After having finally watched The New Mutants (2020), I have caught up on all the X-Men movies since the turn of the millennium. Since I will be rewatching them all again soon with my girlfriend (SHE HAS NEVER SEEN ANY), I wanted to organize my thoughts before possibly having them change over the course of the coming months.
I have organized my rankings from worst to best, and if anyone agrees with my number 13…well then we have some problems.
Also with each movie I have attached a video from either a redeeming part of the movie, or from one of the best part of said movie.
13. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
I mean, what was this movie? I was so pumped to see this in high school. I remember my cousin picking me up for a 10 PM showing opening weekend, and we both walked out of the theater PISSED! This was supposed to be a launching point for origin movies, but it was just so bad that they canned the rest. Everyone knows the whole muting the merc with the mouth, but there is so much worse with this. It tried to really switch up the humor and approach to Wolverine, but all of it just failed.
Now I know my rating on this movie is not as low as some others on this list, but this is because my grading rational has changed over the years. the last time I saw any true part of this movie was maybe like seven years ago. The rating is the one I have on the list, from 2009, the last time I saw the movie in full.
Stanko Rating: C- (2.0/5 Stars)
12. The New Mutants (2020)
Nothing to care about in this movie. It is like Disney had to put it out just because they had it in the can. It was a content filler during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and it’ll be forgotten as quickly as it came (HAHAHA get it because it took so long to come out). Maybe some credit should be given because The New Mutants tried to be something different….I thought about it…nah!
Stanko Rating: D- (1.5/5 Stars)
11. Dark Phoenix (2019)
By gawd, what is the concept of time? Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and James McAvoy’s Xavier don’t age. Like at all. And we are supposed to care about Jean Grey as a character again when the last truly important moment she had in the X-Men franchise was in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Tough to make an audience care about a character nobody remembered or cared for. Also another disappointing role for Jessica Chastain. Need her to get back onto the Molly’s Game (2017), A Most Violent Year (2014) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) train.
Stanko Rating: D (1.0/5 Stars)
10. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
This movie was incredibly boring, which is insane that it started such an iconic X-Men villain in Apocalypse. Oscar Issac was nullified into nothing by way of his atrocious suit and terrible dialogue. Also, was this the start of the downward path for Jennifer Lawrence? We all know about Dark Phoenix and how much she did not want to be in that story. But in terms of a good movie, Lawrence was in Mother! In 2017, and after that…well she needs to find that leg up again.
In terms of the rating on this one, I can not really justify it. It must just have been out of blind love for the franchise at this point. *Insert Shoulder Shrug Emoji*
Stanko Rating: B (3.5/5)
9. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Alright, here is a hot take. I did not HATE X-Men: The Last Stand. The reason is because at the time this came out, I was not as educated or invested in the lore behind the characters. Now that I know a bit more about the original comics and the cannon story of the Dark Phoenix, I can understand why fans of the franchise were very angry at this movie. But as a movie, I really did not hate it. Yes, killing Cyclops early was weird, but I really liked Kelsey Grammar as Dr. Henry ‘Hank’ McCoy / Beast.
Stanko Rating: B (3.0/5 Stars)
8. The Wolverine (2013)
I really, really liked the first two thirds of The Wolverine. However, we got to the final act and the momentum it had really dwindled with an over-the-top action final finale. The start of the movie was character based and illuminated Logan in a new way. More importantly, this is James Mangold growing up in front of our eyes. He got praise for this movie, and it appears that Hugh Jackman trusted him because four years later, Logan was released.
Sidenote, everyone should check out 3:10 To Yuma (2007). Underrated Western movie.
Stanko Rating: B- (3.0/5 Stars)
7. Deadpool 2 (2018)
While the originality its predecessor wears off, this sequel still packs a punch and is entertaining as all hell. Most of the credit goes to Ryan Reynolds for just being charismatic as all hell. He can make rerun jokes enjoyable and his sarcastic comedy is still chuckle worthy. Biggest thing I remember from this movie is Josh Brolin as Cable. Brolin was in this blockbuster while also roping in the money from Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Sicario: Day Of The Soldado (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
Stanko Rating: B- (3.5/5 Stars)
6. X-Men (2000)
The one that started it all. This movie kicked off the entire super hero enterprise. After this was released in 2000 we had Spider-Man (2002), Batman Begins (2005) and Iron Man (2008). This movie is a spectacle and it is not entirely sure what it wants to be, but htere is no denying the impact this has had. There was depth to these heroes, and they would be explored further. It made the super-powered people the underdogs to a degree, hiding in the shadows.
Stanko Rating: B (3.0/5)
5. X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)
Well, time travel is tricky, but X-Men: Days Of Future Past does it better than most. It really just throws the rules of time travel into a blender, spits out a delicious and action-packed story for the audience to slurp up. It has Hugh Jackman in the year following The Wolverine and remarkable The Prisoners. Also Jennifer Lawrence’s character of Mystique was also thrown into the spotlight with the fan favorite, Wolverine. Lawrence was about the be the highest paid actress in the world and ride off into the sunset with all the green from The Hunger Games franchise.
Also combining the two worlds, the Days Of Future Past as well as the original X-Men crew is just gold. The chemistry works really well, better that I would have ever expected. James McAvoy and Jackman have a great report. The quicksilver slow-motion scene in the kitchen of the Pentagon is still one of the best scenes in any X-Men movie.
Stanko Rating: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)
4. Deadpool (2016)
The revenge of the merc. This is nothing of what people expected, but exactly what they wanted. Ryan Reynolds returns as the wisecracking psychopath in what was maybe the greatest comedy of 2016 in its entirety. From the hilarious, self-aware opening credits sequence, to the dynamite chemistry between Reynolds and Morena Baccarin as Vanessa; everything in Deadpool works.
Is it weird to think that Reynolds deserved an Oscar nomination for is work in this? Without him, this movie would be an utter disaster.
Another fantastic random positive about Deadpool is that it didn’t make the big bad guy a super recognizable character. Ajax is the perfect villain because he is cliched evil, but with the R rating, Ed Skrein can go over the top with it.
Stanko Rating: A- (4.5/5 Stars)
3. X2 (2003)
This movie taught me that superhero movies can have multiple storylines and depth. Fun fact, X2 is the first ever movie review that I wrote. I wrote this review in high school (I think sophomore year), and my parents were FURIOUS with me. Why? Because they were trying to edit it with their red pens and they were so confused by the different characters and plot points.
The opening fight sequence with Nightcrawler is iconic. Talk about just absolutely grabbing the audience and throwing them into the fire. X2 also unites Charles Xavier and Magneto; together they are trying to take down a Colonel Stryker, who’s only live purpose is to exterminate all mutants.
To take from Time Magazine, X2 asks the question: What responsibility do these heroes have to protect a race of people who despise them?
This question leads to uneasy tensions, different points of views and a movie experience that will rival some of the best superhero movies put on the market.
Stanko Rating: B+ (3.0/5 Stars)
2. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Talk about reinvigorating the interest in a franchise! Rather than an origin story surrounding just one character (AKA the failed X-Men Origins: Wolverine experiment), X-Men: First Class decides to expand the pool and then push the audience into the deep end.
A brand new cast that includes now household names like James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Nicholas Hoult as Hank/Beast. Not to mention Kevin Bacon being wonderfully sinister as Sebastian Shaw.
The scene where Magneto sends the coin through the forehead of Shaw in slow motion is stunningly powerful. The moment Xavier becomes paralyzed is a surprise to the viewer and an immediate light bulb type of connection.
The strength on X-Men: First Class is the relationship between Magneto and Xavier. The same can be said for X2, when they two pair up again but with different ideologies. There are similarities between the two, but X-Men: First Class is a step above because it had to repair so fan-appreciation and trust that was lost with X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Stanko Rating: B+ (3.5/5 Stars)
1. Logan (2017)
This movie fucks. Sorry to be blunt, but Logan is not only BY FAR the best X-Men movie; it may be the best superhero movie ever made.
From the release of the first trailer that featured Johnny Cash’s Hurt, everyone knew Logan was going to be different. It was rated R. It was dark. It was…human.
Based off the precedent years prior set by the creators of the X-Men movie and the movie industry, creating a character-based superhero movie seemed like a tall task. Thankfully, James Mangold and Hugh Jackman said fuck the precedents and bucked all the trends. Logan is a western story set in an apocalyptic time where the only importance of mutants is in lore and myth. Logan’s health and superhero is fading, and his self-sabotage is countered by his care for the aging Professor Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart.
With no help left for himself or humanity, Logan finds in the compromising of protecting someone while not being able to take care of himself. Logan is an emotional punch rather than a literal “POW” punch. Hugh Jackman is playing his heart out and his efforts are not unrewarded. Everything about Logan is visceral and profound.
What makes X-Men superior in the eyes of many is that is addresses real life situations better than others. The ideas of growing up and trying to learn what you are supposed to do in the world. Do you owe anything to people who see the world different than you? The concepts of building relationships, dealing with growing up and different ideologies shaping who you are and how you see the world around you is not a superhero thing, it is a real life thing.
That is what X-Men and in particular Logan does very well.
Fun fact, Logan earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Stanko Rating: A (4.5/5 Stars)