Director Bryan Singer said this week that the first trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse will be shown before Star Wars: The Force Awakens in cinemas in December.
It’ll be the fourth X-Men film Singer’s directed, having dropped out of the franchise after ‘X2’ in order to direct 2006’s dismal Superman Returns (although he did return to co-produce and co-write the series return-to-form X-Men: First Class).
…Apocalypse will be a sequel to 2014’s Days Of Future Past, and sees the eponymous character, worshipped as a god since the dawn of time, awake after 1,000 years and unleash all sorts of hell.
Unfortunately for him, Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), plus a band of freshly recruited X-Men are out to stop him.
Also returning are Rose Byrne, as Moira MacTaggert, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Lucas Till as Havok, Evan Peters as Quicksilver and Michael Fassbender as Magneto.
Oscar Issac, who we’ll see as ace X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens, stars as Apocalypse, while Olivia Munn will play Psylocke, one of Apocalypse’s four horsemen, and Sophie Turner, better known as Game Of Thrones most put-upon character Sansa Stark, is taking over from Famke Janssen as Jean Grey.
We’ll also see younger versions of Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, William Stryker, Angel/Archangel and Jubilee.
But before we get too far into what will be the ninth film in the X-Men series – Deadpool is due prior to this and is set in the same universe, with Deadpool-of-sorts first appearing in the first Wolverine film – we’re going to rank the existing movies, starting with the least good, to greatest.
7. X-Men 3: The Last Stand
A disappointment. The final scenes of ‘X2’, with the outline of the Phoenix seen in Alkali Lake, hinted at one the most exciting storylines in X-Men history. But instead of The Phoenix Saga, complete with the M’Kraan crystal, the Shi’ar, Lilandra and ultimately the X-Men going to space to battle superpowered aliens, we got The Last Stand, in which Vinnie Jones dons prosthetic muscles to play Juggernaut and really stink things up.
Brett Ratner directed, after both Bryan Singer had left the franchise, and Matthew Vaughn walked away citing ‘professional issues’. At the time, it was the most expensive film ever made, with a $210m budget. It seems not a dime of that was spent on getting a decent storyline.
6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The Wolverine of Marvel’s comics is a wild, rage-filled beast, with adamantium claws and equally sharp one-liners. His catchphrase is “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice”, but we find him here living the quiet life, working as a lumberjack, and that seems like quite a nice job. The rest of the movie goes to extraordinary lengths to fill in Logan’s relatively straightforward backstory – his metal skeleton is the result of a military experiment – and actually makes him less interesting as a result.
Sign up for the newsletter
The dialogue is woeful, the action is boring, and the Wolverine never really lets rip. It did introduce us to Deadpool, however, but the director chose to surgically sew up the mouth of comic books’ funniest character. Unforgiveable, but at least Ryan Reynolds is getting another run out as the mercenary next year. Jackman, meanwhile, has also stated he didn’t like this film. And he’s right, it’s really bad.
The first the series, but despite the wealth of material – the comics started back in September 1963 – to choose from, the story feels like it could’ve been wrapped up in 20 minutes, but is stretched out to 104 minutes. Jackman, Halle Berry and Famke Janssen sort of looked the part, in dull, all-black suits rather than the colourful outfits of the print versions, but worse the baddies are hopeless, characters’ powers and personalities are changed without good reason, and the final battle on top of the Statue Of Liberty is hugely underwhelming.
4. The Wolverine
Despite the first Wolverine film being a bit of a dud, it made a fortune. And films that make a fortune always get a sequel. Jackman said after the release of Origins that it felt like a fourth X-Men movie, rather than his character in a standalone film. Second time, we found the mutant in Japan, where he’s called to visit a dying man whose life he saved during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945.
The action is a little better this time around, especially the fight on top of the shinkansen train, but Wolverine still isn’t firing on all cylinders, and the final battle against a giant robotic samurai is, even in this world, ridiculous.
After the disappointing opener, the second film in the series got things going. Wolverine is trying to trace where he came from, and Professor X is putting his Cerebro machine to good use, finding gifted individuals around the world. We’re also introduced to Pyro and Nightcrawler, an get to see what Iceman can do. Compared to Avengers Assemble, which features a similar sort of ensemble cast and characters with a range of special abilities, it’s no thrill-ride, but from Stryker’s siege on the X-Men mansion to the final showdown inside the facility at Alkali Lake, it’s an action-packed adventure.
2. X-Men: Days Of Future Past
The most-recent X-Men film saw stars of the original three movies meet the younger versions cast in First Class. And although there are a few gaping plotholes – there always are when time travel is concerned – it’s a fast-paced, action-packed film that makes the most of a by-the-numbers plot, and manages to give decent time to the many, many characters that appear, even introducing a couple more, such as Quicksilver.
The comic book version of the story saw Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat sent back in time to save the day rather than Wolverine, and it’d have been interesting to see how that played out, but what’s here is excellent.
1. X-Men: First Class
Watching him swan around in the adverts for a phone company, you might forget Kevin Bacon can act a bit. As Sebastian Shaw, a grinning mutant with the ability to absorb the energy blasts of others, he’s on great form. The film, however, belongs to Michael Fassbender, who brings real gravity to his performance as Magneto and his tragic origins during the Holocaust.
It’s also the first time we saw Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and her chemistry with James McAvoy is compelling, while the ’60s period details bring a touch of Mad Men to proceedings. Who knew that’s what was missing from the franchise all along?