6. Deadpool 2 (2018)
Taking all of the goodness from the original Deadpool and doubling down on almost everything, Deadpool 2 was a barnstormer of a comedy that solidified the almost invincible, arrogant, masked hero as one of this era’s best and most important franchise leaders.
With a number of jokes quite obviously aimed at the franchise’s would-be partners in the MCU and some of the funniest skits in any movie in 2018, Deadpool 2 made for a unique and hugely entertaining entry to the X-Men franchise that may not have revolutionised the X-Men like its predecessor did, but certainly offered a lot in its own right to sit it in a rather promising 6th position within this incredibly strong list of films.
5. X-Men: First Class (2011)
When Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn signed on to make the first in a prequel franchise of the X-Men universe, fans were delighted. The director had proven himself a worthwhile and different kind of comic book movie filmmaker whose handling of dark themes within a largely fun movie was the perfect groundwork for a much larger and more popular franchise like X-Men. He undeniably succeeded, creating root stories for Xavier and Magneto that didn’t detract from the original trilogy nor paid too much of a tribute to them to neglect the new cast. Thrilling, beautifully shot, funny, and undeniably emotionally charged, X-Men: First Class was a very good comic book movie that was worthy of what fans had come to associate with the X-Men franchise, and it is ranked so lowly here simply because of the quality of the films to come.
4. X-Men (2000)
X-Men (2000) was the catalyst. The massive success of Bryan Singer’s movie was largely down to the dark and more adult themes of the picture, something that lent itself to mass culture rather than the specific “kids culture” that so many had assumed of many comic-book related products previously. With an ensemble of well respected character actors and some fantastic visuals, X-Men was a hit on all levels. For just how good of an example it is as an action movie, fantasy movie and superhero movie, as well as for all that it meant to the large budget Hollywood film industry, X-Men remains one of the better superhero movies ever despite it coming around at the infancy of the now hugely popular sub-genre, and is about as strong of a number 4 as we’ve ever had in one of our lists.
3. Deadpool (2016)
“Give it the R Rating”, the filmmakers said.
“You’re crazy!” The studio said.
“We’ll do it for pennies,” the filmmakers said.
Deadpool went on to make $783million from a $58million budget and broke R-Rated records in the process. It was also nominated for a host of Golden Globe awards including Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical for its star Ryan Reynolds. Wow!
The movie itself gave the superhero genre the breath of fresh air that it so desperately needed. Loud, brash, arrogant and oh-so meta, Tim Miller’s imagining of the cocky superhero was simply a fantastic game-changer. Much of its success was owed to the apparent lack of studio involvement – which was cleverly mocked by Deadpool himself who mentioned how he would only ever catch the same two X-Men at any one time – as well as its huge departure from any of the tried and tested characters or actors that had been a part of the franchise previously. So what if it suffered from an under-powered antagonist and very little in terms of investment for side characters? The laughs were so big you’d hardly notice.
2. Logan (2017)
Deadpool opened the door and Logan tore it to shreds.
While Deadpool found its niche in the comedy and brutality of the R Rating, Logan found its home, perfecting the previously established themes and character traits of its titular hero to create the most honest, focused and downright emotional X-Men movie of all time. Patrick Stewart (Xavier) and Hugh Jackman (Logan) were excellent, and the director’s choice to make the movie more of a Western than a typical superhero film helped Logan to recreate the franchise as powerfully as Deadpool did, only in different ways. It was an emotional goodbye that the screenwriter-director James Mangold, Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman wanted, and ended up being as great of a send-off as it could have been courtesy of their collective passion. From start to finish it explored that which we had yet to see in Wolverine’s cinematic universe and did so with such a class that almost every emotional twist and turn elevated the film beyond some of its more cliche narrative threads. It was a truly fitting goodbye to perhaps the most beloved singular comic book movie hero of the century and was therefore the second best X-Men movie ever released.
1. X2 (2003)
Director Bryan Singer made no secrets of the fact that he’d used the second Star Wars movie as inspiration for his own sequel, and with such a huge focus on the so-called antagonists of the piece – not least Magneto – it’s easy to see how important of a role Irvin Kirshner’s movie played. In this picture, the narrative aligned us with Magneto to bring sympathy to the mutants as a whole and not just Xavier’s X-Men, and suddenly we were convinced of the evils of humanity because of the discrimination we were portrayed as collectively holding against our heroes. This was the ingenuity of the piece and has proven to be evidence of how pictures in the genre should focus heavily on morality when presenting characters with extraordinary abilities. Visually X2 was also stunning, with the Nightcrawler White House scene still being regarded as one of the best of all time some 16 years later. Though often forgotten in debates regarding the greatest ever superhero movies, this was, simply, one of the best action/sci-fi/fantasy sequels of any trilogy ever, as it was about as fantastic as any movie in the genre could hope to be in every aspect from direction to acting and from CG to its screenplay. The X-Men franchise’s second instalment truly is the Empire Strikes Back of the series and is deservedly the number one movie in this edition of Ranked.
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