(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.

#14

Dark Phoenix (2019)
22%

#14
Adjusted Score: 45015%
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)
36%

#13
Adjusted Score: 44646%
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: 47966%
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: 67945%
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: 58855%
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: 67433%
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: 81597%
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: 87754%
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: 108986%
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: 92699%
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: 106209%
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: 96838%
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: 104547%
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: 125288%
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 

The movie business is difficult; that shouldn’t surprise anyone. A lot of thought and care and preparation — not to mention money — goes into the filmmaking process, and sometimes the end result just doesn’t quite turn out the way its creators intended. But even when a film production goes sideways, for whatever reason, there’s often a glimmer of something incredible hidden beneath the botched line deliveries, mediocre special effects, and general ineptitude on display. Sometimes, there are great scenes to be found in truly Rotten movies.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled an initial list of 30 examples in which an inspiring exchange, an ingeniously staged action sequence, or a hilarious performance helped shine a light on otherwise mediocre productions. We’re talking about genuinely outstanding moments — not ones we find ironically amusing — that might feel right at home in more expertly crafted films. There are, of course, countless more we could have included, but we’ll save those for the next installment of this series. And, if there are any that you think belong here, let us know in the comments!


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (1999) 52%

DARTH MAUL vs. QUI-GON AND OBI-WAN
The long-awaited Star Wars prequel introduced us to such inexplicable horrors as Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, and mind-numbing Galactic Senate debates, but the film did offer an awesome glimpse of what it could have been. The final battle pitting Darth Maul against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most dynamic lightsaber duels we’ve ever gotten, thanks in part to the martial arts talent of Ray Park as the Zabrak Sith Lord. Not only is the fight kinetic and inventive, who can forget the iconic moment when that second crimson beam emerges from Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber?


Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) 35%

WINGSUIT FLIGHT
The Transformers franchise is largely a jumbled mess of CGI, explosions, stilted dialogue, and perfunctory storytelling. That said, Michael Bay knows his way around visual spectacle, and while Dark of the Moon features its fair share of incomprehensible robot mayhem, there is one practical stunt (read: they did it for real) in the film that is genuinely thrilling. Bay enlisted the aid of experienced wingsuit flyers to jump off the Sears Tower and soar between Chicago’s skyscrapers as chaos unfolds all around them. It’s impressive, it’s majestic, and it’s just cool as hell. If only the rest of the movie could match this three-minute sequence…


Final Destination 2 (2003) 48%

OPENING HIGHWAY PILEUP
None of the Final Destination movies is particularly well-reviewed (Final Destination 5 is the only Fresh one at 62%), and for the most part, they all feel like a series of morbid Rube Goldberg-esque vignettes strung together by the thinnest of plots. A few of those gory scenarios, however, are surprisingly inventive, and none of them tops the opening to Final Destination 2, which sets its wheels in motion with an immaculately staged, over-the-top highway pileup that is equal parts ridiculous, harrowing, and literally explosive. Nothing else in the film even comes close.


Distant Horizon

(Photo by Distant Horizon)

Flashpoint (2007) 40%

DONNIE YEN vs. COLLIN CHOU
You may know Donnie Yen from Ip Man or Rogue One, and you may know Collin Chou as Seraph from the Matrix sequels, but chances are you haven’t seen this Hong Kong action thriller by Wilson Yip (who also directed the Ip Man movies). The story is a predictably rote potboiler about a loose-cannon cop who takes on a crime syndicate, but the climactic battle between Yen’s Detective Ma and Chou’s gangster Tony is savage and visceral, with bone-crushing stunt work and Yen adding MMA techniques to his more traditional martial arts style.


Death Sentence (2007) 20%

PARKING GARAGE SINGLE TAKE
Since directing and co-writing the first Saw, James Wan has introduced the world to the Conjuring universe, brought us the best-reviewed Fast and Furious movie, and earned the right to bring DC’s Aquaman to the big screen. Before all of that, though, he did direct this fairly absurd action thriller about a grieving father (Kevin Bacon) out for revenge against the gang who murdered his son. It’s a violent film with a ridiculous plot, but it does feature one sequence that demonstrates Wan’s potential for greater things. A two minute-long single take follows Bacon’s character as he attempts to lose his pursuers in a multi-level parking garage, with seamless camerawork that weaves up and down the ramps and alongside the outside of the garage to capture perfectly timed appearances by different characters. It’s impressive, and it far outshines everything else in the movie.


The Ridiculous 6 (2015) 0%

ABNER DOUBLEDAY INVENTS BASEBALL
Adam Sandler began his stint on Netflix with a bang, garnering a rare 0% with this joyless — and casually racist — spoof of The Magnificent Seven. There is one gloriously effective moment of inspired comedy, though. In a scene that riffs on the invention of baseball, John Turturro cameos as Abner Doubleday, who invites the titular sextet and a dozen others to play a new game with him, only to make up all of the sport’s rules and terminology on the spot just to ensure he wins. It may be the only joke in the movie that lands, but it lands superbly.


New Line Cinema

(Photo by New Line Cinema)

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) 53%

AUSTIN GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
By the time the third installment of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers series hit theaters, the world had just about had its fill of “Yeah, baby!”s and shagadelic double entendres, but the cameo-filled opening scene of Goldmember is pure magic. The film begins with an action-packed Hollywood adaptation of Austin Powers’ life story, starring Tom Cruise as the titular spy, Gwyneth Paltrow as Bond girl stand-in Dixie Normous, Kevin Spacey as Dr. Evil, and Danny DeVito as Mini Me. To top it all off, as the scene ends, the cameras pull back to reveal the man at the helm is none other than Steven Spielberg. Genius.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) 53%

THE FIGHT FOR THE KEY
The first Pirates of the Caribbean film was a pleasant surprise, able to silence most of those who thought it silly to build a movie around an amusement park attraction. Every film since then has been a gradual step down, and it all began with the first sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, an overstuffed bombardment of spectacle with little but Johnny Depp’s performance to hold it all together. That said, the extended swordfight for the key to the titular chest is the high point of the film, making use of some fine stuntwork and clever setpieces to deliver a top-notch action scene.


Scream 3 (2000) 41%

“I WAS UP FOR PRINCESS LEIA.”
The Scream formula was getting creaky by the time they shifted the setting to Hollywood for the most meta entry in the series (the cast of a Stab film, based on the real events of Scream, start getting plucked off by a real-life ghostface). The laughs were still there, thanks mostly to a killer performance by Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie, the actress playing Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers; the scares, not so much. But kudos to Wes Craven and whoever else convinced Carrie Fisher to make a cameo as the disgruntled, and loyal-to-a-point, studio archivist Bianca. When approached by Jolie and Weathers on the hunt for details on a former starlet, Bianca stops them before they even get a chance to ask if she’s you know who. “I was up for Princess Leia,” Fisher explains. “I was this close. So who gets it? The one who sleeps with George Lucas.”


Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007) 51%

“LA MER” ON THE BEACH
It’s hard to deny that Mr. Bean is something of a cultural icon, and it’s essentially defined the career of Rowan Atkinson. While the early-’90s series was hugely popular, the character’s big screen outings didn’t quite measure up. 2007’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday found the endearing man-child stumbling his way through France, and it largely consisted of watered-down slapstick and his trademark buffoonery. But it was also intended to be an unofficial send-off for the character, and the film’s final moments absolutely shine in that respect. As Bean makes his way across a picturesque beach, everyone around him joins him in an uplifting rendition of “La Mer,” and it’s equal parts triumphant and bittersweet. Love him or hate him, his goodbye was perfect.


Burlesque (2010) 37%

CHER’S SOLO
If you thought Cher singing “Fernando” to a man named Fernando in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was as good, cheesy, and Cher-y as it gets at the movies, you clearly didn’t stick around for the second half of 2010’s Christina Aguilera vehicle Burlesque. The movie, which is Rotten at 36%, overflows with small pleasures for those in the just right mood (read: at least three Chardonnays into your evening), among them Kristen Bell as the vampy, villainous dancer Nikki. But when club owner Tess (Cher), fretful for the future of her business, belts out the Dianne Warren-penned survival anthem, “You Haven’t Seen the Last Of Me,” singing it to no one in particular, but somehow touching anyone who hears it, well… all hail the queen.


I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) 45%

THE CHASE
Poor man’s Scream, rich man’s Urban Legend, I know What You Did Last Summer was one of the defining slashers of the mid-to-late ’90s – even if it was one of the most generic and uninspired, sitting at 35%. Most remember it for its laughably hysterical moments (“What are you waiting fooooor!?”) and that weird Anne Heche business, but even the most discerning of genre fans give credit to director Jim Gillespie for the sequence in which the guy with the hook chases Sarah Michelle Geller’s Helen Shivers all over town. It’s genuinely scary (beware the mannequin jump scare), giggle-inducing (did she really just drop the keys), and a tiny bit moving in the end. Why the hell did she turn around?


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) 37%

LOGAN AND VICTOR THROUGH THE WARS
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was Fox’s first attempt at a solo story based on one of their beloved Marvel properties, and other than hiring Liev Schreiber to star opposite Hugh Jackman, the film has precious few things going for it. (Seriously, who thought letting will.i.am speak — and shutting Ryan Reynolds up — was a good idea?) At least we got a pretty great opening credits sequence out of it: after revealing the origin of Logan’s (Jackman) relationship to Victor Creed (Schreiber), the film depicts the half-brothers fighting alongside each other in the US Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War, illustrating Victor’s violent descent in the process. That’s the movie we all wished we could have seen.


Hannibal (2001) 40%

GARY OLDMAN WAXES NOSTALGIC ABOUT DISFIGUREMENT
Neither director Jonathan Demme nor star Jodie Foster returned for this 10-years-later sequel, but most assumed it was in capable hands, with Ridley Scott taking the helm, David Mamet penning the script, and Julianne Moore taking Foster’s place as Clarice Starling. The end result wasn’t expected to live up to its predecessor, but few foresaw the smug, unsatisfying tale of gore we ultimately got. However, in an initially uncredited role, an unrecognizable Gary Oldman plays disfigured Lecter victim Mason Verger, whose macabre retelling of his encounter with Lecter is chilling, gruesome, and a testament to Oldman’s ability to captivate an audience, even with a slab of play-doh stuck to his face.


Gamer (2009) 30%

“I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN”
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor made names for themselves with the Crank series, so it was evident from the start they weren’t exactly interested in high art. Right after Crank: High Voltage, in fact, they came back with this futuristic thriller starring Gerard Butler that plays more like a CGI-blasted update on The Running Man, but with far fewer genuine thrills. Rotten at 28%, the movie is kind of a slog to get through, but when Butler’s Kable infiltrates the mansion of evil game developer Castle (Michael C. Hall), something almost magical happens. Castle reveals himself to Kable via a choreographed dance routine set to Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You under My Skin,” complete with a troupe of mind-controlled brawlers. As Kable fends off his attackers and Castle continues lip-syncing in the background, you can’t help but wonder, “Why couldn’t the rest of the movie have been this interesting?”


Columbia Pictures

(Photo by Columbia Pictures)

White Chicks (2004) 15%

TERRY CREWS LOVES VANESSA CARLTON
Despite the cult popularity of In Living Color during the early 1990s, the various members of the Wayans family have struggled to achieve the same kind of success on the big screen. Much of their output has been defined by spoof movies and sub-subpar comedies like White Chicks, built from interesting enough ideas for a sketch or two, but a bit too flimsy for an entire movie. In this case, though, the presence of Terry Crews does help liven things up, and he is at his absolute best when he gleefully lights up as Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” comes on the radio and he begins to lip-sync with it. It’s a small chunk of comedy gold in the middle of a stale, moldy, powdered-sugar donut.


Doom (2005) 18%

THE “FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER” SEQUENCE
Back when he was still going by “The Rock,” Dwayne Johnson paid his dues in stinkers like 2005’s Doom, which did little to inspire confidence in video game adaptations on the big screen. At a measly 19% on the Tomatometer, Doom is an incoherent mess of a sci-fi action flick and an unfortunate stain on the resumes of all involved. But there is one instance of blatant fan service that, well, actually kind of works. The camera takes on the first-person viewpoint of Karl Urban’s character, Reaper, for several minutes as he tears through the research facility, blasting mutated baddies along the way. It’s a carefully planned and choreographed sequence that’s not only true to the game, but incredibly ballsy to attempt, and they managed to pull it off with pizazz.


Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (2008) 49%

THE 15-MINUTE FINAL BATTLE
After he brought a fresh new take on martial arts films with 2003’s Ong Bak, Tony Jaa co-directed and starred in its “sequel,” Ong Bak 2, which was neither set in the same time period as the first nor really related to it in any way outside of its title. Ong Bak 2 left much of its predecessor’s playfulness by the wayside in exchange for an overly serious and familiar tale of revenge that exposed Jaa’s shortcomings behind the camera. With that in mind, it’s still worth fast-forwarding to the final battle of the film, a glorious display of Jaa’s martial arts prowess that sees him utilizing multiple fighting styles and weapons techniques to take down an entire village of assassins over 15 brutal minutes of non-stop action. It’s visceral and awe-inspiring, and it highlights not only Jaa’s immense skill but also the dedication of his stunt team, who no doubt took a massive beating during the shoot.


Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment

(Photo by Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) 47%

OPENING SCENE
This is not Luc Besson’s first space rodeo, but working with a $200 million budget, he evidently felt compelled to throw every wacky idea he ever had at the screen. The end result is a visually exquisite but narratively slipshod adventure, but it features another standout opening scene that hints at the film’s true potential. Set to the music of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” it chronicles the history of technological advancement that eventually leads to the film’s intergalactic setting, and it reflects a refreshingly hopeful, wholesome future of peace and cooperation that’s both touching and clever. And then the rest of the movie happens.


Hot Rod (2007) 39%

ROD’S QUIET PLACE
Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have amassed a huge following, thanks to their work as The Lonely Island, and fans of their brand of humor are often quick to come to the defense of this cult comedy (we get it; some of you love it). Unfortunately, critics didn’t quite feel the same way, calling Hot Rod a loosely threaded collection of hit-or-miss sketches that fails to live up to its stars’ potential. The biggest “hit” of the lot, though, is clearly the scene when Rod (Samberg) escapes to his “quiet place” in the woods to blow off some steam and ends up tumbling down a hill for nearly a full minute. It begins as a spoofy Footloose homage before it suddenly turns into one of the greatest — and probably the longest — pratfalls ever filmed, and it’s pretty glorious.


The Boondock Saints (1999) 28%

“THERE WAS A FIREFIGHT!”
Perhaps the only good thing about The Boondock Saints is the opportunity to see Willem Dafoe at full tilt (though, to be fair, when is that ever not a good thing?). Much of the film is dedicated to macho posturing and childish fantasy wish-fulfillment — not a surprise considering its notoriously toxic writer-director — but there is a brief moment that lingers long after the credits roll. As Dafoe’s FBI agent Smecker arrives on the scene of a shootout, he begins to visualize what took place, passionately conducting a chorus that only exists in his mind and proclaiming, “There was a firefight!” The whole scene falls somewhere between unhinged and insane, and Dafoe’s exclamation is the cherry on top.


Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) 25%

A RHINO GIVES BIRTH
Before he really began to demonstrate his range in movies like The Truman Show during the 1990s, Jim Carrey had to wade his way through a number of films that almost solely relied on his gift for physical comedy. His outlandish antics weren’t for everyone, though, particularly when you’d seen them before, and so the Ace Ventura sequel, When Nature Calls, settled at a measly 33% on the Tomatometer. While the movie feels like a somewhat stitched-together series of vignettes, the scene when Ace becomes trapped in a mechanical rhino, strips naked, and escapes through a tiny hole in the rear is… Well, as Simon Pegg put it, “It is one of the single most genius pieces of comedic writing that will never be given its due because it’s part of a ridiculous, vaguely racist, silly comedy.”


The Interview (2014) 51%

THE  EMINEM INTERVIEW
Eminem is no stranger to controversy, and his most recent album reignited a familiar one about his use of homophobic slurs in his lyrics. Say what you will about his word choice, but the man is essentially besties with Elton John, and he even skewered himself on the issue in what is certainly the best scene in the 2014 comedy The Interview. As James Franco’s talk show host Dave Skylark interviews Em on his show, the contentious rapper casually reveals that he’s gay, and that he’s surprised no one has figured it out yet, considering the “breadcrumb trail” he’s left behind in all his lyrics. It’s a rather surprisingly effective moment that only works because of all the controversy he’s attracted, and his deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery is pitch perfect, making him the funniest man in the room.


Speed Racer (2008) 41%

FINAL RACE
After the success of the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis had carte blanche to work on whatever they wanted, and they chose to take on this long-in-development feature adaptation of the classic animated series. Despite their impressive technical wizardry and the candy-colored dreamscape they brought to life, the film bombed both critically and commercially. Even if you don’t love the movie as a whole, it’s hard to deny the power of the climactic race, an unexpectedly heartfelt finale bursting with top-notch special effects that not only boasts kinetic thrills but also provides closure on a key plot point. The film has gone on to inspire a cult following, and this ending is a big part of it.


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) 35%

THE WET BANDITS GET BRICKED
The law of diminishing returns is very real, but when it comes to movies, it’s difficult to argue with a moviegoing public that saw something it liked and simply wanted more of the same. Enter Home Alone 2, which essentially repurposes the story from its predecessor but changes its setting from Chicago to New York. The silly shenanigans here are so familiar that it all essentially feels like a lazy rehash of the same movie. That said, the scene where little Kevin (Macaulay Caulkin) displays Hawkeye-level brick-throwing accuracy just gets funnier with every painful crunch, if only because Daniel Stern’s googly-eyed desperation and concussed mumbling reaches vaudevillian heights.


Reign of Fire (2002) 42%

QUINN AND CREEDY DO STAR WARS
Nowadays, a fantasy action film headlined by Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale might be met with fierce anticipation, but that’s exactly what we got in 2002’s Reign of Fire, and it was far less than the sum of its parts. Despite an intriguing, if somewhat goofy, take on post-apocalyptic humanity and some fairly successfully realized CGI dragons, the film bombed with critics and audiences alike. But in one scene, Bale’s Quinn and Gerard Butler’s Creedy reenact the climactic battle from The Empire Strikes Back for a crowd of awestruck children, playing it as an oral tradition, a campfire tale told from generation to generation. It’s an inspired nod to the power of Star Wars and a wink to the audience that hits its mark much more effectively than much of the rest of the film.


Jurassic Park III (2001) 49%

THE MISSING PHONE
By the time the third Jurassic Park movie came along, it was already clear the franchise was starting to run out of ideas (gymnastics battle, anyone?), and putting dinos onscreen was deemed sufficient. At least JP3 had a pretty formidable new breed in the Spinosaurus, and one scene in particular hints at how much better the film would have been with a bit more ingenuity. After Paul Kirby’s (William H. Macy) satellite phone goes missing earlier in the movie, his newly reunited son Eric reveals it was the sound of that phone that alerted them to their location. Cue the ominous ringing of the phone… and the Spinosaurus that swallowed it.


Universal Pictures

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

The Mummy (2017) 16%

MEET MR. HYDE
Last year’s reboot of Universal’s classic monster movie franchise performed so dreadfully that the studio’s plans for its own “Dark Universe” were almost immediately eighty-sixed. That was, in itself, a pretty incredible feat, considering they had the talents of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to work with, but at the very least, the latter provided arguably the one standout moment of the movie. Crowe brought a complex intensity to the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, sophisticated in one breath and savage the next, and it left many of us asking if we couldn’t at least see a bit more of him, regardless of what happened to the Dark Universe.


Any Given Sunday (1999) 52%

PACINO’S SPEECH
Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday could have been so much more than it was, and at over two and a half hours, it was already a lot. Its overlong run time isn’t the only issue the film has, though; it also reiterates timeworn sports movie cliches and attempts to cast a critical eye on pro football even as Stone fetishizes it. All that aside, when you’ve got Al Pacino at your disposal, the smartest thing you can do is set him loose on some meaty lines, and that’s exactly what happens when Pacino delivers a pregame pep talk late in the film. It’s a powerful moment that really cements what Stone saw when he cast Pacino in the role of a head coach. Who wouldn’t follow that man?


The Perfect Storm (2000) 47%

THE BIG WAVE
It’s always a little tricky to turn real-life tragedy into a blockbuster production, but Wolfgang Petersen gathered a top-notch cast and gave it a go anyway. The Perfect Storm provided a pre-Pirates opportunity for Petersen to practice his nautical storytelling skills, but he proved he was more interested in the spectacle of it all. At the very least, he delivered an epic climax that ramped up the drama and pitted George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, William Fichtner, and the rest of the Andrea Gail crew against a monster wave they couldn’t hope to survive. It’s an amazing image, and the fact that it isn’t an exaggeration of what the open sea may hold makes it that much more terrifying.

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.

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!

Vigilantes, space knights, evil geniuses and cartoon legends got together this weekend to bring pop culture favorites to life, and celebrate another WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. And we at RT got to check them out up close. Click on the thumbnails below to see which characters got represented this year. Who’s your favorite cosplay?


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) 37%

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.”

Watch Trailer


X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) 47%

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.”

Watch Trailer


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)!

Time flies when you’re watching a franchise spiral into the crazy nebula: We are now approaching the sixth Resident Evil movie, mercifully dubbed The Final Chapter, none of which have ever been fully embraced by critics. But, hey, just because a franchise is long in the tooth doesn’t mean it’s rotten at the root! There’s plenty of Fresh movies in this week’s gallery: 24 best and worst Part 6s in movie history!

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!


[socialpoll id=”2366094″]

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!


[socialpoll id=”2359951″]

Following the critically acclaimed global smash hit X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer returns with X-Men: Apocalypse (in theaters May 27). Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshipped as a god. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

With the May 6 release of Captain America: Civil War, the third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially commences. It’ll be a four-year, multi-picture deal featuring the debuts of Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, The Wasp and more, culminating in the long-brewing Infinity War. As pop culture at large further commits to the superhero trend, Rotten Tomatoes offers our own ideas as to who (and what) from the Marvel comics should get a shot on the silver screen.


Spider-Gwen

In an alternate universe, Gwen Stacy (not Peter Parker) was bitten by a radioactive spider, and gained superhuman abilities. In that same universe, Peter Parker dies (not Gwen Stacy), and now Spider-Woman fights crime in New York, even as J. Jonah Jameson calls her a menace. Spider-Gwen’s hooded costume was wildly popular, helping what could have been a minor spin-off character get her own regular title. And not only is this Gwen a superhero, she’s in a rock band with Mary Jane Watson. If the Marvel/Sony partnership is viewed as successful by both studios, maybe we’ll see Spider-Gwen get her own movie someday.


Ms. Marvelmsmarvel

It’s not easy being Kamala Khan, but that’s one of the reasons she’s so relatable. A bookish, introverted comics fangirl from a strict-but-loving family, Kamala just wants to be a normal teenager — which is made all the more difficult because she also just happens to be an Inhuman with the ability to stretch and contract at will. A Ms. Marvel TV series is rumored to be on the horizon, which would be welcome news: at a time when politicians traffic in anti-Islamic rhetoric, a Muslim-American superhero from Marvel — particularly one as endearing as Kamala — could stand as a bold rejoinder.


Cloak and Daggercloakanddagger

A common criticism you’ll hear from DC diehards is that their celluloid heroes are the dark and gritty alternative to Marvel’s goofy,  family-friendly pop spectacles. Well, if Marvel was looking to boost its cinematic street cred, it might look to adapt the tale of Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen, a pair of teenage runaways-cum-crime-fighting vigilantes who do business as Cloak and Dagger. Operating within a grim, perpetually overcast Manhattan, Cloak (a teleporter) and Dagger (who fires electrical knives from her hands) are complex characters, and their troubled histories and interpersonal drama could be the kindling for a grown-up superhero movie. (And lo and behold, a Cloak and Dagger show has been announced!)


Herculeshercules

Depending on who’s writing for the character, Hercules can be slightly oafish to dangerously irresponsible. In his current title, the legendary god of strength is a little washed up and in need of redemption, and that’s the character we’d like to see hit the big screen. He’s been struggling with forces that few mortals can see, leading many to think he’s lost his mind, and there’s fodder for either broad comedy or tense thrills in that formula.


Miles Moralesspider-man

It’s been a little over five years since the introduction of Miles Morales as swingin’ Spider-Man in the Ultimate lineup, the first major shake-up in the Marvel multiverse since Captain America’s death and the Iron Man movie changed the business. A Black Hispanic teen, Morales’ tales are more urbane and tense, and he eventually finds his way to the main Marvel universe to fight alongside Peter Parker. As Marvel preps yet another Spider-Man origin movie, Morales represents to shake off the cobwebs of Spidey’s story.


Carnage

Untitled-1

On the other hand, what’s one more Peter Parker for the road? Spider-Man had some of the best supporting players and villains swirling in his world and the mid-90s Maximum Carnage storyline brought the oddballs out — not just Venom and Carnage (the former teaming with Parker to take down the latter), but Carrion, Demogoblin, Shriek, Doppelganger, Black Cat, Firestar, Deathlok and more. It’s a blunt and violent brawl and though the sappy conclusion would need to be reworked, it’d be a thrill to see a modern superhero movie that’s pure action with no subtext or symbolism.


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaurdionos

She’s a 9-year-old genius with alien DNA! He’s a mutant T-Rex that breathes fire! Together, they fight evil! That may sound a bit silly, but it’s not that much weirder than anything else in the MCU. Lunella Lafayette and her new, prehistoric BFF have already faced down time-traveling proto-humans and the Hulk (or a version of the Hulk, anyway), and could help younger comic fans find a young character that they can identify with.

Squirrel Girlsquirrelgirl

Eats nuts, kicks butts! Believe it or not, Doreen Green, aka The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, has a pretty impressive list of victories over some pretty impressive foes, including Doctor Doom, MODOK and Wolverine. She’s got the proportional strength and agility of a squirrel (plus strong front teeth and a prehensile tail) and she can communicate with squirrels. She’s currently trying to balance college life and membership in the New Avengers, which all of the obvious complications that entails. The MCU hasn’t had anything like a sitcom yet, but we think Squirrel Girl is the perfect candidate.


Namornamor

In his 70+ years in Marvel Comics, half-Atlantean Namor has been alternately portrayed as a villian, an anti-hero, and an actual hero.  But one thing has been pretty consistent across all of those portrayals; he’s a haughty, stuck-up jerk.  The intersection of his regal, overbearing attitude, quick temper, and his fierce determination to fight for what he believes in makes for a character that could have some thrilling confrontations with the rest of the MCU.


Spider-Womanaa

Having been first recruited by HYDRA, then involved with S.H.I.E.L.D., becoming an agent of S.W.O.R.D., and finally a member of the Avengers, Spider-Woman’s path could easily crossover Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, and lead to the Skrull invasion story arc. Besides all that, Jessica Drew is one of the last few top Marvel characters not in movies or TV yet. The good news is that the recent partnership between Marvel and Sony — who might or might not own her rights in the cinematic universe — is a sign that her premiere on the big screen might be closer than ever.

It’s time for another comic book convention, and we at RT are hitting WonderCon in Los Angeles the whole weekend to take photos of the most creative and dedicated cosplayers at the convention. Scroll down for our selection.


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