When it comes to comic book movies, there’s no doubt that Marvel Studios are the top dogs. Their Marvel Cinematic Universe is the outright highest-grossing movie franchise of all time and it’s showing no sign of slowing down, with movies planned up to 2019.
But Fox aren’t too far behind with their own Marvel movies – the likes of the X-Men franchise have proven to be hugely successful for the studio and there are several more to come in the next few years.
There have been other movies produced by the studio, however – in fact they’ve been quite prolific since the dawn of the new millennium.
This article run through all of Fox’s post-2000 comic book movies, ranking them from worst to best.
Fantastic Four (2015)
This year’s Fantastic Four reboot initially gave fans of Marvel’s first superhero team hope that they could translate successfully on to the big screen.
The 2005 and 2007 movies weren’t that great, but the build-up to the reboot had people believing Fox would make amends with this offering – which saw the titular team and their arch-enemy Doctor Doom gaining their powers through exposure to the elements in an alternate dimension.
Unfortunately, it flopped terribly. It has barely made a profit at the box office and is being called the worst comic book movie of all time – and that certainly makes it the worst movie on this particular list.
There was a good film in there somewhere – unfortunately that somewhere was on the cutting room floor – and it ended up being boring, predictable and extremely anti-climatic.
After the calamity that was the 2003 Daredevil movie, Fox somehow found a valid reason to produce a spin-off based on the Daredevil supporting character Elektra just two years later.
Starring Jennifer Garner in the titular role – a role she reprised after dying in the aforementioned Daredevil offering – Elektra saw the heroine brought back to life by martial arts guru Stick and embarking on a life as an assassin.
Unsurprisingly, it flopped – making a tiny $13.7 million profit and finding itself being critically demolished from all angles – and it’s hard to fathom what else the people behind the movie could possibly have expected.
Of course, this movie resulted in no more spin-offs in the franchise being produced and saw Jennifer Garner’s reputation tarnished quite badly.
Daredevil is arguably the most high-profile comic book movie to have ever completely flopped critically – not least because of its all-star cast.
With Ben Affleck in the lead role – a role that nearly destroyed his career – he was supposedly ably supported by the likes of Jennifer Garner as Elektra, Colin Farrell as Bullseye, Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin, Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson and Joe Pantoliano as Ben Ulrich, but it didn’t work out that way.
The movie was terrible and although it made a profit of just over $100 million at the box office, it received a critical panning and is the main reason that Affleck’s casting as Batman in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was met with such a negative reception from fans.
Arguably, the only actor to come away from the move with their reputation intact was the late Michael Clark Duncan – his Kingpin was a shining light in an otherwise dismal offering.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
The X-Men movies have largely been great – a notion reflected by the fact that they are the fourth highest-grossing comic book franchise behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Batman movies and the Spider-Man movies – but X-Men Origins: Wolverine certainly wasn’t a good representation of that fact.
It was an awful movie with arguably the single worst depiction of a comic book character in comic book movie history – that character being the inexplicably silenced version of Deadpool (though we can all look forward to that being somewhat rectified next year).
It’s really served no purpose in the X-Men franchise, as it hasn’t particularly affected any other movie and, as such, works as nothing more than a standalone mess.
It more than doubled its budget at the box office, though – it is, after all, an X-Men movie – but it didn’t go down very well with critics at all.
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
Although the first two Fantastic Four movies weren’t great, there should be a new-found appreciation for them after the atrocity that was this year’s Fantastic Four reboot.
That being said, it should definitely be reiterated that they weren’t great and the second movie – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – was definitely the worst of the two.
The movie saw the coming to Earth of the Silver Surfer – a herald for the planet-devouring Galactus – but it was his cosmic master that really brought the movie down in this instance.
In the comic books, Galactus is most often presented as a giant humanoid but, in this movie, he was nothing more than a giant cloud. It tarnished a legendary comic book character and angered a lot of fans but, other than that, it probably wasn’t as bad as people make out and more than doubled its budget at the box office.
Fantastic Four (2005)
Fantastic Four was definitely the better of the two movies in the franchise prior to this year’s reboot, but that isn’t really much of a compliment, given the overall quality of its sequel.
The movie introduced Marvel’s first family to mainstream audiences, utilising a $100 million budget and, although it made a fairly hefty profit, it was ridiculously cheesy and the introduction of Julian McMahon’s horrible version of Doctor Doom was incredibly underwhelming as far as villains go.
Again though, given how bad we now know that Fantastic Four films can be (see this year’s reboot for the example of this), you have to give this ten year old offering some credit – it did more than triple its budget at the box office, after all.
In the meantime, audiences eagerly await the inevitable announcement (whether it be this year or in several years’ time) that Marvel Studios have gained to rights to the property, so that we may finally get a potentially great depiction of the Fantastic Four in a movie.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
When it comes to Fox comic book movies, you strongly associate them with Marvel characters, but the fact is they’ve also produced a movie based on a DC comic book (albeit one that drew from the works of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Ian Fleming, Herman Melville, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Gaston Leroux and Mark Twain).
The movie saw a bunch of Victorian era literary characters coming together to form the titular team – essentially seeing them acting as superheroes.
With a cast that included Sean Connery – at a time when the former James Bond actor was already picking his films very carefully – it was expected to be rather good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
While it wasn’t completely terrible, it was definitely underwhelming and largely uneventful – its modest $100 million profit disguising its extremely negative critical reception.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The original X-Men trilogy set the stage for the franchise to become as huge as it is today – and all three movies were, at the very least, acceptable. However, the third – X-Men: The Last Stand – was undoubtedly the poorest of the three.
Poor depictions of classic comic book characters like the Phoenix and Juggernaut certainly contributed to that, but it’s inferiority to its predecessors was more about the quality of the film as a whole.
It lacked heart in comparison to X-Men and X2: X-Men United and seemed more concerned about explosions and action.
That being said, it was by no means a bad film, it just had a lot to live up to and this point in the list signals a major upturn in the quality of the movies within it. It received generally mixed reviews and still more than doubled its $210 million budget in terms of box office success.
The Wolverine (2013)
The Wolverine was the titular character’s second solo outing, the sixth movie in the X-Men franchise and followed X-Men: The Last Stand in terms of its chronology.
While it wasn’t a spectacular movie, it was a solid offering that proved to be quite refreshing to the franchise – thanks mostly to it being predominantly set in Japan and its utilisation of an armoured villain.
The movie was praised by critics for staying true to the comics and managing to keep casual mainstream audiences entertained, although its final act – i.e. the battle between Wolverine and the Silver Samurai – was criticised for reverting to cartoonish violence and cheapening the film as a whole.
The positive critical reception was a welcome accompaniment to an almost quadrupled box office profit from the movie’s budget of $120 million.
The first movie in the X-Men franchise – simply entitled X-Men – is one of a select group of movies (the Blade trilogy, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man etc) that are responsible for the rise of the comic book movie as a genre to the levels it is at now.
The movie introduced a bunch of characters that have since become iconic, such as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier.
Given the state of the comic book movie genre upon the time of the movie’s release, it was something of a surprise success. A gathering of esteemed actors in such a movie was a refreshing change and the fact that the movie stayed faithful to the comics proved favourable amongst critics.
From a $75 million budget, X-Men earned $296.3 million at the box office and the franchise has only grown to be even stronger ever since (fifteen years and still going strong is nothing to be sniffed at).
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)
The most recent instalment in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a fantastic addition to it. It essentially served as a clean slate for the franchise (which was, frankly, much needed due to a series of prior continuity errors), as history was changed by sending Wolverine back in time to prevent a series of events from occurring that would have completely destroyed human-mutant relations.
The movie introduced the Sentinels – robots designed with taking out mutants in mind – and was a spectacular cinematic event with both substance and action in abundance.
Critics loved it and gave it the highest rating of any X-Men film to date – but it’s still not quite the best, as that was largely thanks to the movie’s scale (and therefore ambition) and its budget, as opposed to its story. The fact that its best scene came courtesy of a character who had about five minutes of screentime (Quicksilver) doesn’t shower the movie with glory, however.
Its worldwide gross of $748 million dwarfed the nearest competitor in the franchise (X-Men: The Last Stand) by more than $300 million.
X2: X-Men United (2003)
As good as the original X-Men movie was, the best offering in the original trilogy of the franchise was undoubtedly the second one – the fantastic X2: X-Men United.
The movie saw mutants on both the sides of good and evil coming together (hence the title) to face off with Colonel William Stryker and his anti-mutant forces, as the human sought to wipe out mutants with his own version of Professor Charles Xavier’s mutant-tracking Cerebro device.
Critics loved it, with the opinion almost universally being that it was better than its predecessor. The acting and script were praised and the character of Nightcrawler in particular – especially his spectacular scene in the White House – was singled out for applause.
X2: X-Men United almost quadrupled its $110 million budget at the box office and deservedly so. It proved that the franchise was more than just a flash in the pan.
X-Men: First Class (2012)
X-Men: First Class was the fifth instalment in the X-Men movie franchise, but a prequel to those that came before it and the first to utilise younger actors to portray younger versions of characters like Professor Xavier, Magneto, Beast and Mystique.
It saw the origins of the rivalry between former friends Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr depicted on screen, as they sought to gather mutants while standing up to the threat of the energy-absorbing Sebastian Shaw.
The acting was praised, the story was praised, the new youthful energy in the movie was praised and, as a piece of cinema, it is undoubtedly the best offering in the X-Men franchise to date.
Although it wasn’t one of the franchise’s bigger earners, it still made around $200 million in profits at the box office.
What do you think? Have we got the order right here? What is your favourite Fox comic book movie since the year 2000? Have your say below.