With superhero films all over Hollywood today, many fans may not be aware that it was the X-Men that kicked off the massively popular trend way back in 2000. The mutant heroes first big-screen adventure paved the way for many films in the genre, including over a dozen films in the X-Men universe.
Having been around so long, the X-Men franchise has seen its ups and downs. Some movies have been praised as among the best of the superhero genre, while others have been dismissed among the worst. Before the X-Men start their new era in the MCU, have a look back at the series' critical history. Here are all X-Men films ranked according to Rotten Tomatoes.
12 Dark Phoenix (23%)
Dark Phoenix marks the last X-Men film in the Fox universe, and sadly the series ended with a whimper instead of a bang. The movie was a retelling of the classic Dark Phoenix storyline from the comics which finds the team fighting against Jean Grey who has been possessed by a terrifying and powerful force.
The film was plagued by behind the scenes trouble as multiple delays and reshoots hinted at a real mess. Critics found the movie to be surprisingly hollow without much spark of fun to be found. In the end, it felt like an unnecessary entry rather than a satisfying final chapter.
11 X-Men: Origins - Wolverine (37%)
Though there are countless mutant heroes in the X-Men universe, Wolverine has been a fan-favorite for a long time. With Hugh Jackman's star-making performance in the films, he remained the most popular member of the team and, unsurprisingly, got his own spin-off.
Critics acknowledged that Jackman can seemingly do no wrong with the role he was born to play, but the film around him was no good. X-Men: Origins - Wolverine took a great character and stuck him in a cliché-ridden film that somehow made Wolverine less interesting.
10 X-Men: Apocalypse (47%)
X-Men: Apocalypse was meant to be the film to kick-off a new era of the X-Men team. The younger class introduced characters like Cyclopes, Storm and Jean Grey as well as one of the comics' most intriguing villains, Apocalypse.
Despite the potential of the film, the story and a dull take on the villain made for a forgettable adventure. The movie failed to capture the fun and energy of past films.
9 X-Men: The Last Stand (57%)
X-Men: The Last Stand was meant to mark the end of the original trilogy of X-Men films. Brett Ratner took over as director for the first attempt at telling the Dark Phoenix story while also having the mutants deal with the discovery of a mutant cure.
Ratner was not a popular choice as replacement director and critics seemed to agree. While there was some fun to be had with the film and its action sequences, for many it took on too much and was a lackluster end to the story.
8 The Wolverine (71%)
The Wolverine was the second attempt at giving Wolverine a proper solo film. Taking inspiration from the comics, the story had Wolverine travel to Japan to confront an individual from his past and get tangled up in a war.
For critics, this was a major leap forward for Wolverine's solo films. The action, compelling story and Jackman's still-great performance were all praised, but a ridiculous third-act really hurt the overall film.
7 X-Men (81%)
X-Men was the film that started it all. Mutant outcasts Wolverine and Rogue are introduced to Charles Xavier's school for mutants, meet the X-Men and become involved in a deadly struggle with the villainous Magneto.
Though a lower scale superhero film than we see these days, X-Men managed to be a fun and exciting introduction to this world. With great performances from the large cast and a smart story, X-Men proved superhero movies could actually be good.
6 Deadpool 2 (83%)
After the massive success of his first solo film, Deadpool made his inevitable return in this equally wild sequel. The movie finds Deadpool attempting to protect a young mutant child who becomes the target of a time-traveling mutant from the future named Cable.
Surprisingly, Deadpool's maniac persona did not wear thin on critics and they found almost as much to like about his second film. The action was praised as an improvement while the complex storyline was not too distracting from all the fun.
5 Deadpool (84%)
There were few people who thought a character like Deadpool would ever make it to the big screen. The violent, vulgar, fourth-wall-breaking madman just seemed too weird for Hollywood. Thankfully Ryan Reynolds and crew believed enough to deliver this wild origin story that was true to the character.
Deadpool was greeted as a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre. Aside from using the R-rating to its full potential, critics liked the way the movie irreverently took apart the genre while still delivering an action-packed and compelling story.
4 X2: X-Men United (85%)
After their successful introduction, X2: X-Men United decided to go even bigger with the X-Men story. The sequel dealt with the government going after mutants and Wolverine confronting his mysterious past.
The movie became a benchmark for comic book sequels. Every aspect of the movie from the script to the performances and especially the action was hailed as an improvement over the original without it feeling overstuffed.
3 X-Men: First Class (86%)
When the X-Men franchise looked to reboot, they decided to explore the origins of the team. This prequel looked at a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) as they each explored their own paths of helping the mutant race.
Critics praised the stylish and clever film, it's interesting Cold War setting and the exploration of these iconic characters at a younger age. It also featured great performances by McAvoy and Fassbender who made the roles their own.
2 X-Men: Days Of Future Past (90%)
While the MCU was getting a lot of attention, the X-Men franchise decided to try their own ambitious crossover. In an adaption of the beloved comic book storyline, Wolverine travels into the past to stop a future in which mutants are being hunted.
The blend of the old and new franchises thrilled critics. What could have turned into an overstuffed mess was instead a hugely entertaining action-adventure that gave fans all the best from the X-Men series.
1 Logan (93%)
Hugh Jackman has always been at the forefront of the X-Men franchise and Logan marked his final appearance as Wolverine. The story finds an aged and bitter Logan joining Charles Xavier on a quest to save a young mutant.
Critics praised the movie as unlike any superhero film around. The brutal and gruesome feel of the film fits the character perfectly and gave both Wolverine and Jackman an emotional and satisfying ending to go out on.