Extraordinary X-Men moments
In celebration of Dark Phoenix hitting theaters June 7, we’re looking back at our favorite scenes from X-Men movies.
Be sure to pick up your copy of EW’s Ultimate Guide to the X-Men on newsstands now.
11. 'That's not my name': X-Men: Days of Future Past
By the time Days of Future Past was released, Jennifer Lawrence already had loads of badass bona fides thanks to her time in Panem as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. But it’s still plenty impressive watching her take on a squad of soldiers to protect her fellow mutants wearing blue body paint and a renegade attitude — she’s not willing to answer to “Raven” anymore.
10: Every chess game ever: X-Men
“Doesn’t it ever wake you in the middle of the night? The feeling that someday they will pass that foolish law, or one just like it, and come for you and your children?” Inside the confines of a plastic prison, Erik Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen) poses the question to brother mutant Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) as the duo play chess. It was the first of several key scenes to see the rivals talk big ideas across a game board from one another and perhaps the most memorable — it’s always a pleasure to watch master-class actors Stewart and McKellen face off in a scene.
9. Storm lets loose: X-Men: The Last Stand
Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry might never have really gotten the chance to dig into Storm the way she deserved, but the third X-movie at the very least gave her a couple of showstopping scenes. In one quieter sequence, she’s troubled, so clouds begin to gather in the sky over Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters — and her role in the final battle is absolutely electrifying. Storm summons brilliant flashes of lightning that illuminate the night sky and spell serious trouble for Callisto (Dania Ramirez).
8. Magneto, Nazi hunter: X-Men: First Class
First Class opens with a young Erik Lehnsherr in 1944 Poland using his powers before he is knocked down by a Nazi soldier. Cut to 1962, and Erik (Michael Fassbender) has made his way to Argentina, where he tracks down two Germans who perpetrated atrocities during the Holocaust. The tension is palpable as Magneto engages them in casual conversation before unleashing his abilities to exact a brutal revenge. Fassbender is simply, well, magnetic to watch. Henry Jackman’s thrilling guitar-heavy score ratchets up the suspense in a knockout sequence directed with precision by Matthew Vaughn.
7. Opening credits: Deadpool
God’s Perfect Idiot really knows how to make a first impression. From the jump, Deadpool’s credits announced that this was not going to be your conventional superhero-saves-the-world blockbuster film. Taking full advantage of its well-deserved R rating, director Tim Miller paired freeze-frame action of mayhem and carnage with hyper-meta descriptions of the characters (“a hot chick”/”a British villain”) — the imagery is all borrowed from a killer opening shoot-out set piece that ends with Deadpool’s sending a car filled with bad guys careening o a highway overpass. Even better, it’s set to the soothing strains of Juice Newton’s 1981 hit “Angel of the Morning.” Classic.
6. 'I can't feel my legs': X-Men: First Class
It’s one of the most emotional moments in the entire X-franchise — Charles’ (James McAvoy) panicked realization that he’s lost feeling in his lower body after a bullet deflected by Magneto (Fassbender) hits his spine. The camera pulls back to see a fallen Charles, attended by friends, lying on a beach surrounded by the sprawling metallic debris of a misguided battle. The gravity of his words — and of Erik’s culpability for his injury — resonates.
5. A White House visit: X2: X-Men United
It’s not every day you get action sequences built around teleportation, and the opening moments of the first X sequel could be described as nothing short of x-hilarating (sorry). Alan Cumming’s blue-tailed mutant Nightcrawler turns up at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with plans to assassinate the president. And although he’s ultimately thwarted by Secret Service, he comes exceedingly close to his target, vanishing and reappearing midair inside swirling blue indigo clouds.
4. Xavier meets Xavier: X-men: Days of Future Past
The best part about comic-book narratives? They don’t have to abide by the laws of physics. Hence older Xavier (Patrick Stewart) being able to deliver a message from a dark future to his 1970s self (James McAvoy) — the younger man has lost his way and begun taking a serum that suppresses his psychic abilities and allows him to walk. Professor X assures younger Charles that he must find his way back to hope, to protect and nurture the relationship between mutants and mankind. Dreamy visuals courtesy of cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel (Bohemian Rhapsody) enhance the mood.
3. 'Time in a Bottle': X-men: Days of Future Past
Professor X sends Logan back to the 1970s — where his sideburns are the height of style — and where he encounters the mutant Quicksilver (Evan Peters, sporting silver hair and matching jacket). In the unforgettable slow-mo sequence, choreographed to the Jim Croce favorite, Quicksilver glides through a kitchen shootout, redirecting firearms and repositioning bullets suspended in midair while everyone around him remains frozen. When the action resumes, Wolverine, Magneto, and Xavier are surprised to find themselves still standing and the police surrounding them incapacitated. (Bonus points for Peters’ era-appropriate Pink Floyd T-shirt.)
2. Tooth and Claw: Logan
It’s one of the most emotionally charged Wolverine mo- ments ever brought to the screen. Having just witnessed the murder of Charles (Patrick Stewart) at the hands of his own clone, Logan (Hugh Jackman) chooses to rescue young X-23 (Dafne Keen) from an onslaught of attackers. Unleashing adamantium claws and genetically born rage, the pair leave a trail of broken, bleeding bodies behind them. Director James Mangold’s moody western might have brought Hugh Jackman’s time as the nearly indestructible mutant to a close after nearly two decades of heroic work in the role — but it appears as though his legacy will live on through Keen’s character, who adopts the name Laura — and turns out to be Logan’s offspring.
1. Prison escape: X2: X-Men United
Iron-rich blood can often lead to health issues — but it’s an especially dangerous condition when Magneto is close by. Detecting the presence of the element inside the body of guard Mitchell Laurio (Ty Olsson), the captive supermutant summons the iron from his veins and uses the material to fashion an escape from the elaborate plastic prison constructed to hold him indefinitely by the homicidal Colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox). The simple, knowing smile on Ian McKellen’s face at the beginning of the scene — as Erik Lehnsherr lies in the cell with his eyes closed, sensing opportunity — is pure magic.