More than twenty years ago, the first X-MEN film opened the door to the superhero genre, which today is one of the most mainstream kinds of films.
Back in time, X-MEN was Marvel Comics’ flagship title along with Spider-Man. The mutants were a synonym of Marvel thanks to the comics and Fox’s animated series from the 90s.
This created great hype around the movie when it was released, making it an instant success at the box office, and now can be considered a classic of the genre.
However, the X-MEN film franchise has its ups and downs and trying to follow the timeline of the movies can be difficult sometimes. As someone told me once: “Trying to watch the X-MEN films in chronological order is physically impossible.”
I’m not such a pessimist, and since I consider myself an expert on X-MEN, let’s try to build a timeline for these films.
Are X-MEN films part of the MCU?
The short answer is, No.
X-MEN films were produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox when they had the rights to the characters. The first X-MEN film was released eight years before Iron Man, the first MCU film, was released.
Also, the X-MEN, along with the Fantastic Four, were in the middle of a war between Fox and Marvel for several years.
The reason? Well, at the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 2000s, Marvel Comics was going through serious economic problems. So, to make money, they sold the licences of their most iconic characters to different studios to be adapted into films.
Fantastic Four, Elektra, Daredevil, and X-MEN were bought by Fox, The Incredible Hulk was bought by Universal Pictures, Blade by New Line Cinema, and Spider-Man and Ghost Rider by Columbia Pictures (now Sony).
When Marvel Studios began to create what we know today as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they made different types of agreements with the studios to use the characters.
That’s the reason why The Incredible Hulk film starring Edward Norton is part of the MCU but it was produced and distributed by Universal Pictures. Something similar happens with Spider-Man.
Once Disney bought Marvel, they reached an agreement with Sony to co-produce and co-distributed the Spider-Man films that were tied in with other Marvel properties.
Sony retains the rights to the characters to produce their own films like Venom or the Spider-verse animated movies.
Are you with me up to this point?
So, what happened with X-MEN and Fox?
Before Disney bought 20th Century Fox, X-MEN was retained by Fox because they didn’t want to give the characters back to Marvel. Fox knew X-MEN was a successful franchise, and they weren’t open to giving it away so easily.
So, they started to produce X-MEN-related films (the prequel films for example), just to retain the licence. Disney even offered to pay several millions to Fox to get the characters back.
Later, 20th Century Fox went bankrupt, and Disney bought it. Now Marvel owns X-MEN again. We already had a hint of what Marvel Studios could do with X-MEN in Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and soon, with Deadpool 3, we’ll have Wolverine played by Hugh Jackman again.
However, the X-MEN films aren’t considered canon inside the MCU, and with the excuse of the multiverse, we’ll probably get a reboot of the franchise.
How many X-MEN films are there?
The X-MEN film series produced by Fox comprises a total of 13 films. There are also two TV shows set in the X-MEN universe that were also produced by Fox.
Now, let’s take a look at the movies divided in different series by following the release date.
X-MEN original trilogy (2000–2006)
1. X-MEN (2000)
Action, Adventure, Science-Fiction – 104 min.
Directed by Bryan Singer and written by David Hayter, Singer, and Tom DeSanto, X-MEN was released on July 14, 2000.
In a world where a great part of the population are mutants, two factions fight over the acceptance of the mutant-kind. Charles Xavier is the world’s most powerful telepath who has a school for young mutants and created the group known as X-MEN.
Xavier’s vision is making humankind accept the mutants by pacific means, while the X-MEN fight to protect the very people who discriminate against them.
Magneto, Xavier’s old friend and ally who has turned against him, wants to rule over humankind with his Brotherhood of Mutants.
This film achieved a great milestone by making the superhero genre available to a general audience. Before X-MEN, films based on superhero characters belonged to a niche considered too geek and sometimes childish by common audiences.
X-MEN changed this paradigm and made these characters and the ones coming after part of the popular culture instead of only belonging to the nerd circles.
The movie still holds a solid 7 rating at IMDb and 82% at Rotten Tomatoes.
Matt Goldberg from Collider expressed my point above pretty well: “(…) X-Men has become fascinating for how it tried to get a mainstream audience to accept things comic book fans took for granted.”
2. X2 (2003)
Action, Science Fiction, Suspense
With Bryan Singer sitting again in the director’s chair, the awaited sequel was released three years after the first film.
Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter, from a story by Singer, Hayter and Zak Penn, the plot is inspired by the 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, written by acclaimed comic book writer Chris Claremont with pencils by Brent Anderson.
Of course, the movie doesn’t follow the point-by-point comic but takes the most iconic elements like genocidal Colonel William Stryker (in the graphic novel he is a reverend) whose objective is to create his own version of Xavier’s mutant-tracking computer, Cerebro to hunt down all the mutants on earth and destroy them.
The X-MEN must join forces with the Brotherhood of Mutants, their former enemies, to stop Stryker and prevent a mutant genocide.
X-MEN 2 is still considered one of the best superhero films, still retaining great ratings at IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.
As an X-MEN fan, the first film holds a special place in my heart, but X2 is definitely my favourite one. I considered God Loves, Man Kills a masterpiece that must be read by everyone because of the heavy topics it touches.
Seeing how the main points of this graphic novel were addressed in the movie, for me, was amazing. Also, the ending of X2 points to another saga, which is also a favourite of mine.
In a review made by Adam Chitwood in 2018 for the Collider portal, he said: “So yes, even after 15 years and the massive evolution the superhero genre has gone through, X2 holds up as one of the best superhero movies ever made.”
I couldn’t agree more.
3. X-MEN: The Last Stand (2006)
This third instalment in the X-MEN films is a direct sequel to X2. This time, Brett Ranner took the lead as director. Among his most notorious credits are The Rush Hour film series, Red Dragon, and Tower Heist.
Singer left the director’s post to work on Superman Returns, and his absence from X-MEN is notorious. Although this third film didn’t get all the approval by critics and fans like the previous films. Overall it’s a good film and a decent close for this saga.
At the end of X2, it was pointed out that Jean Grey was about to face a dangerous change. I won’t deny it, I screamed like a rabid fangirl at the movies when I realised that X-MEN 3 was going to be about Phoenix.
If you have watched Fox’s X-MEN animated series from the ’90s, you probably are familiar with the Phoenix Saga which brilliantly adapted the same story from the comics.
Of course, X-MEN 3 only takes the concept of Jean Grey going to the dark side after being possessed by an unknown force known as Phoenix and the story goes in another direction.
The film used two X-MEN sagas as inspiration: Gifted and the above-mentioned The Phoenix Saga. As it happened with X2, it only takes the key points of the plots to tell a different story.
While a cure is found for mutants that generates polarising positions between mutants and humans alike, Jean Grey is back to life thanks to the Phoenix force that unleashes all her telekinetic potential dangerously.
Regarding the critics, it has mixed reviews from critics and fans alike.
In my opinion, The Last Stand is not at the height of the two previous films, lacking a main focus and trying to grasp a lot of characters. If you want a fair comparison, it commits the same sin as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.
Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian gave the film 3 stars out of 5 and said: “Against the odds, this third X-Men movie (inevitably referred to as the last in the “trilogy”, to torture completist-geeks into buying the DVD) turns out to be a lively and likeable picture – a fun summer blockbuster, which is capable of being scary and even rather affecting.”
X-MEN prequel films (2011–2019)
1. X-MEN: First Class (2011)
Action, Science-Fiction – 131 min.
Originally planned as a reboot of the franchise, then it was released as a prequel to the original trilogy. That’s the reason why the story has many inconsistencies regarding the timeline and events.
However, First Class is regarded as one of the best entries in the whole X-MEN film series.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service), the story is set in the 60s with a young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr working together to find more mutants and help them control their powers.
Charles and Erik, first united by their common goals, begin to distance themselves from each other due to their differences in their ideologies. This led to Charles to create the X-MEN and Erik to gather mutants for his Brotherhood of Mutants.
All this, while they must face the Hellfire Club and its leader, Sebastian Shaw, a mutant supremacist that is about to unleash a nuclear war.
The film got praise from critics, while the audience was more polarising. Hardcore fans of the original trilogy weren’t satisfied with the lack of cohesion regarding the story and events.
Dan Jolln, in his review for Empire, pointed out a detail that’s no minor: “This is easily the most brutal X-Men movie yet, pushing the rating to Dark Knight levels with some pretty raw violence.”
As an X-MEN fan, I prefer the original film over First Class, although I must admit that young Xavier and Magneto in the hands of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively compensate for everything.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Action, Adventure, Science- Fiction – 132 min.
After the success of First Class, Bryan Singer was back as director.
Inspired by the 1981 comic book Uncanny X-Men storyline “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the film follows two time periods with Wolverine travelling to the past, 1973, to prevent an event that will unleash death and destruction for both humans and mutants alike.
The story retcons the events of First Class, so it can work as a prequel in the timeline of the original trilogy.
Till today, Days of Future Past is considered one of the best superhero films and the best-rated film in the X-MEN franchise.
In July 2014, Fox released The Rogue Cut, an extended version of the film with 17 extra minutes where Rogue had a more important role than the cameo in the original version, making the film even more complex.
The critics and audience gave the film positive reviews and put X-MEN back into the spotlight in a world post Avengers, where the superhero flicks had already changed the game.
Jim Vejvoda from IGN said in his review: “X-Men: Days of Future Past is the most ambitious entry in the franchise and also the most rewarding, allowing fans to see the casts of both the original trilogy and First Class join forces in one action-packed, high-stakes, and surprisingly witty adventure film.”
3. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Action, Adventure, Science-Fiction – 144 min.
X-Men: Apocalypse has the curse of the third movie. The film tried to be ambitious by following the formula of Marvel Studios, with a big ensemble cast and a powerful villain, however, things got stuck halfway without unleashing the whole potential.
Bryan Singer is back as director, and this time, the inspiration for the story comes from Age of Apocalypse, a comic-book saga from the 90s that was a huge event that affected the whole Marvel Universe.
However, the film only takes the name and recreates Apocalypse, one of the most complex and powerful X-Men villains, simplistically.
The film focuses on the titular character, an ancient mutant also known as En Sabah Nur, who was revived in 1983 and plans to wipe out humankind. The X-MEN must stop him and defeat the Four Horsemen, Apocalypse’s team of mutants.
In this film, Cyclops and Jean Grey join the X-Men, and Storm’s origins are told. Although the audience gave the film positive reviews, the critics weren’t so kind.
Scott Mendelson from Forbes said in his review: “Bryan Singer’s would-be trilogy capper is a shocking miss. It is a lifeless and hollow shell of a picture, lacking exciting action, strong character interplay, or compelling storytelling.”
“It is the nadir of the franchise, determined to make you apologise for every mean thing you’ve ever said about Brett Ratner’s rushed X-Men trilogy capper a decade ago. X-Men: The Last Stand is X2: X-Men United compared to X-Men: Apocalypse.”
Sadly, I agree with his views. I’m not a big fan of the prequel films, but I acknowledge that Days of Future Past is one of the best X-MEN films. However, although I don’t consider Apocalypse a bad film, it’s not outstanding.
4. Dark Phoenix (2019)
Action, Adventure, Science-Fiction – 113 min.
Dark Phoenix is the fourth and last instalment in the prequel film series. The story follows a young Jean Grey as she struggles with mental illness after a powerful cosmic force possesses her, enhancing her psychic powers.
Probably you’re wondering why this tells a different story about Jean becoming Phoenix from what was portrayed in X-MEN: The Last Stand. Well, the events in Days of Future Past retcons and somehow erase what happened in The Last Stand.
We can say that there are two different realities now.
Although this version is more faithful to the story in the comic books, this didn’t save the film from being a box-office and critical failure. Considered one of the worst X-MEN films.
Also, the faithfulness is only in terms of setting and some key points but left out many of the important aspects of the comic.
As Chris Claremont, the comic author, said: “My problem with both iterations of Dark Phoenix onscreen, the original by Brett Ratner and the newer version by Simon Kinberg, is, I don’t think you can do it effectively in 90 minutes (…) The challenge is, in terms of a canon like X-Men, it’s more like Harry Potter and Hogwarts, or Game of Thrones.”
“It needs time and space to evolve and to bring the reader or viewer in and give them a result that’s worth the investment of that time.”
Wolverine Trilogy (2009–2017)
The Wolverine trilogy starts with a mediocre film that is barely saved by Hugh Jackman and ends with one of the best X-MEN films that also is an excellent movie as a stand-alone piece.
1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Action, Sci-Fi – 107 min.
Due to the success of Wolverine and Hugh Jackman portraying the character in the X-MEN films, a solo movie was greenlit.
Wolverine was the first and only film in what was planned to be a series about the origins of different X-MEN characters. After the negative reviews Wolverine had when it was released, this project was aborted.
Directed by Gavin Hood (Ender’s Game), this film works as a spin-off and prequel to the original X-MEN and X2 films.
The films follow James Howlett, who later becomes Wolverine, focusing on his childhood, his time with Major William Stryker’s Team X, and the experiment that leads him to get the adamantium in his skeleton.
The plot shows many inconsistencies in relation to the other X-MEN films. Something that was fixed with Days of Future Past, where the events in Wolverine were erased.
Although the film mostly received negative reviews from the critics, Wolverine was a success at the box-office.
2. The Wolverine (2013)
Action, Sci-Fi – 126 min.
With a change of director and a more solid story based on the limited comic book series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, The Wolverine rescued the character and the franchise from the bitter experience of the Origins film.
Originally, Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Whale) was hired to direct the film. However, Aronofsky left the project, and James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Ford v Ferrari) replaced him. Although Mangold did a great job, I still wonder how Aronofsky’s style would have suited the character.
The Wolverine is set after the events of X-MEN The Last Stand, and follows the titular character travelling to Japan, where he meets an old friend, with both involved in a fight with serious consequences.
Wolverine is deprived of his healing powers while battling deadly samurais, while he struggles with guilt as a consequence of the events that lead to Jean Grey’s death.
One of the positive aspects of this film is besides the references to The Last Stand, in general terms, the story also works as a stand-alone piece looking attractive for both fans and casual viewers.
The Wolverine was a success at the box-office, outgrossing Origins in worldwide numbers. The film also received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike.
The general consensus is Mangold had a better approach to the character, delivering a more mature film that prepared the path for its sequel Logan.
3. Logan (2017)
Action, Sci-Fi, Drama
OK, my opinion here is biased because I consider Logan not only the best film in the X-MEN series, but one of the best films I’ve watched, period. I still remember going cheerfully with my friends to see Logan to the movies and then leaving the cinema crying ugly.
If you have seen this film, you know what I’m talking about.
James Mangold reprises his role as director of this movie that has become a referent in his filmography.
The year is 2029, and for 25 years, no mutants have been born. Logan is ageing with his healing ability failing. He is taking care of a 97-year-old Professor Charles Xavier, who suffers from dementia and has become a dangerous threat thanks to his telepathic powers.
Logan’s depressive routine is interrupted when he crosses paths with a nurse named Gabriela and a girl named Laura. After Gabriela is found dead, Logan takes care of Laura to help her reach Eden, a supposed refuge near the American-Canadian border.
Logan finds out that Laura is a mutant, and her powers are very similar to his.
Of course, this is only the beginning of this trip. The film takes inspiration from the Old Man Logan comic series, where an aged version of Wolverine is portrayed.
Logan is set in a near future so slight updates in technology are displayed. The overall tone of the film is violent and dark, closer to the western genre, instead the superhero one. The film has a R classification, and along with Deadpool films, it proved that there’s a market for adult superhero movies.
The film has been critically acclaimed, still maintaining an 8.1 rating at IMDb. Also, it was the first movie of a superhero franchise to be nominated for Best Adapted Script in the Academy Awards.
Brian Tellerico from RogerEbert gave the movie 4 ½ out of 5 stars and said: “‘Logan’ has characters with which you identify and about whom you care. It’s not just “great for a superhero movie,” it’s a great movie for any genre.” To be honest, I couldn’t say it better.
Deadpool films (2016–2018)
Deadpool films aren’t considered part of the main X-MEN saga, but as happens in the comics, the character belongs to the mutant lore.
Deadpool is a character created by comic book artists Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. At the beginning, Deadpool was portrayed in the comics as a villain, and later, he became an anti-hero who can’t stop talking and is always breaking the fourth wall for humour purposes.
His first appearance in an X-MEN film was in Wolverine Origins, although his participation is forgettable.
After Days of Future Past, where the timeline is reset, Deadpool was back in two feature films, with a third one in production. This time, the character is portrayed faithful to the comics.
Deadpool 3 is produced by Marvel Studios, making Deadpool the first X-MEN related title to officially be part of the MCU.
1. Deadpool (2016)
Action, Comedy – 108 min.
Tim Miller did his directorial debut with Deadpool, a X-MEN spin-off based on a character that wasn’t mainstream but became a game changer in the superhero genre.
Deadpool was the first X-MEN related film to be R-rated. Also, it was the highest grossing R-rated film at the time, opening the door for more productions of this kind.
Ryan Reynolds, besides playing Deadpool, was involved in the script and the way the film should be faithful to the source.
What Deadpool taught to Studios and creators is you can make the fans happy, also reaching a wider audience by just doing the things right like respecting the source.
After the disappointment of Deadpool’s appearance in Wolverine Origins, the Deadpool film was celebrated by fans, casual viewers and critics alike.
The film follows Wade Wilson, a Canadian freelance mercenary who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’s contacted by a mysterious person who offers him to undergo an experiment that can cure him.
The experiment consists of injecting him with a serum with the purpose of awakening his dormant mutant genes. Wade ends up with a regenerative healing factor (similar to Wolverine’s powers) that counteracts his cancer. However, his body is totally disfigured with burn-like scars.
Now Wade wants revenge on the people who did this to him and embraces his Deadpool alter ego.
Deadpool had a budget of 58 million dollars and grossed $783.1 million worldwide at the box-office, making it one of the highest profitable films in the X-MEN franchise.
The film still holds an 8 at IMDb and 90% at Rotten Tomatoes, right behind Logan’s ratings.
2. Deadpool 2 (2018)
Action, Adventure, Comedy – 119 min.
After the huge success of Deadpool, obviously a sequel was produced. Although some people say that it is not as good as the first film, it’s a second runner that proved to be a very good sequel, managing to keep the style and humour from its predecessor.
With a change of director, this time it is David Leitch (Bullet Train, John Wick, Atomic Blonde) who is sitting in the director’s chair.
In this sequel, Deadpool loses Vanessa, his girlfriend. He blames himself for her death and tried to commit suicide. He’s rescued by Colossus and joins the X-MEN.
That’s when they must help the unstable young mutant Russell Collins at an orphanage, who has been suffering abuse. At the same time, Cable, a cybernetic soldier from the future, is searching for Russell to kill him.
Besides Cable, who is another character from the X-MEN comics, Domino also appears in this film. She’s also a character from the X-Force comics, where Cable is the leader, and Deadpool is a recurrent guest star.
Deadpool 2 has an uncut extended version that was included on the DVD and Blu-Ray. It also spawned Once Upon a Deadpool, a tone-down PG13 version of the movie with the addition of Deadpool holding Fred Savage hostage and reading him the movie’s story, in a Princess Bride-style.
This film was a success at the box office and received the acclaim of the critics and audiences alike.
Steve Rose from The Guardian said: “What made the first Deadpool, and saves this one, is the way they mix emotional sincerity in with the meta-movie wisecracking. The comedy comes from a place of pain, and Ryan Reynolds’ ability to flip between both registers so effortlessly is a superpower few actors possess.”
The New Mutants (2020)
Action, Horror, Mystery – 94 min.
Based on the comic of the same name but with some substantial differences, The New Mutants is a spin-off from the X-MEN main film series and the last instalment before the characters returned to Marvel.
The film follows a group of young mutants who discover their abilities while they are kept prisoners in a secret facility. Trying to escape and stay alive at the same time, they must face their past sins while accepting who they are now.
The New Mutants went through several production issues. The shooting began in 2017, but after a successful test screening, Fox decided to change the tone of the film to horror due to the success of IT.
This meant that although the film received positive reviews in the screening, they had to change a lot and re-shoot several parts. In the middle of this, Fox was acquired by Disney/Marvel, changing all the schedules for the film.
When the film was already finished in March 2020, guess what happened? Yes, you’re right, all movie theatres around the world were shut down due to Covid 19 pandemic.
Finally, the film was theatrically released in August 2020, of course with limited capacity in movie theatres due to the restrictions that still ruled because of the lockdown.
Besides a very poor performance at the box office because of the limited release around the world, the film also received negative reviews by the critics.
Amon Warmann from Empire said in his review: “Despite a game cast, The New Mutants’ horror elements aren’t very scary and as a superhero movie it fails to truly excite. A disappointing finale to Fox’s X-Men franchise.”
How to watch X-MEN films in chronological order
Finally, we’ve reached the most important session of this article. As Deadpool says in his first movie, when Colossus and Negasonic take him to meet Professor Xavier: “Stewart or McAvoy? I can never keep track of these alternate timelines.”
Yes, I laugh loudly at the movies at this joke, but at the same time it’s so accurate. If you, like Deadpool, are confused with the X-MEN timeline, let’s make an effort to create one.
1. X-MEN: First Class
The action of this film takes place in 1962, portraying the origin of the group and how Xavier and Magneto went from best friends to frenemies.
2. X-MEN: Days of Future Past
Here is where everything gets complicated. Most part of the movie is set in 1973, but the other part is set in an alternate timeline in 2023.
However, this film works as wildcard, you can watch it as the second instalment in the chronological order or place it almost at the end. My piece of advice is watch this film twice to fully grasp all the changes. Also what happens here retcons certain events from the other films.
3. X-MEN Origins: Wolverine
Although the story begins in 1845, the bulk of the film is set in 1979.
4. X-MEN: Apocalypse
The setting is 1983.
5. X-MEN: Dark Phoenix
The film takes place in 1992. Although it is the second attempt at telling the Dark Phoenix arc, chronologically it is the first one.
Set in the same year it was released, 2000, this is the film that started it all but due to all the changes made in the prequels, you can find some events and characters a little bit confusing.
Set right after the events of the first film, it’s also set in 2000.
8. X-MEN: The Last Stand
A direct sequel to X2, this is technically the first time the Dark Phoenix was adapted, but chronologically it is the second time.
However, thanks to the events in Days of Future Past, all that happened in this film was retconned, meaning it was erased from the main timeline and now is part of an alternative reality.
9. The Wolverine
Since this film deals with the consequences of what happened in The Last Stand, the events depicted here are now also part of an alternative reality.
Deadpool is set in the same year it was released, 2016. Since the meta nature of the film, references and jokes about the X-MEN chronological timeline are made.
11. The New Mutants
Originally planned to be set in the 90s, later it was written to be set in 2017.
12. Deadpool 2
Set in 2018.
At this point, it’s hard to know if Logan belongs to an alternative timeline or not, but we know for sure that it’s set in the near future, 2029.
This list is only a guide to watch the films in chronological order, if you want a more comprehensive guide to the X-MEN films timeline, I recommend you to take a look at this article from Den of Geek website.
Why is the X-MEN chronology so complicated?
First of all, let me tell you that X-MEN chronology has always been confusing in comics. Time travelling, alternative realities.
In fact, the whole Marvel universe is messy regarding chronology, but the X-MEN in particular are the champions of the timeline mess.
However, we’re talking about the movies. The films don’t have the complexity of the comics but still they have a messy timeline. Well, the answer to this is lack of planning.
Fox didn’t plan the X-MEN films in the same way Marvel Studios created the MCU. They just make films with these characters to gain money and keep the licence.
They barely consult the comic authors, and although some adaptations like Days of Future Past were faithful to the source, the rest were just some elements from here and there put together. Of course for the common audience this didn’t pose a problem, but comic fans know better.
Even with Bryan Singer involved in most of the X-MEN films, he wasn’t a fan of the comics, and he attempted to make a more realistic approach. Something that was celebrated back then, but it backfired later.
Now, X-MEN belongs again to Marvel, and Deadpool 3 will be the first X-MEN related film to be part of the MCU.
Currently, the MCU is developing the multiverse, something that started in Spider-Man Far From Home, was the focus in Spider-Man No Way Home, and the peak was at Dr Strange Multiverse of Madness.
As an X-MEN fan, I’m elated to finally see the characters where they belong, and I can’t wait for Deadpool 3!
X-MEN TV shows
The TV shows related to the X-MEN films are set in an alternative timeline to the films. So, they don’t interfere with the main events but are related to the X-MEN universe.
1. Legion (2017 – 2019)
Action, Drama, Science-Fiction – 3 seasons – 27 episodes
I’m going to be blunt: Legion is one of the best TV shows of the past decade, period. It doesn’t matter if you know the X-MEN, or if you have read a comic or not. Legion is cinematography art.
Created by Noah Hawley (Fargo) for FX, Legion is based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller/Legion.
I’m not going to give out so much background about Legion’s origins in the comic because it would be a spoiler. But let me tell you something, if you thought Xavier and Jean Grey were the most powerful psychic mutants, well, you don’t know Legion yet.
The series follows the titular character played by an amazing Dan Stevens, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age, making him stay at different mental institutions.
However, besides his mental illness, David Haller is also a mutant, a powerful one. His telekinesis and telepathy combined with his schizophrenia make him dangerous.
In the first season, after discovering he’s a mutant and the fact that there are more like him, he escapes from the government agency Division 3 and joins a group of mutants at a facility known as Summerland.
Hawley wanted to give the series its own artistic identity. Legion was created by artist Bill Sienkiewicz, whose drawing style is peculiar. Since Sienkiewicz’s art is kind of impossible to translate to live action, Hawley used the 60s British films aesthetics to portray the world of Legion.
According to Hawley, “this whole show is not the world, it’s David’s experience of the world. He’s piecing his world together from nostalgia and memory and the world becomes that.”
Legion has been critically acclaimed with 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2 on IMDb.
Emily Zemler from The Guardian resumed the series pretty well in her review: “It’s a show about the mind and the inability to channel one’s thoughts and memories in a way that feels cohesive. It’s disjointed on purpose, and there’s something deeply satisfying in the edge that gives the viewer. It’s not a comfortable watch, but it doesn’t need to be.”
2. The Gifted (2017 – 2019)
Action, Drama, Fantasy – 2 seasons – 29 episodes
Like Legion, The Gifted is set in an alternative timeline to the X-MEN films. The series was produced by 20th Century Fox Television in association with Marvel Television, with Matt Nix as the showrunner.
The series follows Reed and Kate Strucker, who must run away from the government and hide once they find their children have mutant powers.
On the run, they meet a group of mutants living in an underground community fighting for survival.
Most of the mutant characters are based on their counterparts in the comics like Blink, Thunderbird, Sage, Lorna Dane, and the Frost sisters.
The series received good reviews and became a favourite among fans. Sadly, it was cancelled after season two.
Kelly Lawler from USA Today said in her review that “The Gifted is neither over-saturated in comic-book mythology nor entirely divorced from it. It wisely doesn’t waste time explaining what mutants and the X-Men are (quite a few movies have done so by this point), but even someone unfamiliar with the franchise can catch on quickly.”
Who is who in the X-MEN?
With 13 films and two TV series, a lot of stars have been part of this cinematic universe. Some of them were famous when they landed on the franchise, while others owe the X-MEN their current popularity.
Let’s see who is who in the X-MEN films and TV series.
Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier
Until Patrick Stewart made his entrance in the X-MEN films, he was known for playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek The Next Generation. Not all actors are able to play such iconic characters in their careers.
Sir Ian McKellen as Eric Lensherr / Magneto
With a rich and vast career in films and stage plays, Sir Ian McKellen gained popularity for the mainstream market with his portrayal of Magneto.
Almost a year after X-MEN, he returned to the big screen in the role of Gandalf in Lord of the Ring trilogy. Talking about portraying two iconic characters, McKellen is in a tie with Stewart.
He was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor in Leading Role for his portrayal of James Whale in Gods and Monsters.
Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine
Hugh Jackman owes his Hollywood career and worldwide fame to the X-MEN. This Australian actor, whose career was mainly in theatre and musical films, has his breakthrough role thanks to Wolverine in X-MEN.
But he owes this to Russell Crowe too, who originally was thought for the character but suggested Jackman instead.
Hugh Jackman portrayed Logan / Wolverine for 17 years, making him the actor that has played a character for the longest time. And he will be back soon, reprising his role in Deadpool 3.
His Hollywood career includes several popular films like Swordfish, Van Helsing, The Prestige, Real Steel. He proved his musical acting talent in The Miserables and The Greatest Showman.
Famke Janssen as Jean Grey
This Dutch actress made her Hollywood debut in the James Bond film, GoldenEye, as femme fatale Xenia Onatopp, where Pierce Brosnan also debuted as the titular character.
Besides playing Jean Grey in the original trilogy with some cameos in The Wolverine and Days of Future Past, Famke Janssen also played Lenore Mills in the Taken trilogy.
On TV, she has been part of Hemlock Grove and How To Get Away With Murder.
James Marsden as Scott Summers / Cyclops
After some minor roles in TV series, Marsden was cast as Cyclops in X-MEN.
Sadly, his participation was reduced in the sequels, and this was most notorious in X-MEN The Last Stand, where he had schedule issues because he was shooting Superman Returns, where he played Lois Lane’s fiancee.
Other prominent roles include Lon Hammond, Jr. in The Notebook, Corny Collins in Hairspray, Prince Edward in Enchanted, and Tom Wachowski in Sonic The Hedgehog films.
Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe / Storm
When Halle Berry landed on the X-MEN as Storm, she already was a consolidated actress. Her breakthrough role was in 1992 in Boomerang alongside Eddie Murphy.
However, X-MEN took her to another level of popularity, giving her worldwide recognition. In 2001, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in Leading Role for Monster’s Ball, becoming the first Afro-American woman to win such a prize.
Anna Paquin as Rogue
Anna Paquin made her acting debut when she was 11 years old in the film The Piano, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, making her the second child to win an Oscar.
As a child actress she had several roles like Fly Away Home, Finding Forrester, and Amistad. After her run on X-MEN, she had her first TV role as the waitress Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO series True Blood in 2008.
Rebecca Romijn as Mystique
With a career in modelling for the most famous brands around the world, Rebecca Romijn had her breakthrough role in films thanks to Mystique in X-MEN.
Other roles are Laurie / Lily in Femme Fatale, Jessie Duncan in Godsend, Pepper Dennis in the TV series of the same name, Alexis Meade in Ugly Betty, and Eve Barid in The Librarians.
Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
This Scottish actor with a rich career both in stage and films, has a vast filmography where you can find him in titles like Circle of Friends, Golden Eye, Emma, Spice World, Eyes Wide Shut, and the Spy Kids Trilogy.
Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake / Iceman
Ashmore’s most important role till today has been Iceman in the X-MEN. His first appearance was in X2, followed by X-MEN The Last Stand, and a participation in Days of Future Past.
Currently, he plays Lamplighter in Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys series.
Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Henry ‘Hank’ McCoy / Beast
Kelsey Grammer is famous for his role as Dr. Frasier, a character that started in the Cheers sitcom and then had its own series, Frasier.
When it comes to his role of Beast in X-MEN, he asked to play the character because Beast is his favourite X-MEN. Recently, he has teased Disney/Marvel to reprise his role in any new X-MEN project inside the MCU.
Ben Foster as Warren Worthington III / Angel
Besides his role in X-MEN, Foster is also known for 30 Days of Night, The Messenger, and Kill Your Darlings.
Elliot Page as Kitty Pryde / Shadowcat
Formerly known as Ellen Page, he played Kitty Pryde in X-MEN The Last Stand and Days of Future Past.
He’s mostly known for Juno, Inception, Hard Candy, and The Umbrella Academy.
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (Prequel Films)
James McAvoy played a younger version of Charles Xavier in the prequel films. His run as Xavier lasted for four films: First Class, Days of Future Past, Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix.
McAvoy gained popularity for playing Mr. Tummus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and the action film based on a comic book, Wanted (2008).
He was praised for playing a man with 23 personalities in the thriller films M. Night Shyamalan’s Split (2016) and Glass (2019).
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr / Magneto (Prequel Films)
Fassbender portrayed a younger version of Magneto in the prequel films. This role gave him mainstream recognition. His run as Magneto was for three films: First Class, Days of Future Past and X-MEN Apocalypse.
He also played android David in Prometheus and the sequel Alien Covenant.
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven / Mystique (Prequel Films)
Jennifer Lawerence played a younger version of Mystique. Lawrence had her breakthrough role in 2010 in Winter’s Bone, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress in Leading Role.
Her mainstream recognition came with X-MEN, and a year after First Class, she played Katniss Evergreen from Hunger Games. The Katniss role lasted for four films and launched her definitely to stardom.
Nicholas Hoult as Hank / Beast (Prequel Films)
This English actor made his debut when he was five years old. However, his breakthrough role was when he was 13 in the comedy-drama About A Boy, where he shared the starring role with Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, and Rachel Weisz.
Hoult was also part of the cast of the British series Skins. Besides his role as Hank McCoy in X-MEN, where he played the character in four films: First Class, Days of Future Past, Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix, he played the main character in Warm Bodies, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Kill Your Friends.
He also has played in a couple of biographical films like Rebel in the Rye, where he portrays American author J.D. Salinger, in The Current War he played Nikola Tesla, and in 2019, Hoult portrayed English author J. R. R. Tolkien in the biopic Tolkien.
His latest roles have been in The Menu and Renfield.
Lucas Till as Alex Summers / Havok
He started his acting career in his teen years with his most notorious roles being Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009), The Spy Next Door (2010), and Monster Trucks (2016).
His portrayal of Havoc in X-MEN includes First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse. His TV breakthrough role has been MacGyver in the reboot of the classic series from the 80s.
Peter Dinklage as Dr. Bolivar Trask
Dr Bolivar Trask is the creator of the deadly and mutant hunter Sentinels. His invention leads to the apocalyptic future in Days of Future Past, but also his death at the hands of Mystique can create a different timeline.
Besides this role, Dinklage is worldwide known for his role of Tyrion Lannister on the HBO television series Game of Thrones. However, he has been acting since the mid 90s both in films and stage plays.
His most notorious roles include Trumpkin in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Eddy Plant in Pixels, and Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano.
Omar Sy as Bishop
Bishop, the time-traveller mutant in Days of Future Past, was the breakthrough role in Hollywood for this French actor, who was known for Intouchables, a French comedy-drama.
Omar Sy later got wide recognition thanks to his role of Lupin in the Netflix’s French series of the same name.
Evan Peters as Peter / Quicksilver
When he played Quicksilver in X-MEN Days of Future Past, he already was known for his multiple roles in Ryan Murphy’s FX anthology series American Horror Story, from 2011 to 2021.
He reprised his role of Quicksilver in X-MEN Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix.
However, this wasn’t his first time playing a character based on a comic book, he already had played Todd Haynes in Kick-Ass. He also had an appearance in Marvel Studios’ TV series WandaVision.
Oscar Isaac as En Sabah Nur, Apocalypse
A year after portraying Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he played one of the most iconic X-MEN villains in Apocalypse.
However, Isaac has more important roles than the ones in these two franchises. He played Nathan Bateman in Ex-Machina, Mikael Boghosian in The Promise, Kane in Annihilation, and Duke Leto Atreides in Dune.
He also provided his voice to Gomez Addams in the animated films The Addams Family and The Addams Family 2, and Miguel O’Hara in Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse and Across the Spider-Verse animated films.
Ben Hardy as Angel (Prequel Films)
This British actor made his film debut as Angel/Archangel in X-MEN Apocalypse, although he was already known for his role as Peter Beale in the BBC soap opera EastEnders (2013–2015).
He also played Roger Taylor in the biographical film from 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe, Storm (Prequel Films)
This American actress and singer gained popularity when she portrayed the late singer Aaliyah in the Lifetime television film Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B.
She played Storm in X-MEN Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix. Other prominent roles include Abby Suso in Love, Simon, Susan Wilson in the musical film Tick, Tick… Boom!, and Writer Barbie in Barbie.
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey (Prequel Films)
This English actress made her debut as Sansa Stark in HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.
With X-MEN Apocalypse, she made her great entrance into Hollywood, portraying a younger version of Jean Grey in two films, including Dark Phoenix.
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers / Cyclops (Prequel Films)
This American actor, who became famous for portraying Cyclops in X-MEN Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix, made his debut in Terrence Malick’s experimental drama film The Tree of Life in 2011.
He also played Wade Watts in Ready Player One.
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler (Prequel Films)
This Australian actor gained recognition as a child actor for his protagonistic role in the post-apocalyptic film The Road in 2009, and then for the American remake of the Swedish film Let Me In.
He played a younger version of Nightcrawler in X-MEN Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix. He received critical praise for his starring role in Jane Campion’s film The Power of the Dog.
Maisie Williams as Rahne Sinclair
This English actress is another Game of Thrones alumni who is widely known for her character Arya Stark.
Before playing Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane in The New Mutants, she had already played Isabel Baxter in the biopic Mary Shelley along with Elle Fanning.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Rasputin
Taylor-Joy gained fame thanks to her great acting in The Witch. Later, she increased her popularity with her character of Casey Cooke in the horror thriller film Split and reprised this role in the sequel Glass.
Her most notorious recent roles have been in The Menu, the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, and providing her voice to Princess Peach in The Super Mario Bros Movie.
Charlie Heaton as Sam Guthrie
This English actor is widely known for playing Jonathan Byers in the Netflix science fiction horror series Stranger Things.
His role as Sam Guthrie in The New Mutants has been his major one in feature films.
Blu Hunt as Dani Moonstar
Her role as Dani Moonstar in The New Mutants was Blu Hunt’s film debut.
She was previously known for her roles as Inadu/The Hollow in The CW supernatural drama series The Originals and as August Catawnee in the Netflix science fiction drama series Another Life.
Dafne Keen as Laura / X23
Dafne Keen was a revelation in Logan, playing the role of Laura, the clone of Wolverine who in the comics is known as X23.
Between 2017 and 2018, she was nominated for several accolades, winning the Best Breakthrough Performance by the Online Association of Female Film Critics.
Between 2019 and 2022, she played Lyra Belacqua, the main character in the BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials.
Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson / Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds already had played Wade Wilson in Wolverine Origins, but the portrayal of the character wasn’t so accurate with the source.
So, years later, Reynolds was involved in bringing back the character in the most faithful way possible. The first Deadpool film was possible thanks to the resetting of the timeline in Days of Future Past.
Reynolds not only played the titular character but also served as a producer.
Reynolds’s other credits include The Proposal, Green Lantern, The Croods, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Detective Pikachu, Free Guy, Red Notice, and The Adam Project.
He’s also become well known for purchasing the English professional football team, Wrexham A.F.C. along with Rob McElhenney.
Morena Baccarin as Vanessa
Baccarin is widely known for playing Inara Serra in the sci-fi series Firefly and its follow-up film Serenity.
She also played Jessica Brody in the Showtime series Homeland and Dr. Leslie “Lee” Thompkins in the Fox series Gotham.
Stefan Kapicic as Colossus
This Serbian actor is known in the West for his role as Colossus in the Deadpool films. He also has a role in The Last Voyager of the Demeter film.
Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Her most notorious role in films is the mutant Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who happens to be the first openly gay character in the X-MEN film series.
Josh Brolin as Cable
Josh Brolin played two Marvel characters almost at the same time. In the same year Deadpool 2 was released, he played Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Brolin has a long filming career, with his debut in The Goonies.
Zazie Beetz as Domino
Domino makes her appearance in Deadpool 2, played by Beetz. Besides this role, she also played Arthur Fleck/Joker’s neighbour Sophie in Joker.
Dan Stevens as David Haller / Legion
Far away is Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey, where he met fame. With a flourishing Hollywood career that began with Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, Stevens has proved, more than once, his versatility in acting.
Where can I find all X-MEN films for streaming?
With the exception of the US, you can find all the X-MEN films and TV series on Disney+, where the service is available.
Even the animated series X-MEN and X-MEN Evolution are on Disney+.
Since Disney bought 20 Century Fox, most of Fox films are on Disney+. However, things in the US work differently.
Why are some X-MEN films not available on Disney+ in the US?
Until January 2023, all X-MEN films were available on Disney+ in the US. However, some of them disappeared from the platform.
The reason? Previous distribution contracts were made before Disney acquired Fox.
So, the X-MEN films in the US are available like this:
- X-MEN First Class
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- X-MEN 3 The Last Stand
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- The Wolverine
- Dark Phoenix
- The New Mutants
- Deadpool 2
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- The Gifted
The missing films from Disney+ likely are coming back in 2024. But you never know in the streaming world.
Curious X-MEN facts: Did you know?
Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen became best friends while filming X-MEN
We all agree that Sir Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen share one of the best bromances we can ask for.
However, their friendship started while filming X-MEN, although they had worked together decades before in Tom Stoppard’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Back then, they only shared the stage, but they didn’t get close or keep the contact after.
In an interview in Wired’s popular YouTube series, Web’s Most Searched Questions, Stewart explained that while filming X-MEN, he and Ian McKellen spent a lot of time on their trailers where they drank tea and found out they had so much in common than they thought.
Since then, they became best friends, although they played adversaries in X-MEN.
Hugh Jackman was not originally cast as Wolverine
Hugh Jackman became Wolverine, and we don’t accept anyone else in this role. However, he wasn’t the first choice to play the character.
Originally, the script was written with Russell Crowe in mind, but he declined it.
Then, the first official choice was Dougray Scott, but he was busy filming Mission Impossible, and Tom Cruise didn’t want to give up his co-star. By recommendation of Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman was chosen to play Wolverine.
He didn’t know who Wolverine was, and to prepare for the role, he started watching wolves. Also, his wife told him to not accept the role because it sounded ridiculous. Thankfully, he didn’t follow her advice.
James McAvoy had to wear a wig
When James McAvoy received the notification he was chosen to play a younger Charles Xavier in a new X-MEN project, he was elated (I can’t blame him), and in the middle of such excitement, he shaved his head, because you know, Xavier is bald.
When he went to the set to start filming, the director told him the movie was set in the 60s when Xavier still had hair. So, in First Class, the mane James McAvoy flaunted was actually a wig.
Kevin Feige was an associate producer on X-Men
Kevin Feige is the president of Marvel Studios and the mind behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But before Marvel Studios and the MCU existed, he was an associate producer on X-MEN.
He even made a cameo in X-MEN as a Weapon X technician. Probably, you aren’t going to notice him because he’s totally covered.
Professor X drives a rental wheelchair
After the success of the first X-MEN film, Professor X’s wheelchair was auctioned. This is something common with Hollywood props from famous and successful movies.
The thing is they had to shoot X2, and there was no wheelchair. The solution? They rented the auctioned wheelchair from the new owner because it was cheaper than making a new one.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked online before its release
A month before its release in cinemas, X-MEN Origins: Wolverine was leaked online and downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.
The culprit was a guy named Gilberto Sanchez, who was sentenced to a year of federal prison for this leak. The leaked version was a workprint, meaning that it wasn’t the final version, some green screens and wires were visible.
Roger Friedman, who at the time was a journalist at the Fox News website, lost his job because he made a review of the film based on the leaked version.
Elliot Page was outed by director Brett Ratner
Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page before his transition, was outed by director Brett Ratner in the set of X-MEN 3: The Last Stand in front of all the other actresses.
If you wonder what out means, it’s the act of someone revealing the sexual orientation of someone else without the consent of the person. Back then, Ellen Page was still young, and she was unsure of her sexuality.
That’s why being outed in front of her co-stars actresses felt like a violation.
Years later, she came out as lesbian, and a few years ago came out as a transgender man, changing the name to Elliot.
Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner were on the storm’s eye for sexual abuse accusations
Bryan Singer was one of the big names in Hollywood back in the 2000s, but in 2019, his name and reputation fell in disgrace when four alleged victims claimed they were seduced and molested by him while they were underage.
He denied all the allegations, but this didn’t change the fact that Hollywood studios didn’t want to be involved with him. His last film was Bohemian Rhapsody, and although he remains in the credits as the director, he was fired during filming and replaced by Dexter Fletcher.
According to Fox, they took this decision because of Singer’s frequent absences on the set and some conflicts with the cast and crew.
On the other hand, Brett Ratner, who directed X-MEN The Last Stand, was accused by six women of sexual harassment and misbehaving. One of them is Olivia Munn, who joins the X-MEN family as Psylocke in X-MEN Apocalypse.
Bryan Singer Banned Comic Books From The Set Of ‘X-Men’
First of all, Bryan Singer is not a comic book fan, he was hired by 20th Century Fox to bring the X-MEN to the big screen because of his directing skills.
Second, when the first X-MEN film was released, superhero films weren’t a common genre, and they were associated with childish stories or aimed for a niche nerd audience.
Of course, this was part of a rampant ignorance regarding the stories comics usually tell. So, Singer wanted to portray the X-MEN in the most realistic way possible to appeal to an audience that wasn’t familiar with the characters or the comics.
For this reason, he strictly banned comics from the set of X-MEN. This led to contraband among the cast. In an interview, Hugh Jackman said “It was contraband. I’d never read X-Men, so people were slipping them under my door.”
Although Singer’s position can be understood from a creative point of view, actors need to know about the characters they’re playing to have the information to enrich their performances.
Anyway, X-MEN proved to be a success in part thanks to this realistic approach. And now we’re ready to see the mutants in their spandex suits in the MCU.
If you have reached the end of this article, congrats! What a ride!
X-MEN film chronology is famous for being confusing, to say the least.
So, if you watched the films and didn’t get how the timeline really works, or you’re new to the franchise and wonder where to start, this article covers all 13 films and how to watch them in chronological order or sort of.
With the imminent appearance of the mutants in the MCU, it’s a good idea to revisit these films with all their hits and misses. And following a timeline, it’s a great way to enjoy this saga.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Which X-MEN film is your favourite? Please, let me know by dropping some lines in the message box below.