Here’s Which ‘X-Men’ Movies to Watch on Disney+ (And Which to Skip)

Not all mutant movies are created equal.

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Marvel/20th Century Fox

If you’ve scanned through Disney+ lately, you may have noticed something odd: A movie featuring Hugh Jackman’s entire ass is now available to stream right next to family favorites like Toy Story 4. That’s right, the X-Men movies have started to trickle on to Disney+, which is mostly good news, assuming you like superhero movies that aren’t about the Avengers.

But, just for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re a little confused as to what the heck is going on with the X-Men movies. If you have no idea which movie is which, that state of bewilderment is understandable. It’s been a whopping 20 years (this month) since the first X-Men movie debuted in the year 2000. That’s right, you think the superhero movie explosion was ushered-in by Tobey Maguire the first Spider-Man in 2002, but really, it was Oscar winners Halle Berry and Anna Paquin slumming-it with Hugh Jackman, and some dudes named Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan.

So, even if you have hazy memories of the animated (and best) version of the X-Men from the late ’90s, a handful of the far more popular movies have made their way into streaming heaven, albeit, in a pretty weird order. From July to September, Disney+ is going to be welcoming one new X-Men movie a month. But which ones should you actually watch? Here’s our totally non-objective guide. Claws out!

X-Men: Days of Future Past (On Disney+ now)

Released in 2014, at the time, this was the seventh X-Men movie made overall but was also a kind of sequel to the 2011 movie X-Men: First Class, and kind of a sequel all the other movies, too. How does a movie get such a strange classification? If the title didn’t tip you off, this is a time travel movie. The premise is this: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has to time-travel back to the ’70s and help younger versions of Professor X and Magneto team-up to save the world. Old Professor X and Magneto are played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, and their younger counterparts are played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively, who, back in 2014, were both kind of the biggest movie stars on the planet — remember that? This movie also improbably stars Jennifer Lawerence, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, and yes, Halle Berry in a small role. Here’s the thing to remember about X-Men movies; they’re like Avengers movies only the actors were all way famous before and while they did X-Men, not the other way around. Basically, an X-Men movie, especially Days of Future Past is like if everyone in an Avengers movie was Mark Ruffalo or Scarlett Johansson.

Should you watch it?: Eh, yes? But, if you’ve never seen an X-Men movie, they are going to reference all kinds of stuff that happened in the 2011 movie First Class, which no, is not on Disney+. That said, the dark and gritty future narrated by Patrick Stewart was never set up in a previous movie, at least not in any tangible way. So, as confusing as that cold open is, you’re not missing anything. That’s just how these movies roll. Pro tip: Wolverine is quasi-immortal, which is why Hugh Jackman can time travel into his younger body and be jacked on both ends of the time travel trip. Watch X-Men: Days of Future Past on Disney+ now.

X-Men: Apocalypse (On Disney+ now)

This movie came out in 2016, and sort of asked the question: What if you cast Oscar Isaac in a role where he’s totally unrecognizable? Of all the movies on this list, you could argue that this one is the closest to the X-Men cartoon and Marvel comics from which everything came. It’s also the most convoluted of the movies on this list, which is saying something for an X-Men movie. McAvoy and Fassbender are in this one too, and the whole thing is technically set in the 1980s, but you can barely tell. I watched this movie in the theater with my wife in 2016, and she knew nothing about the X-Men, and she liked it okay. That said, I’m not sure it’s good. She’s never been curious enough to watch another one.

Should you watch it? Probably not. If this is the first X-Men movie you’ve ever seen, you’ll not be too pumped to watch whatever comes next. Technically, this one is the follow-up to Days of Future Past, but it’s mostly the days in the past and the future seems pretty far out of reach. Watch X-Men: Apocalypse on Disney+ now, if you dare.

X-Men (On Disney+ on August 7, 2020)

Okay. Now we’re talking. Back in 2000, the first X-Men movie did something that hadn’t happened since the 1989 Batman; make a superhero movie that wasn’t embarrassing that everyone liked. As previously mentioned, the cast here is off-the-chain. Hugh Jackman is at his best in his first turn as Wolverine and the game of mutant chess between Magneto (Mckellan) and Professor X (Stewart) gives the film a gravitas that sometimes feels like it’s lacking from even the best contemporary Marvel movies. Basically, X-Men gives you the kid heroes and the dad heroes at the same time. Professor X is good-dad. Magneto is bad-dad. After this movie, you’ll love them both. You’ll also wonder why there aren’t other X-Men movies as good as this, and other than Logan (2017) and First Class (2011), there will be no answer to that question. In other words, saying this is the best X-Men movie on Disney+ would be like if you were stranded on a desert island with only three albums of music to listen to; Abbey Road, a Baby Shark Record, and a record full of animal noises. You know which one is the best one, but it’s not even a fair ranking.

Should you watch it?: Yep. Yep. Yep.

The (best) X-Men movie hits Disney+ on August 7.

The Wolverine (On Disney+ September 4, 2020)

There are technically three standalone movies about Wolverine; X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Wolverine (2013) (this movie), and Logan (2017). The first one has, apparently, has never been seen all-the-way-through by anyone, at any point in human history. I suspect even the people who made X-Men: Origins: Wolverine have not seen it all the way through. Logan, on the other hand, is fantastic, and you should watch it, even though it’s not on Disney+. (You can rent it on Amazon Prime.) So, what’s The Wolverine like? Well, it’s about halfway between X-Men: Origins (unwatchable) and Logan (a near-perfect masterpiece.) In other words, it’s a title that lives up to its name: Wolverine is in the movie. He slashes stuff with his claws. It’s okay? There’s a really good fight on a train. The ending, weirdly enough, leads into Days of Future Past, though it’s best not to think about that.

Should you watch it? You can. But you may not remember having done so. I certainly don’t. And I literally just watched it.

This story is developing because Disney+ will keep adding X-Men movies.

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