Ranking the X-Men Movies

Today, my son and I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past, based on a much-loved X-Men story arc from the 80s.  It starts in the not-so-distant future, when robots called Sentinels have hunted down nearly all mutants on Earth, and the few remaining X-Men decide to send someone back to the past to change the timeline and prevent the Sentinels from being invented.  The bulk of the action takes place in 1973, the year the future X-Men have decided is the critical time that needs to be changed.  It’s quite a spectacular film, and one of the better X-Men movies, but I’ll get to that after a brief digression.

In the comics, the character sent back to the past was Kitty Pryde, who in the 1970s was a teen-aged girl.  Because of her youth, she functioned in the comics as a device to allow the readers to follow the often convoluted storylines and keep track of the huge cast of recurring villains and secondary characters, by asking questions of the other, older characters.  The answers filled in the blanks for her and readers alike.

But in the X-Men movies, Wolverine is the main character.  Among the dominant teen-aged male readership of the X-Men at the height of their 1990s popularity, Wolverine was the favorite because of his tough guy persona and his retractable claws.   The movie producers decided to make him the focal character for audiences, but had to tone him down, so now the emphasis is on how the once-violent man has learned to keep his bestial nature in check through force of will.  Played by Hugh Jackman, he is much more sympathetic than in the comics.

Thus, the very questionable choice of changing the a fundamental part of the story, and sending Wolverine back in time instead of Kitty.  Yet, I have to say it works.  The movie makes up for it by having Kitty play the main role in facilitating the mind transfer that sends the future Wolverine’s psyche to his 1970s body.  Various other minor changes also help with translating a very “comic-y” storyline to the big screen, and the result is a movie that feels true to the original story but should entertain anybody who likes action movies, no real comics knowledge required.  Although it might help to have seen one of the earlier films.

Here are the X-Men movies rated, from best to worst:
Green=excellent  Blue=pretty good Black=Okay  Red=avoid

X-Men 2: X-Men United
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The Wolverine
X-Men: First Class
X-Men 3: Last Stand

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Haven’t seen)

Yes, none of these rated as excellent, but the top three are perfectly entertaining, and the next two aren’t terrible.  I may do future superhero movies ratings in the future, and the green may come into play then.

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