The premise behind X-Men is brilliantly simple: a mutant team who defend the very people that fear them. Devoid of any confusion, it provided a comic book canvas that tackled prejudice, politics, and society at large through the paneled magic of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Then, the era of 20th Century Fox arrived. Adapted into a series of hit films in the early 2000s, the studio took liberties with it's source material, mashing timelines and emphasizing otherwise secondary elements of the Lee/Kirby stories. Fans didn’t seem to mind the first couple rides around the block, but the arrival of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) stopped any and all momentum dead in it's tracks.
Panicked to resolve such a franchise killer, Fox hit the reboot button and began digging into the past with films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and X-Men: First Class (2011). Crafted with zero regard for what came before, these varied releases instead exposed the studio’s biggest flaw: narrative continuity. Things just don’t add up in these movies, even with the reset button that guided Days of Future Past (2014) to a happy ending. It’s all fine and dandy to manipulate prior content, but when the director and screenwriter start copping to repeated errors, it’s time to reassess the master plan.
Here Are Screen Rant’s 15 Times The X-Men Movie Timeline Made No Sense.
15 Adamanti-um… what?
2013’s The Wolverine had its ups, its downs, and its outright oddities. The latter category found particular fault with the mutant’s singular skeleton, a gift had been reinforced with adamantium at some point in the 70s. Thanks to the sadistic efforts of Colonel Stryker, Wolverine's bodily weapons became indestructible destruction devices. But all that goes south the very moment Ichiro Yashida hacks off his blades, revealing a jagged pair of bone claws lurking beneath. It was aesthetically uncomfortable, but at least it raised the narrative stakes.
Sadly, this change proves pointless by the time Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) approach Wolverine in a post-credit teaser. Aside from the fact that “grave danger” turns out to be decades away, this prelude to Days of Future Past (2014) invents a world where Wolverine has somehow grown back his adamantium claws! Whether aided by Magneto or outside forces, the viewers are provided no excuse or explanation as to the actual cause. Just a fresh pair of blades chalked up to “curious convenience.”
14 Cerebro Credit
Charles Xavier always seemed like a straight shooter. A sincere, straightforward man who strived to tell the truth and practice what he preached, regardless of the repercussions. As such, it was strange to find out this slice of humble mutant pie enjoys taking credit for other people’s inventions - namely, Cerebro. It’s established in Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000) that Xavier and Magneto were the co-creators of the device, which served as a mental gateway to the entire world. Xavier, the towering psychological titan of all mutants, was the obvious author behind this thinking man’s machine, and accepting as much made pretty solid sense.
Then, the revisionist confusion of X-Men: First Class kicked in. The origin story opted to break away from the old man’s assured words and grant credit to a young Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), who’s seen working on Cerebro all by his lonesome. Even with Magneto helping rebuild at the end of Apocalypse, this authorship holds true. Either the Professor is slipping in his old age, or he’s mighty pissy that Hank made such a cool toy without him.
13 Mutant Cure Confusion
Poor Hank can’t seem to catch a break. A huge plot point in Days of Future Past dealt with Professor X and his inability to cope with pressure. A sodded mess with scraggly hair and a rotten demeanor, he is a lost soul stranded amidst the mutant school circa 1973. He’s also completely powerless, and able to walk, thanks to the efforts of wonderboy scientist Hank McCoy. In an effort to combat Xavier’s physical pain, Hank a.k.a. Beast invented a serum that suppressed mutant genes altogether, while enabling paralysis to disappear as well.
And yet, no one is more surprised than he when a mutant cure is discovered in 2006’s The Last Stand. Flabbergasted at the thought of such a forward thinking concoction, the big blue brain acts as if he hadn’t invented the same exact thing… three decades earlier. Even with the “altered timeline” card that many fans like to play, this doesn’t apply to events before Wolverine’s arrival - leaving this cure as nothing more than a fumbled case of common sense.
12 Emma Frost Flubbed
Emma Frost (January Jones) first struts her shimmering stuff in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. Playing second-in-command to dapper bad guy Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), Frost’s ability to turn into diamond was a textbook example of how to make a compelling comic book character completely forgettable. Jones’ portrayal wasn’t exactly well-received by longtime fans, who felt her charisma (or lack thereof) was a little too close to the stiff diamonds she resembled. Sharing a fate similar to that of Bolivar Trask in The Last Stand, the adored comic character was seemingly wheeled back into the well from which she came.
Of course, being that no X-Men role is complete without contradictory info, a similar mutant reemerges at the tail end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Spotted as a young woman with the same diamond abilities, the end credits confirmed such an appearance to belong to the one and only Emma Frost. Being that this particular scene was set in 1985, it goes against everything previously established with her adult character in First Class. And if it is fact two different mutants, Fox should've done a far better job illustrating that point.
11 Fake First Class
Again with the dishonesty. This time, Professor X is sharing a moment of poignant reflection with his star pupils: Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm. The year is 2000, and director Bryan Singer constructs a scene ripe with emotion, while building a backstory for the team that fans had yet to see. All things considered, it felt sincere when Xavier explains his belief in the trio, stating that they were the first mutants he ever had the pleasure of teaching when he opened his school for the gifted.
We now know this to be utter nonsense, given that the Professor was teaching at least a decade before these three arrived, with what looks to be a seriously large body of young mutants. It’s of minor mention in the original film, but such a blatant disregard for established lore goes a long way in ruining X-Men logic. And seriously, someone’s got to get Xavier under control. Dude’s turned into a pathological liar.
10 Inconsistent Storms
Alexandra Shipp’s portrayal of Storm is one of the few things receiving a warm response in X-Men: Apocalypse, and it's easy to see why. Hailing from the streets of Cairo in this character reboot, the weather-savvy mutant sports a scrappy demeanor and accented touch that puts her in cahoots with the film’s titular villain (Oscar Isaac). Even still, this improved take on the role poses big problems for franchise continuity, in more ways than one.
For starters, Halle Berry’s Storm had not the slightest trace of Kenyan descent - or accent, for that matter. It’s doubtful she would’ve migrated to America, and somehow lost all cultural roots in the span of a decade, but that seems to be the only possible explanation. Secondly, the whole episode with Apocalypse is apparently swept under the rug with Xavier, who instead chooses to lump her in with Cyclops and Jean. Either he’s forgotten another crucial event, or the chrome-domed professor is too bashful to bring it up.
9 Mystique Mistakes
The original X-Men trilogy barely made use of Mystique (Rebecca Romijn). Sly, secretive, and seductive, she wasn’t much more than a lethal sidekick for Magneto, a blue body who could hack into the nation’s national security at the drop of a hat. Her emotional association was sparse at best, spurred by cold shoulder treatment of fellow mutants like Professor X and Wolverine. At face value, it’d be fair to assume Mystique never knew these men outside of being mortal enemies. Of course, face value turns into a facepalm when the prequel films show her to be just as vital to the series as any of her sworn male counterparts.
Not only did Mystique (kinda) save the mutton-chopped mutant in Days of Future Past, she grew up by Xavier’s side for decades! On top of that, the close relationship shared with Magneto in Future Past and Apocalypse is unmistakable, yet he's quick to leaver her behind in The Last Stand. Why? It’s obvious that Jennifer Lawrence enhances the importance of a role, but Mystique’s character progression is so illogical that it's impossible to take seriously.
8 Bolivar Trask, Please Stand Up
The Last Stand really stuck it to the X-Men franchise in 2006. It strived to cram so many characters and storylines into a single overstuffed mess that it only succeeded in tainting the entire saga. As a result, there’s been plenty that Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg (The Last Stand co-writer) have had to ignore moving forward, and none have proven more bizarre than iconic villain Bolivar Trask. Initially portrayed by actor Bill Duke in X3, the Sentinel mastermind was an opportunity that proved more wasteful than it was exciting. For being vital to one of the greatest X-Men story arcs in existence, the dastardly human was far from compelling onscreen.
By the time this sick puppy returned in Days of Future Past, Trask had somehow transformed from the black, 6’4’’ Bill Duke to 4’5’’ to the white little person, Peter Dinklage - a doozy that damn near no one could pretend to ignore. Some fans have even attempted to use the fact that Duke was never directly called Bolivar as proof he could be another “Trask,” though the film's commentary firmly disproves any such delusions.
7 Stryker Struggles
Days of Future Past is the best X-Men film for several reasons. Continuity is not one of them. Excluding the “bone claw” debacle, the closing scenes are curiously misleading in what they suggest for sequel X-Men: Apocalypse. Unconscious amidst the wreckage of Magneto’s hissy fit, Wolverine is pulled from the river by what looks to be a young William Stryker (Josh Helman). Come to find out, it’s actually Mystique in disguise, and all is well with the mutant team as they alter the past and save a Dystopian future.
Funnily enough, this doesn’t seem to be the case when Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finally shows his face in Apocalypse. Wired up and brainwashed as part of the Weapon X program, the savage mutant looks as though he didn’t do too hot in the decade following Future Past. Not only does this contradict the twist ending of the last film, but it also sparks other common sense questions; namely, why has no one bothered to find out where he’s been? Or more importantly, does this mean we can erase the backstory horror of X-Men Origins.
They did it again! Someone at Fox should get a reward for the most recast characters in a single franchise, because these X-Men movies are taking it to the next level. Angel (Ben Hardy), the punk sporting scraper, is introduced as early as 1983. Relegated to fighting in underground clubs, the mutant is quickly swept up by the charm of Apocalypse, who reinforces his exposed wings with unbreakable metal. That he fights, lives, and ultimately dies as one of the Four Horseman is a big fat disservice to the character, who served as one of the X-Men’s founding members in the comic books.
Naturally, Angel appears once more in The Last Stand, first as struggling kid, and then as an angry young man eager to support his mutant brethren. Played by a troubled Ben Foster, the portrayal once again bypassed Angel’s source material decency. On top of this, the idea that he was a twenty-something in the 80s, died, and was born again to be the same age nearly two decades later is laughable. It wouldn’t be so bad if the films actually made relevant use of these recycled characters, but each return trip proves equally as disappointing.
5 Endless Summers
Alex Summers (Lucas Till) was recruited by the X-Men in 1962, placing the young mutant in his mid 20s (or at least his late teens). Given that sibling Scott was a grown man comes the early 2000s, this would imply Alex is a good four decades older than his little brother - a feat unachievable by most human parents. To make matters worse, Xavier spots a younger version of Scott in First Class, which means the man also known as Cyclops should technically be in his 50s by the time the original X-Men comes about. Obviously, this isn’t the case, implying that either the boy in question was freakishly similar, or the Summers brothers have unlocked the key to eternal youth.
Don’t worry, it gets better. Jumping forward (or backward?) to Apocalypse in 1983, Scott has only grown to teenage status, while Alex continues to look the exact same he did two decades prior. By some unseen magical force, these two have the ability to defy all logic and be whatever age required in the story. Incredibly convenient for the filmmakers, not so much for viewers. On the bright side, this entry raises the bar that much higher for botched continuity.
4 Professor P. Xavier
Fans were pretty pissed when Professor X bit the bullet in The Last Stand. The death of the iconic character was shocking on several grounds; least of all being the fact that it arrived so early in the trilogy’s (supposed) final chapter. Director Brett Ratner, the pariah of the mutant community, also bungles the murder to the point where it barely feels relevant or deserved for one of the franchise’s core members. Not only was he killed, but Dark Phoenix went the extra mile and obliterated his body outright, solidifying the fact that Xavier had taught his final class.
Then, as if Fox execs decided to pencil in a happy ending, the post-credits of the film show a comatose body that looks eerily familiar. Come to find out, the body belongs to P. Xavier, Charles’ brain dead identical twin, and a perfect vessel for the Professor’s orphaned psyche. Even if this wasn’t the most ridiculous thing to occur in the entire franchise (which it certainly is), it still leaves quite a few continuity flaws heading into Days of Future Past (2014). Most glaringly: how is it that this new body shares the same exact paralysis as Charles? Hmm…
3 Moira MacTaggert, M.D.
The Last Stand post-credits, aside from setting up Xavier’s resurrection, also manages to bungle the existence of Moira MacTaggert. Originally conceived as a genetic expert in the comic books, the MacTaggert spotted here is nothing more than a physician aiding the new Xavier’s body. Played by English actress Olivia Williams, it was meant as a sly nod and nothing more, another case of utterly wasting a character. Matters were made even worse with the arrival of X-Men: First Class, which recast MacTaggert as a CIA agent specializing in mutant infiltration.
Dropping the Scottish origins of the role, Rose Byrne’s perky take on the character was wildly different than anything fans had seen before - or should have seen. Given MacTaggert’s existence as a thirty-something government agent in the 1960s, she would have to be nearing 80 come the new millennium - a logic that's clearly ruined by the appearance of 38-year-old Williams. Unless these two are mother and daughter who share the same name, this is yet another idea that fails to add up.
2 The Deadpool Debacle
Remember Deadpool in X-Men Origins? Yeah, not a fun time. The fan favorite was castrated beyond belief in this 2009 spinoff, swapping out a spiffy red smartass for a pale freak with sewn shut lips. What 20th Century Fox and director Gavin Hood were thinking is anybody’s guess, especially with a final fight that redefines big screen words like “disappointing,” and “underwhelming.” Fortunately, the heavens smiled upon Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and his true comic book form, enabling the character to reinvent himself with this year’s smash success. In doing so, of course, the Fox timeline fragmented even further, erasing the existence of a character that’s quite clearly one and the same with Wade Wilson.
To soften the blow of this permanent hiccup (besides the time travel excuse), Deadpool pokes fun at it's own bastard existence, noting the confusion of two professors, while agreeing with the viewer about confusing continuity. The real cherry on top, however, is Wilson’s prized action figure, which happens to be the pale freak he played in Origins. Glaring as these flawed timelines may be, at least Deadpool has a little fun with it.
1 The Fountain of Youth
The crowning concern of the X-Men saga, and an issue so obvious that the script even attempts to play it off with humor. When Xavier spots Moira Mactaggert in Apocalypse, he quips that she “hasn’t aged a day” since he last saw her, but this unnatural gift is far too glaring to pass off as good genetics. Granted, Moira looks terrific, but she also looks exactly as she did twenty years prior, erasing any perceptions of how time and the aging process works. This uncanny trait extends to the entire First Class, as Xavier, Magneto, Havoc, and Mystique simply refuse to show any signs of aging.
Excluding Mystique, who’s evolving appearance lends itself to such a phenomenon, the rest of the members have no excuse. While other roles radically range from teenager to adult back to teenager, Xavier and Magneto seem to be stuck in their mid-30s, forever “aged” by the various clothing styles they adorn over the years. We know they eventually become old men who resemble Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, so it’s not quite clear who Fox thinks they’re fooling. That said, comic book characters rarely age, existing instead on a "floating timeline" - so maybe that's what's going on?
Can you think of anything else from the X-Men movies that makes no sense? Let us know in the comments!