watching The X-Men

Basically the way this works is there is a set of characters in the original movies, and then there are some younger versions of the characters in the First Class movies (except for Wolverine, who remains a constant).  I like the X-Men First Class (younger versions) sequence better.  I find the movies funnier, more clever and with more interesting character dynamics.  I also appreciated the Star Trek callouts.

X-Men (2000) – watch
X2 (2003) – watch
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – X-Men 3 – this is terrible.  skip.

X-Men: First Class (2011) – X-Men First Class 1 – watch
The Wolverine (2013) – I haven’t seen.  Doesn’t have good reviews.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – X-Men First Class 2 – watch
Deadpool (2016) – I refuse to view this
X-Men: Apocalypse (2017) – X-Men First Class 3 – watch
Logan (2017) – Wolverine 2 – Supposed to be good, but harrowing.  I haven’t seen.

Timeline

The timelines of the two overlapping X-Men can be a bit confusing to sort out.

First Class is in 1962.

Days of Future Past is in 1973 (mostly).
In my opinion, Days of Future Past alters the future so that the terrible The Last Stand never happened.  In Days of Future Past they also make it look like Mystique is saving Wolverine from Stryker, but clearly he is eventually captured, because we see him imprisoned in Apocalypse.  (Presumably they had to do this to keep some integrity in the timeline.)

Apocalypse is in 1983.

It’s not clear to me exactly what years X1/2/3 are set in.  Looks like they are more or less set in their release years, sometime in the early 2000s.

Conclusion

More movies are coming of course.  The next one in the First Class sequence is apparently Dark Phoenix.

watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe

In my opinion, there are basically two standout movies from the various phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so far: the first Captain America (Captain America: The First Avenger) and the first Guardians of the Galaxy.  You can watch both as standalone (and in any case Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t really fit with the Avengers movies anyway).  The first Iron Man also has its merits, but suffers from some pretty extensive misogyny.  If you watch any Avengers at all, watch Age of Ultron.

In fairness, these movies are a complicated combination of competing factors.  I am more interested in the interpersonal dynamics, but for legitimate reasons of fan interest, the movies pretty much have to contain aspects of fan debate and set-piece battles.

The fan debate items are things like:
“What happens if Thor’s hammer Mjölnir hits Captain America’s vibranium shield?  (Answer: A sort of giant shockwave) or
“Can The Hulk lift Thor’s hammer Mjölnir?” (Answer: no)

Unfortunately one of the main fan debate items, and one which is also cinematically cost-effective, is What happens if character X fights character Y?  Which means we end up with a lot of engineered situations of Avenger fighting Avenger.

The set piece battles are similarly popular with fans, but end up basically just being a jumble of people doing super power things until the bad guys inevitably lose.

The MCU is currently broken up into three phases.  They have various Avengers, plus Spider-man, but not the X-Men (due to obscure studio licensing issues).  The X-Men is a completely separate universe cinematically.

Phase 1

Iron Man (2008) – Iron Man 1 – watch
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – I didn’t view it
Iron Man 2 (2010) – skip
Thor (2011) – skip
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Captain America 1 – watch
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) – Avengers 1 – watch

Phase 2

Iron Man 3 (2013) – watch but skip the set-piece battle
Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Thor 2 – I didn’t view it
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Captain America 2 – watch

[ Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Guardians of the Galaxy 1 – watch but it really doesn’t fit with the rest of the Avengers movies; you can watch it standalone ]

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Avengers 2 – watch
Ant-man (2015) – skip

Phase 3

Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Captain America 3 – watch but skip the battle at the end
Doctor Strange (2016) – I didn’t view it

[ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) – skip – long sequence in the middle where they are captured on and then escape from the ship is cringe-worthy and celebrates gratuitous violence ]

Spider-man: Homecoming (2017) – Spider-man reboot 3 movie 1 – I haven’t seen

There are a few sequences you could watch, for example Iron Man 1 & 3, or Captain America 1, 2, 3.

Conclusion

There are lots more movies lined up.  You can see the current plans at e.g. https://marvel.com/movies/all

They are basically positioning everyone for the Avengers Infinity War movies (the battle for the Infinity Stones) in 2018 and 2019.  That will close a 10 year cycle of movies, I’m not sure where they will go after that.