For the past 20 years, I’ve been a huge fan of the X-Men movie franchise. Ever since the original X-Men movie released in 2000, I’ve watched all the movies multiple times (including 2020’s The New Mutants.) But in all that time, I’ve never had a firm grasp on the timeline / viewing order. Until now.
There have been a total of 13 movies from the X-Men universe. This including three and a half original character movies, four movies with the younger cast, three stand-alone Wolverine movies, two (so far) Deadpool films, and one New Mutants. Aside from the possibility of another Deadpool, New Mutants will probably be the last X-Men movie from FOX Studios before Marvel merges The X-Men into the MCU (which has already started with WandaVision.)
Full disclosure: I’m not a comic fan, but I am a comic-book movie fan. I have zero familiarity with the X-Men comics. Or any comics for that matter, unless you count Richie Rich, which I read a few times as a kid. I don’t think I’ve ever held a Marvel or DC comic in my hand. So, for me, I watch the movies and let them stand or fall on their own. The source material never mattered to me. What does matter is whether I consider the movie good or not. Keep this in mind and take everything I say here with a grain of salt. You know my bias.
There are a lot of opinions about the viewing order of the X-Men movie franchise, and I’ve reviewed a lot of them. The filmmakers kept the years in which most of the movies were set deliberately vague, and many deal with both the past and the “not too distant future”. On top of that, some movies stand apart from the timeline and others erase previous timelines, making the stories from earlier releases (but later in the timeline) non-existent. None of this negates previous (or later) stories as each happens in its own alternate timeline. The stories happened before they didn’t.
Man, I love time travel!
There are several ways you can watch the X-Men movies. I’ll run through a couple of viewing order options and end with my ultimate viewing order.
X-Men Movie Viewing Order #1: By Release Date
This is the most obvious and, honestly the way most of us have watched them if we’ve been a fan since the beginning. This is a perfectly acceptable viewing order, though probably not the most fun.
- X-Men (2000)
- X2: X-Men United (2003)
- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
- X-Men: First Class (2011)
- The Wolverine (2013)
- X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
- Deadpool (2016)
- X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
- Logan (2017)
- Deadpool 2 (2018)
- Dark Phoenix (2019)
- New Mutants (2020)
X-Men Movie Viewing Order #2: By Franchise
There are essentially five separate movie franchises within the X-Men universe of 13 movies. Two of the franchises are easy to watch as standalone, the other three tend to intertwine. That’s not to say they can’t be watched on their own, but if you’re watching all 13 movies, then I don’t recommend viewing by franchise. If you fail to heed that advice, there is the viewing order I’d suggest.
Original X-Men Franchise
Even though it makes sense to watch the younger versions of the X-Men before the older, I chose to put the original franchise first. Assuming you’re watching this franchise apart from the others, sticking to theatrical release order makes sense.
You’ll notice Days of Future Past is on this list as well as the First Class list. That’s because that movie actually combines both timelines together. If you’re watching more than one franchise (or just the two X-Men franchises without the others) then you can skip DoFP in this list and watch it with the First Class films.
- X2: X-Men United
- X-Men: The Last Stand
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: First Class Franchise
Since this is the “young” X-Men franchise, you could just as easily start with these films before moving on to the original. Though, Days of Future Past complicates that a bit since it references the older (both in terms of release date and age of the X-Men) movies. But if you’re watching these films alone, then viewing them in the order in which they were released is just fine.
- X-Men: First Class
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- Dark Phoenix
The Wolverine franchise is pretty straight forward. There is some overlap and references to the original timeline movies, but by and large these movies can be enjoyed on their own.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- The Wolverine
No explanation needed here. Deadpool pretty much stands apart from the X-Men movies. It references them but mostly as a 4th wall-break. And since both franchises are mentioned, you don’t need to be concerned about where Deadpool fits in.
- Deadpool 2
The New Mutants
New Mutants is pretty much a standalone movie with vague references to the X-Men universe. You can enjoy it wherever you see fit.
X-Men Movie Ultimate Viewing Order
Since watching the X-Men movies in Chronological order is nearly impossible, I’ve put together my ultimate viewing order guide. Short of chopping the movies up into pieces and reassembling them, this is as close to Chronological as you’re going to get, while attempting to honor the multiple timelines.
- X-Men: First Class (1962) – This movie falls in “both” X-Men timelines before the deviation happens. This is essentially the first X-Men story in film, aside from early portions of Wolverine’s backstory.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (1979) – While this movie starts prior to First Class with Wolverine’s backstory (1800s), it then jumps to 1973 and then 1979. And technically, that’s AFTER Days of Future Past, I’m breaking chronology here in favor of timeline continuity.
- X-Men (2004) – The original three X-Men movies can be watched here and in the order in which they were released. They all go together and are before the breaking of the timeline which comes later.
- X2: X-Men United (2004) – This comes on the heels of the first X-Men and should be watched right after.
- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – Set a couple of years after the previous film, this is the last of the original trilogy.
- The Wolverine (2013) – We get a little more Wolverine backstory here, from 1945, before jumping to an undefined time in the future. Though with his flashbacks of Jean Gray, we can assume this comes after The Last Stand.
- New Mutants (2020?) – There is some debate where this movie falls. Some say around the time of logan, however, the film’s director says it takes place in the original timeline. Honestly, it’s pretty much a standalone story that won’t get a sequel so you can watch this anywhere you want.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past (1973/2023) – This is the movie where the timeline diverges. And while the bulk of the movie is set in 1973, it’s the events of the future (2023) that set the stage for the “young X-Men” storyline. This movie acts as a bridge between the older and younger X-Men.
- X-Men Apocalypse (1983) – We are now firmly out of chronological order, however, it’s a brand new timeline, so think of this as a reset. We couldn’t be here without DoFP and couldn’t have DoFP without the original three movies.
- Deadpool (2016) – Even though DP takes place after DP… wait, let me try that again… Even though Deadpool takes place after Dark Phoenix, I put it here because, why not? Technically, Deadpool died in the first Wolverine movie, so these movies reside outside any known X-Men universe. It works as much as anywhere so I’m opting for the release date order because I can.
- Dark Phoenix (1992) – This movie marks the end of the X-Men movie franchise. But one more film falls into a later time period and, arguably, in the new timeline.
- Logan (2029) – Definitely the last movie in the X-Men timeline. This one also falls better in the new divergent timeline rather than the original timeline that the first two Wolverine movies were set in. I did not, however, make this the last movie of the viewing order, and there’s a reason for that.
- Deadpool 2 (2018) – Technically, this takes place years before Logan, but since Deadpool is a 4th wall break in the X-Men universe there is no “time” it fits into. However, the multiple Logan references make DP2 best viewed last.
There you have it, my ultimate viewing order, giving you the best bang for the buck of the X-Men franchise. Your level of enjoyment may vary and since this is my blog, I’m going to end with my ranking of all the films.
Bonus: X-Men Movies Ranked
- Logan – I have to give top nod to Logan. It’s the grittiest and most violent movie of them all. Though, personally, I think they would have lost nothing by keeping R-rated violence with PG-13 language.
- Once Upon a Deadpool – I didn’t include this movie in any of the lists above since it is essentially a PG-13 version of Deadpool 2. I’m adding it here because, well, it rocks. Who knew a toned-down version of Deadpool could be so much fun. The added footage makes this movie a standout over the others.
- Deadpool 2 – I love 4th wall breaks and childish humor and am a sucker for time-travel. This puts DP2 above the rest.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past – This is the best story of all the X-Men movies. Again, time-travel may play a role, but the bridge between the past and the future was well-executed.
- X-Men – The movie that started the franchise. It’s not perfect but it’s still a great flick.
- X2: X-Men United – A worthy follow-up to the original.
- Deadpool – I love the humor in this movie but there is a lot of dark, which I don’t think was needed or helped the movie.
- X-Men: The Last Stand – This movie got panned, but I thought it was pretty solid.
- X-Men Apocalypse – Now we are getting into the less-than-great films of the batch. Nothing wrong with Apocalypse, just doesn’t rise to the level of the others.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Middle of the road for the Wolverine movies.
- X-Men: First Class – Easily my least favorite of the X-Men movies proper. At least until Dark Phoenix came along. But unlike Phoenix, First Class had some action.
- The Wolverine – They could have done better.
- New Mutants – Didn’t feel quite like an X-Men movie and certainly didn’t work as a “horror” as intended.
- Dark Phoenix – This was a snoozefest. Too EMO, not enough action. But it’s still X-Men which makes it better than a lot of other movies out there.
I don’t love them all the same, but I wholeheartedly enjoy the X-Men franchise. I’ve given you plenty to think about here, and probably even more to disagree with. Go ahead, tell me why I’m wrong.