The X-Men movie franchise is a cinematic marvel that has captivated audiences for over two decades. With its intricate storytelling, compelling characters, and groundbreaking visual effects, it has carved out a unique space in superhero films. The series not only entertains but also delves into complex themes like identity, discrimination, and the ethics of power, making it a standout in the genre. This article will tell you how to watch the X-Men movies in order.
X-Men Movies in Order: Release Date Order
1. X-Men (2000)
The world of “X-Men” is one where mutants, humans with special abilities, exist alongside regular humans. The film introduces us to two opposing groups of mutants: the X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier, and the Brotherhood, led by Magneto. Xavier’s school serves as a haven for young mutants, teaching them to control their powers. Among the students are Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm.
Marie, also known as Rogue, is a young mutant who runs away from home after discovering her dangerous power. She meets Logan, known as Wolverine, and both are soon brought to Xavier’s school. Meanwhile, Magneto has a plan that involves Rogue’s unique ability to absorb other mutants’ powers.
Senator Robert Kelly is pushing for a “Mutant Registration Act,” fueling the public’s fear of mutants. Magneto kidnaps the senator to use him in an experiment aiming to turn humans into mutants. Rogue is also abducted for this purpose, as her power can activate Magneto’s machine without harming him.
Xavier uses a machine called Cerebro to locate mutants. When Rogue runs away from the school, Xavier uses Cerebro to find her. However, the machine is sabotaged by Mystique, Magneto’s shape-shifting ally. Despite this setback, the X-Men locate Rogue and set out to rescue her.
Magneto’s plan culminates at the Statue of Liberty, where he intends to use his machine on world leaders attending a UN summit. The X-Men confront Magneto and his team, leading to a showdown. Magneto is eventually defeated, and his device is destroyed before it can affect the summit attendees.
Rogue is saved by Wolverine, who transfers some of his healing ability to her. Magneto is arrested, but the struggle between humans and mutants is far from over. Xavier and Magneto continue to represent the contrasting paths that mutants can take: coexistence or conflict.
The film closes with Xavier sending Wolverine to a military base to learn more about his past, setting the stage for future installments in the series.
2. X2: X-Men United (2003)
The film starts with Nightcrawler, a new mutant, attempting to assassinate the President of the United States. This act intensifies the human-mutant conflict, leading Colonel William Stryker to manipulate the government into launching an attack on Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Stryker has a personal vendetta against mutants, and his plan involves using Professor Xavier’s mutant-locating machine, Cerebro, to exterminate all mutants.
Wolverine returns to the school and finds it under attack. He helps the remaining students escape but cannot prevent the capture of several key X-Men, including Cyclops and Professor Xavier. Jean Grey and Storm team up with Wolverine to rescue their friends, and they also form an uneasy alliance with Magneto and Mystique, who have escaped from imprisonment.
The group discovers Stryker’s underground base, where he has been experimenting on mutants. They also find out that Stryker was the one who grafted adamantium onto Wolverine’s skeleton. Stryker’s plan is revealed: he wants to use Xavier, under the influence of a mind-controlling serum, to power Cerebro and kill all mutants.
A battle ensues in the underground facility. Magneto and Mystique manage to reprogram Cerebro to target humans instead. Jean Grey uses her powers to reverse the effects, but it takes a toll on her. The X-Men confront Stryker, who meets his end when his helicopter crashes.
The President is about to make a televised address, blaming mutants for recent events. Professor Xavier uses his powers to freeze time and delivers evidence of Stryker’s crimes, convincing the President to reconsider his stance on mutants.
The film closes with a hint of the Phoenix Saga, as Jean Grey’s voiceover speaks of evolution and rebirth, setting the stage for the next installment.
3. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The film kicks off with a cure for the mutant gene, which creates a divide among the X-Men. While some see it as a chance for normalcy, others view it as an affront to their identity. The government supports the cure, leading to heightened tensions.
Jean Grey returns as the Phoenix, a darker, uncontrollable version of herself. Her powers are off the charts, and even her love, Wolverine, struggles to reach her. The Phoenix joins Magneto’s Brotherhood, escalating the conflict.
Magneto, ever the militant, sees the cure as a weapon. He amasses an army to destroy it, leading to a showdown on Alcatraz Island. The X-Men must choose sides, knowing the stakes are higher than ever.
Wolverine is torn between his love for Jean and his duty to the X-Men. In a heartbreaking moment, he’s forced to kill Jean to save humanity. The cure is deployed, stripping Magneto of his powers, but it’s a bittersweet victory.
In the aftermath, the cure proves to be temporary. Magneto regains some of his abilities, hinting at future conflicts. Meanwhile, Professor X, presumed dead, is revealed to be alive in a post-credits scene, setting the stage for the next chapter.
4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
The film kicks off in 1845 when young James Howlett witnesses his father’s murder and discovers his bone claws. He and his half-brother Victor Creed flee, and the two fight in various wars due to their regenerative abilities. Their violent tendencies escalate, especially Victor’s, leading them to join Major William Stryker’s Team X.
James, now Logan, leaves the team due to their brutal methods. He becomes a lumberjack and falls in love with Kayla Silverfox. Victor kills Kayla, prompting Logan to seek revenge. Stryker offers to bond Logan’s skeleton with adamantium, making him nearly indestructible. Logan agrees but escapes when he learns Stryker plans to erase his memory.
Logan finds refuge with an elderly couple but is pursued by Stryker’s men, leading to their deaths. Logan vows to take down Stryker and learns from former teammates that Stryker is capturing young mutants. He also discovers Victor is working for Stryker. Logan confronts Stryker and Victor at Three Mile Island, where he learns Kayla is alive but is manipulated by Stryker.
Logan frees the captured mutants and battles Weapon XI, a composite mutant created by Stryker. With Victor’s help, Logan defeats Weapon XI but loses his memory due to being shot with adamantium bullets by Stryker. Kayla uses her powers to make Stryker walk away, and she dies from her injuries. Logan has no memories, setting the stage for future encounters with the X-Men.
5. X-Men: First Class (2011)
The film takes us back to the origins of the X-Men, focusing on the friendship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, who later becomes Magneto. Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the movie introduces us to a younger, more idealistic Xavier and a vengeful Erik, hunting down Nazis.
Charles Xavier, a telepath, and Erik Lehnsherr, a metal manipulator, cross paths while trying to stop Sebastian Shaw, a villain who can absorb energy. Shaw is hell-bent on starting World War III to ensure mutant supremacy. Xavier and Lehnsherr team up with the CIA and other young mutants to form the first class of X-Men.
The team includes Mystique, Beast, Havok, and Banshee. They train at Xavier’s mansion, learning to control their powers and embrace their identities. Mystique, however, struggles with her appearance and starts to question where she belongs.
The climax unfolds at the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the X-Men must stop Shaw from triggering a nuclear war. Erik kills Shaw but adopts his philosophy, believing that mutants should rule. This ideological split led to the formation of the Brotherhood of Mutants, with Magneto at the helm.
Erik and Charles part ways, setting the stage for the lifelong conflict between them. Charles is paralyzed in the battle, leading him to use a wheelchair. The film closes with Magneto breaking Emma Frost out of prison, signaling the rise of the Brotherhood.
6. The Wolverine (2013)
The Wolverine takes us to Japan, where Logan, also known as Wolverine, is summoned by an old acquaintance, Yashida. Yashida is dying and wants to repay Logan for saving his life during World War II. He offers to transfer Logan’s healing abilities to himself, effectively making Logan mortal and allowing Yashida to live.
Logan declines the offer but soon finds himself embroiled in a complex family drama. Yashida dies, and his granddaughter Mariko becomes the target of the Yakuza and other forces. Logan steps in to protect her, even as he grapples with his vulnerabilities; his healing powers mysteriously fail him.
Throughout the movie, Logan confronts his past, morality, and sense of duty. He battles formidable foes, including a venomous mutant named Viper and a giant adamantium samurai. These encounters force him to question the very nature of his existence and what it means to be immortal.
The film delves deep into Logan’s character, exploring themes of mortality, love, and honor. It’s not just about flashy action scenes; it’s a journey into the soul of one of the most complex characters in the X-Men universe.
Ultimately, Logan discovers that Yashida faked his death to capture him and steal his powers. After a fierce battle, Logan manages to defeat Yashida, who has transformed into the Silver Samurai. Mariko takes over her grandfather’s company, and Logan returns to his life, forever changed but still the Wolverine.
7. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
The film is a blend of the original X-Men trilogy and the prequel series, primarily focusing on time travel to prevent a catastrophic future. In a dystopian 2023, mutants are hunted down by Sentinels, advanced robots programmed to exterminate them. A small group of X-Men, led by Professor X and Magneto, devise a plan to send Wolverine’s consciousness back to 1973. Their goal is to prevent Mystique from assassinating Dr. Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels, an event that triggers anti-mutant sentiment and the Sentinel program.
Wolverine wakes up in 1973 and seeks out the younger versions of Professor X and Magneto. He finds Charles Xavier disillusioned and struggling while Erik Lehnsherr is imprisoned in the Pentagon. With the help of Quicksilver, they break Magneto out. The trio then set out to find Mystique, who is already on her mission to kill Trask.
They intercept Mystique at the Paris Peace Accords, but not without complications. Magneto tries to kill Mystique to ensure she can’t ever assassinate Trask, but she escapes. This act further divides Magneto and Professor X, complicating their mission.
Magneto decides to take matters into his own hands. He takes control of the Sentinels during their public unveiling in Washington, D.C., turning them against humanity. This forces the X-Men to stop not just the Sentinels but one of their own.
In the future, the X-Men are under siege as they await the outcome of Wolverine’s mission. Time is running out, and they make their last stand against the Sentinels. Back in 1973, Mystique, disguised as President Nixon, prevents Magneto’s plan and spares Trask’s life but exposes the existence of mutants to the world.
Wolverine’s consciousness returns to the future, which has been altered for the better. The Sentinels program is dismantled, and many of the X-Men who had died are now alive. However, Wolverine realizes that only he remembers the dystopian past, leaving him to ponder the cost of their actions.
8. Deadpool (2016)
Wade Wilson, a former special forces operative, becomes a mercenary. He falls in love with Vanessa, but their happiness is short-lived. Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, shattering their dreams.
Desperate for a cure, Wade agrees to undergo an experimental procedure led by Ajax, who promises to cure him. The procedure leaves him disfigured but also gives him superhuman abilities, including rapid healing. However, Ajax intends to turn Wade into a slave and sell him.
Wade escapes but is devastated by his appearance. He adopts the alter ego “Deadpool” and wears a red suit to hide his disfigurement. His main goal is to find Ajax and force him to reverse the procedure.
Deadpool teams up with X-Men members Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. They confront Ajax, leading to a violent showdown. During the battle, Ajax reveals no cure for Wade’s condition.
Despite this, Deadpool kills Ajax in a fit of rage. He returns to Vanessa, who accepts him despite his appearance. The film closes with Deadpool breaking the fourth wall, acknowledging the audience, and teasing a sequel.
9. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
In “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the world faces a dire threat from En Sabah Nur, also known as Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he’s disillusioned with the modern world and aims to cleanse it. He recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto, to bring about an apocalypse. Meanwhile, Raven and Professor X lead a new generation of X-Men to stop him and save humanity.
Apocalypse plans to transfer his consciousness into Charles Xavier’s body, thereby gaining the power to control every mind on Earth. He enhances the abilities of his four horsemen—Storm, Psylocke, Angel, and Magneto—to serve his destructive agenda. The X-Men, old and new, come together to stop Apocalypse’s plans. Jean Grey taps into her full Phoenix Force power, Magneto switches sides, and together, they manage to defeat Apocalypse.
Erik Lensherr, who had been living a quiet life in Poland, is drawn back into the conflict when his family is killed. He initially joins Apocalypse but eventually turns against him, realizing his true allegiance lies with the X-Men. Raven, also known as Mystique, has become a symbol of hope for mutants and plays a crucial role in rallying the X-Men.
The younger generation of X-Men, including Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler, come into their own during the battle. They’re not just students anymore; they’re the new X-Men, ready to take on future challenges. By the end of the film, the X-Men’s ranks have grown, and they’re more united than ever, prepared for whatever threats may come their way.
10. Logan (2017)
In a bleak future, Logan, also known as Wolverine, is a shadow of his former self. He’s aging, his healing powers are waning, and he’s working as a limo driver near the Mexican border. He’s also caring for an ailing Charles Xavier, who’s suffering from a degenerative brain disease that makes his telepathic abilities unstable.
Logan’s life takes a turn when a woman named Gabriela seeks his help to protect a young girl named Laura. Gabriela is killed, but not before revealing that Laura is a mutant, created in a lab to be a weapon, and she possesses abilities similar to Logan’s.
Laura is pursued by a paramilitary organization led by Donald Pierce, who wants to capture her and other young mutants for nefarious purposes. Logan, Charles, and Laura embark on a journey to a supposed safe haven for mutants called “Eden,” based on old X-Men comic books.
Throughout their journey, the trio faces numerous challenges and enemies. Charles has a seizure that harms people around him, but they manage to escape. They also meet a family and briefly experience a semblance of normal life, which ends in tragedy as the family is killed and Charles is fatally stabbed.
Logan and Laura eventually reach Eden, where they find other young mutants. However, they are soon attacked by Pierce and his forces, including a clone of Logan named X-24. A brutal fight ensues, during which Logan sacrifices himself to save the children.
Laura and the other young mutants manage to cross the border to safety. Laura turns the cross, marking Logan’s grave on its side to form an “X,” signifying the end of an era and the beginning of another for the remaining mutants.
11. Deadpool 2 (2018)
Wade Wilson, better known as Deadpool, is living a mercenary life and celebrating his anniversary with his girlfriend, Vanessa. Tragedy strikes when he fails to kill a target, who later kills Vanessa. Devastated, Wade attempts suicide but is saved by Colossus and taken to the X-Mansion.
Wade joins the X-Men on a mission to calm a young mutant, Russell, who has been abused at an orphanage. The mission goes south, and both are arrested and sent to a mutant prison called the “Ice Box,” where their powers are suppressed. Wade’s cancer returns due to the suppression.
Cable, a cybernetic soldier from the future, breaks into the prison to kill Russell, who will become a murderer in the future. A fight ensues, and Wade and Cable are forced out of the prison. Wade decides to protect Russell, inspired by visions of Vanessa.
Wade forms a team called X-Force to rescue Russell from a prison convoy. The mission is a disaster, with most team members dying, but Wade and Domino manage to reach Russell. They find out Russell has allied himself with the Juggernaut, and they plan to kill the abusive orphanage headmaster.
Cable offers to team up with Wade and Domino to prevent Russell’s first murder, which will set him on a dark path. They confront Russell and Juggernaut at the orphanage. Colossus arrives to help, and a chaotic battle unfolds.
Wade wears a power-suppressing collar and sacrifices himself to save Russell, changing the boy’s future. Cable uses his last time-travel charge to save Wade by placing Vanessa’s token in front of his heart, stopping the bullet.
Russell’s future is changed, and he doesn’t become a murderer. Cable decides to stay in the present to ensure a better future. Vanessa’s token saves Wade, and they both survive. The headmaster is killed, but not by Russell, ensuring a better future for all.
12. Dark Phoenix (2019)
Jean Grey, a member of the X-Men, is exposed to a mysterious cosmic force during a rescue mission in space. This force amplifies her powers but also makes her emotionally unstable. The X-Men struggle to contain her newfound abilities, and Jean’s transformation into the Dark Phoenix begins.
Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-Men, grapples with the ethical dilemma of using Jean for the greater good. Meanwhile, an alien shapeshifter named Vuk seeks to harness Jean’s powers for her agenda. The X-Men are torn between saving their friend and preventing a cosmic catastrophe.
As tensions rise, Mystique, a key member of the X-Men, is killed by Jean. This event fractures the team and leads to a showdown between Jean and her former allies. Cyclops, Storm, and Nightcrawler are conflicted about fighting someone they consider family.
Jean realizes the full extent of her powers and the potential harm they can cause. She makes a sacrificial choice to protect her friends and the world. Jean uses her powers to defeat Vuk and her alien forces, but in the process, she disintegrates, leaving a trail of cosmic energy in the sky.
13. The New Mutants (2020)
The New Mutants centers on five young mutants held in a secret facility against their will. They’re not yet heroes but patients. Each one is dealing with trauma and the discovery of their own unique abilities. Dani Moonstar, Rahne Sinclair, Illyana Rasputin, Sam Guthrie, and Roberto da Costa are the main characters, and they’re all struggling to understand their powers while facing their inner fears and past traumas.
Dr. Cecilia Reyes is in charge of the facility. She claims to be helping the mutants learn to control their abilities so that they can rejoin society. However, it becomes clear that her intentions are far from benevolent. The facility itself is eerie, with a history that suggests something more sinister at play.
As the young mutants explore their surroundings, they start to experience horrifying visions. These visions manifest their deepest fears, brought to life by the facility. It’s not just a place to contain mutants; it’s designed to test them in the cruelest ways possible.
Dani’s powers are central to the plot. She has the ability to create illusions based on a person’s fears or desires. Unbeknownst to her, her powers are causing the terrifying visions tormenting the group. Once she realizes this, the group works together to gain control over their abilities.
The climax involves a battle against Dr. Reyes and the evil force controlling the facility. The young mutants have to use their powers collaboratively to overcome these obstacles. In doing so, they not only gain control over their abilities but also confront and start healing from their past traumas.
X-Men Movies in Order: Chronological Order
- X-Men: First Class
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix
- X-Men (2000)
- X2: X-Men United
- X-Men: The Last Stand
- The Wolverine
- The New Mutants
- Deadpool 2
The X-Men franchise has captivated audiences with its compelling characters and intricate storylines for over two decades. Its success lies in its ability to evolve while staying true to its core themes. The future promises even more captivating tales and characters in this iconic series.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.