Rise of the mutants
This week marks the 15-year anniversary of X-Men‘s arrival into UK cinemas. Bryan Singer’s first mutant movie was released with a fraction of the fanfare or marketing mojo awarded to most comic book films today, and yet it scored a slew of critical plaudits and brought home a tidy sum for Fox, sending the vast X-Men cinematic universe into action.
In the fifteen years since its debut, we’ve witnessed the rise of the mutants through two direct sequels, a pair of Wolvie-oriented spinoffs and the beginning of a brand new interconnected trilogy that’s due to wrap up in its third instalment, X-Men: Apocalypse (opens in new tab). So to commemorate the film’s legacy we’ve collected fifty of the best X-Men moments from the films….
Oh, and it kinda goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – SPOILER ALERT!
Apocalypse is nigh
The moment: A hooded figure decked out in a dusty cowl is seen atop a sand dune before a heaving crowd of thousands chanting his name as he assembles the pieces of the Great Pyramids using telekinesis. The camera turns to reveal his blue visage and four comrades in the distance on horseback…
Mutant magic: Included in the end credits of the theatrical Days of Future Past cut, the sight of En Sabah Nur tipped us off to where the franchise was headed next, with the comics’ most feared mutant of all time making his onscreen debut.
New mutant showcase
The moment: The brand new roster of young mutants gather at the CIA’s Division X hideaway, congregating in their social quarters. In a circle Angel, Mystique, Havok, Beast, Darwin and Banshee each display the extent of their powers.
Mutant magic: Watching the X-Men behave just like normal kids is a refreshing reprieve from the constant mayhem. Shame it’s all cut short by Shaw’s arrival.
The Danger Room
The moment: The younger X-Men recruits battle Sentinels inThe Last Stand‘s explosive opening sequence, that turns out to be merely a simulation – complete with Logan on hand to drily deliver feedback to the gang, chewing on his cigar as the whole world burns around him.
Mutant magic: Brett Ratner’s one and only stab at the franchise starts promisingly. The troupe are on top form and the CGI is better than expected.
Mystique saves Wolverine
The moment: Stryker’s troops scour the Potamac River and retrieve Logan’s body from its murky depths. Signalling the moment Stryker first decides to experiment on Wolverine in the Weapon X program, his eyes flicker yellow at the last second revealing he’s actually Mystique…
Mutant magic: A spin on Wolvie’s canonical fate, wherein he’s given his adamantium claws, with Mystique capturing him instead he’s given a new lease on life. Of course, if he shows up in Apocalypse, he’s got to have those metallic talons somehow, right?
Trask behind bars
The moment: After his Sentinel program is shot down by the government Trask is arrested for selling government secrets. This alternate post-credits scene shows him holed up beneath the Pentagon in the same cell Magneto occupied earlier in the movie.
Mutant magic: Only appears in the Rogue Cut version of the movie and ties Trask and Magneto’s fates together perfectly.
The moment: Xavier’s troop of new recruits settle into the Mansion by embarking on a training regime: that’s presented as a montage! Beast sprints past X, Havok hones his blasting radius, and Charles forces Erik to shoot a loaded weapon directly into his temple.
Mutant magic: It’s like Rocky… but with mutants.
The end of the X-Men
The moment: In the final moments of the ‘future’ portion of Days of Future Past, the Sentinels breach the X-Men’s Chinese monastery hideaway, taking out Storm, Blink, Bishop, Warpath, Colossus, Sunspot and Magneto.
Mutant magic: Superhero deaths are major events in the comics, and it’s even more of a rarity to see them onscreen – in such gory detail.
Wolverine battles Sabretooth
The moment: Magneto holds Rogue captive in the Statue of Liberty in an attempt to absorb her powers to fuel his mutant-maker, as one of his henchmen Sabertooth battles furiously with Wolverine.
Mutant magic: One of the first time Wolvie’s trademark barb – calling people “bub” – is heard is pretty iconic, but this showcases the first time he bands together with Jean and Scott to defeat a villain. Making him a true X-Man.
Senator Kelly’s breakdown
The moment: The staunch anti-mutant Senator Kelly is captured by Mystique and zapped by the Brotherhood’s artificial mutation device transforming him into one of them. He high tails it to Xavier’s school where the instability of his new form leads to his watery death. Literally. He blobs about like a jellyfish before bursting into a puddle.
Mutant magic: Even though he’s a bit of a bastard, he finds comfort in his final moments from Storm who reassures him that not all mutants have an evil, tyrannical agenda.