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.
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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.
Original article published 20th March 2017. Updated 30th September 2019.
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