Nearly a decade before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just a twinkle in Nick Fury’s one good eye, another superhero universe launched and, some missteps aside, helped pave the way for the comic-book movie paradise we live in now. This week, with Dark Phoenix, it all comes to an end, as Fox’s long-running X-Men franchise is surrendered into the hands of the Walt Disney Company. The eventual release of New Mutants aside, the X-Men are expected to one day be absorbed into the Marvel Studios machine, rebooted and retooled to fit into a world that also includes Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Eternals. For some of us, though, that initial thrill of finally seeing Cyclops, Wolverine, and Professor Xavier on the big screen will never really go away, so let’s celebrate the legacy they leave behind by ranking every X-Men movie, including Dark Phoenix , from worst to best.
12. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Amazon)
Yes, the first Wolverine movie is somehow still as bad as its reputation, despite retaining just enough bonkers energy to make it at least a little entertaining. What stands out about the film a decade after its release, though, is not just how bad it is. It’s how bad it is in light of just how much potential there was for a Wolverine origin story to do well. The most popular X-Men character of all time, with a backstory stretching through a hefty chunk of history and a past full of angst, should have been a pitch right over the plate. Instead, we got a scattershot team-up movie that seemed to lean into every possible worst instinct.
11. X-Men: Apocalypse (Amazon)
Apocalypse is the film that finally, nearly two decades after the animated series, put the mutants in a mall. Unfortunately, it feels like that’s almost the only thing the film did right. Oscar Isaac could have been a monumental, scenery-chewing supervillain, but instead, he’s reduced to a guy who basically plugs himself into a television and figures out that humans are bad because they like weapons. Or something. What could have been a superheroic deconstruction of the Reagan era was instead a movie that had another cool Quicksilver sequence, and not much else.