With the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Fox’s time with the X-Men franchise has ended, for better or for worse. While it will probably be several years still until Marvel Studios brings their take of the merry mutants to the big screen, I thought now was a good time to revisit the series that could arguably be considered the starting point of the superhero movie era we find ourselves in now.
Fox’s X-Men have certainly seen their share of highs and lows over the years. Having a franchise consisting of a dozen films from a variety of creative teams is bound to do that; they can’t all be winners. Nevertheless, between the main entries and spin-offs, I do feel the X-Men franchise has managed to bat 500. But that is an article for another day. Today is for a list agnostic of quality.
Consistency between films in the X-Men franchise have never been a priority to Fox. For the most part, the studio allowed the creative teams behind the films to use whatever characters they want and only loosely connect the entries to each other. This has caused many continuity errors that resulted in Bryan Singer and team to have Wolverine go back in time to create a new timeline to start over. Even then, the films continuously contradicted each other. However, if you don’t concern yourself with the finer details and not be as picky when it comes to the cohesion between films (like I was for a while), each film becomes much more enjoyable.
As I said, Fox created a dozen films in this franchise: seven main entries, three Wolverine films, and two Deadpool films. You could watch them in release order but I think there is a better way. Having gone through all of the films again, I think I have come up with the definitive watch order that provides the best flow from entry to entry. Logan, however, is particular among the other movies on this list in that I feel it can be slotted in several different places and still work with the films around it. I will talk about that when the time comes.
Now, onto the list!
I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain why this is where you should start. My review.
X2: X-Men United
Direct sequel to X-Men. My review.
Side note: I will admit I don’t exactly understand where the title comes from since the team spends most of the film separated…
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men Origins: Wolverine could be watched after The Last Stand (for release order) or before X-Men (for chronological order) but I think it works better after X2: X-Men United. Wolverine’s history with Col. Stryker and how he comes to have his adamantium skeleton is a focal point in X2, so it is fresh in your mind when watching this. Also, we see how this timeline’s Scott Summers meets Professor Xavier, which is a great little bonus given how unceremoniously he is eliminated in The Last Stand. Sorry, spoiler. My review.
X-Men: The Last Stand
Now that you’ve seen Wolverine’s past, it’s time to jump to the present and finish the first X-Men trilogy. My review.
By watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine before The Last Stand, it let’s you jump right into post-The Last Stand Wolverine rather than going back in history then jumping forward again. The post-credits scene of The Wolverine ties into Days of Future Past which is not the next film in the watch order so it give you a little bit of a tease of what’s to come in the franchise. My review.
X-Men: First Class
First film in the series with the new cast, focusing on Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, and Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto. Also the first core X-Men film released after The Last Stand. My review.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Direct sequel to The Last Stand, The Wolverine, and First Class. Reboots the timeline. My review.
Direct sequel to Days of Future Past. My review.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Direct sequel to Apocalypse and the last of the core X-Men films. Honestly, this is an optional viewing in my opinion. With the Disney takeover of Fox, Dark Phoenix became a shell of the movie it was supposed to be. It doesn’t add anything to the characters (except maybe that Professor X did some questionable things in his past which was taken directly from the comics) and Apocalypse‘s final scene is also a fantastic point to end the core series on. But if you want to be a completionist, give this a watch. My review.
Takes place in the new timeline and in the “modern day” compared to the 80s and 90s settings of Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix respectively. My review.
Direct sequel to Deadpool. My review.
Logan is unique in that it can slotted after any movie Days of Future Past and onward. My review.
Depending on where you slot it, it has a different purpose:
- After Days of Future Past: Concludes Wolverine’s story. Then you get a fun cameo in Apocalypse with the Apocalypse post-credit scene acting as a call-back to explain how Laura was able to be cloned from Wolverine’s DNA.
- After Apocalypse: Logan becomes the last appearance of Wolverine on the list. The Apocalypse post-credit scene then becomes a direct lead in to Logan. Also this is where it was theatrically released compared to Apocalypse.
- After Dark Phoenix: Groups the R-rated films on list together. Watching after Dark Phoenix gives the Apocalypse post-credit scene a movie break the same way the The Wolverine post-credit scene has First Class as a buffer before Days of Future Past. And it also finishes the stories of all the characters that have headlined a film to this point.
- After Deadpool: Theatrical release order. Prevents the literal first scene of Deadpool 2 from spoiling the ending of Logan.
- After Deadpool 2: Logan is chronologically the last film in the franchise so watching it after Deadpool 2 keeps the series in order as possible. However, this is also the gloomiest of all the films so you’d be ending on a emotionally somber note. But at the same time, it is one of the best in the franchise so you would be ending on a qualitative high note. Decisions, decisions…
And there you have it
my the definitive X-Men watch order! Do you agree? Would you change anything? What’s your X-Men watch order?
Until next time, cheers!