Ranking the X-Men films
If you've spent enough time around me, you know I'm a big fan of the X-Men film franchise. At least, I'm a big fan of parts of the franchise. These characters, fans and films have been through a lot over the years. We've seen triumphs ("Logan") and miserable failures ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine" anyone?). That makes this a very interesting list.
It's also a long one. So let's cut to the chase, shall we? Starting with No, 10...
10. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Suffering the curse of threes, this film is so bloated it's a miracle it managed to waddle its way into the theater at all. Failing to grasp the depth of "X2," this film doesn't just stink, it serves as a bitter disappointment because of the promise the franchise showed before it. I can't think of a film I have viscerally hated more while leaving the theater.
9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
This film was supposed to get the X-Men universe back on track. It didn't. The PG-13 rating is decried, but let's be real: You can make a good Wolverine movie without an R-rating (yes, you can, relax). This movie stinks because the plot is stupid, the characters are underdeveloped and the version of Deadpool put on screen is an absolute travesty. Speaking of...
8. Deadpool (2016)
Go get your pitchforks. As someone who has seen nudity, violence and heard swearing in films before, "Deadpool" loses any claim to originality. The film starts out strong: with one of the best action sequences in any superhero movie to date. From there it's mostly juvenile humor, mediocre in-jokes and a plot that is so blessedly familiar I can't believe people give this movie credit for originality. I don't get it.
7. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
In terms of what I wanted this film to be and what it ended up being, "Apocalypse" comes near "The Last Stand" for disappointment. The plot is pointless, the cast too big and Magneto, the most interesting of all the characters in this new timeline, is dragged through the mud yet again for near nothing. Bryan Singer is proof you either die a hero, or live long enough to become the villain.
6. The Wolverine (2013)
After the tire fire that was (sort of) the first film in this series, I skipped this entry in the universe altogether when it arrived in theaters. That was a mistake. Hugh Jackman brings it to another level as Wolverine in a film with an interesting storyline, a fresh setting and stakes that feel suitably high: something that went missing in the weaker entries in the series. Finally, the universe is back on track again.
5. X-Men (2000)
I still remember the first time I watched "X-Men." I popped the DVD in knowing only the basics of the characters from animated TV shows. The movie blew my damn mind. I rushed as quickly as I could to find out everything my 2004 computer could tell me about Anna Paquin and then to put in the "X2" DVD I had borrowed from a friend.
The film invented the genre as we know it today in all the right ways. Beyond that, it gets what makes the X-Men universe tick: Celebrating otherness and embracing our own humanity even when it isn't easy or doesn't feel right. This is a movie filled with hope that comes just before some messed up shit is about to happen in the real world.
4. X-Men: First Class (2011)
There's nothing these films love more than a good colon. "First Class" works brilliantly because its essence is the relationship between Professor X and Magneto, the most magnetic plot of the original films. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (KISS ALREADY) are electric, their emotions are earned and the story just works.
3. X2 (2003)
At the time it was hard to imagine a better superhero movie being made. It couldn't happen, right? (Wrong, idiot!) Everything about "X-Men" was topped in "X2" as Bryan Singer dialed in the formula. Beyond that, the actors grew more comfortable in their roles while the stakes grew higher still. This film, despite the bit of cheese that you'd expect from a nearly 15-year old movie, still holds up.
2. Logan (2017)
Strip away everything you know about Wolverine and Logan the character and you could walk in and out of this film enjoying yourself. Go and see "Logan" as a long-time fan and you'll walk out an emotional husk. It's the perfect send off of one of the most beloved comic book characters of all time, and it's a damn good film. James Mangold's love of the western bleeds all over the screen — which is apt, given the amount of the red stuff we get in this movie.
1. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
In many ways, "Days of Future Past" is the perfect comic book film. It uses the genre to tell a story you can't do without characters with superpowers. The time travel element is important without being overly confusing, it merges the timelines of the old and new X-Men films and it has Magneto, both old and new, at his very best. While "Logan" is an emotional marathon, I still buy into the emotional struggle and pain of "Days of Future Past" more than any other comic book film I've ever seen. That's why it gets the top spot on the list.