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(Photo by New Line/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Ian McKellen Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Despite his prodigious presence in the world of acting, Ian McKellen didn’t start appearing on-screen in earnest until his mid-40s, during the 1980s. Things kicked off with 1983’s The Keep, Michael Mann’s hard-to-find WWII fantasy-thriller, with subsequent highlights including early Will Smith drama Six Degrees of Separation, a 1930s-set adaptation of Richard III, and an appearance as Death in Last Action Hero, putting that theater gravitas to good use in a decidedly bad flick.

His Oscar nomination for portraying director James Whale in 1998’s Gods and Monsters brought him to international prominence, setting the stage for one of the great career turns in movie history. In 2000, McKellen became one of comic books’ greatest villains, Magneto, in X-Men. He wouldn’t re-appear until the following year, as one of fantasy’s greatest heroes: Gandalf in 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The two roles would keep McKellen sustained for the next decade and beyond, across three more X-Men movies and five more entries nestled within Middle-Earth.

Playing the legendary detective in Mr. Holmes and putting in his time as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast are more notable recent works, along with more theater adaptations like The Dresser (opposite Anthony Hopkins, both delivering some career-best performances), as well as, er, Cats. At least he knew the nightmare cinematic hairball that was being coughed up! And now, you shall not pass until we rank all Ian McKellen movies by Tomatometer! Alex Vo

#40

Doogal (2006)
8%

#40
Adjusted Score: 9391%
Critics Consensus: Overloaded with pop culture references, but lacking in compelling characters and plot, Doogal is too simpleminded even for the kiddies.
Synopsis: Florence and her animal friends live in the Enchanted Village, which is under the care of Zebedee, a kindly wizard.... [More]

#39

Neverwas (2005)
14%

#39
Adjusted Score: 4876%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dr. Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) begins practicing at the Millwood Psychiatric Clinic -- a mental health retreat where his deceased... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Michael Stern

#38

Cats (2019)
19%

#38
Adjusted Score: 38979%
Critics Consensus: Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.
Synopsis: A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Hooper

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 35272%
Critics Consensus: What makes Dan Brown's novel a best seller is evidently not present in this dull and bloated movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.
Synopsis: A murder in Paris' Louvre Museum and cryptic clues in some of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings lead to... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 27097%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Amy (Rachel Weisz), a maid in the house of wealthy Miss Swaffer (Kathy Bates), falls for a Russian stranger named... [More]
Directed By: Beeban Kidron

#35

The Shadow (1994)
34%

#35
Adjusted Score: 36740%
Critics Consensus: Bringing a classic pulp character to the big screen, The Shadow features impressive visual effects, but the story ultimately fails to strike a memorable chord.
Synopsis: Set in 1930s New York, a reformed criminal becomes a superhero. With the aid of a beautiful female friend, a... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#34

Asylum (2005)
36%

#34
Adjusted Score: 38351%
Critics Consensus: This catastrophic adaptation of Patrick McGrath's novel gets sillier and more implausible as it goes along.
Synopsis: An administrator's bored wife (Natasha Richardson) begins a torrid affair with an institutionalized artist (Marton Csokas) who beat his wife... [More]
Directed By: David Mackenzie

#33

The Keep (1983)
40%

#33
Adjusted Score: 40492%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A stranger (Scott Glenn) fights timeless evil in a Romanian castle occupied by a Nazi captain (Jürgen Prochnow).... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#32

Last Action Hero (1993)
39%

#32
Adjusted Score: 42770%
Critics Consensus: Last Action Hero has most of the right ingredients for a big-budget action spoof, but its scattershot tone and uneven structure only add up to a confused, chaotic mess.
Synopsis: Following the death of his father, young Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) takes comfort in watching action movies featuring the indestructible... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 50796%
Critics Consensus: Without the bite or the controversy of the source material, The Golden Compass is reduced to impressive visuals overcompensating for lax storytelling.
Synopsis: Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) lives in a parallel world in which human souls take the form of lifelong animal... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

#30

Apt Pupil (1998)
53%

#30
Adjusted Score: 54351%
Critics Consensus: A somewhat disturbing movie that works as a suspenseful thriller, yet isn't completely satisfying.
Synopsis: A high-school student (Brad Renfro) forms an unhealthy relationship with a former Nazi death-camp officer (Ian McKellen).... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#29

Emile (2003)
57%

#29
Adjusted Score: 54129%
Critics Consensus: Emile benefits from a typically outstanding Ian McKellen performance, but a frustratingly circuitous approach undercuts the effectiveness of a potentially affecting story.
Synopsis: Emile (Ian McKellen), a retired professor, returns to his Canadian hometown to receive an award after decades of living in... [More]
Directed By: Carl Bessai

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 67614%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors' deeper character moments.
Synopsis: The discovery of a cure for mutations leads to a turning point for Mutants (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen,... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#27
Adjusted Score: 70814%
Critics Consensus: Though somewhat overwhelmed by its own spectacle, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ends Peter Jackson's second Middle-earth trilogy on a reasonably satisfying note.
Synopsis: Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honor in seeking... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#26

The Good Liar (2019)
63%

#26
Adjusted Score: 72986%
Critics Consensus: The Good Liar is less than the sum of its prestigious parts, but Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren keep the proceedings consistently watchable.
Synopsis: Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#25

Animal Crackers (2017)
64%

#25
Adjusted Score: 63670%
Critics Consensus: Animal Crackers is far from the most distinctive animated fare, but its wacky humor and zippy speed make it a decent diversion for younger viewers.
Synopsis: A family uses its magical box of animal crackers to help save a circus.... [More]

#24
Adjusted Score: 77891%
Critics Consensus: Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film's deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.
Synopsis: Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives a simple life with his fellow hobbits in the shire, until the wizard Gandalf (Ian... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#23

Restoration (1995)
71%

#23
Adjusted Score: 70543%
Critics Consensus: Restoration spins an engaging period yarn out of its bestselling source material, brought to life through the efforts of an eclectic ensemble cast led by Robert Downey Jr.
Synopsis: In order to keep one of his mistresses, Celia (Polly Walker), at arm's length, King Charles II (Sam Neill) asks... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#22

All Is True (2018)
72%

#22
Adjusted Score: 80463%
Critics Consensus: Impressively cast and beautifully filmed, All Is True takes an elegiac look at Shakespeare's final days.
Synopsis: The year is 1613, and Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 99707%
Critics Consensus: With an enchanting cast, beautifully crafted songs, and a painterly eye for detail, Beauty and the Beast offers a faithful yet fresh retelling that honors its beloved source material.
Synopsis: Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#20

Bent (1997)
74%

#20
Adjusted Score: 70624%
Critics Consensus: Bent juggles heavy topics with style, though its heavy-handedness at times feels more like exploitation than exploration.
Synopsis: In 1930s Berlin, homosexual Max (Clive Owen) sleeps with German officer Wolf (Nikolaj Waldau), only to see him killed by... [More]
Directed By: Sean Mathias

#19

Flushed Away (2006)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 77777%
Critics Consensus: Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations.
Synopsis: After an ignoble landing in Ratropolis, a pampered rodent (Hugh Jackman) enlists the help of a sewer scavenger (Kate Winslet)... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers, Sam Fell

#18

Jack & Sarah (1995)
74%

#18
Adjusted Score: 73339%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his wife, Sarah (Imogen Stubbs), dies during childbirth, Jack (Richard E. Grant), an attorney, has his world thrown into... [More]
Directed By: Tim Sullivan

#17
Adjusted Score: 83699%
Critics Consensus: While still slightly hamstrung by "middle chapter" narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for the Hobbit series.
Synopsis: Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions (Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage)... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 77272%
Critics Consensus: It sometimes moseys when it should have galloped, but The Ballad of Little Jo entertainingly upends genre formula while simultaneously highlighting its strengths.
Synopsis: After becoming pregnant outside marriage, Josephine (Suzy Amis) is thrown out by her embarrassed upper-class family. With no money, she... [More]
Directed By: Maggie Greenwald

#15

Stardust (2007)
77%

#15
Adjusted Score: 84796%
Critics Consensus: A faithful interpretation that captures the spirit of whimsy, action, and off-kilter humor of Neil Gaiman, Stardust juggles multiple genres and tones to create a fantastical experience.
Synopsis: To win the heart of his beloved (Sienna Miller), a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#14

X-Men (2000)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 87461%
Critics Consensus: Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.
Synopsis: They are children of the atom, homo superior, the next link in the chain of evolution. Each was born with... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 83838%
Critics Consensus: Cold Comfort Farm sends up high-minded classics with a wit and impressive restraint that rivals its inspirations.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the satirical British novel, Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale), a plucky London society girl orphaned at age... [More]
Directed By: John Schlesinger

#12

X2 (2003)
85%

#12
Adjusted Score: 93373%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
Synopsis: Stryker (Brian Cox), a villianous former Army commander, holds the key to Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) past and the future of... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 89087%
Critics Consensus: Though it betrays its theatrical roots, Six Degrees of Separation largely succeeds thanks to astute direction and fine performances -- particularly from an against-type Will Smith.
Synopsis: Privileged art dealers Flan (Donald Sutherland) and Ouisa (Stockard Channing) are hosting a dinner party when Paul (Will Smith), a... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#10

Mr. Holmes (2015)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94598%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama.
Synopsis: Long-retired and near the end of his life, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) grapples with an unreliable memory and must rely... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#9
Adjusted Score: 104939%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#8

Scandal (1989)
91%

#8
Adjusted Score: 90476%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Stephen Ward (John Hurt) regularly employs attractive young women as professional party guests to impress his influential friends in the... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

#7
Adjusted Score: 100746%
Critics Consensus: Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life.
Synopsis: The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring, which has been lost for centuries. Powerful forces... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#6
Adjusted Score: 103515%
Critics Consensus: Visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy.
Synopsis: The culmination of nearly 10 years' work and conclusion to Peter Jackson's epic trilogy based on the timeless J.R.R. Tolkien... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 98145%
Critics Consensus: Gods and Monsters is a spellbinding, confusing piece of semi-fiction, featuring fine performances; McKellen leads the way, but Redgrave and Fraser don't lag far behind.
Synopsis: Once a powerful Hollywood director best known for "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein," James Whale (Ian McKellen) is long... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#4
Adjusted Score: 104106%
Critics Consensus: The Two Towers balances spectacular action with emotional storytelling, leaving audiences both wholly satisfied and eager for the final chapter.
Synopsis: The sequel to the Golden Globe-nominated and AFI Award-winning "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "The... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#3

Richard III (1995)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98845%
Critics Consensus: This re-imagining of Shakespeare's Crookback King relocates the story in 1930 and features an indelible star turn for Ian McKellen as the monstrous and magnetic King Richard.
Synopsis: A murderous lust for the British throne sees Richard III (Ian McKellen) descend into madness. Though the setting is transposed... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 50414%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1981, epidemiologist Don Francis (Matthew Modine) learns of an increased rate of death among gay men in urban areas.... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#1

The Dresser (2015)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 95639%
Critics Consensus: The Dresser brilliantly showcases two of the most gifted actors of their generation within a thoughtful, well-executed production offering intelligent commentary on the human condition.
Synopsis: In a touring Shakespearean theatre company, backstage hand Norman is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Eyre

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./courtesy Everett Collection)

All X-Men Movies Ranked

In the world of superhero movies post–Batman & Robin implosion, Spider-Man showed they could still be fun, Batman Begins demonstrated gravitas, and Blade got its cut with R-rated gruesomeness. Meanwhile, the X-Men proved the ensemble superhero movie could work: Just take off the yellow spandex, add some millennium-era leather, and retain the franchise’s outsider allegories. Oh, and capture some lightning-in-a-bottle casting with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. A bit tall to play Wolvy, but he had the chops (and literally, the muttonchops).

The relentless X2: X-Men United brought true action to the series, before hitting the skids with The Last Stand and the writer’s strike-afflicted X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Since then, the X-Men franchise has spread out in myriad ways, with highlights including adapting the time-splitting classic Days of Future Past, the Western-inflected Logan (nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar!), and introducing the meta Merc With A Mouth Deadpool into the mix.

With New Mutants finally out, we’re taking a look at all the X-Men movies ranked by Tomatometer.  Alex Vo

#14

Dark Phoenix (2019)
22%

#14
Adjusted Score: 45291%
Critics Consensus: Dark Phoenix ends an era of the X-Men franchise by taking a second stab at adapting a classic comics arc -- with deeply disappointing results.
Synopsis: The X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe when one of their own, Jean Grey, starts to spiral out... [More]
Directed By: Simon Kinberg

#13

The New Mutants (2020)
35%

#13
Adjusted Score: 44170%
Critics Consensus: Rendering a list of potentially explosive ingredients mostly inert, The New Mutants is a franchise spinoff that's less than the sum of its super-powered parts.
Synopsis: Five teenage mutants -- Mirage, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Sunspot and Magik -- undergo treatments at a secret institution that will cure... [More]
Directed By: Josh Boone

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 48247%
Critics Consensus: Though Hugh Jackman gives his all, he can't help X-Men Origins: Wolverine overcome a cliche-ridden script and familiar narrative.
Synopsis: Seeking solace from his dark past, Logan (Hugh Jackman), better known as Wolverine, seems to have found love and contentment... [More]
Directed By: Gavin Hood

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 68694%
Critics Consensus: Overloaded action and a cliched villain take the focus away from otherwise strong performers and resonant themes, making X-Men: Apocalypse a middling chapter of the venerable superhero franchise.
Synopsis: Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 57965%
Critics Consensus: Once Upon a Deadpool retains enough of the franchise's anarchic spirit to entertain, but doesn't add enough to Deadpool 2 to justify its own existence.
Synopsis: Wisecracking mercenary Deadpool meets Russell, an angry teenage mutant who lives at an orphanage. When Russell becomes the target of... [More]
Directed By: David Leitch

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 67614%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors' deeper character moments.
Synopsis: The discovery of a cure for mutations leads to a turning point for Mutants (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen,... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#8

The Wolverine (2013)
71%

#8
Adjusted Score: 82025%
Critics Consensus: Although its final act succumbs to the usual cartoonish antics, The Wolverine is one superhero movie that manages to stay true to the comics while keeping casual viewers entertained.
Synopsis: Lured to a Japan he hasn't seen since World War II, century-old mutant Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself in a... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#7

X-Men (2000)
82%

#7
Adjusted Score: 87461%
Critics Consensus: Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.
Synopsis: They are children of the atom, homo superior, the next link in the chain of evolution. Each was born with... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#6

Deadpool 2 (2018)
84%

#6
Adjusted Score: 109360%
Critics Consensus: Though it threatens to buckle under the weight of its meta gags, Deadpool 2 is a gory, gleeful lampoon of the superhero genre buoyed by Ryan Reynolds' undeniable charm.
Synopsis: Wisecracking mercenary Deadpool meets Russell, an angry teenage mutant who lives at an orphanage. When Russell becomes the target of... [More]
Directed By: David Leitch

#5

X2 (2003)
85%

#5
Adjusted Score: 93373%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
Synopsis: Stryker (Brian Cox), a villianous former Army commander, holds the key to Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) past and the future of... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#4

Deadpool (2016)
85%

#4
Adjusted Score: 106755%
Critics Consensus: Fast, funny, and gleefully profane, the fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining -- and decidedly non-family-friendly -- results.
Synopsis: Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. His world comes crashing... [More]
Directed By: Tim Miller

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 97588%
Critics Consensus: With a strong script, stylish direction, and powerful performances from its well-rounded cast, X-Men: First Class is a welcome return to form for the franchise.
Synopsis: In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#2
Adjusted Score: 104939%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#1

Logan (2017)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 126405%
Critics Consensus: Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions.
Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) at a remote... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

As we all settle in to stay at home and socially distance ourselves, the planet has been given a unique resource not often afforded in the modern world: time. With no place to go, what shall we do with this new abundance of free hours? Time to finish that book you have had on your bedside table? Maybe take an online French class or learn to play an instrument? Time to binge every series that ever was? Or perhaps, like us, you’re thinking of all the films you wished you’d seen but never had the time to before.

Maybe one of those epic movie franchises that seemed too daunting to jump into late in the game – don’t ever admit you’ve never seen an MCU movie, ever – or a series of which you’ve caught a few entries but want to fill in the gaps. Fear not  we have you covered with our Epic Franchise Movie Binge Guide. Read below as we break down some of the most beloved long-running movie franchises – like The Lord of the Rings, Mission Impossible, or the granddaddy of them all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and tell you the best way to approach watching them, how long the binge will take, and which titles you can skip. Because hey, even all the time in the world may not be enough time to make you sit through A Good Day to Die Hard.

Disagree with our picks or have a suggestion for a franchise movie binge? Let us know in the comments. 


The Lord of the Rings

What is it: The film adaptations of the fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, set in ”Middle-earth,” the fictitious medieval land where elves, men, dwarves, wizards, and hobbits co-exist, often not so peacefully. Over the course of several films, we follow hobbit Bilbo Baggins and later his young heir Frodo Baggins as they go on adventures and battle against the forces of evil. 

How many hours: Extended editions: 20 hours 30 minutes; Theatrical cuts: 17 hours and 12 minutes.

Starts with:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)  

Ends with: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)  

Best way to watch: Some would argue the second trilogy – though the first by story chronology – from Peter Jackson was an unnecessary and bloated cash grab that should be avoided at all costs, but we have a better suggestion. We suggest you begin with the LOTR animated film from 1978, which will give you all the events of the films in a quicker and to-the-point format. Then, if you are compelled to see the best of The Hobbit live-action series, we would say check out the standard edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which is the best of the three. We would also suggest you try to watch the extended editions of the original live-action LOTR series – they are more than worth it for the extra content. This recommendation would make for a shorter, 16-hour watch, which could be broken up easily over two days. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. The Two Towers and The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King standard editions are streaming on Netflix.


Marvel Cinematic Universe

What is it: The 23-film saga that chronicles the epic adventures of various superheroes, based on the comics first distributed by Marvel and its subsidiaries. 

How many hours: 50 hours and 3 minutes.

Starts with:   Iron Man (2008)  

Ends with:  Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Best way to watch: Not surprising for a franchise that grossed over $22 billion at the global box office, but Marvel Studios’ 23-film, decade-long opus is quite watchable as is. Some folks would have argued in 2010 that Avengers: The Age of Ultron is a skippable mess, but as we detail here, it is essential viewing to truly appreciate the first four phases of the saga that culminated with Avengers: Endgame. Sorry for those looking for a shortcut, but watching it all is worth it. Viewing all 23 movies straight through, without breaks, however, is not the way to do it.

Instead, we suggest you go in release order and complete each day as follows: day one after Avengers; day two after Ant-man; day three after Black Panther; and finish on day four with Spider-Man: Far From Home. If you’ve previously watched the MCU and are looking to watch it in a new way, use our guide here to watch in chronological order based on the events of each film. If the thought of 50 hours of superheroes is still too intimidating for you, but you want to understand enough to get by, watch these character introduction films (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy) and these team-up films (Civil War, Winter Soldier, Avengers, Ultron, Infinity War, Endgame). Once you have finished that, check out our Oral Histories of the MCU, in which the directors, producer, and casting director who worked on the epic franchise break down all the behind-the-scene secrets.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. All of the films save The Incredible Hulk and the Spider-Man films are streaming on Disney+. The Avengers: Infinity War and The Avengers: Endgame are streaming on Netflix; and Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and Thor are streaming on Amazon Prime.


Die Hard Franchise

What is it: Follow John McClane, a police detective who seems to be a magnet for maniacal criminals no matter which city/structure he is in, and proves to be a tough man to kill.

How many hours: 10 hours and 14 minutes.

Starts with:  Die Hard (1988)

Ends with: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Best way to watch: The original Die Hard is so beloved that many argue it’s the greatest action film ever made – or maybe the greatest Christmas movie, but that is a debate for another day. The film and its follow-ups have a loyal fanbase, and though the second and third entries pale in comparison to the first, we still say they’re worth a watch. The fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, is a true return to form and, frankly, it’s where you should stop unless you are a true completist. The series’ most recent film, A Good Day to Die Hard, is the only PG-13 entry on the list, and without McClane’s iconic “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf–ker,” there’s really no point pushing play.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discounted Bundle), Amazon,  iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance are streaming now on CinemaxGoLive Free or Die Hard is streaming on the Starz app.


The Fast & Furious Franchise

What is it: Follow Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, which he calls his family, as they shift from illegal street-racing criminals to heist experts and then finally emerge as a new crime-fighting unit that tackles the world of espionage.

How many hours: 15 hours and 57 mins. 

Starts with: The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Ends with:  Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Best way to watch: As Dom and everyone in the Fast franchise says – quite often – this is about family. So, if you’re looking for something to skip, it’s hard to imagine who you’d want to kick out one of the family – though, let’s be honest, 2 Fast 2 Furious is definitely not Dad’s favorite. Without Vin Diesel, that entry can barely call itself a Fast and Furious movie, and the 2009 series soft reboot, Fast & Furious, is not much better and an easy call to skip, as well. We would caution against skipping third entry Toyko Drift; its charms are significantly more than its 37% Tomatometer score would suggest (something we wax about in our book Rotten Movies We Love). Not to spoil anything, but when we finally get Fast 9 in 2021, you’ll need to have seen Tokyo Drift to understand everything fully – check out #JusticeForHan after you finish the series, and you will understand. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Hobbs & Shaw and Fast Five are streaming on HBOnow; Fast 6 is streaming on FXnow.


Rocky Franchise

What is it: Follow Philly underdog boxer-turned-champion, Rocky Balboa, as he battles various fighters in the ring, as well as his own issues outside of it, and later trains the next generation of champions.

How many hours: 14 hours and 55 minutes. 

Starts with: Rocky (1976)

Ends with:  Creed II (2018)

Best way to watch: This one’s real simple: trust us and skip Rocky V. Just pretend it didn’t happen; we’re pretty sure Sylvester Stallone did. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, VuduGooglePlayRocky Balboa is streaming on the Starz appCreed II is streaming on Hulu and Amazon.


Harry Potter / Wizarding World Franchise

What is it: The franchise based on JK Rowling’s phenomenally successful novels follows the adventures of Harry Potter, an orphan-turned-famed wizard, the evil He Who Must Not Be Named, and the Wizarding World they inhabit.

How many hours: 24 hours and 6 minutes. 

Starts with:   Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Ends with:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

Best way to watch: As this is a British series, allow us to put this as politely as possible: Fantastic Beasts is simply not quite on form. The first entry is saved by Eddie Redmayne and mesmerizing magical effects; the second entry is the first and only Rotten flick from the Wizarding World and very skippable at this stage. The original seven films are near perfect, but if you wanted to pass over The Chamber of Secrets you wouldn’t miss much – you won’t be too confused later in the series. (Though if watching as a family, this is one the kids tend to like.) If you follow that suggestion, you can finish the entire series in one day.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlayFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is streaming on HBONow.


X-Men Franchise

What Is It: Follow Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men as they try to save the world and the lives of their fellow Mutants. Professor X and co. work with, and sometimes against, mutants like the powerful Magneto, Wolverine, and the wisecracking mercenary Deadpool.
How many hours: 21 hours and 43 minutes.

Starts with:   X-Men: First Class (2011)

Ends with:  Logan (2017)

How to watch: The critics will tell you that both X-Men: The Last Stand (the third of the original films) and X-Men: Apocalypse (the third of the rebooted, second-gen films) are shells of their brilliant predecessors. And with the last X-Men film to enter theaters, Dark Phoenix, disappointing on the Tomatometer and at the box office, you should essentially skip any film that has anything to do with Jean Gray’s Dark Phoenix. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is admittedly a hard watch to suffer through, but you kinda have to just to appreciate the brilliance of Deadpool and its sequel, if only for what they did differently with the character. Every film that character is in after Origins highlights why Ryan Reynolds was born to play the “Merc with a Mouth.”

Watching in the order of events is the best way to approach things if you don’t want to be confused by the time travel that happens later in the series. That order is: First Class, Days of Future Past, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix, X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine, Deadpool, Deadpool 2, Logan. If you leave off the aforementioned weakest entries (The Last Stand, Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix) you can complete the entire series in one day.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. X-Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool are streaming on FXNowX-Men Origins: Wolverine is available to stream on the Starz app. 


Jurassic Park Franchise

What is it: In these films, we welcome you to Jurassic Park, a theme park – and eventually various associated islands, mansions, West Coast cities – where dinosaurs have been genetically recreated to walk the Earth alongside humans. Over the course of series we watch as that combination invariably doesn’t work out well for the humans.

How many hours: 10 hours and 1 minute.

Starts with:  Jurassic Park (1993)

Ends with:  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Best way to watch: This was a subject of contentious debate among the RT staff: some thought the Jurassic World part of the franchise is unwatchable, while others had strong takes on Jurassic Park 3 and The Lost World. As this is only a five-film series so far, we compromised: Watch them all and make your own determinations. Either way, we all agreed that the original Jurassic Park is a bona fide classic, and if you haven’t seen it, please remedy this injustice as soon as possible. It only takes a day to watch them all. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is streaming on CinemaxGo.


Mission Impossible Franchise

What is it: Watch secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his crew of talented spies as they battle the world’s most dangerous criminals along with the bureaucracy of his own organization, the IMF. The films are based on the 1960s television show.

How many hours: 13 hours and 3 minutes.

Starts with:   Mission: Impossible (1996)

Ends with:  Mission: Impossible -- Fallout (2018)

Best way to watch: It’s apparent after six films (with a seventh on the way): Tom Cruise really likes playing Ethan Hunt. And with every film, Cruise looks to top the jaw-dropping stunts from the last. Still, there is a stark contrast between the first three films and the rest, in regards to quality and scope. Many will tell you the second film, directed by John Woo, and the third, directed by J.J. Abrams, are the weakest of the set, but they’re still thoroughly enjoyable and feature some truly astonishing stunts – so we suggest you watch them all. And thankfully this is not – yes, we’re gonna say it – impossible to do in one or two days. 

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Mission Impossible: Fallout is streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu; Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation are streaming on FXNow.


James Bond Franchise

What is it: James Bond, MI6 intelligence officer and international playboy, charms women, thwarts terrorist plots, and sips a shaken martini in well-tailored suits. Based on Ian Fleming’s iconic novels.

How many hours: 55 hours and 11 minutes.

Starts with:  Dr. No (1962)

Ends with:   Spectre (2015)

Best way to watch: For completists, we recommend you start with the Connery films on day one, then do a day of Timothy Dalton, David Niven (the satire Casino Royale from 1967), and George Lazenby’s films, adding one or two of Roger Moore’s. Finish with Moore on day three, then do a full day of Pierce Brosnan for day four, and end the series on day five with Daniel Craig. If that’s a bit too daunting, you can break up the films we suggested for one day across two days instead. If you’re looking for a few to skip, we’d suggest A View to Kill and Octopussy. We’d also suggest you skip Never Say Never Again, as it is a shadow of Connery’s older work; Moonraker is only enjoyable for how laughable it is; and there’s not enough vodka on earth to make The World is Not Enough a good time. Quantum of Solace is another one you can miss, but at least watch the opening scene – it’s fantastic.

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, Itunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day are streaming on NetflixQuantum of Solace and Casino Royale (1967) are streaming on HBONow.


Star Trek Franchise

What is it: These are the stories of the USS Enterprise, crafted for the silver screen. Watch Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and later Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) as they lead their crews to the furthest reaches of the universe on a peacekeeping mission to discover new worlds. The films are based on the Star Trek television series and its subsequent spin-offs.

How many hours: 25 hours and 17 minutes.

Starts with:  Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Ends with:  Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Best way to watch: At the risk of angering the original series Trekkies, the first film – Star Trek: The Motion Picture – is simply not very good (it’s 42% on the Tomatometer). The same can be said of The Final Frontier. When we shift into The Next Generation part of the franchise, the series starts off strong but fizzles with Star Trek: Nemesis. We suggest you should skip those four. When you start the reboot franchise, some would advise you to skip Star Trek: Into Darkness, which was much maligned by the fandom but which we say is worth seeing for Benedict Cumberbatch, if nothing else. As far as ordering your binge, watching the series as the films were released is the way to go. Begin with the first set of films featuring the original series characters, followed by the films centering on the cast of The Next Generation, and finish with the reboot films that started in 2009. If you are skipping films following our advice, the new order is original series (The Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, The Voyage HomeUndiscovered Country), followed by the Next Generation films (Generations, First Contact, Insurrection), and finishing with the 2009 reboot films (Star Trek, Into Darkness, Beyond).

Where to watch: FandangoNOW (Discount Bundle), Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay. Star Treks 1-6, First Contact, Insurrection, and Generations are streaming AmazonStar Trek: Into Darkness is streaming on FXnow; and Star Trek Nemesis, First Contact, Generations are streaming on Crackle.


Thumbnail image: yParamount, Paramount, courtesy of the Everett Collection 

While there would’ve been a certain amusement in watching a surly, 75-year-old Harrison Ford pretending to meet Lando for the first time and winning the Millennium Falcon, Disney went with the age-correct Alden Ehrenreich for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Though a few were up-in-blasters over casting someone besides Ford in the Han Solo role, that fervor has died down now that the reviews are out claiming the movie to be moderately neat-o. And that makes it the right time to look at 24 more movie characters replaced and recast with new actors, and how that turned out on the Tomatometer.

To go by his words and deeds, Avengers: Infinity War’s Thanos (Josh Brolin) may be the most consummate and powerful foe the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet unleashed. To hear him tell it, his attempt to give the universe balance by obtaining the Infinity Stones is a merciful and humane action. Perhaps more than any other Marvel villain, he is a hero in his own mind with goals he perceives as altruistic.

But will his Infinity War appearance make him one of the great film supervillains of all time? And what makes for greatness when it comes to villainy? Is it a grand plan executed with aplomb? An iconic look or an immediately quotable motto? Or is it a knack for banter with the hero? As more and more people see Infinity War, Thanos’s merits as one of the great villains will be debated, but let’s take a look at 20 of the big screen’s greatest superhero foes he will have to contend with to get that honor.


20. The Joker (Cesar Romero)

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

The big screen’s first Joker was also television’s original Crown Prince of Crime. Romero memorably gave the character his psychotic laugh and off-kilter sense of humor. In the film, he also succeeds at being a cabin boy to a senile admiral. Armed with his repertoire and a “dehydration” gun, the Joker — along with the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) — creates plenty of trouble for the Dynamic Duo.

Film Appearances: Batman: The Movie (1966), though he previously appeared in the Batman TV series.

Tomatometer: 80%

North American Box Office: $1.7 million

Destruction Factor: Turns the “United World” Security Council to a fine powder.

Memorable Line: “I’m afraid they’ll find our humor very, very dry!”

Powers: Puns and gag weapons.

Cosplay Cred: Few are ever willing to grow a Romero mustache for the perfect Joker ’66 look.


19. Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton)

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

As a deep-cover spy, Neville Sinclair was the toast of Hollywood with the ability to bed any woman and earn the trust of any man. But his attempt to secure Howard Hughes’s (Terry O’Quinn) experimental rocket pack fills him with a particular mania that serves to be his undoing. Also: his sophisticated movie star image is the perfect counterpoint to the unkempt style of the Rocketeer (Billy Campbell).

Film Appearances: The Rocketeer (1991)

Tomatometer: 62%

US Box Office: $46.7 million

Destruction Factor: Assists in the destruction of a dirigible, the rocket pack itself, and a portion of the “Hollywoodland” sign.

Memorable Line: “It wasn’t lies, Jenny. It vas acting.”

Powers: A strong resemblance to Errol Flynn and Timothy Dalton.

Cosplay Cred: Sadly, none.


18. The Phantasm (Dana Delany)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

The Phantasm is one of the most personal villains the animated Batman (Kevin Conroy) ever faced. In costume, the Phantasm speaks with the voice of Stacy Keach and strikes terror into Gotham’s organized crime families. But in reality, she is Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), the only woman who could ever pull Bruce Wayne away from his life as a vigilante. Sadly, the dissolution of their relationship leads them both to don masks and face the City’s worst criminals.

Film Appearances: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Tomatometer: 82%

US Box Office: $5.6 million

Destruction Factor: Batman’s heart.

Memorable Line: “Your Angel of Death awaits.”

Powers: Combat training and smoke bombs.

Cosplay Cred: Rare, but it’s memorable when you spot a Phantasm cosplay in the wild.


17. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson)

Though he seems to be a mentor, Elijah Price is really the architect of all of David Dunn’s (Bruce Willis) problems. (Sorry: Spoiler.) Though he is the only person to recognize the presence of superpowers in the world, years of abuse and neglect — to say nothing of his brittle bones — lead him to one conclusion: be the supervillain the world needs to find the hero it requires.

Film Appearances: Unbreakable (2000), thought M. Night Shyamalan is currently working on a follow-up for 2019 called, appropriately, Glass.

Tomatometer: 68%

Worldwide Box Office: $248.1 million

Destruction Factor: Derails a train to prove David is indestructible, among other acts of terrorism.

Memorable Line: “They called me Mr. Glass!”

Powers: A terrifying intellect.

Cosplay Cred: A surprisingly rare occurrence at comic cons.


16. Mystique (Rebecca Romijn)

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

As both spy and confidant to Magneto (Ian McKellen), Mystique relies on her top martial arts skills and mutant ability to blend into any environment. But she is also the most visible example of Magneto’s crusade. Though she can choose to appear as anyone she wishes, Mystique’s natural blue serpentine appearance inspires fear in the world. The character was so memorable in the initial X-Men film series that the current cycle revolves around her, now played by Jennifer Lawrence.

Film Appearances: The X-Men franchise.

Tomatometer: X-Men: 81% (Certified Fresh), X2: X-Men United: 85% (Certified Fresh), X-Men: The Last Stand: 58%

Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.3 million

Destruction Factor: Though she has been known to blow stuff up now and again, that isn’t really her style. Instead she sows confusion and wreaks havoc by manipulating her foes.

Memorable Line: “You know, people like you are the reason I was afraid to go to school as a child.”

Powers: Shape-shifting.

Cosplay Cred: An extremely tough look to pull off at comic cons.


15. “Bad” Superman (Christopher Reeve)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

When Superman is overcome by the toxic effects of Gus Gorman’s (Richard Pryor) counterfeit Kryptonite, he turns into a self-centered jerk who would rather make time with a pretty lady than save a bunch of bus passengers on a disintegrating bridge. Reeve’s attempt to channel an all-id Superman does feel more “bad” than evil, but it provides a fun opportunity for Reeve to play against himself and presents the first on-screen exploration of an idea — “What if Superman were evil?” — that would become a major theme driving the narrative behind movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

Film Appearances: Superman III (1983)

Tomatometer: 26%

US Box Office: $60 million

Destruction Factor: Straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa ruined the Italian economy.

Memorable Line: “You always wanted to fly, Kent!”

Powers: All the powers of a Superman, but he’d rather drink Johnny Walker Red.

Cosplay Cred: Not nearly as common as it should be.


14. Joker (Jack Nicholson)

The merger of Nicholson’s persona with the Joker is one of Batman’s great strengths, but the performance is more nuanced than many gave it credit for at the time. Once he falls into the Axis Chemicals acid and adopts his clown persona, Nicholson loses some of his iconic cool to dig into the louder, broader aspects of Gotham’s #1 villain (e.g. the Smilex commercial). A consummate foe for the Batman of the late 1980s.

Film Appearances: Batman (1989)

Tomatometer: 72%

Worldwide Box Office: $411.3 million

Destruction Factor: Kills his boss, fries a business rival, and poisons Gotham City.

Memorable Line: “Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

Powers: Knowledge of chemistry and a flair for the theatrical.

Cosplay Cred: A fairly rare sight as other takes on the Joker became more popular.


13. Syndrome (Jason Lee)

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

The ultimate sycophant, Syndrome (née Buddy Pine) was a precursor of the sort of fan culture that eats itself for some perceived lack of purity. His jealousy of the supers leads to a lot of strife for the Parr Family and an America burnt out on superheroes. Nonetheless, his actions also lead to a possible return of heroes, despite an attempt to even the playing field.

Film Appearances: The Incredibles (2004)

Tomatometer: 97% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $633 million

Destruction Factor: His robots leave a path of destruction through the metro area the Parrs call home.

Memorable Line: “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”

Powers: Zero point energy manipulation via technology.

Cosplay Cred: Virtually nonexistent, though memorably spotted on occasion.


12. Ultron (James Spader)

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

As the personification of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) id, Ultron’s attempts to secure the planet make clear Tony’s greatest failing: he cannot see the human cost in any of his endeavors. Powered by the Mind Stone, Ultron makes a final, ugly calculation in regards to humanity and sets out to destroy it. Also, since he’s based on Tony’s brain patterns, he quips. A lot.

Film Appearances: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Tomatometer: 75% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $1.41 billion

Destruction Factor: Raises – and razes – the entire nation of Sokovia; the ramifications of which are still being felt throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Memorable Line: “When the dust settles, the only thing living in this world will be metal.”

Powers: All the powers of an Iron Man, multiplied by the ability to self-replicate infinitely.

Cosplay Cred: Extremely rare, though a few Ultrons appeared at cons after the film’s release.


11. Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

While DC Comics’ favorite cat burglar skirts the line between villain and ne’er-do-well, Catwoman’s initial involvement in a plot to disgrace Batman (Michael Keaton) earns her a spot on the list. Pfeiffer’s performance defined the character for a long time – even if she was partly inspired by the TV Catwomen of the 1960s – as she fought Batman and her own turmoil. In the end, her Catwoman chose her own way and never appeared in a film again. Not that anyone has ever been able to forget her.

Film Appearances: Batman Returns (1992)

Tomatometer: 81% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $266.8 million

Destruction Factor: She blows up Schreck’s Department Store in an early show of strength.

Memorable Line: “Meow.”

Powers: Nine lives and a filing system that is unstoppable.

Cosplay Cred: Though the film is over 25 years old, this Catwoman costume is still popular.


10. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)

(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)

Yes, yes, he isn’t a villain by choice, as he’s very much a weapon of Hydra in the film, but Bucky Barnes is very effective at playing the part. His Soviet brainwashing is so effective that, when activated, almost no emotional appeal will work on him. Well, at least until his old friend Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), finally breaks through. And, really, Bucky’s relationship with Steve is part of what makes him so compelling.

Film Appearances: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016), though Sebastian Stan first played Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

Tomatometer: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: 89% (Certified Fresh), Captain America: Civil War: 91% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: $714.3 million, Captain America: Civil War: $1.15 billion

Destruction Factor: Assists in bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D. and its helicarrier fleet.

Memorable Line: “Who the hell is Bucky?”

Powers: Heightened strength and agility, a cybernetic vibranium arm.

Cosplay Cred: A beloved fixture of con-going cosplayers.


9. Vulture (Michael Keaton)

(Photo by Sony Pictures)

Despite a strong work ethic and good management skills, Adrian Toomes turned to crime when Tony Stark and government officials bulldozed over his contract to clean up Manhattan following the Battle of New York. Granted, the swiftness with which he became a black market weapons manufacturer suggests all he ever needed was a gentle shove to embrace villainy. But the opening scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming made him immediately understandable and compelling as a villain; and even sympathetic once his relationship to Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) world is revealed.

Film Appearances: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Tomatometer: 92% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $880.1 million

Destruction Factor: Rips a ferry in half, crashes a Stark Industries jet, and blasts Logan Marshall-Green out of the MCU.

Memorable Line: “The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us! The world’s changed boys. Time we change too!”

Powers: A flying rig based on crashed Chitauri tech.

Cosplay Cred: Surprisingly rare costume in spite of a great adaptation of the comic book Vulture’s look.


8. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman)

Excusing some of the camp value to Hackman’s Luthor – particularly in the sequel – he exudes the key quality of Superman’s archfoe: egotism. Luthor, a real estate swindler in these films, only decides to fight Superman because his ego dictates it. Consequently, Superman cannot really appeal to his emotions; none are present as he plans to remake the West Coast in his image.

Film Appearances: Superman (1978), Superman II (1981)

Tomatometer: Superman: 93%, Superman II: 87%

Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million

Destruction Factor: Nearly sank California into the Pacific.

Memorable Line: “There’s a strong streak of good in you, Superman. But then, nobody’s perfect… almost nobody.”

Powers: He is the greatest criminal mind of his time. He also owns a hefty Kryptonite necklace that he uses to weaken Superman.

Cosplay Cred: Between Hackman’s refusal to go bald and the appalling 1970s fashions, he is a truly rare cosplay sight.


7. Zemo (Daniel Bruhl)

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Currently, the Avengers’ greatest foe is not a flamboyant god or a maniacal robot, but a sad, quiet man with a detailed plan and working knowledge of governmental procedures. Zemo destabilizes the world for a very personal and, ultimately, small goal: hurt the Avengers the way they hurt him. He also succeeds, leaving Captain America a fugitive and Tony Stark so isolated that he has to pal around with a spider-themed teenager hero.

Film Appearances: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Tomatometer: 91% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $1.15 billion

Destruction Factor: With some smoke, a few explosions, and a very inconvenient truth, he brings down the Avengers. He also murders a few people along the way.

Memorable Line: “An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from within? That’s dead… forever.”

Powers: Determination.

Cosplay Cred: Despite his comic book counterpart’s incredible fashion sense, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version inspires few to dress up.


6. Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina)

(Photo by Columbia Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

One of the most sympathetic villains on the list, Molina’s Doc Ock was as much a victim of his passions as he was a willing accomplice in a plan to destroy Spider-Man. The cruelty that emerges in him came from his cybernetic implants; a crucial detail that becomes clear when he finally reasserts control and realizes he was trying to kill his friend Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). Also, the warmth with which he welcomes Peter — a guy in desperate need of a positive male role model — makes his turn all the more tragic.

Film Appearances: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Tomatometer: 93% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $783.8 million

Destruction Factor: His lab is completely destroyed during an experiment. He also leaves his mark on New York skyscrapers and the subway lines.

Memorable Line: “I will not die a monster.”

Powers: Super-tough robotic appendages.

Cosplay Cred: Popular in the wake of the film’s release, but has since faded.


5. General Zod (Terence Stamp)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

Thanks to Stamp, Zod is as much a staple in Superman’s rogues gallery as Lex Luthor. Seemingly reserved, Zod can lash out without hesitation. Despite the air of refinement Stamp gives the character, he is just another petty dictator — a point underscored when he takes control of the White House (and, by implication, the world) only to suffer from conqueror’s boredom. Superman’s return late in the film comes as a relief to Zod, as debasing the son of Jor-El gives him something to do.

Film Appearances: Superman (1978), Superman II (1981)

Tomatometer: 87%

Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million

Destruction Factor: He and his cohorts reshape Mount Rushmore and pummel the West Wing. They also make insurance premiums rise in Metropolis again.

Memorable Line: “Come to me, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!”

Powers: All the powers of a Superman plus advanced military training.

Cosplay Cred: Zod’s look is just a little too disco for most cosplayers.


4. Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)

(Photo by © Marvel and © Walt Disney Pictures)

The secret shame of Wakanda, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) presents a legitimate concern to King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his subjects, even if his methods are woefully misguided: Should Wakanda reveal itself to the outside world and help those who live with the legacy of the African slave trade? The character’s heady subtext is backed by Jordan’s gifted abilities as a performer.

Film Appearances: Black Panther (2018)

Tomatometer: 96% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office (To Date): $1.34 billion

Destruction Factor: Destroys all but one of the heart-shaped herbs, which is far more devastating than any property damage he caused in the film.

Memorable Line: “Nah, just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from ships. ‘Cause they knew death was better than bondage.”

Powers: Thanks to the heart-shaped herb, all the powers of Black Panther; Navy SEAL training.

Cosplay Cred: Few could wait for a comic convention to dress in Killmonger’s now-iconic London look. Cosplayers dressed in his subsequent battle suit, which looks suspiciously like Vegeta’s from Dragonball Z, shortly after.


3. Magneto (Ian McKellen)

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

Erik Magnus Lehnsherr is one of the most compelling antagonists in comics and film for one simple reason: he’s pretty much right. His methods may be unquestionably cruel to conventional humans, but he recognizes two sapient species cannot share the planet. Violence, subjugation, and pain are inevitable. And when his point of view is given McKellen’s voice, it becomes incredibly persuasive. The more optimistic philosophy of the X-Men looks naïve and childish in comparison.

Film Appearances: The X-Men Franchise

Tomatometer: X-Men: 81% (Certified Fresh), X2: X-Men United: 85% (Certified Fresh), X-Men: The Last Stand: 58%, X-Men: Days of Future Past: 90%

Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.4 million, X-Men: Days of Future Past: $747.9 million

Destruction Factor: He moves the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, turns Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) into a water creature, and renders a sick burn unto Rogue (Anna Paquin) about the white stripe in her hair.

Memorable Line: “Let’s just say God works too slowly.”

Powers: The ability to manipulate all metal.

Cosplay Cred: His initial low-key look is rarely imitated these days.


2. Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)

The power of persuasion is also a major weapon in the arsenal of the God of Lies. Loki is charismatic, witty, exciting, and a sharp dresser. He’s that bad boy who looks redeemable even as he opens a wormhole to let the Chitauri invade Earth. But then he has a good explanation for his bad choices: he was raised by the god who kidnapped him from his real family. And he means to do good, so shouldn’t that be enough? It’s no wonder Loki returns to the MCU time and again; his brand of villainy looks like it can be reasoned with. Even if he betrays Thor again, again, and again.

Film Appearances: Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017), though he’s less a villain than a trickster — and even a bit of a hero — in the latter two.

Tomatometer: Thor: 77%, The Avengers: 92%, Thor: The Dark World: 66%, Thor: Ragnarok: 92%

Worldwide Box Office: Thor: $449.3 million, The Avengers: 1.52 million, Thor: The Dark World: $644.6 million, Thor: Ragnarok: $853.5 million

Destruction Factor: He seizes the throne of Asgard and almost murders Thor, then later precipitates the Battle of New York, which alerts the world to the presence of superpowered beings.

Memorable Line: “You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”

Powers: God-level abilities and a snake-oil salesman’s tongue.

Cosplay Cred: A perennial favorite, though his formal tux from Avengers was more popular in the wake of the film’s release.


1. Joker (Heath Ledger)

(Photo by )

In an age when origins are required, Ledger’s Joker arrived on the scene without a name, place of birth, or a particular ambition. As Alfred (Michael Caine) put it, he just wants to see the world burn, and he even tells Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) as much late in the film. His complete lack of backstory and motivation makes him the most unpredictable, dangerous supervillain on this list, and the purity of his cruelty makes him the most fascinating.

Film Appearances: The Dark Knight (2008)

Tomatometer: 94%

Worldwide Box Office: $1 billion

Destruction Factor: Took out most of Gotham’s entrenched mafia, destroyed Harvey Dent, and made the Batman Gotham’s Number One criminal.

Memorable Line:Why so serious?

Powers: None

Cosplay Cred: Thanks to the alterations to the classic Joker look, Ledger’s Joker costume remains popular at cons and at Halloween.

The prospect of Disney owning 20th Century Fox’s film studio and Fox television properties is exciting for X-Men fans, who called for the franchise’s films to join with the Marvel Cinematic Universe of The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange when the deal was announced.

Lauren Shuler Donner, who produced all the X-Men movies, is executive producer on TV shows The Gifted and Legion, and will surely have some say in the franchise’s next steps, offered fans a ray of hope.

“Sure, why not?” she said in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes on Thursday at a Fox event during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. She also addressed what Hollywood’s #MeToo movement means to certain properties in the X-Men universe.

The deal was only approved in December, and both Disney and Fox give a timetable of up to 18 months to complete the sale. Shuler Donner already knows Disney CEO Bob Iger, Marvel Chief Kevin Feige, and Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. She is optimistic about the films they can produce together.

“Look, it’s 18 months [away], so who knows,” Shuler Donner said. “For me, I think Bob Iger is one of the smartest men in the country. Alan Horn’s an old friend. Kevin Feige was my intern and assistant and then my associate producer on the first X-Men. Kevin and I started the X-Men together, so for me if we work with Kevin, I’m happy.”


Other Marvel projects are still in development at Fox. In fact, Legion creator Noah Hawley is writing a script for Doctor Doom, a solo film about the Fantastic Four villain.

Hawley told Rotten Tomatoes that the film is still on track, so that’s another Marvel film that could happen before or after the Disney merger.

“I haven’t had a phone call, and I’m just operating under the assumption that it’s business as usual,” Hawley said. “Obviously, the merger, should it go through, will take a year at least. Certainly no one’s reached out to me from Marvel or Fox to say, ‘Well, you know, maybe we should take a beat or maybe we should rush.’ I’m working on the script, and we’ll see what the landscape is when I deliver it.”

Doctor Doom will be Hawley’s priority after season 2 of Legion, so there’s a chance it could be ready to go into production before the merger.

“It’s coming,” Hawley promised. “I’m almost done with the last Legion script, and then it’s my first responsibility.”

Legion begins its second season in April. Hawley is wonderfully unpredictable, so if fans were expecting the further adventures of David Haller (Dan Stevens) discovering his mutant powers, sorry. That was season 1.

“I think it was exciting for him to come up with a brand new take, a brand new story using our characters,” Shuler Donner said. “I think it’ll be fun for the audience too, so I’m down with it.”


Fox just announced it was renewing The Gifted for a second season. The X-Men series centers on the Mutant Underground, on the run from Sentinel Services. Season 1 has been a lot of running and fighting. Season 2 is going to have time to see if the Mutant Underground can get along with each other.

“Hopefully season 2 will let us explore a little bit more their own conflicts and the interdynamics, where they’re going,” Shuler Donner said. “You’ll see what happens in the final episode.”

Don’t get too excited about all the Trask Industries logos around the sets of The Gifted, though. Comic book readers recognize the company, but Trask Industries namesake Bolivar Trask already appeared in an X-Men movie, played by Peter Dinklage in Days of Future Past. The character will not appear on The Gifted.

“Basically we don’t want what you see in the movies to come into the TV show,” Shuler Donner said. “We want our own world. Yes, it’s Trask Industries, but no, he’s not going to show up.”


The next X-Men movie in theaters will be the Deadpool sequel. Atomic Blonde director David Leitch directs the sequel, and Shuler Donner said fans can expect each Deadpool movie to shake things up.

“Just in theory, we like to change it up every single time so you guys are never bored,” Shuler Donner said. “But it’s Deadpool. It’s got to come out of character.”


Ellen Page in X-Men: The Last Stand (Mary Evans/Twentieth Century Fox / Marvel Comics/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)

Shuler Donner is also a vocal supporter of women in the entertainment industry, so when X-Men film franchise star Ellen Page, who played Kitty Pryde in the 2006 film The Last Stand and 2014’s Days of Future Past, came forward with her own #MeToo story from the earlier production about director Brett Ratner, Shuler Donner stood with her.

In the movement, women have shared stories of sexual harassment, assault, and rape, in hopes that predators will be removed from all industries and companies will adopt zero-tolerance policies on predatory behavior.

Page described an incident prior to filming in which Ratner told another actress to have sex with the then 18-year-old “to make her realize she’s gay.” Page said she was still discovering her sexual orientation at the time and felt violated by the comment. She also described other demeaning comments Ratner directed at other women.

The Last Stand co-star Anna Paquin corroborated Page’s account, posting on Twitter, “I was there when that comment was made. I stand with you.”

Shuler Donner said she spoke with Page after her post and also that she had experienced Ratner’s behavior herself.

“I back her up 100 percent,” Shuler Donner said. “Absolutely. He’s horrible. I’m aware he’s very demeaning to women, extremely demeaning to women, myself included. Yes, I was aware. Anybody that’s female, he’s demeaning.”

With the allegations against him and the cancellation of some of his deals, including a Hugh Hefner biography he was set to direct, Ratner may be facing exile from the movie business.

“I hope so,” she said.


DEADPOOL, from left: T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, 2016 (Joe Lederer/TM & ©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Shuler Donner has another  abuse and harassment controversy to contend with on the Deadpool sequel. T.J. Miller, who plays “Weasel” in the film, has been accused of sexual assault, abuse, and, in a separate case, harassment of a trans film critic.

Some fans have said they want Miller replaced before the film is released, in the same way director-producer Ridley Scott replaced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World following allegations against Spacey.

The Deadpool sequel is not out until June 1, and while Scott made the swap and did his reshoots in less time, Shuler Donner does not expect it would be possible to replace Miller at this point.

“We’re in the final editing,” she said. “I don’t think so.”

As for Miller’s future in the Deadpool franchise, she deferred to the studio to make such calls. After the Disney-Fox deal closes, Disney will decide if Miller has a future in their franchise.

“That’s a whole studio thing,” Shuler Donner said. “I don’t know.”


Bryan Singer attends a Global Fan Screening of "X-Men Apocalypse" at BFI IMAX on May 9, 2016 (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Another colleague of Shuler Donner’s, Bryan Singer, has also had recent issues, though not on one of her films. Singer directed The Gifted pilot and four X-Men movies for Shuler Donner, but he was replaced on Bohemian Rhapsody for reportedly not showing up for work on the set. The biography of Queen singer Freddie Mercury starring Rami Malek will be finished by Dexter Fletcher.

“Listen, I love Bryan, but Bryan has a lot of demons,” Shuler Donner said. “Bryan has some problems, and Bryan needs to take care of his personal problems. That’s all I can say.”

Variety later reported that Singer has been dropped as executive producer on Legion because of sexual misconduct allegations against him. His EP status on The Gifted is also in jeopardy, according to the report.


The Gifted airs Mondays at 9/8C on Fox; Legion returns in April on FX.

Promotional posters for X-Men Apocalypse and Avengers: Age of Ultron (20th Century Fox; Walt Disney Pictures)

(Photo by 20th Century Fox; Walt Disney Pictures)

Updated on 12/14/17.

After months of secret talks and at least six weeks of speculation, the Walt Disney Company announced it will buy most of 21st Century Fox’s media holdings. According to reports, Disney will acquire the 20th Century Fox, National Geographic, and FX cable networks, as well as various international holdings, while 21st Century Fox will spin off Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News, Fox Business, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network to its shareholders.

While Disney’s acquisition of the complete distribution rights to the original Star Wars, National Geographic programming, and other properties had Wall Street buzzing, the merger means one important thing for fans of comic book movies and television shows: The return of the X-Men and, presumably, Fantastic Four characters to Marvel Studios.

In the late 1990s, when Marvel was an independent company nearing bankruptcy, Fox bought the film rights to both properties in perpetuity: As long as they made X-Men or Fantastic Four movies every few years, they retained control of those titles and associated characters forever.

But now that Disney is buying the studio, it will mean some of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters can finally appear alongside the stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and the potential for character crossovers and story line adaptations is staggering. Below are just a few ways fans win if the deal goes through.


1. The Arrival of The X-Men

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST: Michael Fassbender as Magneto (20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)

Despite Marvel Studio’s attempts to position the Inhumans as their answer to the X-Men, fans desperately want the Merry Mutants to fight alongside (or against) the MCU’s roster of Iron Men, Asgardians, sorcerers, and talking raccoons. In fact, pitting the two groups against each other might be a thrilling way to introduce the X-Men to the MCU. Such a battle took place in 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men. The story line saw the Phoenix Force return to Earth while the Avengers and the X-Men fought over how best to protect the person destined to bond with the cosmic entity.

There are some pitfalls to adapting the story, as it relies on a lot of shared history between the two groups. Wolverine, for example, is a longtime member of both the Avengers and the X-Men. But without his presence in the MCU, those connections would have to be built anew. Going into the fifth phase of Marvel’s feature film story line, the X-Men would be a completely new element (a possibility with its own set of advantages) unless there was a way to retroactively insert them into MCU history.

The 2015 event series Secret Wars saw Marvel’s mainline universe (referred to as Earth-616) merging with a number of other alternate realities published by Marvel over the years. The story is epic and insanely intricate with Doctor Doom as the supreme ruler of a feudal universe. The end result saw Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales join the main Marvel Universe and the company’s first family (Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and their children) removed entirely.

It is easy to imagine, say, Legion’s David Haller (Dan Stevens) imitating his comic book counterpart – who once ripped apart the Marvel Universe with his awesome power – to create a new MCU where mutants are an established fact.

The pitfall, of course, is the ­X-Men­ film series’ own convoluted timeline and half-hearted reboots. Which films would be considered canon? Do you retroactively call X-Men: Days of Future Past an opening shot of the Secret War? Maybe it would be better to have Deadpool laugh it off and just accept that the characters are part of the MCU now. But fans would want some sort of acknowledgement of this monumental change to Marvel’s film universe even as X-Men films suffer from a sense of reboot fatigue.

Perhaps it would be easier for Marvel to start with the comic book concept that never generated a winning film for 20th Century Fox:


2. The Return of the Fantastic Four

As watchers of the comic book industry know, the disappearance of the Richards clan in Secret Wars was more than just a story point; it was an allegedly cynical move in an ongoing battle between Fox and Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. Knowing the studio was prepping a new Fantastic Four film – the infamous 2015 reboot directed by Josh Trank – he reportedly ordered the publishing division to cease publication of the title. According to the rumor, Perlmutter allegedly considered a Fantastic Four comic book to be free advertising for a Fantastic Four film Marvel would see little revenue from.

And so, longtime Fantastic Four scribe and Secret Wars writer Jonathan Hickman wrote the family out of the prime universe.

But with all media rights to the Fantastic Four were once again under one roof, Marvel Comics is free to publish the comic once more — and potentially giving fans something they crave: a Marvel Studios–produced Fantastic Four movie.

Imagine, as many fans do, a film set in the 1960s with Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm experiencing their original comic book origin. It could be something hip and poppy, in the vein of A Hard Day’s Night, with a Doctor Doom who looks and sounds the part. It would be easy to explain away their absence in the MCU as a plot of Doom’s to obscure the cursed Richards and his family. It could even make light of all the silly studio politics.

That said, there is one major problem plaguing the Fantastic Four as a film property: It’s already failed twice. Or three times, if you count the infamous and unreleased Fantastic Four produced by Roger Corman. The underlying premise of a science hero family does not sit well with the action-oriented screenwriting tropes of Hollywood studios. Even Marvel itself might have a problem adapting the concept. Perhaps it, and certainly other Marvel properties formerly controlled by Fox, would work better in the realm of television. Additionally, the rights to the Fantastic Four may not be as clear-cut as originally thought.


3. Silver Surfer as a TV Star (And Professor X for Legion)

While the Fantastic Four may make a better television program, one of their supporting characters practically screams for a TV adaptation. The recently concluded run of Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Mike Allred stars a human character named Dawn Greenwood who is whisked away by the Surfer on a psychedelic trip across the universe. As the two journey among the stars and help people out of jams, Dawn shows the often aloof and spacey Surfer – real name Norrin Radd – the value of consideration and compassion. They also fall in love, but their relationship is challenged when she learns how Norrin became the Silver Surfer.

Like Doctor Who infused with the love story between Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew Crawley (Stevens), this winning TV premise is unlike anything Marvel or Fox has produced with comic book properties so far.

Of course, having most of Marvel in one place could also clear up the way shows like Legion and The Gifted dance around their feature film cousins. Currently, the layers of bureaucracy between Marvel and the web of Fox film and TV production and distribution companies make it difficulty for either show to relate to the established X-Men film series or each other. With Marvel’s television division as the only authority, Professor X could be revealed as David Haller’s father, while Polaris could announce to her friends in the Underground that she is Magneto’s daughter. Imagine if both of these shows suddenly took to heart Marvel’s edict that “it’s all connected.”

But before we consider the potential for character crossovers, let’s go back to the Silver Surfer for a second and his possible place in the MCU. Whether he received his own series or popped up in an Avengers movie, his debut in a Marvel film or television project could herald the MCU’s next big bad.


4. Galactus or Doom as the Phase Five Antagonist

Fantastic Four (20th Century Fox Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection)

Since the first Avengers film, Thanos the Mad Titan has been teased as the group’s ultimate cosmic antagonist. But once his defeat comes in the fourth Avengers, who will pose any major threat to them in the MCU’s fifth phase?

How about someone who eats planets for breakfast?

Though the ancient and eternal devourer of worlds known as Galactus appeared in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the film re-imagined him as an amorphous alien death cloud. The character, with his thrilling Jack Kirby–designed head gear, living spaceship, and next-level intelligence, could be the sort of opponent even the combined strengths of Tony Stark, Thor, the Guardians, Captain Marvel, and Ant-Man would find overwhelming.

Alternatively, the Fantastic Four property comes with one villain who may be worth more to Marvel Studios than anyone else in the Fox-controlled library. Imagine the sudden appearance of Latveria on the MCU scene and the arrival of its absolute dictator, Dr. Victor Von Doom. Facing just about every character from Luke Cage to Reed Richards to Squirrel Girl (and in one instance, even Superman), Doctor Doom is very much the ultimate antagonist. Everyone has a bone to pick with him, and every Marvel fan laments his absence in the MCU.

Either would make worthy adversaries of the combined Marvel Studios and Fox libraries. In fact, Doom’s ubiquity as a Marvel Comics villain underscores the most thrilling aspect of the potential Fox sale: the character interactions.


5. Character Crossovers To Make Fans Weep

Hulk and Wolverine’s first meeting has never be realized in live action or even cheekily referenced in any film. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver’s real parentage is never discussed because Magneto is a 20th Century Fox property. And then there’s a story line like World War Hulk, which requires the presence of Professor X and Reed Richards to complete a counsel of power characters like Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, and Black Bolt.

Because Marvel Comics has always enjoyed crossing characters over into its various titles, the MCU has always been just a little poorer for lacking the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. A perfect example is Scarlet Witch, who first appeared in early X-Men stories before spending decades in the Avengers ranks. But that emotional tie is blunted in her MCU form. Imagine an Avengers film in which the veil is lifted and she remembers who her father is. Imagine a Secret Wars–style mashup in which she meets her father (in the form of Michael Fassbender or Ian McKellan) and the Evan Peters version of her brother. Imagine the drama and the confusion for a character who has had little to do in the MCU so far.

And that’s only one example. Consider the potential for laughs, should Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds find their way into the MCU. Relish the possibility of Chris Evans and a new Johnny Storm making a wink-and-nod reference to his own Fantastic Four past — Evans even recently joked about playing both characters in a buddy picture. Imagine the connections between Legion, The Gifted, and the upcoming Cloak & Dagger (coming in 2018 to the Disney–ABC Television Group’s Freeform). Then there are Wolverine’s constant guest appearances in every Marvel title clearing the way for him once he’s recast — Hugh Jackman has said about the likelihood of his return to the role, “the ship has sailed” — to venture far and wide to Avengers films and Hulu’s Runaways.

Provided, of course, the merger overcomes any regulatory hurdles. And though it will be sad to see one of Hollywood’s oldest studios disappear under the Disney banner, the return of significant Marvel properties to Marvel is just too exciting for fans of the characters. And now that the merger is on its way, the imaginations of fans can run wild.

Luke Skywalker’s epic journey from moisture farmer to cave hermit continues this Friday with Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

Wait, a movie with ‘The Last‘ in its title? Turns out we’ve seen that one before, prompting this week’s gallery of 24 best and worst Last movies.

Thor: Ragnarok only needed to get a 67% on the Tomatometer to improve upon The Dark World‘s score. Looks like all this franchise needed was some new zeal and New Zealand director Taika Waititi because Ragnarok is currently scoring way higher than that, which inspires this week’s gallery of 24 most improved movie sequels by Tomatometer!

Luc Besson’s return to the big space opera scene with Valerian and the Thousand Planets comes at a hefty price: a reported $180 million, easily making it the most expensive French production ever. And such fiscal modesty inspires this week’s gallery of the 24 most expensive movies ever made! (Budgets and box office are adjusted for inflation, with the base numbers from Box Office Mojo, natch.)

This past weekend’s Logan marks the tenth entry in the X-Men franchise, which is now officially 17 years old. That’s right: Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine for 17 years, in every X-Men movie except Deadpool. In honor of this franchise landmark, we decided to look back at where it’s been, from the hit 2000 original through subsequent sequels and standalone features. Get ready to get your snikt on, bub — it’s time for Total Recall!


X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) 38%

X-Men-Origins-Wolverine

After the disappointment of X-Men: The Last Stand, a solo movie for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine seemed like a smart and relatively foolproof way of getting the X-Men franchise back on track. Unfortunately, 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine failed to capitalize on its immense potential; rated PG-13 and clocking in at 107 minutes, director Gavin Hood’s take on the character’s backstory could deliver neither the hard-hitting violence nor the epic sweep it deserved, and it didn’t help that David Benioff and Skip Woods’ script saddled Jackman with an ensemble cast that included a widely maligned version of the comics fan favorite Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). Still, for critics who entered the theater with sufficiently low expectations, it proved a reasonably entertaining diversion; as Laremy Legel wrote for Film.com, “You won’t be upset you saw it, you’ll have some fun, you’ll see Wolvie beat the living hell out of a helicopter.”

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X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) 46%

Like a Phoenix Force-powered mutant rising from the ashes, the X-Men franchise rebounded from the much-maligned X-Men: The Last Stand by rebooting the series timeline — but nothing lasts forever, and the critical momentum generated by the First Class and Days of Future Past installments came to a grinding halt with X-Men: Apocalypse. It wasn’t supposed to be this way: the titular villain of this trilogy-concluding chapter is not only one of the biggest bad guys in the X-Men comics, he’s played here by Oscar Isaac, adding yet another talented thespian to a cast already overloaded with superstar wattage. Unfortunately, all that talent and all those decades of source material couldn’t help Apocalypse, which took the compelling-on-paper story of a powerful mutant out to cleanse the Earth with his Four Horseman and turned it into a muddled mush of set pieces and CGI. Still, it had its fans — including MTV’s Amy Nicholson, who wrote, “I found myself loving this strange, straight-faced operetta that embraces everything from Gregorian chanting to East German punk to Flock of Seagulls.”

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X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) 57%

X-Men-The-Last-Stand

After two top-grossing, well-reviewed installments, the X-Men film franchise was due for a fall — and with 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, it arrived in the form of a second sequel whose $400 million-plus grosses were overshadowed by poor word of mouth and a rash of negative reviews. Though 56 percent isn’t a terrible Tomatometer score — and some critics enjoyed the movie, such as the New York Observer’s Andrew Sarris, who wrote that he was “strangely moved” by it — the lukewarm response was a significant comedown for the franchise, particularly after Bryan Singer, who directed the first two installments, left the project to take on Superman Returns, taking the previous installment’s screenwriters with him. New director Brett Ratner took his fair share of critical lumps (the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday accused him of “[making] hash of the story and characters”), but there was plenty of blame to go around; in the words of the Chicago Reader’s J.R. Jones, “despite all the grand gestures of climax and resolution, there’s a pronounced sense of autopilot.”

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The Wolverine (2013) 71%

The-Wolverine

Fox execs were no doubt hoping that by the time they got around to giving Wolverine his second standalone feature, they’d have a solo franchise to build on — but instead, 2013’s The Wolverine needed to advance the character’s story while repairing the fan goodwill they’d lost the first time around. The homicidal streak that makes Wolverine such a fascinating character in the comics is also what’s made him relatively problematic on the big screen, and its PG-13 neutering is part of what rendered Hugh Jackman’s debut solo outing as the clawed superhero, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, such a disappointment for longtime fans. Director James Mangold had the benefit of lowered expectations when it came time to helm the follow-up, The Wolverine, but the end result — which drew inspiration from a beloved 1980s comics story that sent the character to Japan — earned more than a slow clap from critics; as Mick LaSalle enthused for the San Francisco Chronicle, “Somewhere along the line somebody must have had a crazy idea, that The Wolverine required a decent script, and shouldn’t rely only on action, audience goodwill and the sight of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off. The team delivers with this one.”

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X-Men (2000) 82%

X-Menb

Years before Joss Whedon corralled a big ensemble cast for The Avengers, Bryan Singer pulled it off with X-Men — and what’s more, he managed to do it without the benefit of the major characters getting exposition-clearing standalone features first. In spite of all that — and in spite of the inherent obstacles facing a film that wants to make audiences believe in a team of crimefighting superpowered mutants whose ranks include a telepath nicknamed Professor X (Patrick Stewart), an angry little man with retractable claws (Hugh Jackman), a woman who can control the weather with her mind (Halle Berry), and a guy with laser beams shooting out of his eyes (James Marsden) — the summer of 2000 brought the classic band of Marvel heroes to the big screen in style, racking up almost $300 million in worldwide grosses and a healthy stack of positive reviews from critics like New York Magazine’s Peter Rainer, who deemed it “A rarity: a comic-book movie with a satisfying cinematic design and protagonists you want to watch.”

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Deadpool (2016) 85%

Deadpool

The term “fanboy” is often used derisively, but every once in awhile, a group of diehards comes together to do a little good for pop culture — and Deadpool is a case in point. A longtime fan favorite in the Marvel comics universe, the “merc with a mouth” (played by Ryan Reynolds) was decidedly ill-served during his appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and for years afterwards, fans clamored for a standalone Deadpool movie. It really shouldn’t have worked, and not just because Origins tanked; more importantly, the character’s enthusiastically R-rated adventures would need to be edited beyond reason in order to make him fit the family-friendly superhero blockbuster mold. Yet after yielding to fans’ constant cries for a Deadpool feature — partly thanks to the release of some test footage that may or may not have been leaked by Reynolds — Fox resisted the temptation to go after those sweet PG-13 dollars. Instead, to their credit, the studio embraced Deadpool’s comics roots by using him as the centerpiece of an R-rated mutant action thriller that leaned on the superhero genre’s tropes while knowingly subverting them — and, of course, setting up a sequel. It is, as Todd McCarthy wrote for the Hollywood Reporter, “A really raunchy, very dirty and pretty funny goof on the entire superhero ethos, as well as the first Marvel film to irreverently trash the brand.”

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X2 (2003) 85%

X2-X-Men-United

Given the long odds it faced just getting to the screen, let alone pulling off the transition so successfully, it seemed altogether unlikely that X-Men’s inevitable sequel would be able to achieve the same standard, let alone exceed it — but that’s exactly what 2003’s X2: X-Men United did, both at the box office, where it grossed over $400 million, and among critics, who praised it even more highly than its predecessor. This was, appropriately, accomplished two ways: One, the screenplay satisfied critics and longtime fans by tackling the comic’s long-running sociological themes, most explicitly the fear of “outside” elements (in this case, sexy super-powered mutants) and how that fear is channeled by xenophobic authority figures; two, the sequel ramped up the original’s gee-whiz factor by introducing characters like the teleporting, prehensile-tailed Nightcrawler — and daring to tease at the Marvel title’s Phoenix storyline, one of the most beloved, brain-bending plots in the publisher’s history. The result was a film that remains both a fan favorite and a critical benchmark for writers like Moira MacDonald of the Seattle Times, who lauded X2 as “A wonderfully populated adventure, with the franchise even more compelling the second time out because of our familiarity with the characters.”

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X-Men: First Class (2011) 86%

X-Men-First-Class

After the disappointments of The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the X-Men franchise was in desperate need of a creative rebirth. It arrived in the form of 2011’s X-Men: First Class, which rebooted the moribund mutant saga by taking the characters back to their beginnings as a freshly assembled team of superheroes. The reason for their coming together? The threat posed by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), an energy-absorbing sociopath (and former to boot) who plans on taking over the world — and instead ends up bringing together Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). A major box-office hit and a solid first step toward righting the wrongs of The Last Stand, it also resonated with critics like the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, who wrote, “Preaching mutant pride with endearing fervor, X-Men: First Class proves to be a mutant in its own right — a zestfully radical departure from the latter spawn of a sputtering franchise.”

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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) 90%

Days-Of-Future-Past

After restoring the franchise to firm footing with X-Men: First Class, director Matthew Vaughn handed the reins back to Bryan Singer, who returned to the series he’d started with such acclaim — and took things a step further, drawing on one of the comics’ most acclaimed storylines to deliver the X-Men movies’ most epic entry while partially restoring some of what many fans felt had been lost or damaged during The Last Stand. Using an ambitious time travel plot to unite the First Class cast with their predecessors, Singer risked overstuffing X-Men: Days of Future Past, but he achieved the opposite effect; although most critics readily admitted that Singer’s efforts required a level of filmgoer sophistication not often demanded by your average blockbuster, they were just as quick to argue that the results included some of the most purely entertaining stuff the franchise had to offer. Calling it “maximalist Hollywood filmmaking at its best,” Slate’s Dana Stevens enthused that Days of Future Past is “the kind of extravagant production that, like a Wagner opera, can sweep you up in a sense of mythic grandeur even as you struggle to follow what’s going on.”

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Logan (2017) 94%

Third time’s the charm. After whiffing on their first opportunity to give Wolverine a compelling solo outing with the calamitous Origins, then inching a little closer to snikt-worthy cinema with The Wolverine, Fox finally gave fans a properly grim and gritty third installment. Logan peers into a dark future for our favorite mutants, with most of the X-Men dead after a mysterious tragedy and Wolverine reduced to working as a driver while caring for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and saving up enough money to buy a boat and sail off into aquatic exile. Fate has less peaceful plans for our heroes, of course; in short order, Logan finds himself embroiled in a dangerous plot involving a mysterious lab and a young girl on the run (Dafne Keen). It’s a classic Wolverine caper, loosely inspired by the Old Man Logan comics arc, and delivered with all the hard-hitting, hard-R panache fans waited patiently to see — not to mention the vast majority of critics. “Entertaining as they are, Marvel movies aren’t expected to be this mature, this dark or this human,” wrote Colin Covert for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is a bold, coherent story inspired by a comic book, not slavishly based on it.”

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Hugh Jackman delivers his slicey swan song as Wolverine in Logan, the R-rated for-realsies conclusion to the arc of Marvel’s famous X-Man. This week’s gallery pays tribute to the Marvel movies that existed before and now compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe — read on for the best & worst Marvel movies (outside the MCU)!

It’s time time for another Comic-Con International and as usual Rotten Tomatoes is hitting the floor at the San Diego Convention Center throughout the event to bring you images of the best, most creative and talented cosplayers!


Apocalypse: He has come and gone! Now that the summer dust has settled after X-Men‘s greatest battle yet, here’s the opportunity to vote on your favorite mutant as seen in the blockbuster!


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They survived Days of Future Past, endured the Dark Phoenix Saga, and withstood becoming a Brett Ratner film. Now, the X-Men will face their greatest threat yet in Apocalypse, the blue demigod who threatens to tear the world apart. In this megabattle of mutant might, vote now on who you’re most looking forward in seeing on the big screen!


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