By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist May 21, 2014 at 3:10PM
It is downright amazing that 20th Century Fox has made six “X-Men” films thus far. The seventh, “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” opens this Friday, and it deals head-on with the history of these movies, toying not only with the already-established mythology, but reintroducing old characters, introduces us to new ones, and making us realize that a ton of mutants have hit the big screen since this franchise’s inception in 2000.
Going back over the films, which include “X-Men,” “X2: X-Men United,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “X-Men: First Class” and “The Wolverine,” you can kind of develop your own inventory of which characters were essential and which weren’t. For every character like Nightcrawler, who blazed onto the screen and made new fans immediately, you had someone like John Wraith (played by will.i.am) in cowboy duds not even Don Cheadle’s Buck Swope would wear. We thought we’d compile the X best out of a massive roster of X-characters, some popular, some obscure, but all whom were able to establish their own identity onscreen away from pre-established continuity. With apologies to Spike, Mutant 143, Jubilee, Leech, Mastermind and Marrow, because your seen-in-passing characters onscreen were so null and void, we can’t even consider you here.
40. The White Queen
Notoriously one of the worst performances in an “X-Men” movie character to date, January Jones’ Emma Frost, The White Queen, is indeed the worst-ever mutant character to ever grace the X-screen. It’s a problem with both her vacant and totally bored performance (she seems either checked-out mentally or very ill at ease) and her totally underwritten character that essentially just serves to slink around half naked and act vaguely sultry and sexy. The White Queen, essentially, flaunts her sexuality as power, at least on the page. In the film, Jones just looks endlessly bored, as if all these special effects shenanigans are entirely beneath her.
One of the myriad problems with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” other than being completely worthless — is that it tries to stuff in every mutant character that hasn’t already been seen in the series. So that means sticking in one of the most popular characters, Deadpool, for really no good reason. And so the “merc with the mouth,” played by Ryan Reynolds is just one of the many baddies that Wolverine is tasked with facing. And yes, in the movie Deadpool sort of eventually becomes the lead villain in the end — or at least the villain Logan faces off at the movie’s crescendo — but he’s just a big ol’ mess of a character not really resembling the comics' guy at all. He’s sarcastic and quippy, but he’s really just a cipher for the bad plot. In fact, in the movie, Deadpool is “activated” to become Weapon XI, a "mutant killer" with the powers of multiple mutants that doesn’t resemble the character at all — just an excuse for Logan to battle a super mutant. Just terrible on all fronts.
38. The Morlocks
This group of street punks surfaced in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” threatening the heroes less like they were the poor and impoverished mutants, but more like they were the cast of “Rent.” Led by tough-talking Callisto (Dania Ramirez), the group is mainly artificial sneers and leather jackets. When they begin grandstanding about their “cause,” Magneto is quick to side-eye them with his “Bitch, please” sarcasm, easily enlisting them to his side. But other than Callisto, who apparently has super-speed and the ability to sense other mutants, what do these guys do? Arlight’s (Omahyra Mota) concussive force is called upon precisely once. Psylocke (Meiling Melançon) doesn’t even speak, and Ken Leung, poor, underused Ken Leung, plays a bad guy who can make spikes shoot out of his skin, dangerous to anyone within a lethal one-foot radius! Called the Omegas in the movie, this group eventually, happily, lines up to become the first casualties of Magneto’s army.
Read the original Christopher McQuarrie-penned “The Wolverine” screenplay, the one that Darren Aronofsky would have directed. Unfortunately, it’s not very good either, but it doesn’t include Viper. And that’s because — as you can tell from the James Mangold effort which has a turd-dumping third act — the movie becomes written by committee after a few drafts and Fox execs get their hands on it. Played by Svetlana Khodchenkova, Viper is everything that the would-be more realistic and dialed-down “The Wolverine” movie is supposed to shun (it’s really just about love and honor and a fish out of water in Japan, until Fox was like, “mutant this baby up!”). And so her character is cartoonish and silly and the female equivalent of a bad guy twirling his moustache only she’s just being faux sexy evil. We’d get into her powers, but this character is total balls and represents how Fox just fucked up Mangold and Jackman’s intentions to make a proper Wolverine movie (and perhaps represents their lack of cajones/poor judgment to fight against it).
36. Multiple Man
As smarmily played by “Grey’s Anatomy” star Eric Dane, the infamous Jamie Madrox hit the screen as a total douchebag, a leather-jacket-clad member of Magneto’s Brotherhood whose sole contribution is to provide a diversion and later get apprehended. The abilities of the character are so cinematic, but “X-Men: The Last Stand” was content to have him smirk and joke as the laughable body-double effects allowed him to multiply. Hey, maybe this would have been useful in the final battle when the X-Men were running right through your troops, Magneto. Just thinking out loud.
35. The Rest Of The Mutants From “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”
We’re mostly ranking everyone, so for the sake of completion, all the lesser characters in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (and there are many of them) are lumped together. The biggest character Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) is a telepath and a love interest but she's really just a script pawn with little to no personality. So pointless they should barely get a write-up, Team X recruits Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), and Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan) just exist, more than anything, as additional plot obstacles to be dispensed with immediately than as fully-formed characters. A young Scott Summers (Tim Pocock) shows his face for a second in the movie, but that’s really for nothing more than a “hey, look it’s Cyclops” cameo for the fanboys.
A mutant with the ability of "reactive evolution." — essentially an involuntary mutant reaction to evolve, however necessary, against any threat — this is the only thing remotely interesting about the character of Darwin and rather hilariously, it fails the character almost immediately. Played by Edi Gathegi, despite these would-be all-encompassing super powers, the character is killed by Sebastian Shaw in what is really his one and only scene.
33. The Lame Members of The ‘First Class’ Hellfire Club
Jason Flemyng as Azazel and Álex González as Riptide are great visuals and nothing more. Azazel is basically just a plot tool to make life easier by having a teleportation mutant (which is what almost every X-Men movie now does, just as the easiest excuse to get characters out of any sticky situation). His devilish look is pretty outstanding, but then you realize he has just about no lines and all the Nightcrawler-esque features pretty much go to waste. As for Riptide, we're glad the fifth member of the Black Eyed Peas is getting work.
There is very little reason to rank the two X-Men Toads as two separate characters. The more memorable version is the one from the original 2000 “X-Men” movie played by Ray Park. But as evinced by pretty much every role Park has ever played (including Darth Maul), he is really just a stuntman and martial artist that’s so good, they’ve cast him as villains because all he has to do is wear make-up, jump around and look menacing. In that regard, Toad from “X-Men” is fine, but not particularly special. Toad from ‘Days of Future Past’ (played by Evan Jonigkeit) is slightly different and gets a neat little scene, but it’s nothing to write home about.