X-Men Movies by Tomatometer

With Days of Future Past hitting theaters, we take a look at every entry in the franchise so far.

by Jeff Giles | Thursday, May. 22 2014

X-Men Movies It isn't the first superhero sequel of the summer, but with its massive ensemble cast and time-traveling storyline, X-Men: Days of Future Past might be the most epic. Now that the franchise's seventh installment has hit theaters with a bang, we've updated last week's list to include it, along with a look back at where the franchise has been and how well it's performed with critics. Get ready to get your snikt on, bub -- it's time for Total Recall!


7. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

38%

After the disappointment of X-Men: The Last Stand, a solo movie for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine seemed like a smart and relatively foolproof way of getting the X-Men franchise back on track. Unfortunately, 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine failed to capitalize on its immense potential; rated PG-13 and clocking in at 107 minutes, director Gavin Hood's take on the character's backstory could deliver neither the hard-hitting violence nor the epic sweep it deserved, and it didn't help that David Benioff and Skip Woods' script saddled Jackman with an ensemble cast that included a widely maligned version of the comics fan favorite Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). Still, for critics who entered the theater with sufficiently low expectations, it proved a reasonably entertaining diversion; as Laremy Legel wrote for Film.com, "You won't be upset you saw it, you'll have some fun, you'll see Wolvie beat the living hell out of a helicopter."

6. X-Men: The Last Stand

58%

After two top-grossing, well-reviewed installments, the X-Men film franchise was due for a fall -- and with 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, it arrived in the form of a second sequel whose $400 million-plus grosses were overshadowed by poor word of mouth and a rash of negative reviews that prevented a Fresh certification for the first time in the series. Though 56 percent isn't a terrible Tomatometer rating -- and some critics enjoyed the movie, such as the New York Observer's Andrew Sarris, who wrote that he was "strangely moved" by it -- the lukewarm response was a significant comedown for the franchise, particularly after Bryan Singer, who directed the first two installments, left the project to take on Superman Returns, taking the previous installment's screenwriters with him. New director Brett Ratner took his fair share of critical lumps (the Washington Post's Ann Hornaday accused him of "[making] hash of the story and characters"), but there was plenty of blame to go around; in the words of the Chicago Reader's J.R. Jones, "despite all the grand gestures of climax and resolution, there's a pronounced sense of autopilot."

5. The Wolverine

69%

Fox execs were no doubt hoping that by the time they got around to giving Wolverine his second standalone feature, they'd have a solo franchise to build on -- but instead, 2013's The Wolverine needed to advance the character's story while repairing the fan goodwill they'd lost the first time around. The homicidal streak that makes Wolverine such a fascinating character in the comics is also what's made him relatively problematic on the big screen, and its PG-13 neutering is part of what rendered Hugh Jackman's debut solo outing as the clawed superhero, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, such a disappointment for longtime fans. Director James Mangold had the benefit of lowered expectations when it came time to helm the follow-up, The Wolverine, but the end result -- which drew inspiration from a beloved ?80s comics story that sent the character to Japan -- earned more than a slow clap from critics; as Mick LaSalle enthused for the San Francisco Chronicle, "Somewhere along the line somebody must have had a crazy idea, that The Wolverine required a decent script, and shouldn't rely only on action, audience goodwill and the sight of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off. The team delivers with this one."

4. X-Men

82%

Years before Joss Whedon corralled a big ensemble cast for The Avengers, Bryan Singer pulled it off with X-Men -- and what's more, he managed to do it without the benefit of the major characters getting exposition-clearing standalone features first. In spite of all that -- and in spite of the inherent obstacles facing a film that wants to make audiences believe in a team of crimefighting superpowered mutants whose ranks include a telepath nicknamed Professor X (Patrick Stewart), an angry little man with retractable claws (Hugh Jackman), a woman who can control the weather with her mind (Halle Berry), and a guy with laser beams shooting out of his eyes (James Marsden) -- the summer of 2000 brought the classic band of Marvel heroes to the big screen in style, racking up almost $300 million in worldwide grosses and a healthy stack of positive reviews from critics like New York Magazine's Peter Rainer, who deemed it "A rarity: a comic-book movie with a satisfying cinematic design and protagonists you want to watch."

3. X2: X-Men United

87%

Given the long odds it faced just getting to the screen, let alone pulling off the transition so successfully, it seemed altogether unlikely that X-Men's inevitable sequel would be able to achieve the same standard, let alone exceed it ? but that's exactly what 2003's X2: X-Men United did, both at the box office, where it grossed over $400 million, and among critics, who praised it even more highly than its predecessor. This was, appropriately, accomplished two ways: One, the screenplay satisfied critics and longtime fans by tackling the comic's long-running sociological themes, most explicitly the fear of "outside" elements (in this case, sexy super-powered mutants) and how that fear is channeled by xenophobic authority figures; two, the sequel ramped up the original's gee-whiz factor by introducing characters like the teleporting, prehensile-tailed Nightcrawler ? and daring to tease at the Marvel title's Phoenix storyline, one of the most beloved, brain-bending plots in the publisher's history. The result was a film that remains both a fan favorite and a critical benchmark for writers like Variety's Todd McCarthy, who lauded X2 as "bigger and more ambitious in every respect, from its action and visceral qualities to its themes."

2. X-Men: First Class

87%

While Kevin Bacon is certainly no stranger to effects-driven films -- heck, he spent a substantial portion of 2000's Hollow Man as an invisible man -- he managed to avoid doing time in a comic book movie until 2011's X-Men: First Class, which rebooted the moribund franchise by taking the characters back to their beginnings as a freshly assembled team of mutant superheroes. The reason for their coming together? The threat posed by Sebastian Shaw (Bacon), an energy-absorbing sociopath (and former Nazi to boot) who plans on taking over the world. A major box-office hit as well as a perfect opportunity for Bacon to chew some scenery, it also resonated with critics like the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern, who wrote, "Preaching mutant pride with endearing fervor, X-Men: First Class proves to be a mutant in its own right -- a zestfully radical departure from the latter spawn of a sputtering franchise."

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past

92%

After restoring the franchise to firm footing with X-Men: First Class, director Matthew Vaughn handed the reins back to Bryan Singer, who returned to the series he'd started with such acclaim -- and took things a step further, drawing on one of the comics' most acclaimed storylines to deliver the X-Men movies' most epic entry while partially restoring some of what many fans felt had been lost or damaged during The Last Stand. Using an ambitious time travel plot to unite the First Class cast with their predecessors, Singer risked overstuffing X-Men: Days of Future Past, but he achieved the opposite effect; although most critics readily admitted that Singer's efforts required a level of filmgoer sophistication not often demanded by your average blockbuster, they were just as quick to argue that the results included some of the most purely entertaining stuff the franchise had to offer. Calling it "maximalist Hollywood filmmaking at its best," Slate's Dana Stevens enthused that Days of Future Past is "the kind of extravagant production that, like a Wagner opera, can sweep you up in a sense of mythic grandeur even as you struggle to follow what's going on."

In case you were wondering, here's how RT users rank the X-Men movies:

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past -- 95%
2. X-Men: First Class -- 87%
3. X2: X-Men United -- 84%
4. X-Men -- 83%
5. The Wolverine -- 70%
6. X-Men: The Last Stand -- 63%
7. X-Men Origins - Wolverine -- 60%


Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don't forget to check out X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Finally, for all you nostalgia buffs out there, here's the intro to X-Men: The Animated Series:

Comments