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All 11 X-Men Movies, Ranked Worst to Best

Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe thrust superheroes into the mainstream, Fox's X-Men film franchise delivered some of the first decent adaptations of one of Marvel's most iconic supergroups. The X-Men films have certainly had their highs and lows, ranging from genre-defining classics like X2: X-Men United, Logan and Deadpool to possibly the worst superhero film of all-time in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Credit: Fox/Getty

(Image credit: Fox/Getty)

The franchise's next (and possibly final) installment is Dark Phoenix (out June 7), which will see Fox try once more not to botch one of the most iconic X-Men stories of all time as Sophie Turner's Jean Grey struggles with her immense power. To celebrate this messy but nonetheless lovable franchise before Marvel's mutants end up in the MCU, here's every X-Men film ranked worst to best.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

When we polled the Tom's Guide staff for this story, there was complete unanimity on only one title: X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Every single staffer ranked this movie last, and it's not hard to see why. This prequel tells a complete origin story for James Howlett, aka Logan, aka Wolverine — even though X2 did a perfectly good job explaining his origin story, and did it in much less time, to boot. The fast-healing, slowly aging Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) joins a team of supersoldiers under the command of the corrupt William Stryker (Danny Huston), but is forced to turn on them and hunt them down for a litany of convoluted, boring reasons. The story is paper-thin, the villains are boring and the special effects look terrible. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool and Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth are almost worth the price of admission, but it's a shockingly dumb and sloppy solo outing for a favorite X-Man. — Marshall Honorof

X-Men: The Last Stand

Director Brett Ratner, by most accounts, is a nasty, thoughtless guy, so in a way, it's fitting that he made a nasty, thoughtless X-Men film. X-Men: The Last Stand puts Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) front and center, as she miraculously returns from the dead following her sacrifice in X2. But she came back as the malevolent Dark Phoenix, who's more interested in joining forces with Magneto (Ian McKellen) than reuniting with her fellow X-Men. But wait — there's also a subplot that's all about a "cure" for the mutant condition, and there's another one about how Storm (Halle Berry) has to take control of the team and another one about Rogue (Anna Paquin) wanting to leave the team, and so on. Mostly, The Last Stand feels overstuffed, and very few of its myriad story arcs come to satisfying conclusions. The movie is also downright cavalier about killing beloved characters, often with very little fanfare. It's a messy, mean-spirited film with a decent premise and a lousy execution. — Marshall Honorof

Credit: Fox

(Image credit: Fox)

X-Men: Apocalypse

Most of our staffers ranked X-Men: Apocalypse quite low on their lists, although what's interesting is that they did so for different reasons. Some people hated the film outright, citing its bloated runtime, its underuse of fan-favorite characters and its incredibly forgettable take on a terrifying X-Men villain. Others felt the movie had its moments, but fell far short of other, better films in the series. Briefly: Ancient Egyptian mutant En Sabah Nur, aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), reawakens in the 1980s and wants to add professor Xavier's (James McAvoy) psychic powers to his own arsenal. To its credit, X-Men: Apocalypse has a fantastic cast, including Alexandra Shipp as Storm, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler and Lana Condor as Jubilee. But the story meanders all over the place for a lot of pointless cameos before arriving at a disappointing cop-out of a climax. If you can tolerate a messy structure and some unsatisfying character arcs, this film isn't all bad — but it's not that good, either. — Marshall Honorof

X-Men

While the original X-Men didn't wind up very high on our list, I'd like to think that's simply because some of the later movies were even better. Remember: This is the film that arguably kick-started the modern superhero blockbuster, and it still holds up pretty well. Magneto devises a plan to mutate the entire world's population, thereby ending the prejudice against homo superior once and for all. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) dispatches the X-Men to deal with the threat: Cyclops (James Marsden), Jean Grey, Storm and Wolverine. The story is fine, although a little rote by superhero standards. What was impressive about X-Men was that it introduced audiences to a big, colorful, complex cast of characters, each of whom had his or her own backstory and goals. One shortcoming in the film is that some secondary villains — Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) — had to wait until later films for full character arcs. — Marshall Honorof

The Wolverine

After the disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, all a sequel had to do was be marginally better, and fans would have breathed a sigh of relief. But The Wolverine went above and beyond, delivering a rock-solid action movie with some legitimately interesting character development and world building. Following the events of The Last Stand, Wolverine is consumed with grief and wants nothing to do with the world of mutants anymore. That all changes when he's summoned to Japan to take care of some unfinished business from World War II. One of the coolest things about The Wolverine is that it shows us a side of Wolverine's story we never really expected to see outside of the comics, where the X-Men are almost nonexistent, and characters like Mariko Yashida (Tao Okamoto), Yukio (Rila Fukushima) and the Silver Samurai (Hal Yamanouchi) take center stage. Part crime drama, part action flick and part superhero film, The Wolverine is enjoyable, if disposable, fun. — Marshall Honorof

Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 is essentially more of the same filthy Ryan Reynolds humor and over-the-top action that made the original a hit, but I'd argue that it's an even better movie. We get a surprisingly emotional intro that sets some high stakes, an excellent cast that includes Zazie Beetz' show-stealing Domino and Josh Brolin's steely Cable, and a hilarious script that breaks the fourth wall even harder than the first Deadpool movie. While it lacks the sharp focus of its predecessor, it plays out like a genuine X-Men ensemble piece filled with fun comic book easter eggs, and its ending will have you eagerly awaiting the eventual X-Force film. — Mike Andronico

Credit: Fox

(Image credit: Fox)

Deadpool

X-Men Origins: Wolverine delivered the worst possible interpretation of snarky mercenary Wade Wilson, but that didn't stop Reynolds from hanging on to the character and eventually making things right. Directed by Tim Miller, Deadpool is an instant action-comedy classic, one that faithfully adpts the Merc with a Mouth's penchant for potty humor and fourth-wall breaking while serving up some slick action choreography filled with slicing and shooting. Reynolds' love for his character oozes out of every gut-busting scene he's in, and despite its forgettable villain, the film's self-aware laughs and fun combat scenes instantly elevate it to the upper half of the X-Men series. Disney — please let this character into the MCU. — Mike Andronico

X-Men: First Class

Part prequel, part reboot, X-Men: First Class was the shot in the arm that the franchise needed after the all-time low of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This 1960s-based adventure puts a fresh spin on the formation of the X-Men, focusing on a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Michael Fassbender) as they clash over how to best push mutantkind forward. The chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender — who had big shoes to fill after Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen — is the absolute highlight of the movie, but there's also some killer action to be enjoyed as the proto X-Men go up against the Hellfire Club. With strong performances from Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) and plenty of deep-cut comic references, First Class got back to the core of what made the early X-Men films great while setting the franchise on an exciting new course. — Mike Andronico

X2: X-Men United

Widely regarded as one of the best X-Men movies for a reason, X2: X-Men United moves at a brisk pace and gives us everything we love about our favorite mutants. Now that the characters have been established in the first X-Men film, we spend more time with Wolverine, who's clawing his way into his past, thanks to revelations from the film's big bad: Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox). Further, X-2 forces the X-Men to work with Magneto, giving audiences a peek at the franchise's not-so-secret truth: The helmeted villain isn't always in the wrong. Even visually, this film thrives more than most comic book movies, as shown in a pair of visually thrilling scenes: Nightcrawler's attempt to assassinate the American president and Wolverine's defense of professor Xavier's school. — Henry T. Casey

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past performed two incredibly difficult feats: It faithfully adapted one of the most beloved X-Men comic book arcs of all time and simultaneously brought together both generations of the X-Men film franchise. Faced with the extinction of mutantkind in a dystopian future, the classic trilogy X-Men send Wolverine back to the 1970s to prevent the asssassination of Bolivar Trask, an event that puts tensions between humans and mutants at an all-time high. This leads to a spectacular clash of the X-Men's past and present, as Hugh Jackman's Wolverine meets young Xavier, Magneto and Mystique, while the classic-era X-Men make a desperate last stand in the future. The movie is dripping with 70s flair, we finally get to see the X-Men battle some honest-to-goodness Sentinels, and there's also that Quicksilver scene. By the time it all wraps up, Days of Future satisfies as both a worthy sequel to First Class and a touching tribute to the movie X-Men many fans grew up watching in the 2000s. — Mike Andronico

Credit: Fox

(Image credit: Fox)

Logan

Our favorite X-movie is — ironically — the least traditional comic book movie of the bunch. Audiences have loved Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Wolverine for years, but the character has never felt more real than when stripped of most of his mutant brethren and set on his own in a dystopian future. As a broken man whose body is falling into disrepair, taking care of an even more feeble Charles Xavier, we see the iconic clawed character at the height of his frustration. A cross between Cormac McCarthy's The Road and a modern action movie, Logan is saved from being too bleak and unwatchable thanks to a group of young mutants who our anti-hero strives to protect. — Henry T. Casey