The X-Men long ago positioned itself as the greatest superhero soap opera. With a published history spanning over 60 years and many story arcs which tackle segregation, homophobia and racial prejudice, it’s no surprise that there have been many X-Men films that have graced the silver screen.
Originally part of the 20th Century run of Marvel films, the X-Men franchise has now found its home on the Disney+ streaming service. This gives you and every hardcore Marvel fan the opportunity to organise a weekend long X-Men marathon for all to enjoy.
In this article we’re going to tackle not just the X-Men movies but also the spin-off TV shows and the cult favourite 90s cartoon which has released many movie length animated story arcs in itself. So, without further ado…
“TO THE BLACKBIRD!“
RELATED: How to Read Uncanny X-Men #1
X-Men Movies in Order – How and Where to Watch
The first X-Men film introduces us to the whole gang. Well, sort of. If you’re a fan of the X-Men cartoon you’ll notice that Morph, Gambit and Jubilee are absent. In fact, so is Beast. But the rest are there: Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue (who sort of feels like an amalgamation of Jubilee and Rogue) and their leader, Professor Charles Xavier.
With Rogue as the audience surrogate that introduces us to the world of Mutants vs Humans, we are soon introduced to a plot hatched by Magneto and his gang of Evil Mutants, to turn the whole world into mutants. However, it’s his mutant transforming device which is proven so unstable that it can kill humans, which presents a threat that the X-Men must stop at all costs.
With X2, you get the feeling that the film kicks off a few months after the first X-Men movie left off. With Wolverine curious about his past he begins to investigate certain government facilities for clues. While he’s doing this, a brainwashed Nightcrawler teleports into the White House and attacks the President. This results in General Stryker, a man who is quite mutant-phobic, convincing the President to allow a team of marines to infiltrate the X-Men mansion.
What follows is a complex plot by Stryker to try and finish off the X-Men and mutants for all. Although, it’s brought to certain strange heights when it turns out that Stryker’s plan involves that of his son – a mutant – whose power rivals that of Professor Xavier’s. Two fan favourite moments of the film involve Wolverine squaring off against Lady Deathstrike and the Phoenix appearing briefly before Jean Grey is taken out by a flood. Oops, spoilers!
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
In the first two films, we are hit with the constant precursor from Magneto that a war is coming. Finally, in X-Men: The Last Stand (or X3, if you want to call it that), we see that war reach its penultimate phase with Magneto calling all the world’s mutants to join him. So, with Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and a recently returned from the dead Jean Grey (who has now been taken over by an entity called the Phoenix) – the X-Men go head to head with Magneto’s forces.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
In the first of the spinoff films, Wolverine’s past in explored as is his relationship with Sabretooth and his work with Stryker. Many aspects of Wolverine’s past in the Canadian Government Sanctioned secret team, Team X, are explored. We are also introduced to Deadpool for the first time, The Blob, Maverick (called Agent Zero in the films), Gambit and Wolverine’s girlfriend, Silverfox.
It’s not a perfect film but it sure has some cool moments.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
First Class covers the events that Professor Xavier often mentions in the first three films when referencing Magneto. So as a result, Magneto is always referred to by his human name: Erik Lensherr and never Magneto. This film is also set in 1962 with the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis as the backdrop. Like the name of the film suggest, we are introduced to Professor Xavier’s first class of mutants.
Despite a brief cameo where Wolverine tells Erik and Charles to “F*** off”, we are introduced to a fairly new group of mutants, including Beast and Raven (who we come to know as Mystique in the first three X-Men films). First Class tracks the eventual turning of Erik into the villain we all come to know and love as Magneto.
The Wolverine (2013)
Those of you who are familiar with the Wolverine solo comics would know that much of Wolvie’s history involves Japan. From long lost loves to taking on the Japanese Yakuza, Wolverine’s love of Japan is briefly touched on in The Wolverine. A film which pits Wolverine against the seductively evil mutant, Viper.
If you’re a fan of how Wolverine is portrayed in the 90s cartoon then you’re going to fall in love with this film.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Days of Future Past is an updated homage to an X-Men comic book event of the 80s which depicted a doomed dystopian future in which Mutants are hunted down by 10-foot-tall killer robots called Sentinels. To save the past, Kitty projects herself into the past to notify her past self of future events. In this version, however, it is Wolverine who is projected back into the past.
What unfolds is a movie told in two different time periods: the 1980s; in which Wolverine tries to save the future, and in the future timeline; where its a race against the clock as Future Sentinels lay siege against a futuristic group of X-Men.
What is interesting to note is this film can be seen as the link between the original X-Men team and the First Class team as both are shown.
The 2016 Deadpool film rights the errors made in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film. Specifically, around the portrayal of the infamous ‘Merc with a Mouth.’ Deadpool is way more on brand with the comic book character and the Deadpool comic book as a whole. A fact represented quite well in the ticket sales of the film and the cameo of Deadpool co-creator and artist Rob Liefeld.
Deadpool makes light fun of the X-Men universe, investigates the character’s past and provides a romantic black comedy of sorts for everyone over the age of 15 to enjoy. Oh, did we forget to mention that it’s rated MA15+ in Australia and R in America?
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Apocalypse takes us back to the X-Men First Class team and introduces us to the X-Men’s deadliest foe yet. An ancient evil dating back to the time of the Egyptians, Apocalypse is the first mutant to ever exist and as such is one of the most powerful mutants to ever exist.
While not exactly comics accurate, the threat Apocalypse poses is felt throughout the entire film and it takes the entire team of X-Men with the assist of Magneto to take out the ancient Mutant Egyptian Pharaoh.
Logan borrows much from the Old Man Logan and Wolverine comic book series. In this film, the X-Men are gone. As are most of mutant kind. All that’s left is Logan (who has ditched the name Wolverine), Professor Charles Xavier and a very small handful of mutant characters. Here we are introduced to X-23, a cloned mutant child, who is the genetic daughter of Wolverine.
What follows is Logan doing his best to keep Professor Xavier alive, keep X-23 alive and fend off the bad guys who would do their best to control X-23 and any other mutant that comes their way.
Deadpool 2 (2018)
Unfortunately, for X-Force fans, Deadpool 2 is the closest you’ll ever get to seeing X-Force on the big screen. At least for now. Deadpool 2 introduces us to classic members of the X-Force team as depicted in the comic: Cable, Domino, Shatterstar and then there’s Deadpool (of course).
Cable is on a personal mission to kill the mutant that killed his family in the future. Only problem is he’s travelled back to the past, the mutant in question is only a child and Deadpool is standing in his way. Not to mention, an absolutely perfect comic book accurate portrayal of Juggernaut.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
Dark Phoenix is the worst film on this list. A victim of many rewrites and reshoots, Dark Phoenix depicts Jean Grey who is inhabited by a force called The Phoenix. During this time, Phoenix causes the destruction of a star and the D’Bari homeworld. This causes survivors of the D’Bari homeworld to try and control Jean Grey as a sort of revenge plan. The rest all works out in the X-Men’s favour because it’s a comic book film.
Dark Phoenix is also the last film to star the X-Men: First Class team.
The New Mutants (2020)
If you’ve ever wondered to yourself what an X-Men film would look like if it was shot like a Horror film then The New Mutants definitely answers the question. Stuck in an asylum where their powers are being monitored, a group of mutant teens are studied by mutant scientist Cecilia Reyes. However, one of the young mutant’s abilities is to manifest nightmares into reality.
When Cecilia realises she can’t control her experiment anymore she tries to kill one of the teens and the rest of them fight back. A fight of their lives.
X-Men TV Shows in Order – How and Where to Watch
While there have been literally dozens of X-Men tv related properties. We’ve opted to stick to the X-Men television properties which spanned over years. So, while there are some television properties like Pryde of the X-Men and Generation-X out there, we’ve decided to stick to the main TV shows.
X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997)
The X-Men Animated Series (usually abbreviated to X-Men: TAS) debuted back in 1992 and ran for 5 seasons. The X-Men characters were animated to look like the 90s version of the comic book characters drawn by Jim Lee. The X-Men team is made up of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee and Professor Xavier.
Aside from The Simpsons and the Batman cartoon, the X-Men animated series was the most commercially successful cartoon of the 1990s.
X-Men: Evolution (2000-2003)
Evolution follows the adventures of the X-Men, except as teenagers. The team of mutants is depicted as still going to high school while characters like Professor Xavier and Wolverine look out for them. While the main characters feud with Mystique’s students, who are just young versions of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. That said, classic villains like Magneto, Mister Sinister and Scarlet Witch still turn up.
Wolverine and the X-Men (2009)
When Charles Xavier and Jean Grey disappear in an explosion, Wolverine is left to look after Xavier’s School for the Gifted. As such, he becomes the defacto Headmaster and leader of the X-Men. Wolverine and the X-Men shows a different side of Wolverine. One rarely seen in any of the other properties.
Unlike Evolution, Wolverine and the X-Men is more akin to the X-Men animated series of the 1990s. Both in terms of style and story arcs. Unfortunately, this show was cancelled after only one season.
Legion is set in an alternate timeline to that of the main X-Men films (probably to avoid confusion) and follows the misadventures of David Haller (aka Legion) who is also Professor Xavier’s son. The series follows Haller as he tries to control his mutant powers and the sinister forces trying to control them while evading a government agency. Despite Legion being a huge hit with fans, the show only ran for 3 seasons.
Legion was famous for mixing 1960s design with modern-day elements, and filming the series through the title character’s distorted view of reality. Aspects which lend quite well to the Legion comic book character.
The Gifted (2018-2019)
The Gifted is very much a coming of age show featuring Young Mutants who are forced to fend for themselves in a world where the X-Men are no longer around to help save them. That said, there are many familiar characters that comic book fans will recognise. As well as some brand new ones.
However, the inclusion of characters like Blink, Thunderbird and Magneto’s daughter, Polaris, are easily the most recognisable.
Unlike Legion, fans were robbed of a conclusion when The Gifted was cancelled after it’s second season.
Do you like any of these X-Men Films or TV Shows?
What did you think of these X-Men Film and TV Shows? Are any of these your favourite?
Let us know on social media.