reason, much of the drama feels undercooked. Also, the finale is lackluster, succumbing the bombast that most superhero films indulge in.

7. X-Men: The Last Stand

What’s Good:

Everyone who hates this film hates it for mainly for killing off so many beloved X-Men characters. Personally, I liked this choice, as not only did it make for a welcomed surprise, but also improves the film’s focus. Instead of trying to tackle dozens of X-Men characters, this film mainly focuses on Wolverine and Storm as they are becoming leaders. The team dynamic here works, and the addition of Kelsey Grammer in full Best form is a lot of fun. The action setpieces here are satisfying, and the finale resonates with its audience.

What’s Bad:

The trade-off of Bryan Singer for Brett Ratner is a noticeable step down. Ratner fails to establish a consistent tone and his penchant for directing in the most crowd-pleasing fashion is frustrating. Under Singer’s control, this film could have had the impact to be one of the best X-Men films, but it’s more of an entertaining mess.

6. The Wolverine  

What’s Good:

Hugh Jackman as always gives a fantastic performance as Wolverine, nailing the nuances the character has always had in the comics. Much of this film is actually great, with this being by far one of the most grounded X-Men films. Director James Mangold utilizes the Japan setting well with some gorgeous imagery. The action here is impressive, with the setpieces showing Wolverine fighting with his willpower after losing his powers.

What’s Bad:

This film shoots itself in the foot with its terrible third act. After what has been a mostly grounded film, The Wolverine becomes a campy mess, with an overblown action setpiece closing out the film. This film feels like a step in the right direction towards compared to Origins, but still holds back from being truly great.

5. X-Men: Apocalypse

What’s Good:

Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men brand shows why he was such a good fit for the franchise. Apocalypse essentially feels like if Fox decided to make an adaptation of the animated X-Men show in the 90’s. The film is surprisingly humorous, being very much self-aware about the ups and downs the X-Men franchise has had. With great actors like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Oscar Isaac taking center stage, this material still has a dramatic weight. I also like the idea of rebooting several X-Men characters like Cyclops at a younger age, and am curious to see where they develop going forward.

What’s Bad:

Apocalypse may be the most bombastic X-Men film yet. There are some truly epic setpieces, but a lot of them feel overblown and CGI-heavy. At over two hours long, this film in general feels overblown, with there being far too many characters and subplots. Well-known X-Men characters like Storm and Angel are just wasted, and that’s a shame to see. As a whole though, this film’s entertainment value outweighs its downside.

4. X-Men

What’s Good:

This is where the X-Men brand started on the big screen, and what a way to start. As always, Hugh Jackman takes center stage as Wolverine, with the heart of the movie being his relationship with Rouge. At the same time, the ensemble here is quite good, and the film thankfully takes some down time to develop its characters. This film does a great job of laying the ground work for the trilogy, balancing character development with fun action setpieces.

What’s Bad:

X-Men is seventeen years old, and its age is starting to show. The action scenes here do suffer from some iffy effects, but I think the film suffers most from its story. While I understand the tough balancing act between introducing a lot of characters while building an interesting story, it’s a shame the story is so tepid.

3. X-Men: First Class

What’s Good:

The draw of this film is its two stars. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are fantastic as Professor X and Magneto, with this film proving to be a great examination of their relationship. Director Matthew Vaughn brings his style to this material in full force, as the Kick-Ass director delivers with a flashy and energetic effort. Still, the soul of the film lies with its two leads, as it’s great to get a fully-rendered look at their dynamic. Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult are also good, and have effective chemistry on-screen.

What’s Bad:

Outside of the film’s stars, most of the other side characters here are poorly developed. Heroes like Banshee are just here to fill out the roster and amplify the action setpieces, but just end up feeling forgettable. First Class also suffers from its very questionable visual effects. Even when the film was released, the effects here are surprisingly lackluster for a big budget flick, effecting the impact of the action setpieces.

2. X2: X-Men United

What’s Good:

This is by far the best film to encompass the X-Men team, and is a shining example of early superhero films. X2 takes what worked about the original film and ups the ante even further. The addition of Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler is a great one, with his notable opening still being one of my favorite superhero moments. The film does a better job than the rest of the X-Men films of juggling different subplots and characters, giving some solid development to lesser-known characters like Ice Man. The ending is also strong, with a dramatic climax leaving audiences on a memorable note.

What’s Bad:

Honestly, very little about this movie is bad, with X2 still being one of my favorite superhero films. My lone would be the villains, which by comparison aren’t very memorable. Otherwise, this is a near-perfect film.

1. Logan

What’s Good:

Logan honestly is the best superhero film that I’ve ever seen, and left me speechless when the credits began to roll. This is a daring film that uses its R-rating to create a complex, mature, and surprisingly emotional. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give Oscar-worthy performances in their final roles of the franchise, embodying their complicated history and the loss they have suffered along the way.

Unlike most superhero films where the violence is supposed to be mindless entertainment, Logan’s hard-cutting action moments are brutal and shocking. Audiences finally can feel the impact of every claw piercing attack Wolverine makes. The heart of the film lies in Wolverine’s relationship with young mutant Laura, with Dafne Keen giving a performance beyond her years. This film by its heartfelt final frame left me in tears. Do yourself a favor and check out Logan in theaters.

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