It's almost time for Jean Grey to get a little extra in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and once again the X-Men are going to have to pull out all of the stops to save the day. But while we know what's going to happen in the movie, the future of the X-Men franchise is far from clear. The Disney/Fox merger will soon place all of Professor Xavier's gifted youngsters in the care of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so give or take a miraculous New Mutants release, this is the end of the X-world as we X-know it, and we're having X-feelings.
Emotions lead to nostalgia, and means that it's time to go back over all of the films in the X-Men saga and choose our favorites. It would be all too easy to just list scenes from Logan for every single entry, but we're not gonna let ourselves play that X-card.
What scenes in the X-universe got us excited? Which ones stuck in our memories long after the credits rolled? Which ones had us going back to these movies again and again? Which scenes featured had Ian McKellen in them? It's time to strap in and go BAMF, bub, because it's ranking time. Be prepared for some takes that are insanely hot, because like adamantium, you've gotta keep the takes hot— once they cool, they become indestructible.
The Wolverine (2013) — Ridin' the rails
We enjoyed the second Wolverine spin-off much more than we expected to, and it was somewhere around this scene that we realized that. Logan has a fantastically choreographed fight sequence on an insanely high-speed train, and the result is a fast and furious, claw-swiping ride for our lives. We thought that we'd seen every live-action interpretation of what a pissed-off Wolverine was capable of, but this scene proved us wrong. The rest of the movie shed more light on that, as did the Wolvie spin-off that came next.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) — Charles (and Charles) in charge
Young Charles Xavier is not in a good place in this movie, so thankfully he gets a little help from his older self. Patrick Stewart's Xavier sharing the screen with James McAvoy's Xavier is a powerful and memorable moment, as they are both fantastic in the role.
It is the incredible wisdom that Stewart exudes almost every time he opens his mouth that puts it over the top, however, and he finally manages to break through to his younger self. "Sometimes we all need a little help," he says, even if that someone happens to be himself.
X-Men: First Class (2011) — Erik digs deep
We'd all gotten used to Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the roles of Xavier and Magneto, but this early scene let us know that James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender could teach us to love again. Their growing friendship is fantastic in this film (cut all too short, unfortunately), and this training scene is a highlight. Charles teaches Erik to find the point between rage and serenity, and Erik finds a power within himself that he didn't know he had. Charles probably came to regret this particular lesson, or at least not cashing in on it by teaching a Masterclass.
Deadpool 2 (2018) — The endless death of Deadpool
Deadpool sacrifices himself to save Russell's soul towards the end of this movie, and then he proceeds to have a long, heroic death scene. We think he's gone, but then he keeps talking. And talking. And talking. It never ends.
He has a message for almost everyone present, and chooses to use this moment (of all moments) to continue the runner about Cable being a racist. Cable isn't a racist, and Josh Brolin once again plays the "I can't believe this is happening" note to perfection. When DP goes out for good, it's after one verse of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" from Frozen, which he realized earlier is a total ripoff of another song. He's alive again soon after, so this entire sequence is entirely masturbatory— just as Deadpool would want it to be.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) — Cooking with Quicksilver
Quicksilver pretty much... wait for it... RUNS AWAY with the movie thanks to this scene. No other action beat in the film tops it, and even his follow-up quick-speed scene in X-Men: Apocalypse isn't quite as much fun as this one. Evan Peters' Quicksilver isn't just getting the job done, he's getting it done in style.
He's so fast that he has time to make visual gags along the way, providing a wonderful blend of humor and action. Why he didn't stick with the team after this scene to help them out further is anyone's guess. They could've used a little OTP, yeah you know me.
X2 (2003) — God among insects
Every bit of this scene is gold, from Ian McKellen's delivery of "we love what you've done with your hair" onwards. He slowly, delicately, plants the idea in young Pyro's head that Xavier's peaceful way is not the only way. He shouldn't have to hide what he really is, he should celebrate it; revel in it, even.
Every single line delivery from McKellen is perfect here, and even the way he hands the lighter back to Pyro is majestic. It only takes one small look over to Mystique at the end of the scene to convey that they've ensnared another for their cause.
Logan (2017) — Laura and Logan go berserk
We've seen Wolverine lose his s**t before — indeed, this list already contains a scene of him losing it on a train. The X-movies are full of great Logan-rage moments (the X2 mansion attack comes to mind), but you know what's even better than a great Wolverine rage scene? A Wolverine rage scene that also has X-23 in it, that's what!
You don't want to go into these woods today, and it's not because the teddy bears are having their picnic. It's because Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen are raging out like 'roided rhinos, and Keen's X-23 even manages to be more of a crowd pleaser than Logan. That's not an easy thing to accomplish, but she does it with her foot-claws fully extended.
X-Men (2000) — Plastic prison visit
The first X-Men movie saved its best scene for last. Yes, Charles and Erik are on different sides of this conflict, and yes they will have to continually fight against each other. That doesn't mean that they aren't friends, or that they can't meet for a friendly game of chess every now and then.
Stewart and McKellen play off of each other like the classical geniuses that they are, and pretty much the entire X-franchise is set up by the end of the scene. Erik reiterates that there is a war coming, and that he's going to fight it by any means necessary. With all of the considerable gravitas that Patrick Stewart possesses, Charles dispenses with the pleasantries and gives Erik back a firm response: "And I will always be there... old friend." Charles wheels away, Erik knocks over a chess piece, and a franchise is born.
Logan (2017) — No more guns in the valley
Wolverine is dead, long live Wolverine. Dafne Keen gives a masterful performance for the entirety of this movie, but her eulogy for the deceased Logan might be her best moment. In a fitting salute to our fallen hero, she quotes a movie that Charles Xavier was watching earlier, and says a line that she likely doesn't fully understand. We do, however, and her utterance of "there are no more guns in the valley" makes us think of not only Shane, but of other old things that used to be as well. Logan was the product of an old world, just as Laura is the product of a new one. The old claw-slingin' cowboy's days are done— it's time for the new guard to take up the call. The branches that mark Logan's grave with an "X" are the perfect touch.
X2 (2003) — Too much iron in your blood (Magneto escapes)
We can still hear the roars of delight from the opening night crowd when we saw this movie for the first time. Brian Cox's Stryker is the main antagonist for most of this movie, and everyone was just breathless with anticipation for Magneto to break out of his plastic prison and start messin' s**t up. The setup to his Mystique-assisted escape is great, as is the way Ian McKellen plays the discovery of there being "too much iron" in the guard's blood. By the time he's got it all sucked out and formed into little balls of death, he's ready to break free...and audiences were cheering him on. McKellen is able to convey incredible power with the simplest of gestures, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this sequence. It's our favorite scene in this film, and no other scene in the X-verse ever topped it.