With the current surge of comic book films filling theater screens for a large portion of the year, beginning in just the last decade, previously existing superhero franchises are now getting more attention than they ever planned on getting… but is this always a good thing? The only superhero franchise that is ongoing and began before 2008 (when the MCU was born, and 5 years before the DCEU) is the X-Men franchise, which will soon have a total of 10 films in it’s saga: X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Origins – Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), and Logan (2017). This franchise, however, is unlike most other since it has many problems in continuity, theme, tone, and quality throughout the almost 10 films. So, after taking inspiration from the Star Wars Machete Order, I decided to try to find a way to “fix” the X-Men franchise so that all of the problems I listed earlier are solved, or at least brushed under the rug a little bit. Let’s start by just looking at what each film “is”:
- An X-Men Film
- A 2nd X-Men Film
- A 3rd X-Men Film
- A Wolverine Prequel
- An X-Men Prequel
- A Wolverine Sequel
- An X-Men Sequel (2020’s) and 2nd Prequel
- A Spinoff
- A 3rd X-Men Prequel
- A 2nd Wolverine Sequel (2020’s)
As you can see, these films jump all over the place, and there really isn’t much of a thread that connects them all, and there is no story that they follow in this order of release. You can divide the films up by their respective “trilogy,” which they are often packaged on DVD’s as:
- The Original Trilogy: X-Men, X2, The Last Stand
- The Wolverine Trilogy: Origins, Wolverine, Logan
- The Beginnings Trilogy: First Class, Days of Future Past, Apocalypse
…Watching the trilogies by themselves can’t work because they rely on the other films as part of the “story,” but since they can be referred to as separate trilogies means that they don’t all share the same story thread like most franchises do. This all led me to wonder…
Can We Change the Order to Improve the Story?
Well, what options do we have? I’m a movie fan, and a movie completion-ist so leaving movies out is always a last-resort for me (except for Mission: Impossible 2, The Bourne Legacy, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, all of the Transformers films, etc…) because I think many films, while being sub-par, are still important to the story. However, my friends convinced me to leave out Origins, and the franchise got a lot better overall because of it. However, it didn’t really solve anything as there were still plot-holes, weak films, tone that changes drastically between films, as well as a cast that changes every other film, and a timeline that jumped all over the place.
So, what can we do? We can change the order of the movies around and hopefully change things, as I’ve done with the MCU. If we start with Origins or First Class then we’ll be jumping around less in the series… but starting with those two films for a first time viewer makes the series slightly confusing.
– For one, these two movies don’t explain the idea of the mutant as well as the first film did because they lack the opening credits that tell the audience what mutants are and why they are feared.
– The Wolverine cameo in First Class doesn’t work if we don’t know who he is
– When Xavier loses his legs at the end of First Class, it’s not as emotional as it would be if we knew how much it has effected him later in life. So, starting with the prequels just doesn’t work.
This means that we have to watch the films starting with the original X-Men, and then change the order around to try to give the whole franchise a consistent tone, and story… and the easiest way to fix all of these problems is to leave out the films that cause the problems… so which are they?
Introducing The Elite Order
…this post is entirely inspired by the Machete Order for Star Wars. Here it is:
1. X-Men (2000)
2. X2 (2003)
3. X-Men: First Class (2011)
4. The Wolverine (2013)
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
6. Logan (2017)
Yeah… things are a little different than they were a minute ago. In this order, we completely remove The Last Stand, Origins, Deadpool, and Apocalypse. Why is that? Well, for many reasons. The first is that it cuts back on the jumping around in time quiet a bit as First Class is now the only exclusively prequel movie, and Days of Future Past is an important blend between the two timelines. In fact, the series is now fairly chronological aside from First Class, and as mentioned earlier, it’s hard to start with First Class and have the idea of the mutant be clearly explained to the audience.
Leaving out these movies leaves out ALL of the plotholes, the plot threads that lead no where, and it gives the whole franchise one specific story: Logan’s struggle between his mutant and human self which is also externalized through wars waging between the two species. A B-story between Erik and Charles is also a large part of the story, as shown in almost all of the films that are in this order. I simply left out one film from each of the sections (Original Trilogy, Wolverine Trilogy, Prequel Trilogy and Deadpool) which trimmed the “fat” of the franchise, and now we are left with one that makes sense. Now, we can even divide the Elite Order up into three specific acts, which allow the order to be broken down and studied further
Act I: Logan’s Search to Find Out Who He Is (Logan vs. Wolverine)
Act II: Logan Looses Touch With Himself, and relationship between Charles and Erik is further Developed and explained
– First Class
– The Wolverine
Act III: Logan Must Overcome His Animal Side, and Peace Must Be Made Between Everybody In Order to Survive
– Days of Future Past
This order allows there to become a single story, and a single thread: Logan on the Hero’s Journey. Including other movies bogs down this central theme and adds too much fat that needs to be trimmed off anyways. Watching the films in this order allows Logan to be the main character, and his story to be the most important plot in the franchise. We begin with him trying to find out who he is, and we end with Logan, which seems to be a good ending to his story. By leaving out Origins, The Last Stand and Apocalypse, we leave out the three films that reviews don’t favor, the three films that cause the most amount of continuity plot holes, the three films that force the most the tonal changes in the franchise, and the three films that pollute the real story by adding so much that doesn’t need to be included. I give you, The Elite Order for the X-Men Franchise. This order isn’t perfect, but what do you think? Any holes that I should fill? Let me know! As always, thanks for reading, share if you liked this, and I’ll see you soon!