Ranking the X-Men Film Franchise

With all of the hub-bub “bub” about X-Men:Days of Future Past being the best X-Men film, and all of the excitement over the series going forward, I wanted to add my thoughts on a quick ranking of the film franchise. Keep in mind, these opinions are mine alone and feel free to provide your own lists and thoughts in the comments section. Big shout out for everyone that hasn’t seen all of them, there will be SPOILERS! Without further ado, “Let’s do this.”


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NUMBER SEVEN

‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’

I think I’ve had more debate with friends about this film than any of the other X-Men. I believe that this film is terrible, at least in comparison of the other films. Something I believe about the franchise is that this franchise is one of the most consistent movie to movie. This is a big out lying anchor at the bottom. a.) This was the 2nd most expensive film of the franchise at the time it was made, and in adjusted dollars would be the 3rd most expensive over all. It is in my opinion the cheapest looking of any of the films. Production was moved to Hugh Jackman’s native Australia and involved very little on location shooting. In fact almost the entire thing looks cut and paste against a green-screen. b.) The CGI effects are the worst of any of the films, hands down. Wolverine’s metal claws look like they wouldn’t fit in on the set of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ In some of the shots of the fight on 3 Mile Island, you can actually SEE the lines of the green screen. c.) The scripting and plot of this film are absolutely disgusting. Logan kills dad IN COLONIAL Canada?, Logan and Viktor fight wars, Logan joins super cool mutant team, Logan quits super cool mutant team, Logan becomes love struck lumberjack, Logan’s girlfriend gets killed, Logan fights Viktor and loses, Logan gets metal claws, Logan finds/fights Taylor Kitsch (no, he’s not Gambit), Logan fights Viktor again, Logan and Viktor fight Wade Wilson (no I won’t call him Deadpool, more on this later), Logan gets shot with magic bullets to forget the whole thing. Trust me, it’s dumber than I just made it sound. d.) This film basically ruins two childhood favorite X-Men – Gambit and Deadpool. Both created in the 90’s during this film’s prime demographics childhood, they ruin two characters that fans had been asking for since the start of the series. I loved Gambit so much, I used to right fan-fiction for just him when I was little. This movie gives them both little to do, portrays them in the worst possible way, and made it so we still don’t have the epic R-rated Deadpool movie I have been waiting for for five years. f.) Bone Claws. Yeah so The Wolverine, and Days of Future Past, and any other movie has to deal with metal or not metal clawed Wolverine because of this film. Granted, I believe it is this way in the comics to a degree, but that doesn’t mean we needed it in the film. And now film makers are doomed to play this out and figure out how to fix this for several movies to come. e.) Wastes a good Hugh Jackman performance. One thing I will say about X-Men that no other comic book franchise can say is that getting Hugh Jackman is a key ingredient to their longevity. He is not only an A-List, Oscar nominated star, he is a huge fan boy of the Wolverine character and regularly takes less money to be in the films. This guy is in it to win it and the movies show it. Even in the lesser films, Jackman is always good and this was one was no different. Ultimately, I think that’s why this movie is so bad to me. It’s production is not worth it’s namesake or star and it is now a permanent mark on an otherwise solid franchise.

NUMBER SIX

‘The Wolverine’

This is going to sound rough to rank it so low, but it is a testament to how deep this franchise is as a whole. I really like this movie a lot and this it is leaps and bounds better than it’s preceding Wolverine solo film. There are exchanges in this film that are tops for the franchise. I’ll say it now, this film has the best fight scenes and the best Wolverine stunt scenes. The first 40 minutes of it are heart-stopping fight on top of fight, culminating in a bullet train sequence that is one of the best 3-D experiences I’ve ever had. Wolverine is also the most ripped he has been at any time in the franchise. What lets this film down is it’s plot and 2nd half. The theme of dealing with vulnerability add stakes to the action, but never really pay off. After the bullet train, the film down shifts into a seudo-love story that is well acted, but whiplash inducing pace change. We get another two scenes of great fighting after Wolverine get’s his powers back, but they are also a little unsatisfying. Wolverine is almost too powerful a healer being able to fight like the T-1000 at times. Then, we get the climax that really makes this film the 6th movie here. We get a Silver Samurai that is a worse shiny metal robot than the T-1000 was over 20 years ago and it is the worst mech-suit looking device since the Matrix sequels. It results in a cartoonish fight that leave Wolverine with what you say? Yeah, f-ing bone claws again. I can’t say it enough. Bone claws suck.

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NUMBER FIVE

X3- The Last Stand

 

So this is another contentious rank, but I promise I will make it make sense. To be honest, ranks six, five, and four of mine are pretty interchangeable depending on the day, but here is why I have placed it here. This film was the most expensive movie ever made at the time (not in adjusted dollars) and it shows. The de-aging CGI is fantastically realized, and the fight choreography is ample and good. I like the ideas and themes this movie was stabbing at, but it ultimately gets middling grades when it comes to execution. The cure story line is a great concept, but when it proves ultimately nullified by the end of the film (see later), it feels like the film never really had any stakes. I think Phoenix is under-powered and undeserved for this franchise. Jean Grey didn’t seem built up well enough in the previous movies to earn this blow out in this film. Also, there are TOO many mutants featured. Too many super heroes is bad for story telling because it creates too many characters to invest in and it makes our main leads feel less special. In historical context, this holds up poorly as almost all of it’s developments have been undone and written out (by itself by the way. Professor X and Magneto having powers again are both teased in THIS FILM).

NUMBER FOUR

X-Men

 

The original. The OG. The one that started it all. The original X-Men movie. The film that helped kick off Spider-Man which is what really kicked off the comic book hero movie culture we live in today. An essential ensemble cast of character actors and no-bodies that embodies the themes and ideas of a comic book more than its action and fights. How does society deal with outsiders, and how should those outsiders deal with or work with society. Thematically and script wise, this might be the BEST of the franchise. It is a tight, frankly small script that pits ideas against each other and worth characters on both sides to embody those ideologies. This movie turned Hugh Jackman from zero to A-list over night and gave Ian McClellan a recognizable career in his 60’s. Four members of this cast have been nominated for, or won Oscars for acting. This film proves than a supermodel in blue body paint with no acting experience can emote, kick-ass, and be a memorable prescience for more reasons than being naked and blue. It is the spring board for a $2.3 billion dollar franchise. It was also (in adjusted money for 2001), the cheapest launch film of the big franchises. Superman 1978 was made for $55 mil (about $150 in 2001), Batman 1989 for $48 (about $110), and Spider-Man 2001 was made for $140 million. This was made for $75, and while this is a compliment, it is also why this film is stuck at #4. The art direction and costuming is terrible. Much of the set design and costuming looks like a high school production. Sabertooth and Storm really get the worst of it. There is also very little action in this film, and it is generally poorly staged. At this time Bryan Singer had never directed action before, and you can tell.

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NUMBER THREE

X2 – United

This used to be my favorite film in the series, but as a result of our next two, it has been dropped down to third. It kicks off with an amazing teleportation fight sequence with Nightcrawler. What I would say was the best fight involving teleporting until the film ranked #2. We get a great Wolverine berserker fight in the school, and another great X-Men fight against Lady Death-strike. The continued theme of outsiders and persecution inhabit this film. It is essentially the same film, with the same relationships, but with a bigger budget and better action. What I also think elevates this film over the original is the third party (the Senator in X1, Stryker here) is much more active and better acted. Brian Cox is really nice in this film and provides the great third party to affairs here. There is a very nice sub-plot of a new generation of characters being tempted by both sides of Professor X and Magneto’s ideologies.

NUMBER TWO

X-Men: Days of Future Past

I want to say, that this is not a case of recency. In fact, I fear that upon reflection I will drop this to #3. For now though, I think this is my 2nd You can read my review http://culturebabble.com/2014/05/27/x-men-days-of-future-past-review/ for longer thoughts, but here it is. The chocolate and the peanut butter comes together really well, but not as well as I wanted. If these two stories melded together better, this WOULD be the best film. The X1-3 cast remaining is the best it’s been, but the stories don’t interweave very well. It feels a lot like the 70’s cast is performing the operation while the 2023 cast is sitting in the Waiting Room. Everyone who like gets a good moment OTHER than Wolverine!!! While Hugh is acting well here, Wolverine’s role is to emote and impart wisdom, which is something we aren’t used to. So he gets some great moments of acting, there is no great Wolverine fight. I honestly don’t feel like the themes are as strong here, and I do feel like the billing for this movie as the movie to end all other X-Men movies that will fix all of the continuity issues of the other films does not work very well. The 2nd half drags a little bit, much like The Wolverine, but the climax is visually stunning. This film also involves the two of the best three sequences of any of these films. Blink’s teleportation fight at the opening and Quicksilver’s break out. These scenes are clever, pulse quickening, and make it worth the price of 3D admission.

 NUMBER ONE

X-Men: First Class

It’s all in the title folks. First Class. This movie is first class. It is stylish and fun. It is heart pounding and tear jerking. It has some of the best acting I’ve ever scene in a film period. Lucky it was able to contract Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender just before their break-outs. James McAvoy, Nikolous Hoult, Rose Byrne, Kevin ‘Freakin’ Bacon. It’s just an incredible cast who are all on their best game. This is a great franchise bender to be sure. It really could be called X-Men: 007. Fassbender is unfortunately too old to be cast as the next Bond probably, but he is channeling all of that right here. This film really services Magneto and I think it is very interesting that the two best ACTORS (Hugh is a star and a good actor) have both played Magneto. It really helps strengthen the seduction to Magneto’s ideologies that his militant views have been embodied by nuanced, emotional, and brilliant performances. I’ll say Fassbender is the best actor to put on X mantle so far and I love him in this film. This movie is so good it pulls off the yellow and blue spandex flight suits that the original trilogy was so afraid to use. Stylish can’t be said enough here and the tight scripting really helps this be my favorite X-film. It, unfortunately, is not without its flaws too. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect/flawless/A+ film in the franchise. This film was really rushed, and some of the CGI (while not bad) is subpar in spots. It is also unfortunate that this film is also the lowest grossing of the franchise, but it seems like the film makers know where their bread is buttered by featuring this cast in Days of Future Past. The plans for the future also seem to figure this cast prominently.

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So there is is. My thoughts. My ranks. How do you guys feel?  Tweet at me – @ bobholt58 – and comment below.

 

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