Fox's X-Men franchise lasted a full 20 years — from 2000's X-Men all the way up to 2020's The New Mutants — bringing characters like Professor X, Magneto, Jean Grey, and many more to life for comic book fans like never before. The standout character, of course, as he was in the comic pages, was Wolverine, a role that made an instant star out of Australian actor Hugh Jackman.
Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has appeared in nine of the 11 X-Men films in the series (not counting the two Deadpool movies), three of which are solo Wolverine films. Also, thanks to Wolverine's non-aging qualities, Jackman's been the only actor to play Wolverine in each movie, creating a kind of constant for a franchise that — let's be honest — is all over the damn map timeline-wise.
X-Men: Days of Future Past seemed to bring both timelines, and casts, together in a cohesive way, but the specifics are are still wonky. In its simplest form, ignoring several inconsistencies, there are three timelines in the X-verse. So for those wanting to do a full chronological Wolverine binge ahead of Deadpool 3, we've provided what seems to be the easiest way to do it.
How to Watch the Wolverine Movies in (Chronological) Order
How Many Wolverine/X-Men Movies Are There?
There are a total of 13 X-Men movies; Hugh Jackman's Wolverine appears in nine of them. Future X-Men/Wolverine movies will be developed by Marvel as part of the MCU, following Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019. The X-Men are expected to play a role in the MCU's future, though no projects have been officially announced beyond Deadpool 3 — which will feature Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
Wolverine Movies in Chronological Order
1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
The easiest way to kick off a Wolverine binge is with Wolverine's movie origin story, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which traces his beginnings in Canada, in the 1800s, through his time with Major William Stryker's Team X – and then, naturally, the bonding of Wolverine's skeleton with the indestructible metal adamantium during the Weapon X program. Liev Schreiber also stars as Victor Creed — aka Sabretooth (and Wolverine's half-brother). The story drops Wolverine off close to the doorstep of 2000's X-Men.
2. X-Men (2000)
Next up? The first-ever live-action X-Men movie, which features Wolverine, and Anna Paquin's Rogue, being brought into Professor Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters – and becoming members of the X-Men. A reluctant Wolverine, crushing on Famke Janssen's Jean, helps the team topple Ian McKellen's Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants. James Marsden and Halle Berry also star.
3. X2 (2003)
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video to rent
The excellent sequel to X-Men, X2: X-Men United, brings back ghosts from Wolverine's past as Wiillian Stryker — now played by Brian Cox — returns to hijack Xavier's mutant-tracking computer Cerebro, in order to destroy every mutant, causing Xavier's students and Magento's team to combine their forces to stop him. The original cast is back, plus Alan Cumming, Aaron Stanford, and Kelly Hu.
4. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Combining two big X-Men comic arcs — "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Gifted" — X-Men: The Last Stand features Jean losing control of her telepathic powers while Magneto desperately tries to shut down a new "mutant cure" that threatens everyone born with superpowers. Kelsey Grammer, Elliot Page, Vinnie Jones, and Ben Foster join the mutant mix here as Jackman's Wolverine battles his own feelings of love to stop Jean from causing mass destruction.
5. The Wolverine (2013)
After his time with X-Men, Wolverine found himself grieving in 2013's The Wolverine, from director James Mangold (who would later direct Logan). Starring alongside Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, and Hiroyuki Sanada, Jackman's Wolverine travels to Japan where he agrees to transfer his healing powers to a tech CEO named Ichiro, giving up his curse of immortality. This is the final "stable(ish) timeline" adventure for Wolverine.
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
If you'd like, you can conclude this particular Wolverine saga with Days of Future Past, which features Wolverine's mind — in a dystopia ravaged by mutant-hunting robots called Sentinels — being transferred back into his early 1970s body in oder to team up with a past Professor X and friends to stop Mystique (younger, played by Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating a military scientist. It helps to have seen X-Men: First Class before you watch this film — as it operates as a sequel to First Class — but it's not altogether necessary.
1. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Okay, this second timeline largely involves a new cast playing characters both new and previously established. And Wolverine never really factors into the story in a big way except for Days of Future past. But, in X-Men: First Class, Jackman has a funny cameo as Wolverine in a scene where James McAvoy's Xavier and Michael Fassbender Magneto (Erik) are trying to recruit mutants for Xavier's school. Overall though, First Class, from Matthew Vaughn, is an awesome, and groovy '60s outing for the franchise.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Yup, so this is very much a sequel to First Class and heavily focuses on Wolverine. It helps if you've seen the X-Men movies with the previous cast, though it's not fully required.
3. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Continuing with the new X-Men cast, Apocalypse takes us into the 1980s (following the previous films set in the '60s and '70s, respectively). At the end of Days of Future Past, '70s Wolverine was captured by Stryker (well, Mystique as Stryker, leading to the usual X-Men timeline confusion) and has now been brainwashed into being Weapon X. So, in this wholly new timeline, Jackman appears briefly in the film as a deranged monster stalking some of the new cast.
1. Logan (2017)
Logan, which superbly closes out Wolverine's story, isn't connected to either of the two timelines. It can be, if you'd like it to be, but it the only big thing that tethers the movie to anything previous, besides Jackman, is that Patrick Stewart plays an elderly Professor X. Inspired by the inspiration from the "Old Man Logan" comics storyline by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, Logan operates a free-standing "What If?" for the series, telling the story of a "retired" Wolverine defending a young mutant named Laura — aka X-23 — from the cybernetically-enhanced villains known as the Reavers.
How to Watch the Wolverine/X-Men Movies by Release Date
If you're looking to watch all the movies in theatrical release order, the correct list is below:
- X-Men (2000)
- X2 (2003)
- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
- X-Men: First Class (2011)
- The Wolverine (2013)
- X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
- Deadpool (2016)
- X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
- Logan (2017)
- Deadpool 2 (2018)
- Dark Phoenix (2019)
- The New Mutants (2020)
- Deadpool 3 (2024)
Matt Fowler is a freelance entertainment writer/critic, covering TV news, reviews, interviews and features on IGN for 13+ years.