If there is one superhero film series that is more confusing than any other, take a look at the Marvel X-Men films. While franchises like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four have rebooted, they were clearly starting over. However, when Fox had both the original trilogy's cast and the new franchise's cast all appear together in X-Men: Days of Future Past, they showed it is one continuity and the entire thing is disjointed, to say the least.
The movies have mostly been out of order, the original trilogy took place after the first trilogy, a few movies changed the timeline completely, and at least two movies were curiously "out of time." With such a jumbled mess, here is a look at the X-Men movies in chronological order, at least based on the years the fictional stories took place in.
11. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (1962)
It is easy to find the first X-Men movie in chronological order, as it is the origin story of the team of mutant heroes. While it was the fifth movie in the franchise, X-Men: First Class took place in 1962 and was the first official story in the franchise.
Professor X was still young, could walk, and had hair. He was friends and allies, at first, with Magneto. Mystique is a hero in this one, a childhood friend of Xavier, and since her comic character doesn't age, it works. Same with The Beast. Outside of that, this movie basically lines up with the first trilogy.
10. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (1973)
There were still complaints about the timeline, and then X-Men: Days of Future Past decided it wanted to shake things up and change the future so things could go in whatever direction the studio wanted. There were two timelines: the first was in 1973 and the second was 2023. The characters in 2023 were the same ones from the original trilogy, although they didn't look 23 years older.
The cast in the past stayed the same from X-Men: First Class and added Quicksilver to the lineup for the first time. They also had a young William Stryker and it ended with Wolverine basically waking up in the X-Mansion with Cyclops and Jean Grey. They obviously survived their deaths that took place 30 years in the future.
9. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (1981)
Jumping out of the new timeline, X-Men Origins: Wolverine took place over three timelines. The first was just a prelude in 1845 with a young Logan and Sabretooth, and the second was a longer second prelude during the Vietnam War. The movie then jumps to 1981.
This saw Wolverine in battle with an older William Stryker, Sabretooth, and a totally messed up version of Deadpool, which is probably why they called this movie Weapon XI. Wolverine wins but loses his memory, which perfectly sets things up for his appearance in the first X-Men movie, despite the fact that it took place 19 years later.
8. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (1983)
Up next is where things get really screwed up. New members of the X-Men show up in X-Men: Apocalypse, including Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler. Storm is here as a villain, as is Angel. Here is the biggest problem with listing the X-Men movies in chronological order, though.
Nightcrawler shows up for the first time in X2 (2003) and Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). This movie may exist in a new timeline for the mutants after X-Men: Days of Future Past, but how does this make two heroes who were young in the early 2000s almost the same age in 1983? Changing the future in 1973 should not have caused them to have been born before that event even took place. It went off the rails here.
7. X-MEN (2000)
The next few movies are easy to categorize in the X-Men chronology. The first X-Men movie took place in 2000 and this is when Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm meet and save Wolverine and Rogue (17 years after X-Men: Origins).
By this time, Professor X and Magneto are rivals and enemies, which was set up in the latter trilogy. Sabretooth is also mutated even further than he ever was in Origins and Mystique is now a full-fledged bad guy. She never once mentions considering Professor X as a close friend from her past, nor does she show any semblance of once being a hero.
6. X2 (2003)
Three years after the first X-Men movie took place, the X-Men are a solid team. Wolverine is a full-fledged member and a mentor to the kids in the school, and some newcomers start to step up, including Iceman.
William Stryker makes his first official appearance here, while he would later pop up in the prequels X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: Days of Future Past. There is a secret history with him and the mutants here and this is where he meets his fate, although it might feel more deserved after seeing him in later movies. This is also where Nightcrawler joins up with them, although that obviously changes in the new timeline.
5. X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
X-Men: The Last Stand might be the most hated movie in the franchise. Bryan Singer left the franchise and Brett Ratner came in. He then did both the mutant cure storyline as well as his version of the Dark Phoenix Saga — neither coming across well when it comes to both critics and fans.
This is the movie that has basically been wiped out of existence. Angel debuts here and that is no longer a real thing. Professor X dies here, which is not a real thing. Cyclops dies here, which was retconned. Jean Grey turns into the Dark Phoenix here, but in the new timeline, that will happen in this year's X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie. This is where the movie lies in the X-Men chronology but in reality, it is now non-existent.
4. THE WOLVERINE (2013)
The Wolverine takes place in 2013. This movie has Logan going to Japan to relive a slightly altered version of one of his most beloved comic book storylines. Wolverine heads to Japan, he meets a woman he marries in the comics (which doesn't happen in the movie), is betrayed by a man he saved in World War II, and then fights a weird version of Silver Samurai.
The Wolverine also clearly shows that this takes place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. This puts it in the movie's continuity because Logan is having nightmares of Jean Grey, who died at his hands. However, if Last Stand never happened after Days of Future Past, that means this movie also never happened.
3. DEADPOOL (2016)
Deadpool is a movie that has no idea where it is supposed to fit in the X-Men movie continuity. Since it is so referential, that really makes sense. For one thing, the character is the same one from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, what happened to him in that movie never happened here... Kind of.
Anyway, Colossus is here and he is much older than he was in X2, where he first appeared. He is obviously now a veteran of the X-Men and maybe one of their leaders (or at least moral leaders). This takes place, assumedly, in 2016 — although it doesn't really matter in this case.
2. DEADPOOL 2 (2018)
If X-Men: Apocalypse screwed up the X-Men movie continuity, then Deadpool 2 just threw a grenade in there, making the Merc with a Mouth laugh the entire time. There is even a scene in this movie where Deadpool walks by an open door and sees the characters from X-Men: Dark Phoenix having a meeting.
That would mean that this movie, and the first one, took place way back before the first X-Men movie, which isn't really possible... However, Deadpool doesn't care about your silly X-Men movie continuity problems. Heck, he went back in time to off himself in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, so obviously he lives outside of silly comic book movie continuity.
1. LOGAN (2029)
The final X-Men movie in continuity is easily distinguishable as Logan. For one thing, this movie takes place in 2029, which is six years after X-Men: Days of Future Past's future scenes, so obviously in this world, they stopped that from happening. Professor X is still alive, so the death in X-Men: The Last Stand didn't happen, so that was averted as well.
This is based on the comic book storyline Old Man Logan, but they changed it to hint that Professor X caused the mass mutant deaths — not Logan. This is also why they removed the part of the story about supervillains taking over the world. This movie marks the end of the road for The X-Men and remains the best movie in the entire franchise.