Confused by the crazy X-Men movie timeline? Our X-pert explains everything
*SPOILER WARNING FOR ALL X-MEN MOVIES*
What doesn’t help is the films are released in the wrong order. So to start off, here are their chronological and release orders.
Release Order: X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of the Future Past, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Logan, Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, New Mutants (2020).
Chronological Order: X-Men: First Class (1962), X-Men: Days of Future Past (1973 sequence), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (1979/1981), X-Men: Apocalypse (Alternate 1983), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Alternate 1992), X-Men (2003), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), The Wolverine (2013), Deadpool (2016), Deadpool 2 (2018), The New Mutants (2019) X-Men: Days of Future Past (2023 sequence), Logan (2029).
Here's where it starts getting confusing. Even with the chronological order, there is an old timeline and a new one.
The movie that really screwed everything up was X-Men: Days of Future Past with all its timey-wimey antics. But before we get to that, we’re going to have a look at the original timeline, before it was altered.
Granted there are scenes in some of the movies set before the change in 1973, like X-Men: First Class in 1962 and WW2, and Wolverine’s spin-offs in different parts of the 19th and 20th century.
But since the change took place in 1973, anything prior to that year goes unchanged in either timeline, so will not be included.
1973: In the original events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mystique assassinated Peter Dinklage’s Trask.
She is captured and has her DNA used to advance Trask’s Sentinel robots, giving them an ability to adapt to any mutant power.
1979/1981: In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Logan is given his adamantium skeleton and claws by William Stryker.
Logan loses him memory after defeating a mouthless Deadpool (timeline inconsistency), and we see a shot of a walking, bald Professor X.
1983: The events of X-Men Apocalypse do not occur.
1992: The events of X-Men Dark Phoenix do not occur.
2003: The events of X-Men occur.
2003: The events of X-Men 2 occur.
2006: The events of X-Men: The Last Stand occur.
2013: In The Wolverine, Logan has become a bearded recluse, psychologically damaged by the death of Jean Grey in The Last Stand.
He ends up in Japan for the events for a spin-off story where he loses his adamantium claws, but on his return to the US, he’s greeted in an end credits sequence by Professor X and Magneto.
They ask him to come with them after sharing news of the rapidly advancing Sentinels, a direct tease for X-Men: Days of Future Past.
2016: It is unknown whether the events of Deadpool occur or not.
2018: It is unknown whether the events of Deadpool 2 occur or not.
2023: The world is a post-apocalyptic landscape in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The last surviving mutants hide in pockets around the world from the genocidal advanced Sentinels.
Realising their only hope is to change the timeline, Wolverine, who has his adamantium claws back (presumably thanks to Magneto), agrees to be sent back to 1973.
There he will work with a younger Professor X and Magneto, to prevent Mystique’s assassination of Trask and her capture.
So what changed in Days of Future Past?
Rather than creating another timeline like the rebooted Star Trek movies and Back to the Future part II, Wolverine’s time travel results in an alteration to the same timeline.
We know this as after the change all the characters disappear and wake up in the new reality.
Another factor to back up this theory is that Wolverine time travels back into his body from 1973.
This is instead of physically travelling back in his 2023 body, which would be at risk of bumping into his other self.
If this were the case (which it is not) there would be a new timeline created with two Wolverines, just as there is with young and old Spock at the end of Star Trek.
1973: Wolverine and young Professor X prevent Mystique’s assassination of Trask.
Magneto goes mad, moving a stadium over the White House with his powers.
Mystique then finds herself almost killing Trask again, but then decides not to, resulting in the new version of the same timeline.
Just before this, Magneto throws Wolverine into a lake with metal girders forced through his body.
His is then rescued by a young William Stryker who imprisons Wolverine with the purpose of casing his skeleton with adamantium, as part of the Weapon X project.
1979/1981: The events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine do not occur because Wolverine is already incarcerated by Stryker.
1983: The events of X-Men: Apocalypse occur.
Wolverine is freed from his imprisonment at the Weapon X facility by young Cyclops and Jean Grey, with his new adamantium skeleton and claws.
Some time afterwards, a man in a suit arrives there and collects the blood of Wolverine, placing vials of it into a case marked “Essex Corp” - a fact that will be crucial for the events of Logan.
1992: The events of X-Men: Dark Phoenix occur.
2003: It is unknown whether the events of X-Men occur or not.
2003: It is unknown whether the events of X2 occur or not.
2006: The events of X-Men: The Last Stand do not occur and Jean Grey doesn’t go crazy, so Logan doesn’t have to put her down.
2013: The events of The Wolverine do not occur as Jean Grey, Cyclops and Beast did not die.
2016: The events of Deadpool occur.
2018: The events of Deadpool 2 occur.
There's quite alot of time travel in Deadpool 2 and it's not clear if Cable's future is the same post-apocalyptic one seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
As for Deadpool going back in time and shooting himself in X-Men Origins: Wolverine to "fix the timeline", we have no idea – especially as the writers have confirmed it's now canon.
2020: The events of New Mutants occur? (Delayed film is released April 10, 2020).
2023: Since the timeline has been altered, we see a glimpse of the new 2023 at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Things are as normal at Professor X’s school, with Wolverine a History teacher and Jean Grey and Beast very much alive.
Post-2023: The Westchester Incident takes place, where an elderly Professor X has a seizure that injures 600 people and kills seven X-Men – as referenced in Logan.
Wolverine takes Professor X into hiding as Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is closed and the X-Men are disbanded.
2029: The events of Logan take place.
No new mutants have been born for twenty years and Wolverine is living as a limo driver on the Mexican border with Professor X and Caliban.
Since the blood of Logan was picked up by Essex Corp in 1983, this was used to produce X-23, a female clone of Wolverine, known as Laura in the new film.
Scraping a living a limo driver, Wolverine ends up on a road trip across the states with her, being persuaded by dark forces who want to recapture X-23.
At the film's conclusion, Wolverine finally dies around the age of 195-years-old.
The film was Hugh Jackman's ninth, and final appearance as Wolverine, after appearing in all three X-Men trilogies.
So there you have it, a sort-of-fully explained X-Men movie timeline.
But what about things like when Professor X and Magneto saying they met when they were 17 in X-Men, only for them to meet as adults in X-Men: First Class?
Or when Mystique was disguised as Stryker at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past having captured Wolverine, only for him to back with the real man in X-Men: Apocalypse?
We seriously have no idea.