Simon Kinberg’s “Dark Phoenix” marks the culmination of almost 20 years of groundbreaking superhero movies. Despite the series’ ups and downs, Fox’s franchise not only popularized but legitimized modern comic book adaptations on the silver screen thanks to stories that created larger than life adventures while touching upon real-world issues. Of course, they also delivered some of the coolest and most thrilling action sequences of the past two decades. So as the franchise comes to an end (before they eventually phase over to the MCU), Moviefone takes a look back at the best of the best -- the brutal fights, chases and showdowns that changed the way we look at superheroes.
“X-Men” (2000) - Statue of Liberty Torch Battle
Bryan Singer’s original film feels almost primitive at this point, made before the proper technical advancements could bring these sequences to life (fully), but the filmmaker still delivered an incredible final set piece as the X-Men fight to save world leaders atop the Statue of Liberty. It's a scene that vitally emphasizes their individual strengths and even more importantly, their cooperation and teamwork.
“X2: X-Men United” (2003) - Nightcrawler White House Assassination Attempt
Singer threw the audience into the action in the second film with this bravura sequence where a mind-controlled Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) teleports his way past White House security to make an attempt on the President’s life. Breathless and beautifully composed.
“X2: X-Men United” (2003) - Stryker’s Assault on the X-Mansion
Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) always seems like he’s about one hangnail away from berserker mode, but in this siege on X-Mansion, we really get to see him cut loose (pun intended) on Colonel Stryker’s (Brian Cox) men as he protects Xavier’s more vulnerable students.
“X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006) - Magneto Lifts the Golden Gate Bridge
There are some mutants whose powers are so strong it feels like they can do anything, but the movies don’t always reflect their omnipotence. But Brett Ratner beautifully depicts the magnitude of Magneto’s (Ian McKellen) abilities in an attack on Alcatraz that starts when he literally lifts the Golden Gate Bridge as a conveyance for the evil Brotherhood.
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009) - Helicopter Chase
Director Gavin Hood’s spin-off is not an especially successful first installment of what became a terrific parallel franchise, but he combines the poignant and powerful in this scene where Agent Zero (Daniel Henney) kills the elderly couple protecting Logan after he escapes from Stryker’s (Danny Huston) lab, and the future Wolverine returns the favor by destroying the soldier’s helicopter.
“X-Men: First Class” (2011) - Cuban Missile Crisis
Matthew Vaughn took a real risk by integrating real-world history into the fictional background for the X-Men, but it paid off in this climactic sequence where the world’s nations launch missiles to end a potentially explosive conflict between warring factions of mutants.
“The Wolverine” (2013) - Funeral/ Yakuza Train Fight
James Mangold’s follow-up to “X-Men Origins” makes a substantial leap in quality, thanks especially to Mangold’s skill in constructing sequences like the funeral assassination that leads into an incredible showdown between Logan and would-be Yakuza kidnappers atop a Japanese bullet train.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014) - X-Men vs. Sentinels
Far be it from me to cheer the deaths of our beloved X-Men, but Singer’s return to the franchise showcases the deadly power of one of the team’s most iconic foes, the Sentinels, as they defeat and literally dismember the team in a distant post-apocalyptic future.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) - Quicksilver Prison Break
As incredible as the core X-Men are, the introduction of Quicksilver (Evan Peters) gave the franchise an incredible jolt of energy, especially in this show-stopping set piece where he stops a room full of security guards in a matter of seconds, all set to the tune of Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle.”
“Deadpool” (2016) - Highway Battle
To be fair, the highway chase in “Deadpool” takes up a good 35 minutes or more of screen time in the character’s first outing as a solo, uh, anti-hero. But the opening sequences that unfold in slow motion, making fun of not just superhero theatrics but the very filmmakers responsible for creating such an irreverent adventure, still rank among the best moments ever in a superhero movie.
“X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016) - Quiksilver Saves the X-Men
Singer’s final outing as director marked a depressing nadir for the series, but in trying to duplicate the success of its predecessor, he still created one sequence that, if familiar, was at least entertaining, as Quicksilver springs into action to rescue the X-Men as the mansion explodes.
“Logan” (2017) - Logan and Laura Escape His Mexican Hideout
Mangold had considerably more success than Singer revisiting the material he made his own in this, widely regarded as the best X-Movie ever made. But in this early sequence, Logan discovers that his young charge has her own powers -- plus a nasty temper -- as they attempt to escape in a fight that leads into a messy chase, and eventually, evasion by the skin of their teeth.
“Deadpool 2” (2018) - X-Force United
Deadpool’s irreverence reached its peak in this amazing scene from the sequel where the character’s freshly-assembled team meets its demise almost immediately, but he and the lone survivor, Domino (Zazie Beetz), find themselves in the midst of a battle atop a runaway convoy that also happens to be carrying the Juggernaut.