Here's how to watch the entire X-Men movie series in chronological order
The X-Men movie timeline is very confusing compared to its MCU counterpart. Despite featuring fewer films, it’s eight years older and – crucially – features the dreaded time-travel plot device.
But for those daring fans who want to watch it one from end to the other, here is our comprehensive guide – including predictions for some upcoming movies (although not The New Mutants or Gambit – we just don’t know enough yet).
And yes, there are two alternate timelines, so you’re just going to have to be brave.
1. X-Men: First Class
In 1962, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his childhood friend Raven Darkholme/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) meet holocaust survivor and fellow mutant Magneto (Michael Fassbender) for the first time.
They form the original X-Men team and help avert disaster during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but Mystique and Magneto disagree with Professor X about the future of mutantkind and abandon him. A stray bullet hits Charles and paralyses him.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
In 1973, military scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) creates an army of robot ‘Sentinels’ to control the perceived mutant threat. Xavier, Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) break Magneto out of his prison under the Pentagon, while Mystique attempts to assassinate Trask after discovering that he has been experimenting on mutants.
––TIMELINE DIVERGENCE ALERT––
Mystique fails. She is captured and experimented on (oh the irony), which leads decades later to the development of adaptive Sentinels that will eventually drive mutants to the edge of extinction.
3a. X-Men: Origins Wolverine
We meet Logan (Hugh Jackman), who was born in a remote part of Canada in the 1800s. He and his half-brother Victor/Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) fight in wars throughout the 20th century and are eventually recruited into the military mutant squad Team X, led by William Stryker.
Logan grows disillusioned with the team and quits, but is later tricked into having adamantium bonded to his bones in order to help him capture a rogue Sabretooth. He avoids being turned into a mindless weapon, defeats the military’s ‘Mutant Killer’, but ends up with amnesia thanks to a bullet in the brain.
Wolverine meets a young mutant with uncontrollable powers called Rogue (Anna Paquin). They are rescued from an attack by Magneto (now Ian McKellen) and his ‘Brotherhood of Mutants’ by Xavier (now Patrick Stewart) and his new X-Men team.
Logan falls for Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), argues with Cyclops (James Marsden), Storm (Halle Berry) electrocutes a toad, and they foil Magneto’s plan to turn the world’s leaders into mutants.
5a. X2: X-Men United
The military’s anti-mutant nutjob William Stryker (Brian Cox) returns and attacks Xavier’s school with the help of his mind-controlling mutant son, Jason.
Wolverine discovers some secrets about his past with Stryker and joins forces with Magneto – who Mystique has busted out of jail. They prevent Stryker from forcing Xavier to kill all the mutants on Earth with his powers. Jean is believed dead after staying behind to let the rest of the X-Men escape.
6a. X-Men: The Last Stand
Jean returns under the control of her powerful and psychotic alternate personality, ‘Phoenix’. She kills Cyclops and Xavier and teams up with Magneto.
The creation of a ‘mutant cure’ leads to a climatic battle on Alcatraz between Magneto’s allies and the X-Men. Magneto is robbed of his powers and Jean convinces Wolverine to kill her. The cure is destroyed, although it is hinted that Magneto’s powers are returning and Xavier has been resurrected.
7a. The Wolverine
Logan lives as a hermit in the remote Canadian wilderness, tormented by the death of Jean Grey.
Contacted by a man whose life he saved during the World War II bombing of Nagasaki, Wolverine heads to Japan, where he is drawn into a plot to steal his healing factor.
8a. X-Men: Days of Future Past (future sequence)
In a future where mutants are almost extinct, the Sentinels have the X-Men on the run. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) sends Wolverine’s consciousness back into his younger body in 1973 in order to prevent their horrible future from happening. Which is when you get…
3b. X-Men: Days of Future Past (past sequence)
Logan prevents Mystique from killing Trask and being captured, creating a new timeline where Sentinels will not eradicate mutantkind (future Wolverine finds himself back in Xavier’s mansion in his ‘present’, with all his X-Men friends still alive).
Mystique saves President Nixon from Magneto and is hailed as a hero, altering public opinion of mutants. The Wolverine of 1973 is captured by a young Stryker (Josh Helman).
4b. X-Men: Apocalypse
In 1983, Mystique has become a legend to mutantkind. She reluctantly becomes leader of the X-Men to help fight the ancient mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who has transformed Magneto into one of his Horsemen minions (no horses included) after the former villain’s family was murdered.
Stryker captures the team and the young, new X-Men Jean (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit McPhee) set out to rescue them, releasing a savage, apparently mindless Wolverine in the process. Apocalypse attempts to steal Xavier’s body, but Jean transforms into the Phoenix and destroys him.
5b. X-Men: Dark Phoenix
X-Men: Dark Phoenix will offer a fresh take on Jean Grey’s corruption by the Phoenix, which begins after a mission into space goes awry – although it also seems to be drawing from The Last Stand‘s controversial ‘Professor Xavier messed with young Jean’s mind’ storyline. Following the pattern of recent movies, it’s set in the 1990s, slotting it in between the ’80s of Apocalypse and Deadpool‘s more modern adventures.
Sometime in the 21st century, motor-mouthed mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) falls in love with an escort called Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Discovering that he has terminal cancer, he accepts an experimental cure to awaken his latent mutant genes.
Surviving horrible torture and a murder attempt, the now disfigured Wade (aka Deadpool) teams up with some B-list X-Men (sorry, guys) to defeat his nemesis Ajax (Ed Skrein).
7b. Deadpool 2
Reynolds sequel gives every appearance of being set in the modern day, not long after the previous entry, and includes cameos that cement it in the new timeline.
However, thanks to Cable’s time machine and a post-credits sequence that cheekily crosses over into the old timeline, things could get very confusing in the future. Director David Leitch has admitted that they “never had a lot of conversations” about how the timeline works.
An ageing Professor X loses control of his powers, killing most of the X-Men, and a sinister government plot suppresses the X-gene through the distribution of genetically modified corn, essentially leading to the eradication of all mutants.
Wolverine works as a chauffeur while trying to look after the sickly Xavier. When he comes into contact with a little girl (Dafne Keen) created from his DNA, he goes on a quest to find a safe refuge for them. Xavier and Logan don’t survive the trip, but they do at least manage to lead a new generation of young mutants to freedom.
BUT BUT BUT What about the TV shows?
The Gifted and Legion do not appear to be part of either X-Men movie timelines.
The Gifted executive producer Matt Nix said that his show is set in another alternate universe that branched off the timeline during X-Men: Days of Future Past.
As for Legion, the official word is less clear. The show heavily hints that Xavier is the father of David Haller (Dan Stevens), and – assuming that the series really is set in the ’70s – he would have had to have been born when James McAvoy’s telepath was still in nappies.
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