14 X-Men fan films, ranked

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Aug 11, 2017, 8:46 PM EDT (Updated)

Continuing our ranking series focused on fan films of well-known geek franchises and following June's Batman Fan Films and July's Transformers Fan Films, we now target the metahuman dimension of the X-Men.

Of all the fan film universes, the X-Men realm is the widest-reaching and most varied due to the sheer number of characters and storylines inhabiting the property over the past six decades, offering a wide variety of interpretations and explorations for the creative faithful.

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This rich aggregation of amateur filmmakers represents all abilities and styles, but each in its own small way embracing a fierce love of Professor Charles Xavier's school of young mutants, conceived by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963.

Some of the best examples of superhero movies were the first two cinematic outings from 20th Century Fox and director Bryan Singer, X-Men (2000) and the superb follow-up, X2 (2003), which proved an ensemble cast of costumed crusaders could generate superhuman cash flows.

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Check out my roster of 14 X-Men fan films below, ranked for your inspection and representing a colorful spectrum of shorts showcasing Professor X, Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Banshee, Rogue, Storm, Iceman, Beast, Havok, Angel, Nightcrawler, Cable, Azazel, Bishop, Magneto, and more.

Find your favorites and share them in the comments!

Cyclops and Havok (2016)

Friends Derek Denis and Jack Ashcom make the most of their small fan film project with this micro-budget grassroots offering, showing brothers Scott and Alex Summers displaying optic outbursts and plasma energy blasts in a calm suburban neighborhood. Forget the plot and just be impressed by the cool special effects these kids crafted!

Wolverine VS Mutants (2017)

The amateur Aussie filmmakers at Radical Talent unleash Wolverine in his old-school yellow costume upon the wild woods and an armed assault team of mutants and masked soldiers out to capture him. Perfectly paced and smoothly choreographed, the limited special effects are used judiciously and don't overwhelm Logan's berserker gauntlet run with his adamantium claws leading the way.

Logan: A Fan Film (2015)

I'd love to see more of Josiah Moore's fan films in the X-Men universe as this short action sequence displays some natural talent behind the camera. Here Wolverine attacks a clan of mercenaries and slices and dices them into submission in a bloody rampage. The striking cinematography is what sets this short apart, filmed using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 paired with an Amazon Ember Canon EF 24-105mm lens. Short, sharp and to the point!

X-Men: Professor Xavier (2013)

This is the second season opener to Throwbackstudioz' inspired and heartfelt Uncanny X-Men series, centered on Professor X's past and his ongoing struggles to maintain peace among humans and mutants. Contains some complex psychological issues stemming from his childhood and father's death as well as a visit from Havok, Banshee, Polaris and Juggernaut. Hard to ignore this excellent fan series if you're a true lover of the X-Men.

X-Men: Nightcrawler (2013)

Here's another standout episode from the tireless folks at Throwbackstudios that focuses on the origin story of Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler. It's a poignant retelling of how this mutant came to be, his abusive upbringing in the circus and subsequent escape from servitude that leads to his introduction to Professor X. It's not easy being blue!

A New Mutant (2012)

This is an absorbing dramatization of Ultimate X-Men #41 as written by Brian Michael Bendis and directed by Matthew Bleau. It follows the comic closely as Wolverine counsels a young mutant whose incendiary powers have caused the accidental deaths of hundreds. It's a compelling subject matter handled with delicacy and heartbreak and showcases the depth of character the X-Men family is renowned for.

X-Men: Start Countdown (2016)

Throwbackstudioz are one of the most prolific of the X-Men fan film groups in the world so naturally I'm featuring a few of their best in this ranking. This first episode from Season 6 of their Uncanny X-Men series is an excellent example of their inspired work as the war with Apocalypse rages on and Bishop and Shard time-travel to the present day to warn the X-Men about the ancient villain's master plan. Mister Sinister makes an appearance with his posse of mutants to puts some serious hurt on Jean Grey, Wolverine, Rogue, Angel, Nighcrawler, Cyclops and the whole gang. Fun, flashy and fearlessly symbolizes all that fan films represent.

X-Men Legacy: Cyclops trailer (2010)

Check out this rockin' fan trailer for a potential X-Men spinoff film starring Scott Summers, aka Cyclops.  Cobbled together by YouTuber ShadesatKnight, it makes a convincing point for a spotlight outing of the optic blasting mutant, edited together using snippets of X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Heroes, Superman Returns, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Daybreakers, Iron Man, Daredevil, Disturbing Behavior (yes!) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.  Bonus points for using A Perfect Circle's "The Outsider" for the score.

X-Men: Dream's End (2016)

This is the follow-up chapter of Start Countdown, again by the terrific troupe of cosplay actors from Throwbackstudioz, this entry showcasing Mr. Sinister and his alliance with Magneto and the Master of Magnetism's master plan to murder Senator Kelly and annihilate the X-Men after the failure during Days of Future Past. This shows the scope and seriousness that director Eric Green manifests within this X-Men homage and I especially love the gripping portrayal of Azazel and Mr. Sinister.

Rain (2016)

Check out this intriguing extrapolation of the Storm origin story but injected with a punk twist from the '80s run of Uncanny X-Men. The 23-minute film featuring an amnesiac Ororo Munroe was created by Maya Glick and directed by Zane Rutledge and Jeff Stolhand. There's a moody sophistication and harsh reality on display here that presents the character in all her troubled facets. An extremely effective short that will resonate with X-philes everywhere.

Wolverine Returns (2017)

Many of these fan films feature Wolverine as he's by far one of the most beloved on the X-Men roster and this gem delivers one of the best depictions by director and star Ross Michael Johnson. Here Logan returns to avenge X-23 and mixes it up with the DC Universe's Joker and Harley Quinn. Cinematographer Henry Hodge chooses some visually arresting compositions and intense colors in this Top 5 jewel that is short on story but high on style.

X-Men: Beware the Juggernaut (2013)

There are so many awesome episodes of this fan film series by Eric Vence Green and this exceptional offering from the second season is one of my favorites as the hulking Juggernaut faces off against Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Banshee, Nightcrawler, Iceman, Angel, Jubilee and Colossus. Evokes a true sense of the Marvel comics with a genuine love for the franchise in all its iterations.

Gambit Teaser (2017)

We might not ever get a big-screen Gambit feature as Hollywood kept teasing the project only to put it on ice indefinitely. Here's a killer short spotlighting Gambit, directed by Jensen Noen and starring Nick Bateman as a charismatic Cruise-esque Gambit. Boasting some sharp camerawork, lighting and editing, this exceptional fan film sports respectable special effects and cool choreographed martial arts and bo staff scenes courtesy of Bateman with actor Krzysztof Soszynski as Wolverine's son, Daken.

Cable: Chronicles of Hope (2016)

With a lot of chatter about Hollywood finally allowing Cable on screen in Deadpool 2, here's a perfect primer for the character from UK filmmakers George and Harry Kirby. Exhibiting a bit more of a budget yet still presenting the comics' "Messiah Complex" storyline with an excess of heart, this fan film features Nathan Summers aka Cable and Hope Summers taking out a strike team of mutant-hating Purifiers, grappling with Nightcrawler and hitting the road before Bishop crosses their path. Polished, poised and deserving of the gold!

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