11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009, Rotten Tomatoes 37 per cent). Undoubtedly the weakest of the bunch, and combined with the previous film, 2006’s 'The Last Stand', you’d have to conclude that the 2006-2009 era was the weakest in the 'X-Men' canon. To follow on from the original trilogy, Gavin Hood took over directing duties to bring us a standalone Wolverine origins film. Hugh Jackman does his best to elevate his performance above a join-the-dots script (from 'Game of Thrones’ David Benioff, no less), cheap-looking special effects and a barely explored sibling relationship with a scantily sketched villain, Liev Schreiber’s Victor Creed.
10 X–Men: Last Stand (2006, Rotten Tomatoes 58 per cent). Another duffer from the second quarter of the franchise’s run. Bryan Singer vacated the director’s chair, and the drop in quality was immediate. Brett Ratner takes the 'Dark Phoenix' story line from the comics, in which Jane Grey becomes an all-powerful god-like being, robs it off all of its grandiosity, then for good measure kills off half of the cast and “cures” several more of their mutant abilities. He certainly made a statement, but not one many people wanted to hear. Photo by Moviestore / REX / Shutterstock
9. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016, Rotten Tomatoes 47 per cent). The fourth film in the franchise from original director Bryan Singer, and the follow up to 2014’s 'Days of Future Past', in which he basically reset the franchise’s timeline and undid all the bad work done in 'Last Stand'. Whereas in the previous film he had utilised both the original, present day cast led by Patrick Stewart's Professor X and the younger versions created by Matthew Vaughn and led by James McAvoy’s Professor X, Singer sets this film in the '80s and utilises the younger cast. 'Apocalypse' introduces us to the very first mutant, the Apocalypse of the title, who wakes up from a millennia-long slumber and does not like what he sees. In classic supervillain style, he sets out to destroy mankind and our heroes have to save the world. It’s enjoyable enough fluff, but a fairly straightforward goodies versus baddies FX-fest with no real stand out features.
8 The Wolverine (2013, Rotten Tomatoes 71 per cent). “If at first you don’t succeed, have a go at another Wolverine standalone film with a new director,” as the famous mantra almost goes. James Mangold takes the helm this time with the X-Men’s most-popular, and definitely most-developed character. Logan is living as a hermit here, when an old wartime friend who owes him a life debt summons him to Tokyo to collect. Of course, things are never that simple, and we’re soon knee deep in ninjas, samurai, yakuza, mad scientists and more. 'The Wolverine' isn’t among the best 'X-Men' movies, but it’s far from the worst, and a massive improvement on Hood’s 2009 effort. Photo by Moviestore / REX / Shutterstock
7. X-Men (2000, Rotten Tomatoes 81 per cent). Bryan Singer started the ball rolling in 2000 when he introduced the world to Wolverine, Professor X and co., in the very first film in the franchise. The film was Hugh Jackman’s big breakthrough as Wolverine, and he would remain a constant throughout the series despite his blossoming career elsewhere. This film may have dated a little, but at the time its gravitas and fully rounded ensemble cast were a totally new thing in the genre. The decision to tell the story mostly through the eyes of Wolverine, a loner with, in common with the mainstream audiences Singer hoped to appeal to, no knowledge or understanding of the X-Men or the mutant world, was a stroke of genius. Photo by Moviestore / REX / Shutterstock
6. Days of Future Past (2014, Rotten Tomatoes 90 per cent). I’m entering controversial territory here as most polls and surveys place 'Days of Future Past' close to the top of the pile of 'X-Men' movies, and I totally understand why. It’s a rip-roaring ride, it brings both the much-loved original and younger 'First Class' casts together thanks to its use of time travel, and significantly, Bryan Singer returns to the helm after a decade-long hiatus since his first two installments, basically on a quest to undo the mess that 'The Last Stand' made of the franchise when he departed. But therein lies my biggest problem with the film. Would it not have been preferable to not let Ratner make such a mess back in 2006 than come back eight years later and say “then Wolverine goes back in time, changes the timeline, everyone’s alive. Let’s make some more movies.” It just seems a bit of a cop out. Photo by 20th Century Fox / Marvel Entertainment /REX / Shutterstock
5. X-Men: First Class (2011, Rotten Tomatoes 86 per cent). 'Layer Cake' and 'Kick-Ass' director Matthew Vaughn was brought on board for the first full ensemble film since Ratner had killed half of the X-Men off in 2006. His solution? A prequel taking the action back to the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis with a new, young cast telling the story of Professor X and Magneto’s early days and the creation of their rival organisations the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. These kind of affairs can be a disaster ('Young Indiana Jones', anyone?) But Vaughn does a great job, with James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult among the actors re-imagining characters from the original films (X, Mystique and Beast respectively).
4. Deadpool 2 (2018, Rotten Tomatoes 83 per cent). It seems a little strange to be including the 'Deadpool' films in this list, like comparing apples and oranges, so utterly different to the rest of the franchise is the Ryan Reynolds-fronted spin-off project. Nonetheless, Deadpool is very much a part of Fox’s 'X-Men' universe – the character was first introduced to fans, albeit in a someone different form to that we now know and love, in 2009’s 'Wolverine'. He shares screen time with other X-Men characters in his standalone films, regularly mocking the characters and films, and even visiting the X-Men mansion. Reynolds' second outing as the merc with the mouth was, in fairness, every bit as good as the first, though it places lower here purely because the first film was so ground-breaking.
3. X2: X-Men United (2003, Rotten Tomatoes 85 per cent). Bryan Singer’s second 'X-Men' outing was a true classic of the super hero genre, in fact, given that it came two years before Christopher Nolan set a new bar with his 'Batman' trilogy, and six years before 'Iron Man' kicked off the MCU, it probably has a fare claim to stake as the best super hero film ever made at the time, though Tim Burton would put up a strong counterargument. From its stonking opening scene where Nightcrawler breaks into the White House, to Jane Grey’s tear-jerking sacrifice at the finale, the film rarely lets up. It’s just a shame Singer didn’t stick around for part three.Photo by Moviestore / REX / Shutterstock
2. Deadpool (2016, Rotten Tomatoes 84 per cent). It feels harsh putting 'Deadpool' at number two, and if joint first was an option I’d take it. The film was Ryan Reynolds’ pet project, that he had been trying to get off the ground since 2004. Unfortunately, studio execs were unconvinced that a foul-mouthed, R-rated, fourth-wall-breaking anti-hero would be a box office hit. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The film was absolutely unique, and audiences loved it, helping it to almost $800m ((Dh2.93b) at the box office on a modest, for the genre, $58m budget. That made it the highest-grossing 'X-Men' film to date and the highest-grossing R-rated film ever. Unsurprisingly, having taken years to come around to Reynolds’ thinking, Fox were swiftly knocking on his door with double the budget for a sequel.
1. Logan (2017, Rotten Tomatoes 93 per cent). If the prize was for laughs 'Deadpool' would definitely have taken it, because there aren’t too many of them in James Mangold’s gritty conclusion to the trilogy of Wolverine spin-offs. The film takes us to a dystopian future where mutants have all but died out and an ageing and sick Logan – his adamantium skeleton has begun to decay, poisoning him in the process – is working as a limo driver and caring for a senile Professor X who is prone to seizures that emit huge waves of mutant-killing telepathic power. Logan encounters a young girl – the first new mutant in years, created in a lab from his own DNA, who needs him to help her escape to a safe place called Eden. There’s just one problem – she read about Eden in a fictional 'X-Men' comic. It’s dark, post-modern stuff, and Hugh Jackman makes the most of a strong script with his performance. It seems Fox have conceded that R-rated super hero movies can work after all. Photo by Ben Rothstein / Marvel / Kobal / REX / Shutterstock