All X-Men Movies Ranked

To me, my X-Fans! The beloved 90’s animation featuring Marvel’s merry mutants returned to us on March 20th with Disney+’s X-Men ‘97. While this show is trading on 90’s nostalgia, today, I’ll be trading on your 2000’s nostalgia. Between X-Men ‘97, Deadpool and Wolverine, and an upcoming comic relaunch, 2024 is shaping up to be the X-Men’s grand pop culture return. But to look forward, we must look back. Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we had 20th Century Fox’s attempt at the Mutant Cinematic Universe. Join me, in ascending order of quality, as I rank all the X-Men movies. Hope you survive the experience. 



11: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

An embarrassing movie. When it wants to be interesting, it might have some snappy dialogue or a neat call forward, but it’s generally flipping a coin between boredom and insanity. Action scenes are either idiotic or edited to be incomprehensible, and are frequently both. This movie is a waste of time. All the answers it gives about the backstory of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine are disappointingly lame. Liev Shrieber’s Sabretooth is utterly wasted on a terminally stupid film. And no, it doesn’t get points for introducing Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool. Like Logan, we’re better off forgetting this movie ever happened. 


10: The New Mutants

New Mutants is saved from the bottom spot by actually trying to be something interesting. Though, for a superhero-horror hybrid, it rarely pulls off a scare, save for how horrifyingly bad some of the casting and dialogue is. Anya Taylor-Joy’s Magik is racist for no reason and the Afro-Latin characters Sunspot and Dr. Cecilia Reyes are whitewashed. The movie’s first half is unforgivably boring while the second might actually resemble a movie featuring the New Mutants. Maisie Williams’ Wolfsbane is the heart of the film by virtue of being the one character to embody classic horror tropes for their arc. There’s a good movie here if you really squint…or lie. 

The film’s poster that, admittedly, goes quite hard.

9/8: X-Men: Dark Phoenix/The Last Stand

One film can’t be discussed without the other, so together they remain. And it’s no wonder, since Simon Kinberg was attached to both movies as a screenwriter and directed Dark Phoenix himself. Each movie loosely adapts the Phoenix Saga storyline with varying degrees of success. I’d consider Dark Phoenix the better adaptation (it’s a race to the bottom, really), while The Last Stand is the better movie. They both suffer from the same critical problem: being two movies stitched together. Dark Phoenix wants to be about Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey becoming the titular Phoenix, but it’s also about…aliens? Jessica Chastain plays an evil ET bent on doing…something with Jean’s new powers. The Last Stand juggles the Phoenix plot with another about a mutant cure—two good premises on their own strangely juxtaposed. Now, Dark Phoenix does get points for actually having Cyclops, my favorite X-Man, get some play while The Last Stand wastes James Marsden’s original rendition early on by killing him for shock value. That being said, it also adds Kelsey Grammer’s Beast and actually gives Halle Berry’s Storm something to do. There’s a considerable gap in quality between these two movies despite their similarities. They’re both failed adaptations and failed conclusions to their respective sagas, but The Last Stand, a film I believe is unfairly treated by most, simply has the better character moments and memorable action sequences to carry it to the finish. 

Behold: What could possibly be the worst promo material ever made

7: X-Men: Apocalypse

Every movie from this point forward I’d consider good, (or really just the ones I like.) I prefer Apocalypse to The Last Stand simply because the later cast is consistently more interesting and—well—consistent, than the original trilogy’s. Apocalypse gives time to characters the series has previously failed, like Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler, but maybe too much time. This movie is overly long (coming in at 2 hours and 24 minutes) and I was checked out for nearly all of the third act. Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse might be the series’ worst villain, not just by being boring, but by being a time sink. At least Jessica Chastain in Dark Phoenix was easy to ignore. Apocalypse is at its worst when it focuses on the title character.

6: X-Men: 

“Do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning?”

Nostalgia be damned, this film still sets the stage, and the standard, for the movies after it. The script is nearly perfect in terms of character, pace, and quotable dialogue. Sure, the black leather suits and the overall too-cool-for-school attitude are slightly cringe in retrospect, but that’s easy to brush off in the wake of Sirs Ian McKellan and Patrick Stuart’s ex-lovers routine as Charles and Magneto. What this movie lacks is the bombast and ambition of its later sequels, which tends to make it look quaint in comparison. 

The X-Men are very serious superheroes for grown ups.

5: The Wolverine

Wolverine: The Ronin.

This forgotten sequel proves itself by being a potent deep dive into the title character and delivering some of the best action in the franchise. The train fight alone puts every fight from the original trilogy to shame. That being said, Logan’s central romance is quite thin, and the plot’s climax, which involves Wolverine fighting an old man in a giant samurai mech with a bald snake woman running around, does, in fact, break the tone. It ranks only slightly higher than X-Men simply because of how much Logan’s Japanese vacation managed to impress me in terms of the efficacy of its action and character work. 

4: Logan: 

Wolverine: The Cowboy.

The performances turned in by Jackman, Sir Patrick Stuart, and Dafne Keen as the three leads are the lifeblood of Logan. This movie’s a genre cocktail—superhero, neo-western, southern gothic, horror—and it nails them all. The R-rating allows the violence to become horrific, making every blow Logan takes truly gut wrenching. His slow, brutal death outstrips Iron Man’s any day. But as much as I like it, the first half of the film is quite slow and the villains, minus Jackman’s portrayal of the terrifyingly uncanny clone X-24, are little more than cannon fodder. Logan can’t rank any higher than this because in the end, it’s a Wolverine movie, not an X-Men movie, but of the Wolverine trilogy, it’s the best there is at what it does. 

Old Man Logan

3: X-Men: First Class

Michael Fassbender and James Mcavoy’s performances as Charles and Erik elevate this movie from what could’ve simply been a superhero period piece to something with true emotional potency. I would’ve watched an entire film of Magneto hunting Nazis, but First Class’ emphasis on team building is what separates it from the pack. It makes like a good prequel and adds dimensions to its successors, especially in regards to Beast, Charles, and Erik. It sometimes gets bogged down in government plots and jargon, but ultimately it isn’t embarrassed to be about X-Men; it actually takes these ideas seriously enough to bring out their cinematic potential. 

2: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut

The Avengers: Endgame before Endgame. The Rogue Cut includes the 5-ish minutes of Anna Paquin’s Rogue removed from the theatrical release, making this the definite version of the film as it was she and Hugh Jackman who began this franchise. Wolverine plus the cast of First Class is a chocolate and peanut butter combination bolstered by the inclusion of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, making him the…bread, I guess. While it’s only the 2nd highest ranked, I’d say it’s my favorite film in the franchise for the way it looks back to move forward. It rewards my love for the original trilogy with the perfect timeline Logan and friends fought for at the ending of this movie, which serves as the real ending to the X-Men saga for me. 

“Hello, Logan.”

1: X2

The perfect sequel. It takes the first film’s momentum and hits the ground running to make something bigger and better in terms of character, plot and ambition. X2 has some of the most iconic scenes and quotable lines in the franchise (“Could you try…not being a mutant?”). Every character (except for Cyclops) gets a moment to show off their powers and personality. Famke Jenssen’s performance as Jean Grey makes me mourn the Phoenix movie we never really got with her. By taking advantage of its large cast of memorable characters, X2 feels the most like a true X-Men experience. 


What I’ve learned over the course of this journey is that if you like something, don’t feel bad about it. I like all of these movies, even parts of New Mutants, Dark Phoenix and Origins because above all, I love the X-Men. Somehow, after I expected familiarity to breed contempt, I love them even more than I did before. I found myself becoming the audience they needed me to be, and while I never surrendered my critical eye, I’ve never enjoyed myself more watching these movies than I did for this ranking. With X-Men ‘97’s arrival, Marvel Studios has shown us that they know how to treat the Mutants well. I can only hope that they’ll learn from the mistakes and successes for Fox’s films and strive to make the next incarnation of the Uncanny X-Men their best yet.