X-Men Movies in Order: A Guide to the Mutant Cinematic Universe

The X-Men film franchise is a sprawling saga of mutants, prejudice, and heroism. With over a decade of films, multiple timelines, and interconnected stories, watching the X-Men movies in order can be a daunting task for newcomers and veterans alike. Fear not, Professor X himself couldn't tackle a Cerebro overload without a plan, and this guide is here to help you navigate the X-Men cinematic universe!

Release Order vs. Chronological Order: The X-Men Timeline Explained

There are two main ways to approach the X-Men movies: release order and chronological order. Release order follows the order the films were initially released in theaters, while chronological order presents the story in the timeline it takes place.

Release Order:

This is the simplest way to watch the X-Men movies. It allows you to experience the franchise as it unfolded, with each film building upon the previous one (for the most part). Here's the release order:

  1. X-Men (2000)
  2. X2: X-Men United (2003)
  3. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
  5. X-Men: First Class (2011)
  6. The Wolverine (2013)
  7. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
  8. Deadpool (2016) (Not directly connected to the main X-Men storyline)
  9. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  10. Logan (2017)
  11. Deadpool 2 (2018) (Not directly connected to the main X-Men storyline)
  12. Dark Phoenix (2019)
  13. The New Mutants (2020)

Chronological Order:

The chronological order delves deeper into the X-Men lore, presenting the events in the order they happened within the fictional universe. However, this can be confusing due to the franchise's reboots and time travel shenanigans. Here's the chronological order:

  1. X-Men: First Class (1962)
  2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (1970s-1980s)
  3. The Wolverine (2013) (partially takes place in the 1940s)
  4. X-Men: Apocalypse (1980s)
  5. X-Men (2000)
  6. X2: X-Men United (a few years after X-Men)
  7. X-Men: The Last Stand (shortly after X2)
  8. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2023, with time travel elements)
  9. Logan (2029)
  10. Deadpool (present day, exists in its own universe)
  11. Deadpool 2 (shortly after Deadpool)
  12. Dark Phoenix (set after X-Men: The Last Stand, but with a retconned timeline due to Days of Future Past)
  13. The New Mutants (present day, with some connections to the Dark Phoenix timeline)

Choosing the Right Order for You:

There's no right or wrong answer! Here's a breakdown to help you decide:

  • New to X-Men? Start with release order. It provides a good introduction to the characters and the world without spoilers for the time travel twist in Days of Future Past.
  • Love intricate timelines? Go for chronological order. Be prepared to jump back and forth a bit, but this order offers a deeper understanding of the characters' growth and the evolution of the mutant world.
  • Just want some action-packed fun? Watch any movie that piques your interest! Most X-Men films are standalone stories with enough exposition to get you going.

A Deep Dive into the X-Men Movie Universe (Including Spoilers):

Now that you understand the order options, let's break down each film with a short synopsis and its significance in the X-Men universe:

Release Order:

  • X-Men (2000): This is the film that started it all. We meet Professor Charles Xavier, who runs a school for mutants, and Wolverine, a loner with a mysterious past. Together, they face Magneto, a mutant who believes humans are a threat and wants to eradicate them.
  • X2: X-Men United (2003): Professor X and Magneto must work together to stop a new threat – a military leader who wants to use a mutant-killing cure. This film also introduces new characters like Nightcrawler and introduces the concept of a mutant cure, a plot point that will resurface later.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006): Tensions rise as the mutant cure becomes a reality. This film also features the death of a major character (no spoilers!).
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009): This prequel delves into Wolverine's past, exploring his origin story and introducing characters like Sabretooth and Deadpool (though this version is quite different from the future Deadpool films). Note: Due to continuity issues, this film isn't fully canon with the main X-Men timeline.
  • X-Men: First Class (2011): This prequel takes us back to the 1960s and explores the early relationship between Professor X and Magneto, showcasing the events that shape their opposing ideologies.
  • The Wolverine (2013): Wolverine travels to Japan and faces a new enemy while grappling with his own mortality. This film also has flashbacks that reveal more about his past.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): This pivotal film utilizes time travel. A future dystopia ruled by Sentinels (anti-mutant robots) forces Wolverine to travel back in time and prevent a key event that led to this future. This movie significantly alters the original timeline, making some of the previous films no longer entirely canon.
  • Deadpool (2016): This is a separate film with its own comedic tone and adult content. While it references the X-Men universe, it doesn't directly tie into the main storyline.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016): Set in the 1980s, this film introduces the powerful mutant Apocalypse who seeks to destroy the world and create a new order. The X-Men must band together to stop him.
  • Logan (2017): This critically acclaimed film takes place in a future where mutants are nearly extinct. An aging Wolverine cares for Professor X, whose mind is deteriorating. They face a new threat while also confronting their own mortality.
  • Deadpool 2 (2018): Another standalone Deadpool adventure filled with action, humor, and fourth-wall-breaking antics.
  • Dark Phoenix (2019): This is a retelling of the "Dark Phoenix Saga" from the X-Men comics. Jean Grey grapples with the immense power of the Phoenix Force, leading to devastating consequences. Note: Due to the timeline changes in Days of Future Past, this film essentially reboots the events of X-Men: The Last Stand.
  • The New Mutants (2020): A group of young mutants are held in a secret facility where they must confront their dark pasts and their own developing powers. This film has some connections to the Dark Phoenix timeline but is set in a more contemporary time.

The Intricacies of the X-Men Timeline:

As you can see, the X-Men movie timeline can be a bit confusing due to prequels, reboots, and the time travel shenanigans in Days of Future Past. Here's a simplified breakdown of the major timeline changes:

  • The original trilogy (X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand) takes place in a linear timeline.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine has continuity issues and isn't fully canon.
  • X-Men: First Class is a prequel set in the 1960s.
  • Days of Future Past alters the original timeline by preventing a key event. The films following Days of Future Past (Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix) are part of this altered timeline.

Exploring the X-Men Universe Beyond the Films:

The X-Men universe extends beyond the movies. Here are some additional resources to delve deeper:

  • X-Men Animated Series (1992-1997): This beloved animated series offers a great introduction to the X-Men characters and storylines.
  • Wolverine Solo Comics: Dive into Wolverine's rich comic book history to understand his complex past and motivations.
  • X-Men Video Games: Several X-Men video games allow you to control your favorite mutants and experience the world from a different perspective.


The X-Men movies offer a thrilling and thought-provoking exploration of prejudice, heroism, and the search for belonging. Whether you're a seasoned X-fan or a newcomer, this guide equips you to navigate the vast X-Men cinematic universe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the X-Men Movies:

  • Is Deadpool canon to the X-Men universe?

The answer is a bit complex. The two Deadpool films exist in their own comedic universe with connections to the X-Men world, but they don't directly affect the main storyline.

  • What about the Wolverine solo films (The Wolverine and Logan)?

These films primarily focus on Wolverine's story, but they also tie into the broader X-Men universe. The Wolverine reveals more about his past, while Logan takes place in a future heavily affected by events in the X-Men films.

  • Should I watch the movies in release order or chronological order?

As mentioned earlier, there's no right or wrong answer! Here's a quick recap:

  • Release order: Perfect for newcomers. Experience the films as they were released and avoid spoilers for the time travel twist in Days of Future Past.

  • Chronological order: Ideal for those who love intricate timelines. Gain a deeper understanding of the characters' growth and the evolution of the mutant world, but be prepared for some timeline jumps.

  • What about X-Men: Days of Future Past changing the timeline?

Days of Future Past significantly alters the original timeline. The films following it (Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix) are part of this altered timeline.

  • Where does the future of the X-Men movies lie?

With the X-Men film rights now owned by Marvel Studios, the future of the franchise remains uncertain. However, there's always the possibility of a reboot or integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Beyond the X-Men Movies: Exploring the Multiverse of Mutants

The X-Men universe extends far beyond the films. Here are some additional options to expand your X-perience:

  • X-Men Animated Series (1992-1997): This iconic series offers a classic take on the X-Men characters and storylines, perfect for both adults who grew up with it and newcomers seeking a deeper dive.
  • Wolverine Solo Comics: Wolverine's rich comic book history delves into his complex past, motivations, and iconic adamantium claws. Exploring these stories can provide a deeper understanding of the character portrayed in the films.
  • X-Men Video Games: Numerous X-Men video games allow you to step into the shoes of your favorite mutants and experience the X-Men world from a different perspective. These games can be a fun way to interact with the characters and explore their powers.

The Enduring Legacy of the X-Men

The X-Men movies have captivated audiences for over two decades with their action-packed sequences, relatable characters, and powerful themes of acceptance and overcoming prejudice. Regardless of the order you choose to watch them in, the X-Men films offer a thrilling journey through a world where mutants fight for their place and remind us that true heroism lies in fighting for what's right, even in the face of adversity.

So, grab your popcorn, suit up (or cosplay if you're feeling fancy), and dive into the thrilling world of the X-Men!

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