The big-screen adventures of Marvel Comics’ famous mutants continue this week in X-Men: Apocalypse, pitting Charles Xavier’s team of gifted youngsters against one of their greatest foes from the comics world.
Although Apocalypse director Bryan Singer has described the film as the concluding chapter in a trilogy that began with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, the upcoming film is actually the ninth installment of the X-Men franchise – a series that has had a fair share of highs and lows over the course of eight earlier films.
With the franchise once again moving forward, it seemed like a good opportunity to look back on those earlier movies and put the spotlight on the scene that (arguably) made each movie so memorable.
X-Men (2000) – Wolverine’s Debut
It might seem like an obvious choice now, but when Hugh Jackman was initially confirmed to play Wolverine, there were more than a few doubters. All of that public outcry was laid to rest, however, when Jackman made his debut as the clawed Canadian mutant during a scene that had him taking out his aggression on some poor sap trying to out-brawl him for prize money.
The sound effects in the scene provided the first hint of Wolverine’s hidden talents, with a metallic clang accompanying every punch, but it wasn’t until a few scenes later that his claws came out – accompanied by the signature “Snikt!” Anyone wondering whether Jackman could successfully portray the popular character got their answer, and from that point on, everyone was all-in on Jackman as Wolverine.
X2: X-Men United (2003) – Nightcrawler’s Attack on the White House
The opening scene from this film went a long way toward establishing it as one of best films in the franchise (if not the best film). Some inspired casting put stage and screen actor Alan Cumming in the role of the teleporting mutant Nightcrawler, who makes his debut while undertaking a one-man (or rather, one-mutant) assault on the White House that has him taking out a building full of Secret Service agents.
The scene was produced so well that you can practically smell the sulfur as the blue-skinned mutant teleports around the room, taking down one agent after another in a sequence that combines expertly choreographed, acrobatic action and some of the best visual effects of the series up to that point. If you weren’t a huge fan of Nightcrawler already (and if not, you should’ve been), that scene made you sit up and take notice of one of the coolest characters in the team’s long history.
(Honorable Mention: Wolverine going all “berserker rage” when Xavier’s mansion is attacked is a close second when it comes to the most memorable scenes of X-Men United, so it deserves a mention, too – particularly because it features cameos from Kitty Pryde and Colossus.)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – The Danger Room (and Fastball Special)
Brett Ratner’s hastily produced sequel has a lot of detractors, but there are a few truly memorable (in a good way) moments, too. Chief among those scenes is the long-awaited introduction of the “Danger Room” training facility for the X-Men.
The debut of the holographic simulation room features Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, and the rest of the team battling a barely-seen Sentinel, and concludes with Wolverine and Colossus teaming up for the “fastball” attack that fans of the comic know all too well. After the steel-skinned mutant heaves Wolverine at the giant robot, the Sentinel’s severed head hits the ground a short time later, and then it’s game over, robot.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Wade Wilson, I Presume?
By now, the story of Ryan Reynolds’ efforts to bring the mouthy mercenary Deadpool to the screen are well known, but that tale got its start (and nearly met its end) in this 2009 film that introduced the actor as Wade Wilson. Ignoring the final scene that offered up a disappointing version of Deadpool with weird mutant powers and a sewn-up mouth, the early scene of Reynolds’ Wade Wilson annoying his fellow teammates and dispatching a room full of heavily armed guards was not only one of the best parts of the movie, but a sneak peek at theDeadpool solo movie that we only had to wait seven years for.
X-Men: First Class (2011) – Frankenstein’s Monster
One of the defining moments of Matthew Vaughn’s reboot of the X-Men franchise made sparse use of mutant abilities, with Michael Fassbender’s metal-controlling mutant Erik Lehnsherr – years before he dubbed himself “Magneto” – hunting down a pair of former Nazis in Argentina. Brimming with tension, the scene features Lehnsherr dispatching his victims with the sort of cold, calculated efficiency that has made him one of the most feared and complicated villains in the Marvel Comics universe. At one point, Lehnsherr pauses just long enough to finish his beer before finishing off the remaining soldier.
The Wolverine (2013) – Ninja Brawl
James Mangold’s dark adventure through Japan with Wolverine took a lot of cues from the celebrated story arc by comic book creators Chris Claremont and Frank Miller that had the clawed mutant battling samurai and a seemingly never-ending army of ninja assassins to protect the woman he loves. While the movie made some departures from the source material (for better or worse), one thing that did carry over was a multitude of scenes featuring Wolverine battling hordes of ninja. One sequence in particular had Jackman’s character being assaulted from all sides (and the surrounding rooftops) by bow-wielding ninja, and Wolverine desperately trudging forward as he’s turned into a two-legged pin cushion.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – Time in a Bottle
No one knew quite what to expect when we got our first look at American Horror Story actor Evan Peters as the mutant Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it didn’t take long for him to win audiences over once the movie arrived in theaters. Quicksilver ended up the focal point of one of the most memorable scenes in an otherwise excellent film when he gave the audience a taste of what it would be like to have mutant super-speed. Set to the tune of Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” the scene featured Quicksilver taking out a room full of security guards deep below The Pentagon, using his speed to not only incapacitate them, but to have some fun while doing so. If there’s one particular scene to credit with the film earning an Academy Award nomination that year, it’s Quicksilver’s super-speed jog.
Deadpool (2016) – Everything
It might seem like a cop-out, but there’s no one scene to credit with making Deadpoolmemorable. Ryan Reynolds’ long-awaited solo adventure as the mouthy mercenary was the total package. ‘Nuff said.
Question of the Week: What are your favorite moments from the X-Men movies?
Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, IFC.com, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He’s been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV.