For now, it’s unclear exactly how the MCU will be incorporating the many mutants of X-Men. But despite some recent hardships, many have been quick to forget that the Fox universe had a few critical darlings and that the first entry shown in 2000 laid the foundation for the current superhero landscape, with every year filled to the brim with superhero movies.
Besides, with fresh voices constantly being added to the mix, and with no shortage of budget, the action was always memorable. The sheer variety of powers that the mutants offer to the genre is basically unlimited. At times, that’s provided some visually thrilling scenes. In memory of the X-Men as we knew them, here’s some of their greatest action sequences.
10 The Last Stand: Battle For Alcatraz
For all the things that X-Men III: The Last Stand was called out for - such as a messy story and too many characters - the action wasn’t actually criticized.
The cinematography is slick, and there’s a sense of finality to everything. Here, the Brotherhood overtakes Alcatraz Prison to kill the Cure-source child, but the X-Men defeat Magneto. Next is the big finale, when Wolverine kills Jean, which is actually genuinely touching. The original cast was selected well, and delivered solid performances.
9 Apocalypse: Quicksilver's Rescue
The first time we saw Quicksilver do his thing was simply mindblowing. When Havok accidentally destroys Beast’s prototype X-Jet, the entire mansion explodes. Quicksilver proceeds to save everyone one by one, with plenty of time to spare.
It’s full of genuinely memorable physical comedy like a moonwalk, slow-mo kiss, and a pizza-eating pooch. We love Quicksilver because unlike other mutants, he enjoys his abilities. Evan Peters also delivers a great performance. He simply nails the character, to the point that the MCU simply gave up, killing theirs off within a single movie.
8 First Class: CIA Breach
This brisk scene is particularly hard-hitting, even without the same emotional context as the film's finale. It establishes Shaw as an unstoppable force, and his team is very effective. Director Matthew Vaughn provides some nightmarish shots of Azazel’s work, as CIA agents rain from the sky.
Azazel even toys with a victim, getting one agent to shoot another, deliberately playing out like a horror film. Security uses everything at their disposal to defend themselves—even firing a bazooka directly into Shaw. It’s one thing to hate the antagonist, and quite another to legitimately realize he’s an actual match for Magneto.
7 First Class: Shaw Showdown
Vaughn fills every scene in the big fight between Shaw’s team and the First Class with enthusiasm and creativity . The action is uniquely swift, with inventive use of the characters' superpowers and camerawork.
But Shaw’s death is truly one of the most moving scenes in the franchise, as Eric willingly tortures Xavier to get revenge. Vaughn truly revitalized the franchise, smartly casting the immensely talented Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy as Eric and Xavier, respectively. Their friendship and moral disagreements are the cornerstone of the X-Men universe, so its origin is innately fascinating.
6 Deadpool 2: Prison Transport
This scene is probably what Tim Miller didn’t have in mind for the sequel—going even bigger. Deadpool throws out a John Connor joke, but this really could be from any Terminator film. Although this successful sequel doesn’t have the romance that fueled the first film, it’s certainly equally funny.
The real treat here is Domino’s powers. Despite Deadpool’s skepticism, they’re revealed to be genuinely cinematic and useful. She allows the unexpected to happen and turns out to be good in a fight, too. What’s fun is that Deadpool spends the entire mission failing, getting ripped in half at the end.
5 Logan: Final Battle
The bleak Logan delivered the Wolverine that everyone wanted. For all of the film’s gratuitous violence, the acting is appropriately nuanced. The drama is just as forthright and gritty as the action. Dafne Keen turned in a great X-23, delivering a convincing ferocity and numerous stunts.
The big finale is relentlessly brutal, as Logan must battle himself. He’d been doing so figuratively throughout the entire film, and literally showing it is the only way to kill off The Wolverine. In doing so, Logan gives himself another chance too, since X-23 was made of his own DNA.
4 Deadpool: Car Fight
Deadpool is what every comic book adaptation should aspire to be. It perfectly encapsulates the titular character, offering constant bloody violence and clever comedy.
This breakneck scene incorporates some of the leaked footage that made the movie possible, and for good reason. Every joke works, as Deadpool praises the car’s interior leather, and uses a terrible drawing to ask for Francis’ whereabouts. In fact, we’re genuinely invested in that goal, which makes the senseless lightheartedness even more fun. But the fighting itself is also very creative, for any action movie, both gory and hilarious.
3 Days Of Future Past: Sentinels Break In
This is one of the best opening scenes for any superhero film, really. It escalates the stakes for the rest of the film by establishing a very bleak future. The Sentinels have a terrifyingly unfamiliar design and unexpected skills. The urgency of the situation is captured with sheer visual context, smartly avoiding expository dialogue.
Multiple mutants die, despite their varying powers. Watching the X-Men fail and die so painfully is uniquely affecting. For one, it’s very grim to watch Iceman killed off so unceremoniously. Yet the action is both innovative and exciting, making all efforts in the past absolutely crucial.
2 X2: Lady Deathstrike
Before the R-rated X-Men films, this was the most brutal fight that fans could hope for. Yet another result of experimentation akin to Wolverine’s, Lady Deathstrike is a daunting villain. Because each of her fingers has a claw, the fight against Logan results in a lot of slashing and stabbing.
The setting is deeply rooted in Logan’s past, which makes for an interesting and claustrophobic arena. Ultimately, he uses adamantium to destroy the enemy, a pseudo-redemption for the agony that befell him. But not before some terrific stunts, with distinctly merciless combat.
1 X2: White House Invasion
Although the first film had some superb ideas, the action was somewhat stiff. This time around, Bryan Singer’s direction springs out of the gate with newfound verve. Nightcrawler is an inherently compelling mutant, with a unique design and visually arresting ability.
The classical music is totally fitting as the backdrop for his acrobatic display of power. The stunts are remarkable, and gripping, as Nightcrawler infiltrates the most secure building imaginable with ease. The sheer ferocity absolutely radiates from the screen. The closing shot of Nightcrawler’s knife sets the tone for a sequel that escalates the action while preserving thematic intrigue.