The X-Men Timeline

When does Dark Phoenix take place? Why is Beast not blue in X2? How come Professor X can walk at the beginning of X3? Does Magneto have an Irish accent in First Class?

The X-Men film franchise, predating the dominant Marvel media brand known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that generally progresses in chronological order, has left audiences with many questions surrounding the in-universe timeline. Ever since 20th Century Fox decided to branch off into origin stories and solo adventures following their original trilogy of X-Men movies (2000-2006), the X-world has become confused and convoluted by time jumps and continuity errors. What is more, with time travel elements being introduced in Days of Future Past and Deadpool 2, the timeline has been disrupted to the point of conscious plot deviations from preceding installments. Here I will try to make sense of the X-timeline with special attention to the seeming contradictions that muddle the minds of movie-goers everywhere.

The folks at Gizmodo just published an awesome article on how to map-out the expansive timeline of the X-Men movies. I personally take a different approach to making sense of the timeline because I don’t necessarily consider films like Deadpool and Logan as existing in their own alternate realities, but rather can be viewed as part of the collective cinematic X-Men experience.

The Original Timeline: Character Crossovers in First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Our earliest look at history in the X-world comes in the prologue to X-Men: Apocalypse, where the titular villain debuts as one of the world’s first mutants. The rest of the film’s events, however, are not relevant to the original timeline because they occur in the 1980s and are the direct result of a time travel incident happening in the 1970s. For now, we will ignore Apocalypse until we get to the time travel plot in Days of Future Past (DoFP).

If we jump ahead from Apocalypse’s ancient Egypt to 1944 Poland, we meet Erik Lensherr (Magneto), a boy separated from his mother in a Nazi death camp. The trauma activates Erik’s dormant mutant genes, causing him to bend metal for the first time. We see this scene play out almost identically in X-Men (X1) as well as X-Men: First Class, the latter which recreates the famous opening scene of the original only to expand on it, not alter it. First Class also introduces us to Charles Xavier (Professor X), Raven Darkholme (Mystique), Hank McCoy (Beast), and Alex Summers (Havoc). These five (plus their non-mutant CIA friend, Moira MacTaggert) make up the most important characters in the first incarnation of the X-Men in the early 1960s.

Magneto and Prof. X play a game of chess in First Class

Prof. X and Magneto’s friendship is strained by their opposite approaches to mutant-human relations; though the adoptive sister of Prof. X, Mystique eventually aligns her ideology with Magneto; Hank, who shares the side of the moral spectrum with Prof. X, concocts an experimental mutant vaccine that backfires, turning him into the blue, hairy Beast. Most importantly, though, is Magneto’s responsibility for accidentally causing Prof. X to lose all feeling below the legs.

A few things to note about these characters: With Magneto, Prof. X, and Mystique being represented as children in 1944, and the union of these characters occurring in 1962, they are probably meant to be in their mid-20s throughout First Class. We could even be generous and say that Mystique, Beast, and Havoc are still teenagers. Beast does point out, in fact, that Mystique’s remarkable DNA makes her ageing significantly slower than ordinary humans. Another character, Emma Frost, also appears in this movie, who can transform her skin into a diamond surface and read/manipulate minds. The other notable character cameo is Wolverine.

Wolverine’s story doesn’t pick up for another ten years or so. However, his origin begins in 19th-century Canada, where he bears his birth name James Howlett. His younger years are chronicled in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where we see him and his step-brother Victor Creed participate in the American Civil War, both World Wars, and finally the Vietnam War, the latter during which James and Victor meet Major William Stryker. Stryker enlists the soldiers into his mutant special ops force, Team X, which includes Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson (alter ego of the eventual Deadpool). James uses the alias Logan, a nickname that sticks for most of his life onward.

The Wolverine, Logan’s second solo film, fits into this version of history seen in Origins. We witness James surviving the atomic bombing of Nagasaki while he is incarcerated in a Japanese POW camp, where he still bears the bone claws that are only converted to metal later in Origins. Most of The Wolverine’s plot, though, takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand, so we won’t worry about that until we get to X3.

Generally, the events of Origins occur circa the 1980s (after Team X days), and largely align with the flashbacks to the Weapon X storyline seen in X2: X-Men United which explains how Wolverine’s skeleton was reinforced with adamantium. Other details, however, seem to be in conflict with First Class. For example, a character referred to as Emma exhibits the diamond-form ability, suggesting that she is Emma Frost, which wouldn’t make sense considering Emma’s much different representation in First Class. Director Bryan Singer, however, has debunked the relation between the two characters, confirming that the “Emma” seen in Origins doesn’t have the same telepathic powers as Frost. Similarly, the presence of Victor in Origins (played by Liev Schreiber) calls into question the Sabertooth character that we meet in X1 (Tyler Mane). Though their comic book origins are common, it’s likely that these characters are also meant to be independent of one another as far as the movies are concerned. After all, Victor is never referred to as “Sabertooth” in Origins, and likewise no indications in X1 are made to distinguish Sabertooth as Wolverine’s brother. Director James Mangold even considered bringing back Victor for Logan via Liev Schreiber, implying Victor’s disconnection to Sabertooth, who is killed-off in X1.

Kayle Silverfox, Victor Creed, Wolverine, Gambit, and Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Other possible discrepancies in Origins include Prof. X shown standing on two legs even though he became paralyzed in First Class. However, DoFP reveals that Prof. X regains the ability to walk after getting shot in the spine, by way of a special serum that also helps Beast return to human physique. Beast’s capability of transforming back and forth between forms helps make sense of Hank McCoy’s [human] cameo in X2, while his constant blue exterior in X3 may be a result of finally overcoming his need to fit-in with society after becoming Secretary of Mutant Affairs. Prof. X’s paralysis question is a bit trickier, because the injections that allow him to walk again also suppress his powers. My interpretation of Prof. X’s upright appearance in Origins, then, is as a mental construct for the escapees who witness him. The entire sequence is, after all, about Prof. X using his telepathy to guide the prisoners out of captivity, so he could very well be communicating from the comfort of Cerebro to direct the young mutants to safety.

One of these mutant captives is Scott Summers (Cyclops), shown as a teenager struggling with his mutation in high school. This version of Cyclops is pretty consistent with Apocalypse, where we are introduced to the young Cyclops in the same way. Being a teen in the mid 80s, Cyclops is therefore significantly younger than his older brother, Havoc, with something like 20 years separating the two. It’s weird, but not impossible to believe. Cyclops’ integration into Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is different in Apocalypse, but we still see that this deviation is due to the time travel incident in DoFP.

Summary

~3600 B.C.E.: Apocalypse emerges as the world’s first mutant but goes dormant after being buried alive.

1944: Magneto bends metal for the first time; Professor X and Mystique meet.

1945: Wolverine survives the bombing of Nagasaki and meets Yashida.

1962: Prof. X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, and Havoc form the original X-Men team.

~1975: Wolverine and Victor join Team X.

~1985: Wolverine survives the Weapon X program but loses his memory.

We’ll be adding to this timeline as we go along. For now, these are the most important details to note in this first section of the original timeline.

The Original Timeline (cont.): Present Day, or X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: The Last Stand

A few flashback sequences in X3 are set after the events of Origins: the introductions of Jean Grey and Angel. The former scene has Professor X and Magneto visit Jean “20 years ago” which can only be situated on the timeline once we know in what year X3 takes place. Luckily, Prof. X gives us some backstory in X1 to help fill in the blanks in the time between Origins and “present day.” He surmises that Wolverine has been suffering from amnesia for at least fifteen years, which would put X1 around 2001 assuming that the dates aforementioned are roughly correct. An opening title card does consider X1 existing in the “near future” (X1 was released in 2000), which could be interpreted loosely. It also fits nicely with Dark Phoenix which shows Jean as a child in 1975. She’s an older child in the “20 years ago” scene, so if we place that around 1980 it makes sense to cement the original X-Men trilogy in the early 2000s. The DoFP promotional website “25 Moments” indicates the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge occurring in 2006 (a major event in X3), which is only slightly ahead of my estimations, so it still works out pretty soundly.

Wolverine in X1

The intro to X3 does present us with the same problem as Origins: how is it that Prof. X is walking? We can assume it’s thanks to his anti-paralysis serum, though we may wonder how he is still able to telepathically communicate with Jean since his powers should be blocked when using the drug. Because Jean also has the gift of telepathy, it makes sense that she is the one communicating with him, and that his thoughts are received by her using her own powers, not his.

The main story arcs across X1-3 follow Wolverine and his interactions with many of the established characters from First Class and Origins. As already mentioned, Prof. X’s exposition helps connect the dots between these two eras. He does specify that he met Magneto when he was 17-years-old, which doesn’t really add up with the idea that they were more likely in their 20s during First Class. It’s possible he technically encountered Magneto at an earlier unspecified date, or that his memory is a little fuzzy. He also claims to have built Cerebro, even though Beast is shown to be the inventor of the technology in First Class. However, the Cerebro machine shown in First Class is a prototype built on C.I.A. soil, so Prof. X is probably telling the truth when he says that he built Cerebro in the basement of the X-Mansion. Let’s say that he co-pioneered the project with Beast and give them both credit.

In X3, some major events occur. After being presumably killed at the end of X2, Jean resurfaces with a split personality and her evil persona murders Cyclops. Prof. X informs Wolverine that he tampered with Jean’s brain when she was a child to repress dangerous parts of her mind. Jean’s next victim is the Professor himself, which prompts Wolverine to reluctantly kill Jean, saving everyone else from the Dark Phoenix. Meanwhile, with the emergence of the mutant cure, Rogue and Magneto are ultimately relieved of their powers . . . until the final shot hints that the effects are only temporary.

Summary

The italics indicate new information.

~3600 B.C.E.: Apocalypse emerges as the world’s first mutant but goes dormant after being buried alive.

1944: Magneto bends metal for the first time; Professor X and Mystique meet.

1945: Wolverine survives the bombing of Nagasaki and meets Yashida.

1962: Prof. X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, and Havoc form the original X-Men team.

~1975: Wolverine and Victor join Team X.

~1980: Prof. X and Magneto visit Jean as a child.

~1985: Wolverine survives the Weapon X program but loses his memory.

~2001: Wolverine helps the X-Men stop Magneto on Liberty Island.

~2002: Jean nearly dies by saving everyone at Alkali Lake from the flood.

~2006: Jean experiences a psychological crisis and kills Cyclops and Prof. X; Wolverine kills Jean.

The Original Timeline (cont.): The Dark Future of The Wolverine and Days of Future Past

The Wolverine is set after the events of X3, where Wolverine is haunted by the memory of Jean and hasn’t been affiliated with the X-men in some time (now headed by Storm in Professor X’s absence). He is reunited with Yashida, the Japanese soldier he saved in 1945. Yashida, on his death bed, desires Wolverine’s agelessness, and his thirst for endless youth turns him into the film’s climactic villain, the Silver Samurai. In battle with the Silver Samurai, Wolverine’s adamantium claws are sliced off, and he regrows his primal bone claws in their place.

Wolverine and the ghost of Jean

In a post-credit scene, Wolverine is approached by Magneto, whose powers have returned, and Prof. X, alive and in the flesh. Magneto is still able to manipulate Wolverine’s body because only his claws have been removed of metal, not the rest of his skeleton. Prof. X’s resurrection is a little more complicated. Bryan Singer didn’t end up including a planned explanatory scene in DoFP where this question is answered, but some hints in X3 that lineup with info from the comics gives us a pretty good idea of what happened. When Wolverine asks him about how it is possible that he is face-to-face with his deceased mentor, Prof. X replies, “As I told you a long time ago, you’re not the only one with gifts.”

In X3, Prof. X gives an interesting lecture to his class on the ethics of transporting one’s consciousness into another body. In the post-credit scene of that film, a woman called Moira attends to an unseen man in a medical room who wakes up and greets her in Prof. X’s voice, and in shock she replies, “Charles.” It is implied, then, that before his “death” at the hands of the Dark Phoenix, a fate he would have undoubtedly anticipated, Prof. X sacrifices his body and makes the mental leap to another. A plan like this makes sense because doing so protects the other X-Men bystanders from the same doom, being the sacrificial lamb and all. But how is it he reappears in the exact same body?

In the comics, Prof. X actually has a twin sister. The filmmakers on X3 have stated that in their movie universe, Prof. X has a twin brother who is brain dead (the antithesis to the genius intellect of Charles). It is heavily implied, then, that Prof. X uses his vegetative brother as a replacement body to face the Dark Phoenix, and returns to his original body in the aftermath (which is why he is still wheelchair-bound in The Wolverine post-credit scene and in DoFP). The Wolverine’s secret scene is a set-up for DoFP, happening even further in the future, where Wolverine is back with all of the central characters from the original trilogy to face the threat of extinction, aka robotic Sentinels that are hunting down mutants.

Summary

~3600 B.C.E.: Apocalypse emerges as the world’s first mutant but goes dormant after being buried alive.

1944: Magneto bends metal for the first time; Professor X and Mystique meet.

1945: Wolverine survives the bombing of Nagasaki and meets Yashida.

1962: Prof. X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, and Havoc form the original X-Men team.

~1975: Wolverine and Victor join Team X.

~1980: Prof. X and Magneto visit Jean as a child.

~1985: Wolverine survives the Weapon X program but loses his memory.

~2001: Wolverine helps the X-Men stop Magneto on Liberty Island.

~2002: Jean nearly dies by saving everyone at Alkali Lake from the flood.

~2006: Jean experiences a psychological crisis and kills Cyclops and Prof. X; Wolverine kills Jean.

~2013: Wolverine is confronted by Yashida.

~2015: Wolverine is reunited with Prof. X and Magneto.

~2023: Kitty sends Wolverine back in time to 1973.

The New Timeline: DoFP > Deadpool, Apocalypse, and Deadpool 2

In DoFP where Wolverine is back with his old buddies, he wields the metal claws again, which we wouldn’t expect to see after The Wolverine. A scene between Magneto and Wolverine may shed some light on this mystery: a younger Magneto, impressed with Wolverine’s retractable bones, comments, “Imagine if they were metal.” Bryan Singer offered his theory that Magneto could “reconstitute the adamantium claws… [Wolverine] has a different relationship with Magneto, and perhaps Magneto could forge them.”

Kitty Pryde sends Wolverine’s consciousness back in time in hopes of rewriting history so that Mystique does not assassinate Bolivar Trask, a military scientist whose animosity against the mutant community manifests in technology that turns into the Sentinel program. (One quick note: a military character in X3 is referred to as “Trask,” but his first name is never mentioned. Though he may be distantly related to the Bolivar Trask seen in DoFP, they are not meant to be the same character.) Wolverine awakens in his younger body in 1973. From here on out, future Wolverine’s presence in the past has ripple effects that create a new timeline that differs from the original.

Beast, Prof. X, and Wolverine in Days of Future Past

In this new timeline, Wolverine inspires Professor X to kick the drugs and be at peace with his paralysis. Prof. X’s change influences Mystique’s trajectory, too, who decides not to terminate Trask and rejoins the X-Men rather than siding with Magneto. The world is publicly exposed to the existence of mutants, which wouldn’t formally happen for some time in the original timeline. In short, as young Prof. X monologues: “The past [is] a new and uncertain world.”

Though Wolverine’s capture by Stryker at the end of DoFP is revealed to be Mystique in disguise, Wolverine still ends up going through the Weapon X program (maybe because some parts of history are inevitable?). There’s a lot of time in between DoFP and Apocalypse so it’s not absurd to assume that Wolverine would have another run-in with the colonel. Besides, the way things play out at Stryker’s base in Apocalypse are significantly different from the version seen in Origins/X2, so the end stinger of DoFP is still justified as being a “things are different now” tease.

The post-credit scene for DoFP is also a teaser for Apocalypse: the young En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse) builds the pyramids while four horsemen watch from behind. The rest of the film is set in 1983, some 20 years after First Class. The five original X-men are all here and they don’t look like they’ve aged much, but at least it’s brought up by Prof. X that Moira appears as if she hasn’t aged a day (which would mean that if the “Moira” at the end of X3 is meant to be the same significant other, then it’s being established now that she has great skin and always looks good for her age!). Again, considering Beast’s note about mutants and slow ageing, perhaps we can give some leeway to the lack of prosthetics to make the cast look like they’re in their 40s.

The awakening of Apocalypse is certainly a result of Wolverine meddling with time, because it’s only due to the public knowledge of mutants that African subscribers to En Sabah Nur figure out how to bring back history’s first mutant. Even if Apocalypse were to inevitably return in the original timeline, there’s no reason to say that some version of the film’s events didn’t happen prior to X1, off-screen.

A winged young man called “Angel” shows up in this film, which may or may not be the Angel we follow in X3. This character’s age wouldn’t align with X3′s opening scenes that reveal a boy Angel “10 years ago,” otherwise known as the 90s, whereas the Angel in Apocalypse is at least a teenager in the 80s. However, we know that the Angel in X3 is Warren Worthington III, and the Angel in Apocalypse is unnamed. It’s likely that these are different “Angels,” since it’s a common nickname for mutants with wings. Take the unrelated character from First Class, played by Zoë Kravitz, adopting the X-Men code name “Angel” even though her comic book counterpart is Tempest.

The Deadpool movies are also inherently linked to the new timeline. In the original timeline, Wade Wilson is transformed into Weapon XI and then destroyed by Wolverine in Origins. At the time, a cryptic post-credit scene saw the decapitated Wade pulling his head back onto his body and acknowledging the audience. Nonetheless, with the alternate history of the Weapon X program glimpsed at in Apocalypse, Wade has a much happier fate and room for spinoff sequels.

Deadpool provides Wade’s origin story and his soft connection to the X-Men characters. As to when the film fits into the timeline is a little unclear; most of the iconography indicates something like present day. We do catch a cameo of the X-Men ensemble in Deadpool 2, the cast of Apocalypse/Dark Phoenix. These X-Men are a little young to be the contemporary characters that we know as the cast of X1-3, so we have a few options: 1) Deadpool is set somewhere in the 90s; 2) it made more sense to have the current X-Men actors (2011-2019) play the part rather than the old cast (2000-2006), even though it’s meant to be older versions of the characters (a la Stryker’s portrayal by the reprised Josh Helman in Apocalypse); 3) the Deadpool movies are not beholden to the laws of the timeline.

Deadpool speaks to the audience, with Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead behind

The evidence for #3 is plentiful; the nature of the character means that Deadpool movies, though attached to the X-Men franchise, are kind of their own beast. Deadpool is always breaking the forth wall, speaking directly to the viewer and poking fun at the fact that he knows he’s a comic book character and that the timelines are confusing even to him (when being dragged to the X-Mansion by Colossus to see Prof. X, Deadpool jokingly asks if it’s James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart).

But if we want to keep Deadpool logistically included in the universe, we can reason that his fourth wall-breaks are psychotic soliloquies (the character does have a history of mental illness) and that the films are situated in approximate present day. Deadpool does befriend Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), a character played by Daniel Cudmore in X2, X3, and DoFP. The biggest differences between the two representations are his much greater size and thick Russian accent in the Deadpool movies. We can credit this alternate Colossus as the consequence of the new timeline, since the other incarnation is only seen in the original timeline (briefly at the end of DoFP in the new timeline, albeit in human form and non-verbal, so it still could be the same guy as the powered-up, Russian-sounding Colossus we now know from Deadpool).

The added time travel mechanics of Deadpool 2 complicate things. Cable has come back in time from a desolate future that may or may not be linked to the events of DoFP. At the end of the movie, when Deadpool’s selflessness inspires Firefist not to become a villain, we see the future literally change in the present, as Cable’s teddy bear disappears. This added detail doesn’t make any practical sense because whatever travels through time shouldn’t be affected by the changes it makes, otherwise it would contradict its own existence in that time (the whole thing is not unlike Marty’s siblings disappearing on the photograph in Back to the Future).

Of course, the rest of the time travel shenanigans throughout the credits sequence are not meant to be taken seriously, since they include a moment where Deadpool kills the actor Ryan Reynolds while preparing for his Green Lantern role. So maybe we shouldn’t be too concerned about Deadpool 2′ s time travel plot with respect to the overarching timeline of X-Men .

Summary

~3600 B.C.E.: Apocalypse emerges as the world’s first mutant but goes dormant after being buried alive.

1944: Magneto bends metal for the first time; Professor X and Mystique meet.

1945: Wolverine survives the bombing of Nagasaki and meets Yashida.

1962: Prof. X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, and Havoc form the original X-Men team.

1973: at the Paris Peace Accords, the mutant community is exposed to the world; Mystique saves President Nixon from Magneto and is branded a hero.

1983: Cyclops and Nightcrawler enroll in the Xavier Institute; a memory-wiped Wolverine is set free by Jean; the X-Men defeat an awakened Apocalypse.

~2016: Wade is experimented on and becomes Deadpool.

~2018: Deadpool briefly operates as an X-Men trainee and steers Firefist onto a better path.

The New Timeline (cont.): Old Man Logan and its Backstory, Dark Phoenix

The post-credit scene in Apocalypse is a lead-in to Logan, even though the next film chronologically is Dark Phoenix (Logan was released in 2017 so it made sense at the time). We see sinister-looking members of the “Essex Corporation” retrieve Weapon X’s blood from the facility at Alkali Lake. The collection of Wolverine’s DNA is an important plot point in Logan, in which Wolverine resumes his original name “James” and is confronted by his own flesh and blood: X-23, or Laura, who was born out of Wolverine’s genetic code, and X-24, a clone of the primitive and violent Wolverine.

Prof. X and Wolverine in Logan

Logan is technically situated in the far future post-DoFP. Director James Mangold states that the film is set in 2029 and, though he considers it thematically independent from the other films, has redressed his comments about it taking place in an alternate timeline and instead insists that it is a follow-up to DoFP: “There’s an epilogue scene in Days of Future Past which is 2024, or 2023, something like that. I just wanted to get far enough past. My goal was real simple: it was to pick a time where I had enough elbow room that I was clear of existing entanglements.” Prof. X even references the events occurring at the Statue of Liberty, validating the legitimacy of X1 (or at least, some version of it, considering the new timeline looks different from the original).

The only problem with the timing between DoFP and Logan is Wolverine’s remark to Prof. X about there not being any mutants born in the last 25 years. If that were true, we shouldn’t be seeing children and teenagers populating the X-Mansion at the end of DoFP (2023), and the school is filled with kids. The Children of Men-like state of Logan is caused by Dr. Rice’s virus that spreads through the common food supply. Maybe Wolverine’s statement was more of a euphemism, and that while a place like the X-Mansion is a sanctuary for mutants, much of the world has been ravaged by this plague. James Mangold addressed this issue on Twitter and implied that Wolverine’s line shouldn’t be taken literally, but that it was more of an exaggeration and that the problem of mutant births was probably starting to be seriously noticed more around the time of DoFP.

There’s also some possible tension between Logan and its filmic predecessor, Apocalypse. Mutant-tracker Caliban appears in the latter as a shady figure in the black market who helps Mystique locate Nightcrawler. In Logan, Caliban is an ally of Wolverine but also has ties to the evil Zander Rice. Though it would seem Caliban has a dramatic personality shift over the 40 years separating the two films, the older version does bear a close resemblance to Caliban from Apocalypse, and his special tracking ability is significant to the plot of Logan as well.

The road to Logan is paved in part by Dark Phoenix, which retells the saga seen in X3 but, because of the new timeline, plays out significantly differently. Dark Phoenix comes after Apocalypse in the 90s, with the same young-looking cast (at least the bald head makes McAvoy look a little older). The other character ages make sense; in her 1975 flashback, Jean looks about 9 or 10 years-old, which would mean in 1983 she’s ~17 and in 1992 she’s 26 (which Sophie Turner can pass for in both films). Likewise, if Quicksilver is about 16-17 in 1973, 32-year-old Evan Peters is right on cue with a ~35-year-old mutant in Dark Phoenix.

**Spoiler warning for Dark Phoenix: the death of Mystique in Dark Phoenix does not contradict the ending of DoFP. We do witness almost all of the major X-Men alive and well in 2023, including Cyclops and Jean (making Jean’s phoenix resurrection in the last shot necessary), but Mystique is nowhere to be seen.

The ending of DoFP also corroborates the British version of Beast (Kelsey Grammar) from X3, which looks like Nicholas Hoult’s Beast in all the prequel films but doesn’t sound like him. Maybe the accent is picked up after spending time as Secretary of Mutant Affairs in Europe for a long time? The same could be said for Magneto’s Irish accent heard in First Class, since he is an international man and could have spent a few years in Ireland. From DoFP onward, Michael Fassbender’s voice is much closer to Ian McKellen’s, who plays the older Magneto.

Summary

~3600 B.C.E.: Apocalypse emerges as the world’s first mutant but goes dormant after being buried alive.

1944: Magneto bends metal for the first time; Professor X and Mystique meet.

1945: Wolverine survives the bombing of Nagasaki and meets Yashida.

1962: Prof. X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, and Havoc form the original X-Men team.

1973: at the Paris Peace Accords, the mutant community is exposed to the world; Mystique saves President Nixon from Magneto and is branded a hero.

1983: Cyclops and Nightcrawler enroll in the Xavier Institute; a memory-wiped Wolverine is set free by Jean; the X-Men defeat an awakened Apocalypse.

1992: Prof. X sends the X-Men on government-sanctioned missions; Jean battles inner demons.

~2001: Wolverine and Prof. X possibly thwart Magneto’s plans on Liberty Island.

~2016: Wade is experimented on and becomes Deadpool.

~2018: Deadpool briefly operates as an X-Men trainee and steers Firefist onto a better path.

2023: Wolverine from the original timeline wakes up in the new timeline.

2029: a mutant extinction is on the rise as Wolverine looks after a 90-year-old Prof. X.

That’s my recap of the X-Men movie timeline and my best attempt at reconciling continuity contradictions. Now that the Fox properties have been bought-out by Disney, the current iteration of the cinematic X-Men may be coming to a close with the latest installment in Dark Phoenix (save for future Deadpool films and the eventual release of The New Mutants). But book-ended by First Class and Logan, I’d say the X-Men legacy has a pretty cool on-screen storyline.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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45 Comments

  1. Gwendolyn
    0

    Thank you for this article! The X-Men were ruined by all the timelines and unorganized plotlines. Also messing up the Phoenix Saga was their worst move. That “final” movie had so much potential, but they STILL messed up.

  2. I choose not to go with continuity in these movies. I find it much more settling just to go along the line of believing there are multiverses within the comics. So some of the movies are of one universe, some are another and so on and so forth.

  3. I have never watched a single X-Men movie or Wolverine movies so when I watched dark Pheonix I thought it was fantastic just as a stand-alone movie standpoint, so I would say that it is my favorite X-Men movie XD, but also the dead pool movies are fantastic

  4. Can’t wait for Marvel to do X-Men. I love love love Sir Ian and Sir Patrick and most of the original casts but the producer wasn’t able to make a good continuity through out the movies.

  5. In my opinion
    1962 X-men first class
    1979 X-men origins wolverine
    1983 X-men apocalypse
    1992. X-men dark Phoenix
    2003 X-men
    2003 X-men 2
    2006 X-men the last stand
    2013 the wolverine
    2014-2023 X-men days of future past
    Deadpool 2016
    Deadpool 2 2018
    Logan 2029

  6. I’m gonna pretend the Deadpool movies are NOT part of the timeline. He ruins the mood when I’m watching these movies! And just to clarify, I have NEVER read any of the X Men comics. I’ve only ever watched all of the films and the two cartoons. And I only purchased a graphic novel titled “X-Men Vs. The Avengers/Fantastic Four”. That’s pretty much all i know of the X-Men.

  7. THE ANIMATED SERIES IS ALL THAT MATTERS!

  8. Large scale abstract cosmic/galactic stuff ALWAYS fails because it’s too complex for a single film. The Avengers did it in FOUR huge films accompanied by more than a dozen stand alone films that added to the entire franchise.

  9. millmen
    0

    Why does everyone have to dissect each and every scene from each and every movie in the X men universe? The X men comics had just come about when I was in school, so I saw a lot of different things over the years. People, for God sake, it’s not real. So what if it jumps around in the timeline. Star Wars did too. Big deal. Take it for what it’s meant to be, ENTERTAINMENT. Don’t over analyze it. It’s just a movie. Just watch and enjoy it. Let it take you away from the mundane everyday world for a couple hours. Also, I didn’t mind X Men Apocalypse at all. LOL.

  10. I’m so confused Thanos you need to snap this universe.

  11. They shoukd have stopped from wolverine. No more first class, days of future past, apocalypse and dark phoenix.

  12. Laura Aguilar
    0

    Thanks for this! Love the X-men even though some of the movies are messed up. 😂

  13. avidaline
    0

    Best to worst
    1. Deadpool
    2. X2
    3. Logan
    4. Days of Future Past
    5. Deadpool 2
    6. First Class
    7. The Wolverine
    8. X-Men Apocalypse
    9. X-Men
    10. Last Stand
    11. Origins
    12. Dark Phoenix

    • X-Men Ranked
      10 Origins
      9 The Wolverine
      8 The Last Stand
      7 Dark Phoenix
      6 X-Men
      5 Apocalypse
      4 First Class
      3 X2
      2 DoFP
      1 Logan

  14. What a mess! PLEASE, Disney! Don’t. Mess. Up. Please give the same consistency and passion in your rebooted X-Men that you had in your Avenger movies. The same goes for the rebooted Fantastic Four.

  15. Antonio
    0

    They need to shut down X-Men down for about 20 to 30 years so we can all forget the pain Fox put us ALL though!!!! Same for Star Wars for how Disney has Fmessed up that storyline as well!!!!!!

  16. Ian Brooks
    0

    Thank you for clearing this crap up, took me forever to try and figure it out.

  17. If Logan died in 2029 then why in deadpool 2 he already knows that Logan is dead plus there is a toy made out of Logan’s death and deadpool makes jokes about it??? Please someone explain

  18. M. L. Flood

    This is so thorough and well constructed; it makes the timeline much easier to understand. The hard work you put into creating this article has really paid off! I’ve been a long-time MCU and X-Men fan, and this has helped me make connections in the timeline that I hadn’t previously made. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  19. I think that X-Men Days of Future Past and Logan have been the peak of this saga, but I also love the first two movies, X-Men and X-Men United together with X-Men First Class.

  20. Patrick Stewart was a constantly in the series.

  21. Just like in the comics.. always confusing.. really, we only bought them for the art.

  22. X men franchise become a big mess that can’t be set, right after Dark phoenix I am completely confused and lost interest in X men franchise.

  23. maaaary
    1

    ONLY way to fix this is to introduce the most simplified version of this timeline into the MCU timeline through MULTIVERSE concept.

  24. Chronological Watch Order: X-men first class, X-men origins wolverine, X-men, X2: X-Men United, X-men the last stand, the wolverine, X-men days of future past, X-men Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix, Deadpool, Deadpool 2, Logan

  25. Take each movie as a stand along movie, even if they reference one another, so what, watch as a stand alone movie.

  26. I have a feeling one day Xman gonna reboot the whole franchise just for MCU. There’s no way this timeline gonna work in the MCU timeline

  27. I”m just confused about how mystique died in the movie, and then is alive in Xmen

  28. Good movies messed up big time by ridiculous and confusing timeline jumping.

  29. I see it like this the original trilogy and the wolverine trilogy are connected – the first class timeline and deadpool is the rebooted xmen franchise and yes in days of future past we see the original cast but I see it more as the actor reprising their role in the rebooted version not really connecting the whole franchise. the only confusing part is the ending of wolverine where pro x and magneto find wolverine but besides that makes more sense.

  30. The X-men movies have perfectly resembled the comics when it comes to aging and messy / contradicting timelines! Nobody has aged a day since the 60’s and the timelines / realities are confusing and don’t make any sense

  31. Troy Watkins
    0

    X-Men Timeline:
    X-Men: First Class
    X-Men Origins: Wolverine
    X-Men
    X-Men 2
    X-Men: The Last Stand
    The Wolverine
    X-Men: Days Of Future Past
    X-Men: Apocalypse
    X-Men: Dark Phoenix
    DeadPool
    DeadPool 2
    Logan

  32. Courtney
    0

    Timelines has been a true mess in this franchise. Difficult as a fan/moviegoer to attach to any of the characters. The MCU is how you do it!

  33. Proper X-Men Timeline:
    X-Men: First Class – 1962
    X-Men Origins: Wolverine – 1986
    X-Men – 2000’s
    X2: X-Men United – 2000’s
    X-Men: The Last Stand – 2000’s
    The Wolverine – 2013
    X-Men: Days of Future Past – (Past – 1973) – (Future – 2023)
    Logan – 2029

  34. Rosemary
    0

    Every movie takes place in different dimensions where some details are different.

  35. Gertrude
    0

    Logan was the best, but was the saddest movie of all time. even growing up i thought wolverine’s name was x-men.

  36. So basically, just forget about the history and wait for the next major reboot… 😉

  37. Ashley Christensen
    0

    Im still just as confused.

  38. This was really good, but still ignores some pieces that go together. Over all, good analysis.

  39. Freeman
    0

    Wow..What a mess of a timeline!

  40. This article is wonderful proof of how convoluted the once promising X-Men series became. There still remain various loopholes in how the plots turned out but for now am glad we have seen the end of the X-Men saga.

  41. Stephanie M.

    Amazingly thorough! Somebody needs to do this for other shows, like Once Upon a Time (the writers had a 20-foot timeline outside their writing rooms and *still* got confused).

  42. Thanks for the article

  43. I do think the timeline is rather muddled and confused, the creators didn’t seen to put too much attention into keeping it consistent

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