|Pull up a chair, grab a cocktail, crack open the bubbly, and settle in for some list-making.|
1. X2: X-Men United
|Probably the best poster for any of these films, too.|
2. The Wolverine
This one might rank in the #1 spot for me if only it had ended as strong as it started. In the third act, Viper was just silly and Silver Samurai was less than imposing, plus the less said about that everything-but-the-kitchen-sink final battle royale the better. Which is a shame because the first three-quarters of the film work exceptionally well. Wolverine-in-Japan stories are a staple in the comics, thanks to Claremont's and Frank Miller's influential 1982 Wolverine miniseries. This film adapts some of that story and is filled with ninja, samurai, beautiful Japanese vistas, and fantastic set pieces—the funeral scene leading into a high-octane chase through Tokyo is the highlight of the film for me. There's also strong character work being done here, especially for Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Yukio (Rila Fukushima). Logan's visions of Jean Grey even work better than they have any right to, thanks in part to Famke Janssen's and Jackman's chemistry. Director James Mangold crafted a gorgeous looking movie and Jackman turns in his finest performance as Wolverine yet.
|Rila Fukushima as Yukio and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine make a kick-ass team.|
This is a near-perfect adaptation of what's made the "Merc with a Mouth" such a fan favorite in comics for years now. This the rare superhero film that actually feels like the comics its based on: silly, sophomoric, crude, loud, funny, obnoxious, and even occasionally heartbreaking. Ryan Reynolds makes it all work in the role he was born to play. X-characters Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are fun guest stars and help tether things to the X-Men cinematic universe. And as Wade Wilson surely knows, if you're going to undergo a radically invasive experimental procedure to save your life for a woman and that woman is Morena Baccarin, then it's certainly worth the risk.
|"After a brief adjustment period--"|
|Thinking hard, or hardly thinking?|
|Yep, she just sliced that car in half, in mid-air, and stuck the landing.|
6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
|Wolverine as the Brawny Paper Towel Guy.|
I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but this entry in the series is also a convoluted mess. That can be said about most of the films on this list, so frankly I'm grading a curve on here. This was an enjoyable time travel trip through the 1970s, but ultimately none of it makes a lick of sense. Also, I understand that Kitty Pryde couldn't play a big role in this film because they've never really established much of a role for her before in these films, but it's irritating that a movie based on a Kitty-centric comic book story diminishes her role here in favor of sending Logan back in time to prevent disaster. That's one of the problems with these movies in a nutshell, though: they're continuously spotlighting the same few (mostly male) characters—Logan, Magneto, Xavier, and sometimes Mystique—and usually shafting the rest.
This is a better film than Origins: Wolverine and possibly better than First Class or Days of Future Past, but it's also aged poorly since its release in 2000 and isn't a movie I care to revisit very often. It does a decent job establishing things in the X-Men's world, but it also never felt like my X-Men. Granted, none of these films feel like my X-Men, but most at least have moments here and there that strike a chord. This one has those moments too, certainly. It's this low on the list because frankly, compared to the nuttiness of the rest of the series, it's fairly staid and forgettable now. I mean, I can't even think of a fun or clever moment to link to here, like I did for most of the others on this list! 'Nuff said.
9. X-Men: The Last Stand
|Instead of a screen grab from the film, here's the superior source material that it bastardized.|
I didn't even discuss the timeline shenanigans in the latter films in the series—Days of Future Past rejiggered the timeline, undoing some but not all of the events of previous films. I guess? Honestly I've given up on trying to make sense of it, which makes for a more blissful existence, trust me.
I also haven't really explored just how so many iconic X-Men characters are misused in these films. From Storm to Kitty to Rogue to Jubilee, many of the neglected giants from the comics are women, which is a shame. As any X-Men reader knows, female X-Men are quite often the best X-Men characters. Sure, Wolverine may be the most popular (or is that Deadpool these days?), but the ladies are the backbone of the series and have been since the late 1970s. To see so little done with characters like Rogue—think of the possibilities if they'd given her a prominent role over a series of films!—is more than a little heartbreaking.
If the forthcoming 2017 Wolverine solo movie, Logan, is anywhere near as great as its trailer then it might slot in high on my revised list next year. It's also reportedly Jackman's last time playing Logan. We'll see about that, but if it's true then the inevitable X-Men franchise reboot is probably not that far away. Maybe in the next five to ten years, at least, I'd guess. In the meantime, this is how I rank 'em. What's your list look like?