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How to watch the X-Men movies in order (release and chronological)

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios/Disney)

Wondering how to watch the X-Men movies in order? Well, you probably are after... actually, nevermind, we won't go into spoilers here, but it's never been a better time to watch the X-Men movies. However, due to the sheer number of sequels, prequels, and spin-offs, it can be quite complicated to know where to start.

But that's where we come in. Sure, the X-Men timeline features time-jumps and multiple different version of the future. Sure, some of it is logically inconsistent. Yet, we here at Total Film and GamesRadar+ enjoy a challenge. Whether you want to watch the X-Men movies in release or chronological order, read on to find out the best place to start in untangling the adventures of our favourite team of mutants – we recommend watching them in release order, but it’s entirely up to you.

And, just in case you're in the wrong place and only want MCU adventures, then be sure to check out our guide on how to watch the Marvel movies in order.

How to watch the X-Men movies in order: release order

Best for: Our recommended viewing experience. 

By watching the X-Men movies in release order, newcomers get to experience the stories as everyone else did, plus it's simply much easier than attempting to make any kind of sense of the time-travelling and parallel universes. Trust us.

Side note: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut takes place in a future that is erased by the time the credits roll, so don’t beat yourself up if you’d prefer to watch the theatrical cut or don’t want to give up precious hours to watch them both.

And, don't forget, nearly all the X-Men movies are on Disney Plus, so be sure to catch them on there. 

How to watch the X-Men movies in order: chronological order(s)

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Things are about to get a little complicated. Now there are a few ways this can be done. First up, we have The Easy Way, which puts all the X-Men movies into a strict order of when they are set – so we go from the '60s to the far future. This, unfortunately, leads to some issues as Dark Phoenix does not lead particularly nicely into the first X-Men, and then you also have the fact the Dark Phoenix catastrophe happens again with Jean Grey in The Last Stand... This one's a very literal chronological order without taking in varying timelines.

Instead, you're perhaps better off taking into account the multiple timelines that are caused when Days of Future Past erases the future we knew in the original trilogy. This one starts with X-Men: First Class, which technically applies to both timelines, and goes right up until the far future and the catastrophe that prompts Wolverine to travel back to 1973 and stop the Sentinels. It will perhaps make more sense if we show you the order – but, in short, two timelines that don't line-up...!

The Easy Way

Best for: No one, really... This one's just a literal timeline of events without taking into account multiple timelines.

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men Days of Future Past
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • Dark Phoenix
  • New Mutants
  • X-Men
  • X2: X-Men United
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
  • The Wolverine
  • Deadpool
  • Deadpool 2
  • Logan

It could be argued that Days of Future Past should be last here, in its future setting of 2023, but a whole lot of it takes place in 1973, so switch that about as you like according to taste. And Deadpool 2 also references Wolverine’s death in Logan, the latter of which is set in 2029, so let’s just assume Deadpool marches to the beat of his own drum.

The two X-Men timelines

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Prime timeline

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men
  • X2: X-Men United
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
  • The Wolverine
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

Second timeline

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (past events)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix
  • New Mutants
  • Deadpool
  • Deadpool 2
  • Logan

There are a lot of issues with the X-Men timelines, so many that they probably warrant a whole article of their own. Yet, by taking the series as two timelines, which almost works in release order, you can just about grasp and understand the series. 

We would suggest simply ignoring any inconsistencies. The X-Men series, after all, came way before the MCU, which established how movies should relate to one another. It’s therefore no use trying to apply real-world logic to a world of mutants and mad scientists (we’re looking at you, Bolivar Trask), but that’s what’s so special about the X-Men: they’re a microcosm for real-world prejudice in a fantasy world full of superheroes – and we love them for it.

For more on your favorite superheroes, check out our guides to all the upcoming superhero movies to be excited about.

Millicent Thomas was once a freelance games and film journalist, writing for publications including GamesRadar, Total Film, Space.com, GamesIndustry.biz, Wireframe, Little White Lies, Culturess, SciFiNow, and more. She is now in international PR and marketing for Ubisoft.