My Fave Five X-Men Films

Hello, friends!

As you may have noticed, I have been going through an X-Men film phase of late. With the end of Fox’s era of X-Men films, I decided to go back and watch the entire franchise, reviewing the films I had yet to review on the site along the way. Kicking off with 2000s X-Men and concluding with next year’s New Mutants, and consisting of three spin-off series, the franchise has had its ups and downs over its nearly twenty-year run. Recently, I created the definitive viewing order for all twelve of the currently released X-Men movies. But now, it’s time to look at which movies I liked most in the franchise. Here are my fave five X-Men films.

X-Men: Days of Future Past movie poster5) X-Men: Days of Future Past

I can hear you saying “What? Days of Future Past is only number 5??” Yes, but that’s nothing against the film. Days of Future Past is a magnificent film. However, it lacks the heart that most of the other films on this list has. But it does have an abundance of everything else: action, excitement, character development, and Wolverine. This is great to bring all the major characters from the core X-Men films up to that point together and gave the series the much needed reboot it needed (even if the continuity continued to make no sense afterwards). It deserves all of the praise that it has received but it is not the best film in the franchise in my opinion.

Logan movie poster4) Logan

Over the last twenty years, the superhero genre has exploded and, dare I say, has become saturated. With the genre becoming congested, new entries need to do something different. Logan did just that. Rather than go the traditional superhero route, James Mangold and company told a western / noir film that happened to feature superheroes. The result was one of the best character studies in the genre. With the success of Deadpool the year prior, Fox elected to make this film R-rated, which enabled Mangold to give us the unleashed Wolverine we have been waiting for since he hit the screens in 2000. Over the years, Hugh Jackman came to embody the character of James Howlett, aka Wolverine, aka Logan, and Logan was the perfect farewell to the character, a sobering film filled with emotion and weight, yet brimming with hope and optimism.

X-Men: First Class movie poster3) X-Men: First Class

After the conclusion of the X-Men trilogy with X-Men: The Last Stand, spin-off films for Wolverine, Charles Xavier, and Magneto began being talked about. Wolverine’s spin-off became X-Men Origins: Wolverine whereas Xavier’s and Magneto’s became X-Men: First Class. Set in the midst of the cold war between the United states and Russia, First Class shows how the X-Men came to be, breathing a breath of fresh air into the franchise after the critical flop that was The Last Stand. First Class centered around the idea that the X-Men are family, way more than X-Men or X2: X-Men United did. It might not be the flashiest or most exciting entry of the franchise but if offers some of the best character-driven moments of it.

X2: X-Men United movie poster2) X2: X-Men United

For the longest time, X2: X-Men United was the benchmark the series needed to follow to create a great X-Men movie. It was clear since X-Men that Wolverine would play a prominent role in Fox’s X-Men franchise.Β X2 puts Wolverine front and center, making his unknown history the focus of the story. But where this film excels is that even though the main plot line focuses on Wolverine, the movie isn’t about him, not entirely anyway. Plenty of time is spent with the younger mutants, showing how the Xavier’s and Magneto’s conflict and general discrimination affects them. The heart in this film has never been captured since (First Class came close). And for that reason, X2 has continued to rank so high for me.

Deadpool movie poster1) Deadpool

While I’ve talked a lot about heart and emotions so far, Deadpool doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the other films on this list, it was the first to be different. Despite an abominable version of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds never gave up on the character of Deadpool. Thankfully his perseverance paid off and we all won because of it. Like Jackman and Wolverine, Reynolds uniquely epitomized Deadpool. Deadpool is one of my favorite comic book characters so to see him brought to the big screen so perfectly and accuratly brought me great satisfaction. This continues to be a film I can watch over and over again and the jokes never get old or any less funny.


And there you have it! Next year will see the release of New Mutants, the final X-Men film before Marvel Studios brings the characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s doubtful that New Mutants will find its way onto my top five given the caliber of the films on it but who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised!

What are some of your favorite X-Men films? Are you looking forward to a reboot of the characters when the appear in the MCU?

Until next time, cheers!

X2: X-Men United Review

X2: X-Men UnitedSynopsis
When William Stryker (Brian Cox), the man responsible for giving Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) his adamantium skeleton, arrives at the mansion to steal Cerebro, the X-Men must find out why he wants Cerebro and stop him.

Review
Like Spider-Man, my first exposure to the X-Men was the animated cartoon series of the 90s. It featured many classic X-Men characters, including Wolverine. Even though he was part of a team, Wolverine still received episodes focused on him. His mysterious past and complex personality is ripe for storytelling possibilities. X2: X-Men United takes a similar approach. While this is an ensemble movie, much of the story’s focus is on Wolverine and his past. When your movie has someone like Hugh Jackman who completely embodies your franchise’s most popular character, why not take advantage of it?

In X-Men, Jackman did well as Wolverine. However, we only get a peek of what he could do in the role. This time, he fully gets into the character, truly feeling like he is Wolverine. After leaving Xavier’s mansion at the end of the last film searching for answers about his past, he returns at the start of this film and it feels like he just went to the grocery store. He slides back in with the rest of the characters, and even acts as a guardian for the younger mutants, with ease. Whether it is the ferocity of Wolverine’s aggressiveness or the protective nature he displays, Jackman completely and effortlessly pulls it off.

The main cast from the last entry returns: James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Rebecca Romijn. Shawn Ashmore also returns and receives a much larger role this time around, even becoming the emotional pulse for the non-Wolverine parts of the story. Between Ashmore, Paquin, and new addition Aaron Stanford, X2 provides a great look at the next generation of mutants in the ideological struggle between Professor Xavier’s X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants. Each of these three younger stars each do wonderful bringing across their characters’ outlook to life.

However, of the new cast members, hands-down the best addition is Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler. Cumming’s Nightcrawler brings a balance to the team. His strong religious beliefs and outsider’s perspective adds another ideological wrinkle to the story. Cumming himself fits in with the rest of the cast, providing a good blend of awkward humor and emotion.

While X2 is very much a Wolverine-centered film, it doesn’t shove the other characters to the side; they still receive plenty of their own development. The love triangle between Cyclops, Jean, and Wolverine comes to a head. Jean is certainly coming into her own character and we see glances of her hidden potential and Storm is moving into more of a leadership role on the team. One of the best side-stories of the film is actually when it focuses on the three younger X-Men: Rogue (Paquin), Iceman (Ashmore), and Pyro (Stanford). Their story offers a narrative for being different when everyone expects you to be β€œnormal,” a very relatable experience for many.

But of course, the focal point of the story is Wolverine’s past in the Weapon Plus program and how he came to have adamantium bonded to his skeleton. The story, loosely based on the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, which is actually not centered around Wolverine, introduces us to William Stryker, the man responsible for giving Wolverine his adamantium skeleton. We’ve seen two sides of Wolverine: a violent, animalistic side and a softer, caring side. Outside of his interactions with Rogue, we didn’t see him with the younger X-Men in the previous film. In this film, even though he is violent and has a violent past, as we see through Stryker, Wolverine is willing to be a protector and mentor to the younger generation of mutants. Not only was his backstory expanded upon in this movie but so was his character, experiencing the most growth of any of the adult X-Men.

Nightcrawler is one of my favorite X-Men characters. The opening scene showed exactly how powerful he can be if he didn’t have his morals. What’s more, after the opening, which does a great job of starting off strong and capturing your attention, this film never feels dull. Throughout the entirety of the film, I always felt engaged. Even during the quieter moments, there was something worth paying attention to or something interesting worth concentrating on. Many superhero films stumble when they aren’t focused on the action but this superhero film does not land in that pitfall.

I thought X2: X-Men United was GREAT πŸ˜€ Much like Spider-Man 2, with the characters’ origins out of the way, this sequel is free to jump right into the story without needing much exposition. Almost every character experiences some sort of growth and the film remains exhilarating the whole way through. Back in the early days of the superhero genre boom, before it really blew up, the second entries were apparently the entries of note.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director / Story
David Hayter – Story / Screenplay
Zak Penn – Story
Michael Dougherty – Screenplay
Dan Harris – Screenplay
John Ottman – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan / Wolverine
Patrick Stewart – Professor Charles Xavier
Famke Janssen – Jean Grey
James Marsden – Scott Summers / Cyclops
Halle Berry – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Anna Paquin – Rogue
Shawn Ashmore – Bobby Drake / Iceman
Alan Cumming – Curt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Aaron Stanford – John Allerdyce / Pyro
Ian McKellen – Eric Lensherr / Magneto
Rebecca Romijn – Mystique
Brian Cox – William Stryker
Kelly Hu – Yuriko Oyama / Lady Deathstrike
Cotter Smith – President McKenna
Bruce Davison – Senator Kelly