The X-Men film series has been going strong since 2000, when the original X-Men debuted in theaters. Since then, eight additional films, including several spin-offs focused on a single character, have graced the silver screen.
While recent years have seen the popularity of comic books as movies skyrocket, none have proven quite as popular as X-Men. The nine films have collectively grossed more than $3.9 billion worldwide, making it the eighth highest grossing franchise in history.
Two additional sequels are scheduled for release in 2017 and 2018; they will undoubtedly be just as popular as the current and past films. Additionally, the popularity of these films has spawned a wealth of clothing and memorabilia dedicated to the various X-Men characters. Read on for a breakdown of all nine released X-Men films.
Overview of X-Men Films
Given the debate regarding the rankings of all nine movies, the X-Men films are reviewed in the order in which they were released below. We will leave it up to you to decide on your favorite.
The first film in the series introduces the audience to the conflict between Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and his X-Men, and Magneto (Ian McKellen) and the Brotherhood of Mutants. The two were once friends, but, as they grew up, came to believe in different paths toward human acceptance of mutants. Magneto advocates a forced approach that sometimes turned violent, whereas Professor X believes in peaceful integration.
Colonel Stryker (Brian Cox) brainwashes both Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) into revealing the location of every mutant on earth using the Cerebro machine, intending to kill them all. Without their respective leaders to guide them, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants team up to foil Stryker’s plan. They are successful, but lose one of their own in the process.
- X-Men: The Last Stand
The pharmaceutical industry has developed a mutant-suppressing drug, creating a divide between those in the mutant community who yearn to be “normal” and those who are happy as they are. Magneto (Ian McKellen) forms an army of mutants, including the resurrected Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and declares war on humans. Some of the mutants fighting against Magneto and Grey, including Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), realize they have a choice to make: kill the one they love or witness the end of humankind.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
This film was the first spin-off in the series, and focused on Logan/Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) origin story, including his relationship with half-brother Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) who later becomes his nemesis Sabretooth. Logan’s evolution into Wolverine, including the insertion of indestructible metal into his skeleton, is also detailed, providing context for one of the franchise’s most popular and beloved characters.
- X-Men: First Class
First Class jumps back in time, beginning with the origins of Professor X when he was just Xavier (James McAvoy), and Magneto, then known as Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), and moving forward to the start of their relationship in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Along the way, Xavier and Erik meet several other mutants, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), who they recruit to help them stop Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a former Nazi mutant scientist intent on starting World War III.
- The Wolverine
After being forced to kill Jean Grey, the woman he loved, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to reunite with an old friend whose life he saved previously. Along the way, Wolverine defends the friend’s granddaughter from various assassins while he struggles internally with his past decisions. This film only introduces familiar X-Men characters Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) at the very end, when they meet him upon his return to the U.S. to warn him of a new threat to the mutant race.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
Days of Future Past jumps between time periods, allowing Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to return to 1973 to stop an assassination and the ascension of robots known as the Sentinels that are eradicating mutants and their human allies. This film featured the cast of the original X-Men trilogy, as well as the newcomers from First Class, providing context for the characters in the past, present, and future.
Deadpool is the first in another spin-off series, following the popular Wolverine franchise. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), is a former Special Forces officer who is diagnosed with terminal cancer after meeting the love of his life, Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin). After meeting Ajax (Ed Skrein) who offers him an experimental cure that is actually a ploy to create a race of super-powered slaves, Wilson develops mutant healing powers and plots to get revenge on the man who took everything from him.
- X-Men: Apocalypse
The most recently released film in the X-Men series centers on the first and most powerful mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who awakens after thousands of years to find the world very different, and more disappointing, than he left it. He recruits four equally disillusioned mutants, Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Archangel (Ben Hardy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse the earth and start anew. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Professor X (James McAvoy) band together, along with a number of other mutants the audience has come to know through the series, to stop the end the world.