X-Men: Apocalypse is now in theaters all around the world and despite it's disappointing opening weekend box office here in the US, it is doing rather well internationally. The movie is full of everything we love above the X-Men franchise: from a smoking redhead who can move things with her mind to a idealist, wheelchair bound headmaster. We get a little bit of everything in this movie with humor supplied by Quicksilver, dramatic gravitas brought by the excellent Michael Fassbender, and fun action beats from the whole cast. But its time to look back at what has come before, to appreciate this nearly two decade long franchise and all it has to offer. X-Men has gone through everything; from the excellence of Days of Future Past to the crapfest that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. You could say there's really something for everyone in this franchise.
With the seemingly endless onslaught of superhero films, we sometimes forget and take for granted the franchise that restarted the superhero genre. X-Men is often underappreciated, dismissed, and even forgotten. Not today! Today we are going to take a look back at all the wonder action scenes this momentous franchise has to offer. Although these films have been mainly focused on character struggles, idealistic battles, and dramatic tension, we cannot forget all the wonderful action moments it has given to us over the years. Let's take a look back at the top ten best action scenes throughout the nine films and 16 years of this series, who's with me?
Spoilers for everything before Apocalypse. Obviously.
10.The Sentinels Strike Back
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
What better place to start than the end? This great action scene comes in as the climax to, in my opinion, the greatest X-Men movie yet. Its set in the dystopian future that has our original cast of X-Men holding off the massive swarms of sentinel forces so that Wolverine can finish his mission. It's a heart wrenching scene starting with the brutal murder of Halle Berry's Storm and ending with the tragic demise of both Xavier and Magneto. Not only are the powers of Blink, Sunspot, and Bishop all stunning to watch, but the emotional punch this scene provides really sets it higher than most slugfests. We see the sentinels mimicking powers, ripping Colossus in two, butchering Iceman, and eventually ripping their way in spelling the doom of all Mutants. It's a touching scene, really, and I would feel remiss if I didn't include it on this list.
9. Jean vs The Professor
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Now, I hate this movie. Sure it's got good moments and interesting ideas but on the whole, this movie is the reason the X-Men franchise was dormant for so many years and it really disappointed me on every front. I remember being SO excited for this movie and it just... sucked. Either way, there is one scene that, no matter how dumb it is in context, is very powerful in the moment. I'm of course talking about the scene where Jean and Xavier psychically face off in the living room of her childhood home. Its not a bunch of crazy choreography or stunts, it's just a display of Jean's raw power and limitless strength. Its punctuated by the death of Xavier but not before we see the house lifted off the ground and all our heros propelled into the air. Not to mention the music in the scene is stellar.
8. Origins' Opening Credits
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Another movie that I loath but has good moments, Origins is just awful. Just plain awful. From the cheesy dialogue to the crappy effect (to Deadpool!???), everything is terrible. But it started off strong. If you were an immortal, brutish man with serious anger issues and lots of violent tendencies, what would you do with your life? Well, if you're Wolverine, you'll pass that time participating in every major American war you can... even though he's Canadian. Still, this sequence does three things perfectly: it captures all the hardship Wolverine went through, establishes his tenacity and ferocity, and every sets up the relationship between him and his half brother. It's a perfect little time capsule montage that started a movie strong only to have the whole thing completely fall apart minutes later. Even so, this is still a well crafted, engaging, action scene putting our heros in the real world.
7. Magneto: Frankenstein's Monster
X-Men: First Class (2011)
One of, if not the best X-Men films to date, this movie has a lot of wonderful moments but it's low on action; well, inventive action that is. There are lots of fantastic Magneto scenes-- the gate of Auschwitz, the escape from the plastic prison, the moving of the Golden Gate Bridge, the attack on the White House-- but this one in particular has so much tension and character. It isn't big and bombastic. He isn't dropping a stadium or ripping up all of Cairo, all he's doing is sitting in a bar, and talking to tailors and pig farmers. The real triumph of the scene comes with the stellar direction by Matthew Vaughn and the terrifying acting of Fassbender. He makes you feel every stab. He makes you want these men to be brutally murdered. It's violent, it's emotional, it's suspenseful, and its only number 7.
6. Wolverine Berserker Rage
X2: X-Men United (2003)
I remember the first time I saw this scene. I ran into the kitchen, put three butter knives in between my fingers on both hands, and ran around trying to stab my brothers. Maybe it wasn't the best influence on me but it was (and is) amazing. This was the first time we really saw the animal in Wolverine. He goes full crazy as he murders a man in the kitchen, kills men down the hall, and massacres men in the entry way. It's intense. Its exceptionally violent. And its brutal. Lots of times in superhero movies you don't feel the hits because it looks like CGI hitting more CGI. This was one of the first times that it seemed a superhero was really just murdering people left and right. I love it. Its also the first time we hear the now iconic Jackman roar.
5. Attack of the Sentinels
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Another great sentinel scene, the start to DOFP lets us see what we're really up against. Kicking off the triumphant return for Bryan Singer to the X-Menverse, this fast paced, CG extravaganza really shows what Singer can do with better technology and what the audience is in for. This scene is heart pumping from the get go with drums beating underneath the action and our heros literally racing against time. We get to see possibly the most visually pleasing mutants on screen against a horrifying foe. The sentinels vs the future X-Men doesn't have single dull moment. From the intro to the ice slide to the creative inventiveness of Blink, this scene has impressive moment after impressive moment. We see before our eyes the morbid demise of these young mutants just for the scene to end with a clever bait and switch. One of the best starters to any X-Men film.
4. Deadpool Has 12 Bullets (Foul Language)
This year's Deadpool was a smash hit, exceeding every expectation and surpassing every prediction. It was a perfect blend of insanity, violence, levity, dirtiness, energy, and even more violence. To really highlight the tone the movie was going for, it started out with this ingenious scene of Deadpool counting bullets and he brutally massacres a whole highway of people. The twist? He only has 12 bullets to kill them all. It is really an impeccable balance between gory, onscreen deaths and hilarious, outlandish hijinks. His perfect marksmanship and acrobatic movements change what could have been a run of the mill shootout, and instead turn it into an exciting comedy bit. The action is fun, Deadpool's lines are HILARIOUS, and it's shot in such a fun and creative way, you can't help but love every minute of the scene. That last bullet... Perfect.
3. Wolverine vs Shengen
The Wolverine (2013)
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, this fight is both humorless and grounded. No flips, no CGI explosions, no distractions or useless stakes. This fight is just an all out death match between a master Samurai who has lost everything and a merciless animal fueled by rage. Its hard hitting, its raw, it is brutality at its finest. Here we finally get to the see not only the strength but the speed of Wolverine as he goes head to head against a man who has nothing to lose. Shengen and Logan both fight tooth and nail as the lightning storm outside really sets the mood. With swords breaking, veins popping, and backbones slicing, this fight does not hold back. We get to see Wolverine in peak physical shape-- which, even as a straight man, I can fully appreciate-- with all the rage we've ever wanted him to have. There's stabbing, there's throwing, there's clawing. Its everything you could ever want from a Wolverine vs a Samurai fight. Plus that ending will really stab you in the heart... ha ha.
2. Quicksilver in the Pentagon
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Deciding between my number 1 and number two moments was very hard but ultimately, this is how the cards fell. Yet another entry from DOFP, this scene was the most talked about moment of the movie and one of the greatest superhero action moments of all time. It was completely unexpected and inventive! As Quicksilver moves at clock stopping speeds, we get to see the world as he does. He get to see the pots floatings and bullets soaring. It's an incredible scene. As "TIme in a Bottle" kicks in, we the audience get to kick back and watch one of the most enjoyable and rewatchable scenes ever. Quicksilver's wit and childish humor blend perfectly as he takes the time to give a man a wedgie, taste some soup, and even slow-mo punch a guy in the face all before he saves his companions from flying bullets. Its a masterpiece with every inch of the scene dialed to perfection. Sadly, in my opinion, it falls just a little short of our number one.
1. Nightcrawler vs The Secret Service
X2: X-Men United (2003)
This scene really changed the way I saw comic book movies. Up until this point the coolest thing I had ever seen a superhero do was fight in a cage match, dodge a bunch of throwing knives, and maybe kill some vampires. Nightcrawler single-handedly taking on a horde of Secret Servicemen opened my eyes to what a movie could really do. It's fast paced, merciless, suspenseful, and epic. With the perfectly chosen Mozart's Requiem playing in the background as Nightcrawler 'bamfs' throughout the White House, I get nerd chills. Not only did we get a fan favorite character perfectly brought to the big screen; not only did we get an amazing start to one of the best superhero movies ever; not only did we get an intense, ruthless action scene, we also got to finally see what Mutants were capable of. X-Men (2000) is a great movie and its full of wonderful moments and iconic characters, but it never gave us this envelope busting, expectation exceeding, mind blowing Nightcrawler scene. Sure, Quicksilver's moment may have been more technically impressive, but since this one came first I'm giving it the leg up.
There you have it, my personal favorite and best action scenes in the X-Men world. What did you think? Is there a moment I forgot? Is there a scene you think should have been lower or higher? Should I have included anything from the first movie? Comment below and let me hear about it, I'd love to chat!
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