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 411mania » Movies » Columns

Alternate Takes 05.24.14 - Ranking the X-Men Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 05.24.2014

Welcome to Week 302 of Alternate Takes, my name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.

Ranking the X-Men Movies

X-Men: Days of Future Past comes out this weekend and the reviews have been pretty great. While I have yet to see the movie, I thought it was the perfect time to rank the previous X-Men films from best to worst in anticipation of the new movie.

6. X-Men 3: The Last Stand

You know, there was so much that could have gone right with the third X-Men movie, but it just flamed out by throwing in too much and screwing up the best storyline in X-Men history. Maybe if the movie had picked one plotline Dark Phoenix or the Cure and stuck with it while eliminating the other, it might have worked out better. As it is, the entire movie is a jumbled mess.

There are some great moments in the movie, such as when Jean killed Professor X, but those were offset by some horrible choices, such as when Cyclops was killed off-screen. I known the rumored reason they did it was because James Marsden was leaving for a DC Comics property with Bryan Singer, but there was still no reason to have one of the greatest X-Men go out like a bitch.

And, the Dark Phoenix saga was just so poorly done. The only positive was the moment with Professor X, but the rest of it just butchered the entire original classic storyline. Even when they tried to pay homage to Jean taking her own life, they screwed that up. Honestly, looking back, this movie might have been great if it was the Cure storyline with any enemy other than Dark Phoenix. Then again, it was Brett Ratner, so there was little hope.

5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I loved the first half of this movie. I thought the opening credits with Wolverine going through time were pretty damn great. I also loved the stuff at the start with Stryker and his black ops team. Honestly, a movie about those guys would have been better than what we ended up with. Even Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool was great at the start. But then it all fell apart.

Just like X-Men 3, there were some moments in the second half of this film that I liked. I really liked Taylor Kitsch as Gambit and I thought Liev Schreiber was great as Victor Creed. However, the CGI in most places in this movie was atrocious. The way they made Sabretooth move was just really bad when he was attacking. The scene with Wolverine coming out of the explosion was just mind numbingly armature for a big budget movie. For a movie franchise with as much money as The X-Men, the production on this film was pathetic.

And then we have Weapon XI. As I said, Ryan Reynolds was great as Deadpool when they were at the start of the film, with just the right amount of swagger and arrogance. Then, they turned Deadpool into Weapon XI for no real reason and SEWED HIS MOUTH SHUT! What makes Deadpool great is his mouth and they took that away from him. What the hell? I don't even mind having Weapon XI in the movie, but having it as Deadpool was just a horrible decision that turned everyone who loves comics against this movie.

4. X-Men

The first X-Men movie was a pretty solid introduction to the team. It made a smart decision and just started up after the group already existed, leaving them kind of shrouded in mystery. This allowed them to have Storm as a member and gave them room to bring back Beast in the second movie. It also allowed the film to focus on the origin story of Rouge as well as introduce the world to Wolverine. Rouge really gave audiences a chance to see the tragedy of suddenly discovering that they are a mutant and takes us inside that world.

There are a lot of things to like about the first X-Men movie, with the relationship between Charles and Magneto right there at the top. These two characters, as portrayed by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, really drove the entire franchise and that was set up here from the start. There were some problems with the movie, mainly in the script. Storm was really not a great character and had one of the worst lines in the history of movies while fighting Toad. However, it was a great start.

3. The Wolverine

Honestly, Chris Claremont's Wolverine mini-series was maybe the best Wolverine story ever told in comics. While The Wolverine didn't really hit the high marks of that comic book storyline, it did help continue the rise to respectability that X-Men: First Class started the year before. Just like the first Wolverine movie, it was the first half of this film that was the best, and the lucky thing is that the second half was not that bad either.

The movie opens with Wolverine, after the events of X-Men 3, just kind of drifting through life. He is resentful and disillusioned. He hates the fact that he is immortal. Then, he gets a chance to fix that. He travels to Japan (which is where the Claremont comparison comes in) and battles Silver Samurai, ninjas and the Yakuza. Things go off the rails a bit when Wolverine is in Viper's lab and memories of Origins creep up, but other than that, this was the Wolverine movie that I wanted to see when I stepped into the theater to see Origins.

2. X-Men: First Class

Ignore the continuity errors from the original trilogy. Ignore the changes made from the comics. Taken as a stand-alone movie, X-Men: First Class is fantastic. I loved how they tied in The X-Men with the missile crisis and really thought that the deteriorating relationship between Magneto and Charles was done so well in the movie I also liked finally seeing Beast in action and thought that it was a great prequel, especially knowing now that Days of Future Past was made to change everything that went wrong in the original trilogy.

I also love the casting of Michael Fassbender as Magneto and James McAvoy as Charles. The entire movie was a blast and really brought life back into an X-Men franchise that seemed dead in the water after X3 and Origins.

1. X-Men 2: X-Men United

I have read some online writing recently where people are claiming that the second X-Men movie doesn't hold up well over time. I have no idea what those people want. X-Men 2 is one of the best comic book movies out there, regardless of studios. The scene where Stryker invades the X-Men's mansion and his soldiers start shooting and abducting the children was amazingly well done. Honestly, this entire movie showed the real dangers that mutants were in, just for being different.

By this time, Wolverine was a well rounded character and Hugh Jackman was really coming into his own. We also got some great stuff with Iceman and Rouge, a nice glimpse of some mutants we had not really met yet, like Kitty Pride and Colossus, and even more great stuff with Magneto and Charles. Honestly, there is very little wrong with this movie and it remains a highlight of an X-Men franchise that has more ups than downs.


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