'X'-Rated: We Rank All the X-Men and Wolverine Movies
As part of our weeklong run-up to this Friday’s release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re looking back at the nearly 15 years of mutant-mad X-Men films, in which the mutants did battle separately and together. But today, we pit Charles Xavier’s protégés against themselves by ranking, in reverse order, all the previous six X-Men films (including the two Wolverine ones). We don’t yet have the time-travel technology that can tell us where Days of Future Past will stand in the canon, but we’ll teleport back here Monday to put it in its place:
6. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The most ambitious entry in the X-Men series is also the weakest. Director Brett Ratner’s foray into the franchise is laden with expensive, astonishingly inert action sequences and a host of unimpressive mutant cameos: Who can forget model Omahyra as Arclight or Ken Leung as Spike-Faced Guy? (Answer: Everyone.) While the film’s premise is a sound extension of the X-Men mythos — Xavier’s disciples and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants face off over an inoculation against genetic mutation that threatens their kind — the plot is heavy with melodrama surrounding Jean Grey’s transformation into Phoenix. Throughout, the always-polarizing Ratner struggles with ways to convincingly depict Phoenix’s growing power, culminating in a tedious free-for-all battle on Alcatraz Island.
5. The Wolverine (2013)
The second Wolverine film was a stunning diversion from the series in both style and substance, delving into the clawed superhero’s past and introducing deeper conflicts and darker villains. The Wolverine also wisely relocates the character to an unfamiliar and exotic new locale (Tokyo), and sets the stage for a scene-stealing new ally, the mysterious Yukio (Rila Fukushima), culminating in a balletic fight sequence rooted in samurai swordsmanship. But Logan’s inner turmoil — prompted by a brush with mortality — feels like a mutant version of Superman II, and fails to match the impact of The Wolverine's alluring visuals.