The X-Men series as we know it was supposed to come to an end last month with the release of The New Mutants, a horror-tinged adventure that would have closed the curtain on the Fox franchise. The movie, like so many others, had its release date postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it seems like we’ll have to wait to see more of the X-Men, and even longer before Disney incorporates them into the MCU.
However, the past 20 years of X-Men film adventures have shown audiences a ton of different mutants. Some were better than others. A few got plenty of time in the spotlight, while many never even got a chance to appear on a crowded movie poster. So, to mark what would have been the end of the Fox X-Men saga, we’re going to find out which mutants made it to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and which ones wouldn’t even get a spot in the Weapon X program. That's right, I’m going to rank every mutant, right here.
Well, almost every mutant. While it would have been nice to be able to include the characters in the New Mutants movie (that was the original plan, in fact), the delay has made it so we can’t accurately rank them. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at Cerebro’s finest …
Yes, despite being the main villain of a movie, a prominent antagonist in the comic series, having his name in the title, and getting played by Oscar Isaac, Apocalypse is ranked last. Why? Because I don't think a single mutant has had that much importance attached to them and been such an overall let down. Saddled with bad dialogue and an arc that basically amounts to "Destroy stuff...I guess," no one left this series with less dignity than this Ivan Ooze-looking chump.
Did y'all know that former President John F. Kennedy was a mutant in the X-Men film universe? Didn't really do anything, but he apparently had the power to influence people. That's...neat?
Kayla Silverfox was actually a pretty big part of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Sadly, she falls victim to a script that isn't really concerned with her, and by the end, Logan gets amnesia, so he won't remember her "important" status in his life anyway. She's mostly there because in a story about Wolverine's dramatic life and mysterious, action-filled past, it was decided that he also needed a half-baked love story.
Always fun when a mutant has some of the coolest powers ever (Ink's tattoos represent different abilities) and the film forgets about them immediately after they're introduced.
Poor Sunspot. You're so rad looking in the comics, but you mostly served to increase the body count in Days of Future Past.
Today, he mostly serves as the answer to the trivia question "Which member of the Black Eyed Peas starred in the most forgettable Wolverine movie?"
Ya know, I'm glad y'all took the time to fill Days of Future Past with cool mutants that had never appeared in the series before, but it doesn't really help your cause when they mainly exist to be murdered quickly (sometimes twice in the same film.)
I forgot Riptide was in X-Men: First Class until I looked him up. Sorry, Riptide.
Bishop was one of my favorite characters in the '90s X-Men cartoon and I couldn't wait for him to show up in a movie. And he does...where he gets exploded by the Sentinels. Oh. Okay.
Ooooh, man. Who is Magneto gonna recruit? I bet it's someone awesome that comic fans have been waiting for years for, and I can't wait to...oh, it's a weird snarky guy who can transform into a bunch of weird snarky guys. That'll do, I suppose.
Senator Kelly was technically a mutant, even if he did spend more time as a puddle on the Xavier's School floor than as a cool, walking bag of goop.
Gambit is a fan favorite character and rumors of a solo film being developed for him have gone on for over a decade. Sadly, his only role in the Fox series is as a side character in X-Men Origins, where he *checks notes* has an accent.
You're cool and all, Agent Zero, but if you wanna be remembered, especially in a film where you're surrounded by Wolverine, Sabretooth, and Ryan Reynolds, you're gonna need a better mutant power than "guns."
I swear to God, every time I watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine, someone edits in, like, 19 forgettable mutants.
I dig Blink, even with her limited role in Days of Future Past. Having the power to create portals definitely makes her a little more memorable than some other "blink and you'll miss 'em" cameos, whose abilties I can only describe as "energy something."
Black Tom Cassidy
I'm convinced that they added in Black Tom to Deadpool 2 just so they could do this one joke.
I feel bad for Havok. That dude was in three X-Men films and was never given anything to do besides "Have Cyclops' last name."
If Havok was "Cyclops, but, like, not yet," Azazel was "Nightcrawler, but give us a minute."
A haunting presence, Jason Stryker was mostly around to show the lengths his nefarious father would go to accomplish his plans. With a better Dad, he could've been a dope member of the X-Men instead of a lobotomized pawn.
I wish they'd given Angel Dust more to do, but big props nonetheless on getting Gina Carano into the X-Men series.
While Banshee does get points for being a fun part of X-Men: First Class, I'm gonna take most of those points away because he got killed offscreen later. His only memorial is Magneto basically telling Xavier "Hey, Banshee got killed. I bet you feel real bad, huh?"
Same thing as Banshee — really fun in First Class, and then they get used as guilt fodder in Days of Future Past. And it's Zoe Kravitz, too! Hopefully she gets treated better when she plays Catwoman in the next Batman flick.
Confession: I forgot Viper's powers before I went and saw The Wolverine, so I spent the whole movie thinking she was gonna turn into a giant snake later.
I was wrong.
Out of all of X-Men Origins: Wolverine's "Don't know when we're gonna get a chance to use this mutant again, so why not use him here?" cameos, Blob's is probably the goofiest, and therefore the most watchable. Though I could do without 100% of Wolverine's fat jokes. Why are you being such a hateful jerk all of a sudden, Logan?
Ajax...I mean, ummm, Francis, will never be known for his mutant-levels of charisma. But his self-seriousness does play off Deadpool really well, and that's one of the best things you can ask for.
Jubilee appears in brief scenes (both included and deleted) in the first three X-Men films, was considered for Days of Future Past, and had most of her stuff cut from Apocalypse. Overall, she has the most lopsided ratio of Appearances Made In Films to Stuff Actually Done In Them.
Firefist was fun and it kinda makes me sad that he'll probably never show up again due to Disney/Fox merger shenanigans.
Darwin got killed waaaaaaaaaaaay too early in First Class. I'm always down for a good "Oh man. Surprise death! The stakes are so high!" but Darwin's powers had so much potential and then he just got disintegrated by Kevin Bacon.
Zeitgeist, Shatterstar, Bedlam, and Vanisher
Candles that burn twice as bright melt twice as fast. Y'all are gone but not forgotten. X-Force for life.
When it comes to characters that have a lot of potential for both cool fight scenes and memorable sequences that are also played by performers who really enjoy the role, Psylocke is near the top of the list. Sadly, the writers of the film didn't really know what to do with her.
Quill, Arclight, and Callisto
Arclight, Quill, Callisto, and the other members of The Omegas were super cool due to how much they opened up the world of the X-Men series (which had usually been reserved for whatever Xavier and Wolverine were interested in at the time). Also, they looked awesome, and I kinda wish that they'd been the main antagonists of the film rather than being immediately overshadowed by Magneto's main crew.
Not technically a mutant (The armor did most of the power-stealing, if I remember correctly), but you can get a lot of points with me if you look rad in a giant robot suit.
Angel is another prominent X-Men character that never really got their fair shake in the films. However, the flashback scene where a young Warren Worthington III attempts to cut off his own wings is truly upsetting and possibly the best part of X-Men: The Last Stand.
Good bad guy and pretty cool commentary on the nature of reboots and the fact that Hugh Jackman's role will eventually be replaced by a younger, more jacked actor.
Three things here:
1) I'm glad they brought Juggernaut back for Deadpool 2.
2) I like the part in The Last Stand when Juggernaut throws Logan up through the ceiling and he falls down in a different part of the house. Reminds me of the "Save Bandit!" scene from The Office.
3) When the Juggernaut repeated his "I'm the Juggernaut, b&^$h!" meme line in the film, my whole theater cheered. 2006 was a weird time.
A different version of Yukio appeared in both The Wolverine and Deadpool 2, and they were a delightful presence in both. That said, I think I prefer her in Wolverine as Logan's "bodyguard."
Due to being one of the coolest parts of X-Men: First Class, a return by Emma Frost in a later X film seemed pretty certain. Sadly, like Banshee and Angel, she became listed as another victim of Bolivar Trask's experiments. She was apparently supposed to show back up in Dark Phoenix at one point, but no dice.
I would've expected them to fill the "last mutants alive" with someone with more of a household name, but I think that's why I like Caliban in Logan so much. He's a surprising, empathetic figure that manages to lighten up the deathly serious tone of, well, everything else.
Despite being a fairly major player in five films, Beast never really got the focus he deserved, even though he's the exact embodiment of the X-Men series theme of "I'm smart, kind, and extremely personable, but due to my mutation, regular humans don't give me a chance." He always seemed to have a bigger plotline in the works (His relationship with Mystique, his role as a mutant ambassador, his attempts to help Xavier regain his confidence, etc.), but all of these seem to get pushed aside to make way for whatever mutant was the actual "star" of the movie.
Despite not being one of the leads, Pyro was pretty notable in the series. In X2, he shows up as one of Xavier's students, but by the end, he finds that Team Magneto fits his style more and decides to defect. It's a great example of the differences in ideologies between the Professor and the Master of Magnetism, and how, even if they have the same goal, they'll always be a little bit at odds with one another.
Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Deadpool will always be the funniest and most watchable part of any scene that he's in, so there needs to be at least one character in the film that thinks he's amazingly lame. That role was filled by Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a character that made the films way more interesting due to her inability to enjoy Deadpool's antics in the slightest.
Sabretooth's spot in the X-Men film series is odd. He's Wolverine's mortal enemy, but in the first film, he's just kind of Magneto's big, furry heavy that MIGHT have connections to Logan.
Then, in Origins, he's Logan's eternal foe. Only, he's not, because he never shows up again.
I like Sabretooth. I like the idea that there's a Wolverine-like character who just gave into his id and decided to be mean to everyone, all the time. But the X-Men series always seemed like it had big plans for him and then never followed up on them.
I don't necessarily like Sebastian Shaw. He's not that interesting and in First Class, he kind of plays second fiddle to Xavier and Magneto's friendship/"break-up." However, Kevin Bacon joins the ranks of Michael Keaton's Vulture and Michael Shannon's Zod where the actor playing the character is so immensely charismatic that you can't help but focus on their every move.
Kelly Hu does so much with relatively little with her role as Lady Deathstrike in X2, creating a character both menacing and mysterious. And her fight with Wolverine at the end of the film? I love it. Hugh Jackman (and his stunt guys) put in some pretty good choreography over the years, but he's always at his best when he's caught off guard and getting his butt kicked. And Deathstrike kicks butt really, really well.
And that little clink sound when Deathstrike gets filled with adamantium and hits the bottom of the tank? *chef's kiss*
Despite showing up in cameo roles in the first three films, and in a slightly larger role in Days of Future Past, Colossus never made much of an impact. But he's great as the stick-in-the-mud tank-like presence in the Deadpool films, a guy who's always around to try and get Deadpool to be, well, less like Deadpool.
Deadpool is loud, quirky, constantly making jokes, and never seems to really have a plan in place.
Cable is silent, straightforward, wouldn't know a joke if it punched him in the face, and is all about his one single plan.
They were perfect for one another.
If I was being entirely subjective about all of this (and also entirely unreasonable), Toad would be my number one choice. He's my favorite mutant, and in the first X-Men film, he takes out Storm, Jean Grey, and Cyclops in one minute.
That said, that minute is his shining spot in the franchise and he's pretty much ignored elsewhere. Props for getting Ray Park in the role though, a year after he'd played the side-kicking, double bladed Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace.
For a long time, I wondered exactly how Domino's powers would translate to a live action film, especially when the most cinematic mutants tend to be the ones with the biggest claws or the ones that can make the biggest explosions. Luckily, they translated by making Domino one of the coolest new mutants in years.
Though she’d had cameo roles in the first two films, Kitty Pryde made her first notable appearance in The Last Stand, and was honestly one of the best things about it — a charismatic addition to a film that had no grasp of its own tone. She also was a key player in Days of Future Past (though her role wasn’t as large as it was in the original comic book arc), and I’d like to think that in an alternate universe, she was a much bigger part of the overall X-Men film franchise.
I really, really like Iceman. He's probably my favorite of the OG X-Men team. That said, despite getting a larger role as the original trilogy went on, he was mostly just defined by his relationship to Rogue and how much he eventually couldn't stand Pyro. I did his "softer" presence, though, as it was a nice break from the more militaristic combat attitudes of the other X dudes.
Cyclops plays a big role in the first X film as team leader and Jean Grey's stubborn boyfriend. He gets a significantly smaller role in X2 as one of Stryker's captives, and gets killed off in Act 1 of The Last Stand. A younger version shows back up in Apocalypse and he spends that film and Dark Phoenix crushing on Jean Grey.
Man, Cyclops. Really thought they would've done more with you.
In a film about death, Laura aka X-23 made a big impact as a hope for the future. Most of the X-Men films dealt with mankind's persecution of mutants, but with Laura's arc, we get the sense that maybe, after the first "extinction" of mutants, their second coming can be in a more just new world.
While Quicksilver did kind of fall prey to the X-Men "prequel" series not really having a confident overall direction, he did get the most memorable action sequences in two straight films. If only more attention had been paid to his actual character.
After being the emotional core of the first X-Men film and literally representing the "Would we be better off without our powers?" theme of The Last Stand, you'd think that, given the chance, Rogue would be a big part of Days of Future Past. Sadly, most of her scenes were cut from the theatrical version, leaving her with little more than a cameo.
Nightcrawler's role in the newer films has been a mixed bag. However, I can't overstate how cool his presence was in X2 and how much his opening "raid on the White House" scene in the film set the tone for not only that movie, but the series. The first X-Men film feels very much like a typical late '90s/early '00s action film with mutants in it. But thanks to Nightcrawler's violent, thrilling introduction, X2 was a fresh and unpredictable entry in the superhero genre.
I've written a lot here about the continual X-Men movie problem of "We have this great character, but we don't really know what to do with them." And no character better exemplifies that than Storm, who was a notable figure in six different X-Men films, and yet never really factored into any of them in a major way. However, the two actresses that portrayed Storm, Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp, certainly had a fondness for the character, which helped a lot.
Deadpool's path in the X-Men film series is certainly unconventional. Originally a side character in Origins that was later turned into a mouthless monster, he had a lot of potential that was never really realized. Then, a little less than a decade later, he got the chance for cinematic redemption and both of the Deadpool movies are now fan favorites due to their tone, action, and Ryan Reynolds' constant stream of self-aware jokes. Honestly, Reynolds getting a second chance at Deadpool is one of the best things to ever happen to the franchise.
The fact that one series cycled through the Dark Phoenix saga TWICE should tell you all you need to know about the importance of Jean Grey in this series.
Rarely does a character get so many chances to show off different facets of their personality as Charles Xavier did. In the original trilogy, he was a calm, affable presence. In the prequel films, he was a conflicted, troubled would-be mentor. In Logan, he was an elderly man haunted by his past and suffering from a mental illness. So it's hard to say that he wasn't three dimensional.
Mystique has always been the ace in the hole for the X-Men series, capable of both emotionally affecting scenes and dope, espionage-influenced action sequences. It's hard to figure out where her high points were, though her role as Magneto's super spy in X2 and Days of Future Past are certainly top contenders.
Magneto was super close to taking the top spot — he was played by both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender, two top notch performers. He was a blessing to have in action sequences. He had immense gravitas that went to Shakespearean levels when you combined it with the character's inner turmoil and rage.
Sadly, what brings this down a peg is the last two films — Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix — in which the character's arc became fairly incoherent. The scripts never really knew where they wanted Magneto to end up.
I mean, who else could take the top spot?
Look, I know that Wolverine was used a bit too much in these films, but he was the backbone of the series, with actor Hugh Jackman always down to play the world-weary mutant who was equal parts tortured experiment and rough-and-tumble team leader. For nearly 20 years, we got to see Wolverine from every angle, and by the end of Logan, the sadness in his demise was truly earned.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.