Opinion: Ashley ranks the X-Men movies

The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – ranking all the X-Men films. Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!

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While the X-Men franchise lacks the cohesiveness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and kinda fails to follow any sort of organized timeline, I really love these movies. There are some great performances (this is the part where I mention yet again how much I loved Michael Fassbender as Magneto), and a number of the films feature very strong storytelling. Even if it’s best that you don’t pay too much attention to the continuity between films.

Here’s my ranking of the X-Men films; it’s not designed to be an objective list, i.e. ranking the ones I think are actually the best, but rather which ones speak the most to me personally and which ones I’m most likely to rewatch.

12. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

I wish I had something clever and insightful to say here, but it’s actually been a really long time since I’ve seen this movie and I don’t remember a lot about it. It also received less-than-stellar reviews, and so, by default, it’s getting the last spot on this list.

11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” has some good individual scenes, and we do have this movie to thank for introducing us to Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool. But even the always-wonderful Hugh Jackman can’t redeem this one, and it definitely isn’t counted among the best of the X-Men flicks.

10. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

While “Apocalypse” didn’t necessarily deserve all the flak it received, it does have a number of weaknesses ⁠— namely, hiding Oscar Isaac under that way-too-heavy, fake-looking blue makeup as the villain.

9. Deadpool (2016)

“Deadpool” was a surprise hit, thanks to Ryan Reynolds’ obvious enthusiasm for the role (truly, a part he was born to play). Although I enjoyed watching it, I don’t think the movie is actually as clever as it claims to be, and I thought the sequel was a lot funnier.

8. Dark Phoenix (2019)

Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoyed this movie waaay more than the reviews seemed to indicate. It definitely has some room for improvement, but I loved Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix, and it was fascinating to see a female anti-hero struggling with the dark and the light warring inside herself.

7. The Wolverine (2013)

I feel like this movie also isn’t the most popular amongst X-Men fans, but I really enjoyed it. Hugh Jackman is, once again, great as Wolverine, and I enjoyed the film’s tone and style. If my memory is correct, the ending does suffer a little from CGI overload, however.

6 and 5. X-Men (2000) / X2 (2003) — TIE

So these are the movies that started it all; not just the X-Men franchise itself, but arguably the entire modern superhero movie trend. I haven’t seen these movies in a long time, either, and I’m sure there’s a lot I’ve forgotten about them. I probably should have rewatched them before trying to rank them, but alas, I’ve been distracted by Stranger Things season 3 (to be fair, Eleven would make an excellent member of the X-Men team).

4. Deadpool 2 (2018)

Freed from the constraints of having to tell an origin story, “Deadpool 2” is, at least in my opinion, much funnier and more entertaining than the original. It also has a surprisingly nice message that’s somewhat similar to this year’s “Shazam” (no, really!), about the power of family and, in particular, the concept of “found family.”

3. Logan (2017)

Transporting us to a grim future, “Logan” gives us the most grizzled and world-weary version of Wolverine that we’ve seen onscreen. This film is bleak and violent, but not without heart, containing some of the finest performances in the X-Men franchise.

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

“Days of Future Past” combines the best of both worlds — the actors from the original X-Men films and the reboot cast. It also touches on one of my favorite fictional themes — redemption — and the concept of second chances.

1. X-Men: First Class (2011)

I love just about everything about this X-Men film — from the great ensemble cast to the groovy 1960s setting. Magneto comes so close to finding redemption, and even though he ultimately chooses the wrong path, we understand what he’s feeling and empathize with the pain and trauma that are driving his actions.