X-Men Retrospective and Guide

With the upcoming release of X-Men: Days of the Future, it seemed like a good time for an X-Men retrospective looking back at all the films in the franchise as well as looking to the future of the franchise. The X-Men side of the Marvel universe is every bit as large as the Avengers; there are literally thousands of mutant along with other non-mutant characters related to the X-Men franchise. Despite a rough patch with Origins and X-Men 3: the Last Stand, the X-Men franchise appears to have finally gotten their stuff together with both First Class and the Wolverine turning out better than expected, and with Bryan Singer back for Days of Future Past, the X-Men's future appears bright. X-Men has to be one of the currently longest running franchises not to have had major recasting, like James Bond, or a complete reboot like Spider-Man. Additionally, if you are relatively new to the franchise, and you want to be ready for the upcoming Days of Future Past, I will explain which movies you need to watch, and what order to watch them in. Without further ado, shall we begin?

X-Men, the movie that started it all. Sure, Blade was Marvel’s film big screen movie that did not completely suck, X-Men was the first real superhero movie, and it was a strong first effort. Coming off of the Academy Award winning The Usual Suspects, Bryan Singer finally gave audiences a comic book movie that actually takes itself seriously for the most part. Also, a relatively unknown Australia musical star, Hugh Jackman, was cast in the role of the franchise’s most popular character Wolverine, and it was certainly an excellent choice. While the film certainly has flaws, it still holds up well even today.

X2: X-Men United
After a very solid effort with the first X-Men, Bryan Singer kicks it up to another level by improving every aspect of his film. While the first X-Men was a lot of fun, X2: X-Men United was deeper and more complex in terms of the story and character motivation. We finally got to see a glimpse at Wolverine’s past, and the more anti-hero nature of Magneto is present in the film as well. With the exception of Halle Berry continuing to be the worst possible casting choice for Storm, and James Marsden as Cyclops continuing to get the short end of the stick in terms of development, X2 set the new standard for all comic book movie sequels to come.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand
After the awesomeness of X2, the Last Stand was a complete let down. While I do not hate the movie as much as others do, it still completely butchered one of the most iconic comic book stories of all-time, the Phoenix Sage, and now we will likely never see a good adaptation of the story. The lack in quality is due to Bryan Singer leaving the X-Men franchise to direct the even worse Superman Returns, which left Brett Ratner to ruin the movie in Singer’s absence. Despite its major issues, X-Men 3 is still a fun action movie, and a must watch for those wanting to watch the upcoming Days of Future Past since plot points in the film will likely be mentioned in the new film.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Wolverine's origin is one of the most mysterious and best origins in comics, so what did the team over at Fox decide to do? Overload the film with unnecessary characters, more action movie clich├ęs than you can shake a stick at, and special effects that look like they were done in a low budget fan film (as you can see by the gif). On top of that, the film butchers one of the most popular and fun comic book characters, Deadpool! Yeah, saying X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a disaster is a bit of an understatement. Hugh Jackman is the only movie positive is the only thing the film has going for it unfortunately. Fortunately, much of the film is completely retconned with the subsequent films never really referencing any part of them, therefore watching it is completely unnecessary.

X-Men: First Class 
After a long delay in production, First Class was destined to fail, however Matthew Vaughn turned First Class into the best X-Men film yet and one of the few prequels to actually not suck. With a stronger focus on the characters and the themes of acceptance in society, First Class revitalized the X-Men after several years of disappointing films. In fact, First Class is one of the few comic book films that strays from the source material and actually manages to work. However, the film did confuse some viewers by making changes to the film’s continuity that do not entirely make sense. Hopefully Days of Future Past will clear up the confusion with its time-traveling plot.

 The Wolverine
While not as strong as First Class or X2, The Wolverine finally gave fans a Wolverine movie that actually does the character justice. While smaller in scale than the other films, the Wolverine focuses on exactly who it should, Logan. Aside from Viper, there are no unnecessary and random mutants to take the focus away from Wolverine, and it works very well. Even though the third act fell into a few tropes, James Mangold did a excellent adapting Wolverine’s journey in Japan. The Wolverine is not the most necessary film to watch before Days of Future Past, but if you have the option, most definitely watch it if you can because it continues Logan’s storyline.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Based on one of the more popular X-Men comic book storylines, Days of Future Past has been met with positive reviews citing that it may be the best X-Men film to date! Without spoiling too much, the cast of both the original X-Men films and First Class will be coming together for the film.

To summarize what films you should watch before Days of Future Past, the original X-Men trilogy and X-Men: First Class are all must-watches before seeing the new film, and the Wolverine is highly recommended for both being high quality and continuing Wolverine's story. 

With an X-Force and Apocalypse film upcoming, as well as a possible television series in the works, the X-Men's future looks bright!

What are your favorite X-Men movies? Are you a fan of the franchise? Please comment below and let me know. Now, I leave you with the coolest cartoon opening of all-time that defined my childhood.


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