X-Men impacted Hollywood forever in the year 2000. While it wasn’t the first live-action adaptation of a Marvel Comic (titles like Howard The Duck and Blade had already done so), it was the first to be made as an all-audiences action blockbuster with a tentpole budget, and its success ushered in the superhero cinematic age that we are still living in today. Over the span of 20 years, sequels and spin-offs have unquestionably made it one of the most influential movie franchises ever.
As a result of the Disney-Fox merger, the canon came to an end in 2020, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will soon feature its own version of the various mutant characters – but as a whole, the X-Men franchise will always hold a special place in the hearts of comic book fans, and will be discovered and rewatched time and time again. But how can you see all 13 films in the series? To answer that question, we’ve put together this guide.
If You’ve Never Seen An X-Men Film
The X-Men canon undoubtedly grew convoluted over the course of two decades. With that in mind, your best chance if you’ve never seen any of them and want to be inducted is to watch them in the sequence they were released. You’ll do a lot of time travel, but it’s the greatest way to get to know the universe and the main characters.
Release Order of the X-Men Films
A typical trilogy was constructed after the release of X-Men in 2000, but this was followed by a succession of spin-offs and prequels, as well as chronology adjustments, which completely reshaped the franchise’s profile. The films in the canon are listed in chronological order below:
- X-Men (2000)
- United X-Men 2 (2003)
- Last Stand of the X-Men (2006)
- Wolverine, X-Men Origins (2009)
- First Class of the X-Men (2011)
- Wolverine is a fictional character created by Marvel Comics (2013)
- Days Of Future Past is a film about mutants from the future (2014)
- Deadpool is a fictional character who appears in the Marvel Comic (2016)
- Apocalypse of the X-Men (2016)
- Logan (2017)
- Deadpool 2 is a sequel to the popular comic book series Deadpool (2018)
- Dark Phoenix is the sequel of X-Men: First Class (2019)
- The New Mutants are a group of mutants who have recently emerged from hiding (2020)
In chronological order, below are the X-Men movies.
The X-Men films cover a lot of ground historically, from escapades in the second part of the twentieth century to images of a dismal future. With this in mind, reorganizing titles to fit a linear timeframe produces a significantly different arrangement than the release date order. It all begins with a voyage back in time to the happiest of decades…
First Class of the X-Men (Set In 1962)
X-Men: Originally Class takes place in 1962, as part of the franchise’s quest to illustrate how Professor X and Magneto first met. Not only does the film include the first appearance of the titular team in the canon, but it also makes significant use of major historical events, particularly the Cuban Missile Crisis (which is retconned with mutants and mind-control heavily influencing how things play out).
Wolverine, X-Men Origins (Set In 1979)
While X-Men Origins: Wolverine begins in 1845 with a young Wolverine, the majority of the action takes place in 1979, with James Howlett a.k.a. Logan a.k.a. Wolverine. Wolverine’s past is catching up with him, particularly his time as a member of Team X, a post-Vietnam War covert ops squad. He undergoes the infamous surgery of grafting the rare metal adamantium to his skeleton, after which he is shot in the head and loses all recollection of his past.
Apocalypse of the X-Men (Set In 1983)
This is where things get a little complex because the X-Men franchise includes two canon timelines: pre-Days of Future Past and post-Days of Future Past (so named because the chronology breaks in X-Men: Days of Future Past). X-Men: Apocalypse is a “post” title, unlike X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but for the purpose of simplicity, we’ll focus on the fact that the action in the film is mostly set in 1983. The first mutant, the titular Apocalypse, is released from decades of enslavement during this year in the chronology and attempts to take over the world after enlisting the help of four powerful “Horsemen.”
Dark Phoenix is the sequel of X-Men: First Class. (Set In 1992)
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse, and it follows up nine years later with the same cast of characters (though don’t anticipate a lot of 1990s style).
(Set In The “Not Too Distant Future”) X-Men
The first film in the X-Men franchise, X-Men, is notoriously ambiguous concerning its setting. Following a prologue set during the Holocaust, the modern action begins with a chyron identifying the location as the “not too distant future” — the plot involving a memory-wiped Wolverine meeting and ingratiating himself with Professor X’s mutant squad.
United X-Men 2 (Set in the “Not So Far Future”)
X2: X-Men United, like its immediate predecessor, lacks a specific date as a setting, but given the film’s position in the middle of a chronological trilogy, it’s very easy to locate in the timeline.
(Set In The “Not Too Distant Future”) X-Men: The Last Stand
After Jean Grey sacrifices herself to save the team in X2: X-Men United, she is resurrected and endowed with the Phoenix Force in X-Men: The Last Stand (technically for the first time given the film’s place as a pre-Days of Future Past title).
(Set In The “Not Too Distant Future”) The Wolverine
After the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan isolates himself from not just the X-Men, but also civilization, and The Wolverine begins with Logan separating himself from not only the X-Men but also society — albeit there’s still no clear indication of the year.