When it comes to the current cinematic superhero boom that we’re experiencing, the roots of this explosion in popularity for such movies can be traced back to a select few films. The likes of Blade and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man are two that instantly jump out, as too does Bryan Singer’s X-Men back in 2000.
Since then, the X-Men franchise has become a global juggernaut, turning out six pictures for the main X-Men franchise whilst giving Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine his own trilogy, and also having Ryan Reynolds wow audiences with 2016’s Deadpool. In addition to that, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is due to start shooting later this year ahead of a November 2018 release, two further Deadpool movies are confirmed, X-Force looks to finally be happening, Josh Boone is working on New Mutants, and there’s still just a smidge of hope that the long-gestating Channing Tatum-headlined Gambit will see the light of day at some point.
To put it mildly, the X-Men movies are big business for 20th Century Fox. Still, that doesn’t always mean that these films and the world that has been created are flawless.
Throughout 17 years of X-Men films, there’s been times where fans have wanted to pull their hair out, there’s been plenty of times where things just simply don’t make sense, and there have been those times where certain parts of certain films have outright sucked!
So with that in mind, here’s 16 times that the X-Men movies got it horribly wrong.
16 The Change In Sabretooth
In the comic books and in the movies, Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth, is so often depicted as Wolverine’s biggest rival and his greatest nemesis. The only issue with the movie version(s) of Sabretooth is how he’s so vastly different during his two appearances.
When Creed appeared in 2000’s X-Men, he was played by Tyler Mane, looked every inch the part when compared to his comic book counterpart, and he was depicted as not the sharpest tool in the box.
Yet when X-Men Origins: Wolverine arrived in 2009, the action was set two decades or more before X-Men and featured Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. Here, the rogue was a smart, calculating and brutal mutant who looked vastly different to the Sabretooth we’d seen in X-Men.
A tie-in comic gave some explanation for this huge change in the character’s appearance, personality and intelligence, but these changes were dealt with sloppily when it came to the big screen.
15 The Appearance Of The Sentinels
For so long, many comic book fans had waited patiently to see the fan favourite Sentinels brought to the big screen. Sure, we’d been given a glimpse of a Sentinel during a Danger Room sequence in X-Men: The Last Stand, but fans wanted a “proper” look at these beloved rogues.
And then we got just that in X-Men: Days of Future Past…
You could say it’s a case of be careful of what you wish for, for when the Sentinels were finally given their time to shine, what we got was a glossy bastardisation of these iconic machines. Made up of magnetic plates that are biomechanical in nature, these Sentinels looked vastly (and painfully!) different to their comic book counterparts and left a bad taste in the mouth of many a moviegoer.
14 The Inconsistencies Of William Stryker
Throughout the X-Men franchise, the figure of William Stryker has been a recurring one, with the character having been played by Brian Cox, Danny Huston and more recently by Josh Helman in X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse.
All three actors have done some great work as anti-mutant uber-bastard Stryker, but the problem here is how 20th Century Fox has allowed such a lazy approach when it comes to Stryker’s continuity.
To give an idea of the narrative appearances from these different Strykers, Josh Helman's version is in his mid-late 20s in 1973 as per Days of Future Past, yet Danny Huston's take is in his late 40s just 6 years later in X-Men Origins' 1979 setting, while Brian Cox was 57 when he played the 'near future' Stryker in X2.
13 Wolverine’s Claws
One of the big gripes amongst X-fans is the treatment that Wolverine’s famed claws have received throughout the X-Men movie series so far.
While ol’ Canucklehead started the series with his familiar adamantium claws, that all changed by the time that The Wolverine came to a close. After that film’s climactic battle against Silver Samurai, Logan had his claws actually sliced off by his opponent.
From there, Wolverine was left with mere bone claws as that picture concluded. Skipping things forward to the apparent near future of X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Wolvie is back with his adamantium claws once again… with absolutely zero explanation whatsoever.
Many have presumed that Logan’s relationship with Magneto led to the reemergence of his adamantium claws, but it would’ve been nice to get at least some sort of indication as to how Wolverine’s claws were restored to their shiny glory.
12 The Moira MacTaggert Issue
In the comic book world, Moira MacTaggert is largely a supporting player in the bigger picture of the Marvel landscape, although she does have her time to shine and even becomes a love interest of Professor X’s at certain points. Cinematically, though, just so much about Moira doesn’t make sense.
Looking at the timeline of the X-Men movies, Moira is introduced back in 1962 during X-Men: First Class. There she’s played by Rose Byrne and depicted as an American CIA Agent. Fans of the series had already been introduced to MacTaggert, however, in X-Men: The Last Stand. There, Olivia Williams played the character and is a Scottish geneticist.
While the extreme career change can just about be ignored, the fact that Byrne was 32 years of age when playing Moira in 1962 while Williams was 38 when playing the character in the ‘near future’ of the 2006 The Last Stand is ridiculous.
Realistically, the Last Stand Moira should be 40 or 50 years older than the First Class incarnation.
11 A Lack Of Love For The Wolverine
While this year’s Logan won a whole heap of praise from fans and critics alike, with it being a truly fitting send-off for Hugh Jackman’s time as Wolverine, there’s not much love out there for the previous two solo pictures for Jackman’s Weapon X.
Granted, 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a mish-mash of a movie that falls flat on multiple levels, but James Mangold’s 2013 The Wolverine is criminally underrated by most people.
Pulling inspiration from Frank Miller’s Japan-set, Samurai-influenced comic book run with Wolvie, Mangold’s film was a stylish, dark, delicate, slow-burning film that manages to do justice to the source material while delivering a purposely-paced, intricate and engaging movie that is pitch perfect (bar the CGI-tastic final battle pitting Wolverine against the Silver Samurai).
Maybe X-Men Origins left a bad taste in people’s mouths, maybe people were tired of the X-Men altogether, or maybe people were disappointed in the lack of other mutants in the film, but for some reason The Wolverine is sadly painfully overlooked for its sheer brilliance by many.
10 Dragging Their Feet On Gambit
While Wolverine may often be seen as the popular face of the X-Men, and while Cyclops is the leader of the team, to many the hands-down coolest member of the group is and always will be Remy LeBeau, aka Gambit.
As such, the inclusion of this character in the cinematic X-Men realm is something that fans have been clamouring for since the franchise began.
While Gambit was teased in an X2 deleted scene and initially written into X-Men: The Last Stand, we did finally get to see Remy brought to life by Taylor Kitsch in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And in fairness to Kitsch, he did manage to be one of the standout highlights of a so-so-at-best, much-panned picture.
Since then, we’ve seen nothing from Gambit despite Channing Tatum having long been attached to star in a solo movie for the cooler-than-cool, kinetic energy manipulating Cajun. At the last count, 20th Century Fox’s Gambit was still spinning its wheels in development hell, much like has been the case for the past 2 or 3 years now.
9 Matthew Vaughn Not Returning For Days Of Future Past
Following 2006’s so-so X-Men: The Last Stand and 2009’s poorly-judged X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it appeared that the cinematic X-Men had taken their last breath. But with X-Men: First Class in 2011, fans were treated to a movie that many consider to be the very best in the franchise so far.
And key to all of that was director Matthew Vaughn.
That movie and its slick 1960s stylings made for a film that surprised many, turned doubters in to believers, and was loved by fans and critics alike.
Unfortunately, Vaughn’s planned return for X-Men: Days of Future Past ultimately didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts with Kingsman: The Secret Service. As such, Bryan Singer directed Days of Future Past, which was a decent enough film but one that could have been so much more if Vaughn had been able to continue his work from First Class.
8 Wolverine’s War Memories
When we’re introduced to Wolverine way back in the first X-Men movie, one of the overarching plot points is that Logan has no memory of certain parts of his past. By the time X-Men Origins: Wolverine came around, we got some more specific information when it was explained that Wolvie can’t remember anything before 1979.
Still, when Origins was followed up in 2013 with The Wolverine, key to that picture was Logan’s memories of his time during World War II – a time that he can seemingly remember everything about.
Again, something like this is lazy at best, flat-out ridiculous at worst. Was Wolverine really lying about his amnesia all along? Did something in The Wolverine trigger his memories to return? Did his memories get restored at some point after X-Men: The Last Stand? Who knows!
One of the most prominent elements of the X-Men comic book world, particularly in the 1980s and ‘90s, was how convoluted and confusing it all was.
For anyone who patiently did their best to make sense of those tales at the time they were first printed, it was a true task in itself to get through a single issue of one of the various X-Men titles and be able to make some semblance of sense at what you’d just read.
Similarly, the cinematic adventures of Professor X’s team of mutant misfits soon began down that path themselves, and in turn followed their comic book counterparts in often confusing their audience.
By deciding to play with alternative timelines and time travel, the big screen X-Men franchise has made itself hard to digest and keep up with to casual audiences, which is a huge no-no in how it makes itself off-putting to many.
6 Not Using Mister Sinister
One of the most beloved villains of the X-Men comics is the ominous and badass-looking Mister Sinister.
Pretty much as far back as X-Men: The Last Stand, there’s been constant rumours that Sinister, aka Nathaniel Essex, would be making his way to the big screen… only for nothing to ever come of those rumours. And then there was the post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse.
In that stinger, audiences saw a vial of Wolverine’s blood placed into a briefcase marked Essex Corp. Immediately, that led fans to believe that the evolution-obsessed mad scientist known as Mister Sinister was to step out of the shadows for this year’s Logan.
Yet again, though, fans' hopes were raised and promptly dashed when Sinister wasn’t even given a fleeting mention in Hugh Jackman’s Wolvie swansong.
5 Positioning Mystique As A Hero
Sure, she may not have always been the all-smiling, baby-kissing, hand-slapping sort of good guy, but the positioning of Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique as a hero during the more recent X-Men movies seems misplaced, misguided and stinks of nothing more than an attempt to cash in on Lawrence’s ever-growing popularity.
Granted, in the comics and even with Rebecca Romijn’s take on the character during the original movies, Mystique is a complex, multi-layered character, but at the end of the day she’s ultimately a villain.
When Mystique was essentially ‘reset’ in X-Men: First Class, there was a nice balance to the shapeshifter’s persona before she eventually joined forces with Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. With X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, though, Mystique became more of an out-and-out hero, which seemed done merely as a way to make the most of Lawrence’s superstardom.
4 Death Is Meaningless
This isn’t something that can particularly be thrown at just the X-Men movies, more widely both comic books and superhero films in general. Still, that doesn’t take away how much of an issue death has been in the X-Men movie-verse.
By this point in the game, the X-series has rendered death a pretty much redundant concept. Not only does the varying timelines of the franchise mean that any supposedly huge and hard-hitting bereavement of any and all heroes and villains is worthless due to how these shocking moments can be re-written, but the franchise has also marginalized death in how certain should-be major moments were just glossed over.
Case in point, the death of Cyclops in X-Men: The Last Stand was pretty much swept under the rug and forgotten about instantly, despite Cyke being the leader of the X-Men and a franchise mainstay by that point in time.
Similarly, Professor X perishing in The Last Stand but then returning in the closing moments of The Wolverine with no explanation whatsoever was another way in which death was merely a trivial plot point with no lasting repercussions.
3 Too Reliant On Wolverine
We can all pretty much agree that Wolverine is one of the coolest comic book characters out there, and despite the early reservations about Hugh Jackman landing the gig for 2000’s X-Men, the Australian has been constantly fantastic as Weapon X. With that said, though, the cinematic X-Men movies have long been far too reliant on having Wolverine at the centre of everything.
Despite Wolvie being a fantastic character and Jackman being great in the role, by having him constantly being the one in the spotlight throughout the franchise it’s meant that fellow big-name characters haven’t been given the opportunity to shine as brightly as they could do if allowed to.
The likes of Colossus, Iceman, and Angel are just some who’ve felt a little short changed to date, and even more prominent characters such as Cyclops and Storm have felt like afterthoughts as Jackman’s Wolverine has taken centre stage.
2 Bungling The Phoenix
Whilst the fan favourite Dark Phoenix Saga is set to be the focal point of the next entry in the main X-Men movie franchise – the does-as-it-says-on-the-tin X-Men: Dark Phoenix – one of the biggest gripes of longtime X-fans is how Jean Grey’s descent into Phoenix-driven madness was handled in Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand.
What was particularly frustrating about that mish-mash of a movie was how the Phoenix element essentially served as a mere side dish to the more prominent tale of a cure being created in order to rid mutants of their mutations.
So instead of having the emotional impact Jean’s inner battle with the Phoenix Force should have had, instead that truly monumental and legendary comic book arc was reduced to playing second fiddle in the greater spectrum of the X-Men movie-verse.
With X-Men: Dark Phoenix set to start shooting later this year ahead of a November 2018 release, we can all at least hope that The Dark Phoenix Saga is finally given the cinematic respect it deserves.
1 Lazy Writing
The lazy writing and lack of attention to continuity in the X-Men movieverse is arguably the franchise’s biggest problem; it seems as if the writing teams in place easily forget what has gone before or as if every movie is a fresh new start for the series.
A lot of those issues have been covered in more detail elsewhere in this article, but other examples are the fact that Kitty Pryde’s powers develop from being able to phase through walls to being able to actually transfer consciousnesses back through time, the way that Emma Frost is played by the then-33-year-old January Jones in X-Men: First Class yet was only a teenager over a decade later narrative-wise in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the way Professor X died in X-Men: The Last Stand yet was alive and well without any explanation by the end of The Wolverine, that Beast is amazed and disgusted that a mutant cure exists in X-Men: The Last Stand despite he himself developing the perfect mutant cure in X-Men: Days of Future Past’s 1970s setting, that Scott Summers and Alex Summers are never particularly referenced as brothers, to…
You get the picture.
Sources: Marvel.com, Wikipedia, IMDb