Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

With Days of Future Past, the newest installment in the X-Men franchise nearly upon us, I thought I’d take a look at the film that kicked things off fourteen years ago, along with all the sequels/offshoots that came after.

Truth be told, the A-list superheroes have never been my go-to for comic book inspired entertainment. While I enjoy Batman for the most part, I just get a bigger kick out of the B-list guys like the Punisher, Swamp Thing, and super old-school guys like the Phantom and the Shadow.

Caption contributed by Ed Harris

Worth checking out.

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Hell, probably the main reason I enjoy the current spate of Marvel films is that they’ve essentially taken second-tier heroes (face it, before 2008, who gave a crap about Iron Man or Thor outside of die-hard fans?) and characters who have lost their luster (Hulk and Captain America) and made them enjoyable.

Caption contributed by Ed Harris

Also fairly decent.

Much of Marvel’s success can be attributed to finding the right balance between telling a solid, serious story and remembering that at the end of the day, superhero movies should be fun. You can have the best, most expertly constructed dramatic script ever written, with the best cast and f/x that money can buy, but if you suck all the fun out of it, what’s the goddamn point?

And this isn’t even me taking a shot at the Dark Knight movies (well, maybe the third one) or Man of Steel; this is simply me speaking as a fan of blockbuster filmmaking who hates to see a perfectly enjoyable concept bogged down by a complete lack of humor. Christ, even something like Batman Returns, which is about as dark as a superhero film can get without going full-bore Chris Nolan on it, tries like hell to keep things somewhat amusing. It doesn’t always succeed, but it tries!

This brings us to our first movie. In a very real way, for all of its faults, X-Men paved the way for the superhero boom of the last fourteen years. It includes most of the tropes we’ve come to expect: an all-star cast, flashy f/x, and tons of action. Let’s see how it holds up.

 
Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?
X-Men (2000)

Things begin with a nice voiceover about mutation from Professor X (Patrick Stewart), and we quickly segue into the backstory portion of our show. Thankfully, director Bryan Singer keeps things moving at a decent clip here, which is a good thing, since we’ve got a buttload of characters to introduce in this movie’s 104-minute runtime. Actually, it’s even less than that, since the credits last about nine minutes, so we really have 96 minutes or so to work with. So it’s no coincidence that one of this movie’s main issues is having a definite rushed feeling.

First up is Magneto, played as an adult by Ian McKellen. His backstory means this may be the only summer blockbuster to ever begin in a Nazi death camp (at least until First Class). After young Mags pulls a fence open with his powers, we cut to present day Mississippi (or as the caption puts it, the “not-too-distant future”). We’re introduced to Marie (Anna Paquin) as she inadvertently puts her boyfriend in a coma by kissing him.

Marie will eventually become Rogue, and she has the power to absorb the life force/mutant powers of anyone she touches. So to sum up, in the first few minutes we’ve seen a Nazi death camp and maybe the worst date you could possibly have.

Rogue runs off to Canada, where she meets Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and after an attack from the ferocious Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), they’re rescued by Storm (Halle Berry) and Cyclops (James Marsden), and the actual plot of the movie gets rolling.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

While all this is happening, we’re introduced to a few more main players (the big problem with having a team movie this short is that there’s so little time for the actual story), namely: Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and the adult Magneto. They’re all at a congressional hearing where Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison) is proposing the Mutant Registration Act.

Said piece of legislation is the key plot point of the film, as well as the purpose of an upcoming international summit to be held at Ellis Island. Magneto plans to use a machine he’s built to induce mutations in regular humans at the summit, with the idea that making all the leaders of the world into mutants will somehow solve the problems between mutants and humans.

Wolverine and the others find out what Magneto is up to, and after Charles is put in a coma when Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) infiltrates his school and sabotages his mind-reading machine Cerebro, the climax begins. It’s a fairly solid, spectacular finale with some great action, but much like the rest of the movie, it feels a little too rushed.

Pros:

The cast is solid, as one would expect with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen leading their respective teams. Hugh Jackman makes for a fine Wolverine, James Marsden does well enough with the little he’s given as Cyclops, and Famke Janssen is good as Jean Grey. Bruce Davison is also pretty good as Sen. Kelly, but he ends up coming off as such a despicable piece of shit that his eventual death makes you sort of cheer, and I’m not sure that’s what the film was going for. I also enjoy Rebecca Romijn’s take on Mystique.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

The film has plenty of cool moments: The interplay between Wolverine and Cyclops has some enjoyable stuff during the climax (steel claws and a metal detector make for some fun laughs). And even with the bad joke at the end, when Storm comes up from an elevator shaft to kick Toad’s ass, it’s pretty damn great. Also, McKellen has a blast as Magneto, and you almost find yourself rooting for the bastard at points.

And with the relatively modest budget of $75 million, X-Men still manages to look top-notch.

Cons:

While the cast members mentioned above are just fine, there are some issues with the others. Halle Berry doesn’t really make much of an impression as Storm, Anna Paquin is just sort of there as Rogue (she’s actually the key to Magneto’s plan, but that sort of ends up making her more of a prop than a character), and Tyler Mane’s version of Sabretooth is really just dumb muscle, which is sort of disappointing when you look at how good Liev Schreiber is in the same role nine years later.

Like I said, the film seems way too compressed at times, with a bunch of characters that need intros, and as a result the main plot ends up coming off as sort of arbitrary.

As for the infamous one-liner when Storm offs Toad (Ray Park), I’m of two minds on it. On the one hand, considering the rest of the humor in the film works pretty well, one dud of a joke is hardly the worst thing in the world. On the other hand, a big superhero movie is probably not the best place to try out “non-humor humor”, and that joke is just plain bad.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

Final rating: 7.5/10

 
Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?
X2 (2003)

In the sequel, the team is fighting against evil government operative William Stryker (Brian Cox), who plans to steal Cerebro, the machine Professor X uses to find mutants, and use it to kill them instead. Magneto and Mystique are also back, and a good portion of the film revolves around the two forces working together to stop Stryker and find out the connection between Wolverine and the villain.

With a larger budget and a 134-minute running time, the second film is an improvement over the first in many ways, and in a few ways slightly worse.

Pros:

The film makes good use of its expanded scope, achieving a nice balance between the characters (though Cyclops still gets the short end of the stick) and making it seem like an actual team movie, which the first one ended up doing fairly well.

The action is even better, particularly with a raid on Xavier’s mansion by Stryker’s men which sees Wolverine get a chance to really let loose (in a PG-13 way, naturally), and also with a pretty good finale at the compound where Wolverine was essentially “created”.

Aside from the cast members I mentioned in the first film, the best actor here is Brian Cox as Stryker. Alan Cumming has a good first scene as Nightcrawler, but if you really look at it, he’s not here for any solid reason related to the rest of the film. It’s a fairly blatant bit of pandering towards the fan base, which is something the franchise tends to fall back on a lot.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

Cox, however, does a solid bit of acting as Stryker, and while he’s a little too evil to be believed, the actor does his job well. Though, I’m not sure why every time the man plays an American he sports a Southern accent.

McKellen also has some great bits, mainly his prison escape.

Cons:

While it’s true the film ramps everything up as far as the good stuff goes, the same can also be said for the stuff that just doesn’t work. The film is ridiculously heavy-handed at times, the worst bit being when Wolverine, Rogue, and Iceman/Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore), having escaped the raid on the mansion, hide out at Bobby’s house. His parents come home, and it’s here we get a cringe-inducing line where Bobby essentially “comes out” as a mutant to his folks.

Mama Drake: Have you ever tried not being a mutant?

Jesus, maybe it’s just the line reading the actress gives, but the only way this scene could be less subtle is if Wolverine suddenly broke into a song and dance routine. Hey, the guy playing Wolvy could do it, too.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

I get that the whole X-Men thing is an allegory for tolerance and stuff, but come on! If Bryan Singer eased up on bludgeoning us with the plot sledgehammer a bit, this would be my favorite of the series.

I’m also not 100% wild about Magneto deciding, just for shits and grins, to try and get Professor X to kill all the humans as opposed to the mutants as Stryker planned. It’s not out of character, and he’s certainly enough of a vindictive shithead to do it, but for some reason it just feels like a tacked-on bit of business to extend the finale a few more minutes.

Final rating: 8/10

 
Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

The third X-Men film is a huge step down from the first two. Running roughly the same time as the first one, it clumsily tries to tell two different stories based on notable comic storylines: one, a tale about a “cure” for mutants, and the other, a dark tale of Jean Grey’s resurrection as an evil, uncontrollable force.

Pros:

The film does have some good points amidst the general mess that is the screenplay. The action is solid as usual, with a nice final battle, and the spectacle of Magneto moving the Golden Gate Bridge is quite a showstopper. The cast is also solid enough, with Kelsey Grammer making for an enjoyable Beast. Ellen Page is also pretty good as Kitty Pryde.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

Cons:

There are a lot, so I’ll try to condense my thoughts down, hopefully with greater success than the script’s attempts to condense down the stories it’s trying to tell.

If we’re going to talk about the problems of this movie, there’s no better place to begin than with the script. While it’s entirely possible that the two storylines could have been combined into a compelling movie, the writers, apparently hampered by studio demands, ended up giving the darker storyline with Jean Grey short shrift. They only use it to set up the film, give Patrick Stewart a nice death scene (which of course doesn’t take), and apart from a few bits here and there, Jean is relegated to just standing and watching the final battle until it’s over, at which point she begins to destroy things until Wolverine kills her, in an admittedly effective scene.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

As for the cure portion of the script, it’s done in a rather haphazard, superficial manner, with neither side really coming off as anything more than a plot construct. This has the unfortunate effect of taking a rather good story idea and rendering it essentially pointless.

Another side effect of the muddled script is there are far too many characters clogging things up. Rogue is more useless than she was in the second movie, where at least she flew the plane to rescue the heroes at the end of the movie. Storm is given very little to do in spite of Halle Berry requesting exactly that, and Cyclops suffers the ultimate indignity, with only two short scenes and an off-screen death. This was due to the actor being cast in Superman Returns, as if we needed more reasons to dislike that movie.

The villains are also affected by this, with Mystique being taken out of the plot after getting hit with the cure, and Magneto coming off slightly less balanced than before. He was an asshole in the other two films, but here, it’s nowhere near as subtle. Vinnie Jones as the Juggernaut is also sort of wasted, though it is fun seeing him get his ass handed to him by a 5’1” girl built like a twig.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

At the end of the day, I can’t even blame director Brett Ratner for this. Sure, he wasn’t a fan of the comics, but to be frank, sometimes having a fan onboard only makes things worse. Ratner is really just a director for hire, though not an entirely incompetent one. His rep as a hack is not something I latch onto either, as I feel that term is grossly overused and a poor substitute for simply saying you don’t like his work.

Really, the blame has to be laid at the feet of the screenwriters, who bit off a hell of a lot more than they could chew, and ended up delivering a muddled mess of a story. It’s pretty to look at, but that’s about all.

Final rating: 6/10, because the f/x were good, and I’m a generous fella… and Ellen Page is cute.

 
Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

The first solo outing for Wolverine is really just a dumb, cheesy summer action movie. Wolverine’s origin is told here (I know, with that title, it comes as a huge shock), and it’s pretty much like every other superhero backstory: Less than ideal childhood, lots of angst, and an f/x budget that takes up half the film’s budget.

We follow our hero and his feral, sort of psychotic half-brother Victor (Liev Schreiber) through several wars, until they’re taken in by Major William Stryker (Danny Huston), who’s heading a special ops team full of mutants. After killing time with them for a while, Wolvy ditches them and makes a peaceful life for himself with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins).

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

Naturally, this lasts for about fifteen minutes until Victor comes looking for his brother, and eventually, Wolverine is injected with the metal that makes his bone claws into what we’re used to seeing. The rest of the film is Wolverine looking for revenge, not only against Victor, but also Stryker, who’s just using him as well as kidnapping other mutants.

Pros:

Believe it or not, there are some. The title sequence with Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting in different wars is cool. Ryan Reynolds is amusing in his small role as the future Deadpool. Some of the action scenes are pretty damn good, and if you leave your brain at the door and ignore the comics, it’s actually fairly entertaining in a guilty pleasure sort of way.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

I also sort of like Huston’s take on Stryker a little more than Brian Cox in the second film. It’s a little more layered and not as hysterically evil, though both performances are quite good. It also might be that given how “just sort of there” most of the performances are, Huston’s work is able to stand out from the pack.

Cons:

As with any guilty pleasure, whether it be a film or otherwise, the simple truth is that what we’re gleaning entertainment from here is essentially crap. The story is not that great, the performances, as I noted, are just sort of there, the last act is actually pretty stupid, and the end result is something quite disappointing. Not unwatchable, mind you. But very, very underwhelming.

Final rating: 6.5/10

 
Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?
X-Men: First Class (2011)

After the massive letdown that was the third movie, as well as the substandard Wolverine film, a decision was made to make the next X-Men movie something a little different. Set in the early Sixties, X-Men: First Class sports a clever script, a decent pace, and a high-caliber cast and special effects.

Pros:

First off, the script for this one is probably the best of the entire franchise. Inventive in the way it blends its story with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, it doesn’t strain itself trying to hammer home a message. Rather, it simply tells a good, entertaining comic book story, with a relatively serious tone that still remembers to have fun.

Performances are respectable across the board, with James McAvoy as Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and Kevin Bacon as main baddie Sebastian Shaw all delivering the goods.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

Cons:

Outside of maybe a little repetition that’s inevitable when doing an origin story in a series that already had one, there isn’t a hell of a lot I can really gripe about. At least, nothing major.

Final rating: 9/10

 
Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?
The Wolverine (2013)

In his second solo outing, Wolverine goes to Japan to pay his respects to a man he saved during World War II. Many mutant shenanigans and betrayals ensue. Not really too much depth to get into, really. Not for lack of trying, but anyway…

Pros:

The first ten minutes are pretty good. And also, um… Well, the day I saw this, I had two really good slices of New York-style pizza afterwards, so that’s a plus. One was buffalo chicken, which is just a brilliant thing to combine with pizza, which is already the perfect… Wait, what were we talking about again?

Oh, right, the movie! Actually, the film is somewhat better than the first Wolverine, mainly because the first one was such a washout. The story, based on a Chris Claremont/Frank Miller graphic novel, is pretty neat for the first third or so, with Wolverine being presented with a tempting offer of becoming mortal from a Japanese man he saved during the war.

It turns out to be something of a conspiracy, as the man Wolverine saved actually wants to take our hero’s regenerating abilities for himself in order to live longer, and is willing to do anything to get them, while Wolverine has to protect the man’s granddaughter Mariko from the Yakuza. The premise sets itself up nicely for some decent Wolverine action, and while we do get some, it’s not quite enough to make this a good action movie. The action is strong though, with a fun train fight and some other worthwhile bits here and there.

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

Cons:

While the first act works well, the rest of the film sort of drags. Even with a quick pace and a goodly amount of action, the film seems a little on the tired side, with some bad CGI in the finale as Wolverine takes on a cheesy mechanical version of the old Silver Samurai villain. Also, there’s a freaky snake lady mutant named Viper who’s really just here so that Wolverine’s sidekick Yukio has something to do during the finale (besides looking like a live-action anime character).

Franchise Evolution: Which X-Men movie is the best?

Final rating: 7/10

 

And that’s the X-Men series. As a whole, the franchise is something of a mixed bag, to put it kindly. The first is a good starter; the second film is solid when it’s not smashing you over the head with itself, and the third installment manages to be disappointingly superficial.

The two Wolverine movies are equally mixed bags, though I have to say both are acceptable time wasters. Does this mean that First Class is the best of the entire franchise? Well, not having Bryan Singer at the helm shoving a message down our throats helped, and even at 132 minutes, it goes by in a flash and doesn’t bash you over the head with allegory and symbolism.

So yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and say First Class is the best of the franchise. It’s more focused, generally more easygoing, and a hell of a lot of fun.

As for Days of Future Past? We’ll see. The trailers look spectacular, but then, that’s the point of them. Hopefully, it’s worth the seven bucks I plan to spend on it.

The final ranking:

  1. X-Men: First Class
  2. X2
  3. X-Men
  4. The Wolverine
  5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  6. X-Men: The Last Stand

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Tag: Franchise Evolution

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  • Murry Chang

    I just saw First Class for the first time a few weeks ago. My big problem with it was that it wasn’t really a coherent story. It hit all the right scenes and beats, but it was just one scene after another with no real organic connection between them. I watched the first ASM movie right after First Class and was struck with how much more connection each scene had with the pre and proceeding scenes in comparison to First Class.

    • RockyDmoney

      Wow. I couldnt disagree with you more. I thought each scene took you the next place pretty naturally and all the character choices felt organic and made sense in the context of the movie. Any scene in particular that felt jarring to you? could you elaborate?

      • Murry Chang

        The scene with Beast and Mystique stands out. I had just thought to myself “And now we need a one on one scene with the two freaky looking ones” and bam it happened. It felt like they were just hitting the needed scenes in the right order but it didn’t feel organic. I probably shouldn’t have used ‘coherent’ in my first post, because that wasn’t it, it was more by the numbers. It hit almost the exact same beats as the first one…then again that’s probably because of the oft discussed ‘New Hollywood Formula’ or whatever you want to call it.

        I don’t think it helped that it was a second X-Men origin story…or I guess third with the Wolverine one. I’d put off seeing it because of that, it’s getting tiring.

        I can say I’m looking forward to Days of Future Past, one of my favorite stories in any media!

        • RockyDmoney

          Are you talking about the scene when Beast had the “cure”?

          • Murry Chang

            Yeah I think it was that one.

        • I am also going to disagree with you. It fits together really well. I only have 3 complaints with those movies:
          1) Not enough time spent with Darwin so his death feels hollow as an old log.
          2) Numerous effects shots that look really cheap.
          3) Ultimately the “good guy” team is composed entirely of white heterosexual males, and the “bad guy” team has multiple women, minorities, and is lead by a genocide survivor. That ending really bungles the themes of diversity.

          • Murry Chang

            To each their own I guess!

  • Toby Clark

    My biggest problem with X2 is likewise Magneto attempting to become a mass murderer several hundred times worse than the Nazis, and it honestly leaves a worst taste in my mouth than anything in the lesser movies.

    • edharris1178

      Absolutely. I really don’t see why it couldn’t have ended with both sides doing sort of a “This won’t get to be a habit, we’re not working with you again” routine. You could do that and still have the ending with Jean sacrificing herself.

    • If you see an opportunity to wipe out your mortal enemy forever you take it. He was willing to be Ender Wiggins essentially.

  • Immortan Scott

    Good thing to know that I’m not the only one who hates The Last Stand the most.

    I also think the films are at their weakest when they’re pushing their messages, mainly because films about people with superhuman powers are a bad vehicle to promote gay rights.

  • RockyDmoney

    I’m really disheartened by the decision to not treat First Class as a reboot and start fresh. It was such a fun and great movie to a franchise that in my opinion had become tired and boring. Partly due to the fact that the prior movies were really Wolverine: featuring the Xmen.

    • Yeah. Inviting in comparisons to older films and tying yourself up with continuity is not smart. They effectively kill their ability to use a laundry list of good characters because it wouldn’t fit with the others… Though this next one has time travel shenanigans, so maybe all of that will be rendered moot.

  • Sisegexe

    I’ve always really enjoyed The Last Stand. It’s not a good movie by any
    means, but honestly I never thought the first two were anything more
    than highly enjoyable slices of mediocrity.

    I also liked First Class a lot, but god I wish it’d either been a clean reboot, or a less sloppy prequel (Hank looks human in his X2 cameo, Xavier and Magneto are an old married couple in X3 while Xavier is still ambulatory, etc. etc.) That being said I agree it’s the best of the bunch, and the one that comes closest to being a good _movie_, minus any “X-Men” or “superhero” or “comic book” qualifiers.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I think what frustrates me so much about Last Stand is, they mash two movies together and neither one works because of it. Why is the Phoenix story in there mashed with the mutant neutralizing storyline? I think characters like Kitty and Colossus are lost in the shuffle, as is Rogue. And then Cyclops is killed off because Marsden had the gall to go off and shoot another super hero movie! It’s just a mess, all of it.

      And because of that Ellen Page isn’t given a whole lot to do. Hell, they don’t even bother giving her a code name. Then again, Jean Grey never got one, either. :/

  • Muthsarah

    “You can have the best, most expertly constructed dramatic script ever written, with the best cast and f/x that money can buy, but if you suck all the fun out of it, what’s the goddamn point?”

    What movies were you thinking about when you typed this? Dark Knight was neither expertly-constructed nor not-fun. It was a solid movie, made great by a good ensemble highlighted by a single spectacular performance, that was willing to go a lil’ bit bigger than comparable films. Basically, a modern comic book movie stretched to an epic (and yes, it deserves that word more than “The Avengers” does, which is also good, but fluffy).

    “Cox, however, does a solid bit of acting as Stryker, and while he’s a little too evil to be believed, the actor does his job well. Though, I’m not sure why every time the man plays an American he sports a Southern accent.”

    I’ve heard that’s a fairly typical thing for English actors. Something about the Southern (probably Georgia) accent seems to be easier for them to do. Then again, I wouldn’t know a pure Georgian accent from a pretty-good impersonation of one.

    “Final rating: 6/10, because the f/x were good, and I’m a generous fella… and Ellen Page is cute.”

    And how!

    You are the most generous grader I’ve seen since I left kindergarten. What does it take to get less than a 6 from you? Out of the 20+ Bond films you’ve reviewed on your blog, I still haven’t seen anything lower.

    And, FWIW, X2 is a 6/10 for me, with First Class either a 7 or a 7.5. I like your rankings, but question your geek cred. You need to let the hate out sometimes.

    • conservative man

      My thoughts exactly,the Dark Knight haters have no idea what they are talking about when they bash that film. I enjoyed it and loved it so much I had to watch it again after the first viewing ! I disagree that Avengers was fluff, I got everything out of it I wanted to see and like Dark Knight I had to watch it too a seconed time as well, it was great ! As for the X-men films I personally felt they were good the first time I saw them ( even the 3rd film ) but now that we have had films like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Avengers the X-men movies seem rather bland and boring when you compare them both. Doesn’t mean I don’t like X-men but when I saw first class there was nothing about it that made me want to watch it a second time, hopefully this new X-men movie will breathe new life into the franchise and give us marvel fans what we have been wanting all this time !

    • edharris1178

      I was actually thinking of just a general “better movie” with that note rather than The Dark Knight. As for my grading, I tend to be fairly lenient unless a movie really, really pisses me off in some way. I just find it hard to get super pissed about a movie. Thanks.

    • DamonD

      “…by a single spectacular performance…”

      I hope you meant Eckhart. It’s such a disappointment that his performance is still so overshadowed because of Ledger.

      • Muthsarah

        No, I wasn’t, and you know I wasn’t. But Eckhart was still the second-best in the film. Oldman…has been Oldmanier (I don’t think it’s a fitting role for him, but he’s never bad), and Bale…still doesn’t work as Batman, but is an OK Wayne. And Caine…is just doing what he’s been doing since forever; not up there with The Quiet American or anything else recent.

        Good ensemble nonetheless, as unlike with other superhero movies *frantically points upwards*, everyone gets enough of the spotlight. The single-biggest problem with superhero films, especially sequels, is too many characters being juggled at one, so I think it’s remarkable that TDK dodged this one very sticky wicket.

    • You are the most generous grader I’ve seen since I left kindergarten.

      Try looking at some of the movies recapped on this site. Maybe your baseline isn’t the same as Ed’s.

    • Cameron Vale

      Unless a movie inflicts some degree of agony, I don’t see why it shouldn’t score 5 or higher.

      • Muthsarah

        That leaves room for more shades of bad than I would want to consider. Even a competent but thoroughly boring movie would net a 3 (movies are supposed to be fun, if it’s not fun for you, then it wasn’t a good viewing experience, so movie fail). 5 or 6 should be reserved for an average, “typical” movie – not good, not bad, just exactly what you were expecting and nothing more. Nothing that merits either a re-watch, or traumatic flashbacks.

        But whatever. To each their own, of course, I just don’t see the advantage to grading movies like middle school book reports. 7/10 (70%) should be a good rating, but you know it’s exactly the kind of grade that would lead to broad panic and scurrilous accusations. If anything below 8/10 indicates that something is seriously flawed….then there’s a huge field of badness and all the good stuff are crammed together with what few numbers remain.

  • DamonD

    Hah, since I’d actually only seen the original trilogy and missed out on the other three, and with DOFP coming out, I had actually done this run of films just this month myself. Saw The Wolverine to finish last night!

    And…hey, I think you nailed it very well here. I’d agree on all counts, maybe First Class down a notch or two for so little quibbles but otherwise I’m in agreement on the pros and cons. I seem to have mellowed on Last Stand from the last time I saw it.

    The first X-Men film was a really important one in terms of superhero movies. I see it, Superman ’78, Batman ’89 and Spiderman ’02 as the building blocks for things to come.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    “maybe the worst date you could possibly have.” At least that guy got a kiss. I usually get glared at for a long period of time followed by being told what’s wrong with me for a long period of time with glaring, which is like getting your life drained out but slower.
    That said the parts in First Class that worked really worked but the parts that didn’t work really didn’t work.

  • Endorenna

    My favorites were also First Class and X2…and I actually rate the movies in the same order you do. It feels weird to completely agree with a ranking article, especially one with several movies to put in an order. 😮 Thanks so much for the article! Made a nice review before Days of Future Past. 🙂

  • MattFromGermany

    Recently rewatched X-Men 3, and dammit, was I pissed off by the Rogue plotline.

    Rogue is incapable of physically touching another human being without harming the other person. Unable to kiss a person she loves. That obviously sucks, but for some reason the film makers boiled it down to “unable to have sex and therefore worrying that her boyfriend might leave her because of it”. The movie could have made it clear that Rogue’s decision to get the cure were because of *her* desire for physicality, but it muddied the waters a lot with setting up Kitty Pride as a potential rival, and going from “I want to take the cure because I want to be able to touch people” to “you’re a man, of course all you are thinking about is sex” in a matter of seconds.

    The usual worries by her elders that she shouldn’t “change who she is to please her boyfriend” really make it look as if the writers were unable to conceive of Rogue (or possibly any woman) herself genuinely wanting to have sex (and kiss and cuddle and be able to physically comfort and be comforted, and maybe one day have children, which are all very basic human needs and desires).

    Storm telling her that “there is nothing wrong with her” is – well, it’s actually par for the course for the way she behaves in this movie, but considering all the restrictions Rogue faces in human interaction, it’s a shockingly ignorant thing to say.

    And even if it was “only” all about sex: We’ve got lots of movies about men making efforts to be able to have sex, wouldn’t it be good to see a movie about a woman with an inability to have sex overcoming this inability?

    • Daniel B

      Good points Matt. Hollywood thinks they are still progressive yet still is unable to treat sexuality in an egalitarian manner. Of course if it were a man then he would have either been condemned as a sleaze / perv / etc for wanting to get the cure partially so he could have sex, or it would have been treated like sex itself would be the only possible reason for a man to want the cure (as if men have no care about any other form of touching another person whatsoever) so it’s kind of BS either way….

  • SLIM

    Because Im too cheap too drag my behind to theaters now I absolutly love X-2 that was my favorite.
    X-3 was a tremendous Letdown. Rouge Angel Cyclops Psyloke made cameos in the film.In that movie Storm had. Tremedous potential to make that movie hers and Wolverines I hated that seemed overlooked by Bret Ratner you were so shocked at the Proffesers Death .Brett Ratneer. In a Strange way X3 made me happy I finnally saw first hand Halle could make that role hers But people have had me thinking she and Wolverine should hookup they couldve made that baby his.But Jeans death was bullsh** they shouldve stayed away From the phoenix saga if they werent going to do it correctly theres so many characters like Mm And Juggernaut who just didnt fit.

  • Daniel B

    Joss Whedon was responsible for both the best and worst lines of the first XMen – “the same thing that happens to everyone else” and “you’re a dick”. Can’t believe they all missed the chance to just have Storm say “It croaks.” instead.

    Something else that Cinema Sins actually pointed out that really fails about the whole “mutants = gays” thing is the whole “it’s so horrible to be cursed with these mutant abilities” thing that some of the characters angst over, especially when Mystique acts like her natural form makes her ugly and unattractive.

    • Timothy Byrne

      I will say till my dying day that the “same thing that happens to everyone else” line could have worked if directed / acted differently. Imagine the following :
      1. Storm says the set up question “Toad…hit by lightning?”
      2. Toad is zapped by the lightning – is lying helpless / injured dying.
      3. Storm walks / flies offscreen. As she is about to leave, she turns back, pauses and with an arched eyebrow and some tone in her voice (instead of Berry’s flat monotone) says “The same thing that happens to everyone else”.

      • MrP

        She wouldn’t even have to look back. Just toss it out there as she turns away.