Films Of Future Past: Putting The X-Men Movies In Order

With The Wolverine currently in theatres, X-Men: Days Of Future Past on its way, and perhaps even an X-Force adaptation in the works, 20th Century Fox’s X-Men series doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Comprising an original trilogy, a prequel and two Wolverine-centric spin-offs, however, it’s perhaps easy to forget where we currently stand.

I’ve attempted to put the existing X-Men films in order, highlighting the key elements of each and working out exactly how they tie into the other movies. As such, this article contains spoilers for the extant franchise, and potential spoilers for the upcoming Days Of Future Past.

Without further ado: here’s the story so far.

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

In Matthew Vaughn’s prequel to the original X-Men trilogy, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet for the first time while trying to stop Sebastian Shaw from starting World War III. The film is set in 1962, and introduces Mystique, Dr. Hank McCoy and Moira MacTaggert. The film also features Xavier’s first contact with Logan, though it is so brief that it doesn’t register with either of them.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins Wolverine movie image Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber

This film actually begins in 1845, with the activation of Logan’s mutation. It tracks him through the American Civil War, both World Wars and the Vietnam War before starting with the story proper in 1981. Logan is betrayed by his closest friend, Victor “Sabretooth” Creed, and is approached by William Stryker, a shady figure who offers to help Logan exact revenge. Indestructible adamantiam is bonded with Logan’s skeleton, but the newly christened Wolverine winds up fighting Stryder’s Weapon X instead. The film also features Gambit and a young Scott Summers, while the closing scene sees Wolverine meet Professor Xavier once more. In a mid-credits sting, it is suggested that he has travelled to Japan.

X-Men

X-Men

Opening with a young Lehnsherr activating his mutant abilities in a concentration camp somewhere in Nazi-occupied Poland (essentially the same shot that introduces the character in First Class) , Bryan Singer’s X-Men skirts the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and sees an amnesic Logan looking for answers. He meets Rogue  in Canada, and together they become affiliated with the X-Men. While trying to stop Lehnsherr’s Magneto from artificially mutating various world leaders, Wolverine develops feelings for Jean Grey and is told that Alkali Lake may hold the answers he seeks. At this point the team includes Logan, Grey, Summers and Ororo “Storm” Monroe.

X2

X2

Having found little of use at Alkali Lake, Logan returns to the school to look after the students while the X-Men try to locate a teleporter who tried and failed to assassinate the President. Jean Grey and Storm travel to Boston to apprehend Nightcrawler, while Scott and Professor X visit Magneto in prison to see if he had any part in the plot. Wolverine’s old enemy William Stryker attacks the school while they’re away, forcing Logan to flee with the remaining students. They rendezvous with Jean and Storm, along with an escaped Magneto and his accomplice Mystique, and lead an assault on Alkali Lake where Stryker has imprisoned Scott and the Professor. Wolverine gets his answers, flashing back to the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but loses Jean, who sacrifices herself to save her friends.

X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men The Last Stand

Having left the franchise to make Superman Returns, Singer was replaced first by Matthew Vaughn and then by Brett Ratner. Picking up where the previous film left off, Logan and Scott are mourning the loss of  Jean Grey. In her place Rogue, Iceman , Shadowcat and Colossus have become fully fledged members of the X-Men, training in the Danger Room against Sentinels, and Dr. Hank McCoy has (re)joined the team. Grey, however, returns from the dead as The Phoenix, an all-powerful alternate personality that Xavier has been suppressing since they met. She kills Scott and Xavier, before joining sides with Magneto, leaving Logan with no choice but to kill her. The government, meanwhile, has been working on a mutant cure, and by the end of the film Rogue, Mystique and Magneto have been de-powered, though a post credits scene suggests that the cure’s effects are only temporary. Another scene sees Xavier awake in the body of another, nursed by Moira MacTaggert.

The Wolverine

Wolverine

Following the death of Jean Grey, Logan has taken a vow of pacifism and exiled himself in an uninhabited part of the Yukon. Flashbacks to the Second World War show him saving the life of a Japanese soldier (a period of history also shown in X-Men Origins) who offers up his sword as thank you. His penance is cut short when an employee of the aged soldier invites him out to Japan, where he attempts to steal Wolverine’s healing abilities. Logan survives, falling in love with the soldier’s granddaughter and finally making peace with Jean’s death, but loses his adamantium claws (although the bones regenerate) in a battle with the Silver Samurai. Two years after his return to America, he is accosted by a revived Professor X and a re-powered Magneto, who warn him of a lurking danger and invite him to join their cause.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Days Of Future Past

Although not due for release until May of next year, there are a number of things that can be gleaned about the upcoming movie. Based on one of the most popular story arcs in the X-Men comic book series, Days Of Future Past is envisioned as the perfect opportunity to unite the two timelines as represented by X-Men: First Class and original trilogy; as such it will essentially be a continuation of both. The film will pick up from The Wolverine, with the X-Men facing the aforementioned threat, and will incorporate both the Sentinels and Ellen Page’s Shadowcat from X-Men: The Last Stand. With the odds stacked against them, The X-Men must send Wolverine back in time to the 1970s to try and alter the timeline.

While for the most part the films in the series fit together nicely (at least, they can be put in something roughly resembling chronological order), there are a number of inconsistencies that have sprung up along the way. Nicolas Hoult’s Hank McCoy becomes Beast in First Class, is shown in human form in X2, and then appears again as Beast (this time played by Kelsey Grammar) in The Last Stand. Similarly, Emma Frost is shown as younger in X-Men Origins than she is in First Class, and — as you’ve seen — Wolverine has met Professor X for the first time on at least three occasions.

It is believed that as well as unite the disparate elements of the X-Men franchise, Singer is looking to undo a number of the contradictory threads as introduced by Ratner and Gavin Hood. The question is, however, can he right the canon without also retconning the more successful movies. X-Men and X2 are two of the finest superhero movies yet released, while The Wolverine was far stronger than anyone had any right to expect. Heck, even X-Men: First Class had its moments. It would be real a shame if Days Of Future Past undermined those too.

For now at least, that’s how the X-Men movie franchise stands.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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