10 movies to watch before Deadpool & Wolverine


Key Takeaways

  • Some movies are absolutely essential to watch before Deadpool & Wolverine — Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and X-Men.
  • Deadpool had a successful 2016 debut film despite previous disastrous adaptations.
  • The new Deadpool & Wolverine film hits theaters on July 26, 2024.

In July, Ryan Reynolds’ third outing as Deadpool will be hitting the big screens. This time, the first Disney-released Deadpool installment will see the Merc with a Mouth teaming up with Wolverine for the first time. At least, the first time that counts.

With the movie’s release approaching quickly, you may find yourself out of the loop when it comes to either character. Luckily, there’s ample opportunity to catch up before July rolls around. While there are thirteen total movies in the Fox X-Men saga, not all of them are a must-watch before Deadpool & Wolverine. With a slightly compacted watch list and a wide availability on Disney+ and other streaming services, you can get caught up for Deadpool & Wolverine in no-time.


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1 X-Men

A rock-solid beginning

X-Men (2000)

An ensemble of good-hearted mutants protect a world that would rather see them destroyed. Based on the Marvel comic book series by Stan Lee.

Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry

Run Time
104 minutes

To get caught up, you have to start at the beginning. And the original X-Men is a fantastic start. Although it’s in that genre of comic book movies that feels slightly ashamed to be a comic book movie, the story and performances on display in this movie are outstanding.

Most importantly, this movie featured the debut of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. The movie having came out in July 2000, so it’s only fitting that Jackman’s return to the role would come out 24 years later in the same month. X-Men largely revolves around Wolverine being introduced to the wider world of the X-Men and the ongoing conflict between mutants and humanity. Throughout the original trilogy of movies, Wolverine largely remains the central character.

The movie also features the first appearances of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Both men would absolutely define both roles for years to come and consistently gave the best performances throughout the franchise. Even at the lowest points of the franchise, Professor X and Magneto remained some of the highlights of the films. It’s also important to note the basis for both characters’ role in the wider X-Men series begins with this movie.

Even at the lowest points of the franchise, Professor X and Magneto remained some of the highlights of the films.

For a great introduction to the X-Men franchise and Wolverine as a character, the original X-Men is a perfect start.


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2 X2

Possibly the greatest X-Men movie ever made

X2 (2003)

As Magneto’s mutants come close to murdering the president, the military sets up a plan to eradicate Charles Xavier’s school – the X-Men now have two foes to conquer!

Run Time
134 minutes

Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry

X2 is perhaps one of the greatest sequels of all time and arguably the best X-Men movie in general. While the first movie primarily deals with a villainous plot from Magneto, X2 revolves mainly around a plot from William Stryker — masterfully portrayed by Brian Cox — to eliminate all mutants. One of the greatest tensions in the X-Men series is how Magneto’s motivations are crystal clear; where Magneto sees humans as the ultimate threat towards mutants, someone like Stryker seems to prove his point.

If you watch X-Men, and want to watch an even better follow-up, X2 will scratch that itch perfectly.

Another great point with Stryker’s introduction is also introducing him as the man behind Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton. Wolverine, aside from getting more backstory filled in, gets some great screen time in this movie. Although not Jackman’s best outing as the character, X2 tells another fantastic story with the character firmly centered as the lead.

X2 also introduces Nightcrawler to the franchise in a fantastic opening scene. In genuinely one of the best comic book movie openings of all time, Nightcrawler invades the White House and sets off the ensuing events of the movie.

If you watch X-Men, and want to watch an even better follow-up, X2 will scratch that itch perfectly.


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3 X-Men: The Last Stand

Bad, but in a fun way

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

When peaceful mutant leader Charles Xavier clashes with his militant counterpart, Magneto, the battle lines are drawn for the war to end all wars in this explosive X-Men adventure. Magneto uses the resurrected Jean Grey — now Phoenix, the most powerful mutant of all — against the X-Men. While Logan recruits members of Xavier’s original team and confronts an emerging relationship with Storm, Rogue and Iceman come into their own as the X-Men’s future.

Run Time
104 minutes

Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen

X-Men: The Last Stand is one of those early 2000s superhero movies that is almost enjoyably bad. But, it is still worth emphasizing that it’s a lackluster follow-up to the tremendous first two X-Men films.

What’s more unfortunate is that this movie is vital to the character of wolverine going forward. A lot of his appearances after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand are characterized by the regrets he has about the fate of Jean Grey. So, while the movie may be truly awful, it’s almost unskippable with regard to its impact on Wolverine.

If nothing else, watching this movie is fun enough if you can just switch off your brain and poke fun at this absolute mess of a movie. You can also have a good a laugh about how they messed up the Dark Phoenix storyline again, thirteen years later.


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4 X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Bad, but in an even more fun way

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Hugh Jackman unleashes the claws of his ferocious mutant alter ego once again in this thrilling tale that explores Logan AKA Wolverine’s dark genesis.

Run Time
107 minutes

Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds

It’s unfortunate, really, that if you watch these movies in order of release, you have to watch the two worst ones back-to-back. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, as the name implies, delves into the mysterious background of Wolverine. It also introduces Ryan Reynolds to the franchise in an iteration of Deadpool so bad that it sent the character to development hell for the following six years.

Wolverine’s backstory in this adaptation centers around his relationship with his brother, Sabretooth. Both mutants have healing powers that have kept them alive since the 19th century. In the modern day, both brothers join up with a task force run by William Stryker. Things inevitably go awry, and Wolverine parts ways with the group.

The bulk of the movie consists of Wolverine getting his adamantium skeleton and putting a stop to both his brother and Stryker. While in premise it may sound okay, it’s another so bad it’s funny type of movie. It is also, unfortunately, the entire background of Wolverine as a character. Moreover, they are sure to make reference to this movie and its treatment of Deadpool in Deadpool & Wolverine.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a very bad movie. It’s so bad that a later X-Men movie erases this one from X-Men film’s continuity. But, it is still a fun time. Just the same as X-Men: The Last Stand, if you can laugh at how awful this movie is, you’ll have a great time watching it.


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5 X-Men: First Class

A much better origin story

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were closest of friends working together, with other Mutants to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

Run Time
131 minutes

James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne

Before X-Men Origins: Wolverine turned into one of the worst X-Men movies ever made, there was a whole line up of prequel origin story movies planned. One of those was to be X-Men Origins: Magneto. This movie never happened, but what did happen was X-Men: First Class. Instead of being an origin for just Magneto, First Class aims to shed light on Professor X, Mystique, and Beast’s origins as well as Magneto’s.

Although Wolverine is only a passing cameo in this movie, it is nonetheless a fantastic watch and a great piece of X-Men media you won’t want to skip over.

Fitting with the origin story aspect, all characters are re-casted to be played by younger actors. James MacAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult fill the shoes of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast respectively.

The movie primarily takes place around the founding of the School for Gifted Youngsters seen in the original three movies and a plot by villainous mutant Sebastian Shaw, portrayed by Kevin Bacon, to initiate a nuclear war. The story is very well told, and this movie goes a long way towards expanding the relationship between Professor X and Magneto that is seen in the original trilogy.

Although Wolverine is only a passing cameo in this movie, it is nonetheless a fantastic watch and a great piece of X-Men media you won’t want to skip over.


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6 The Wolverine

A much better solo Wolverine movie

The Wolverine (2013)

The Wolverine returns and faces his ultimate nemesis in an action packed life-or-death battle that takes him to modern day Japan. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, Logan confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality; an epic fight that will leave him forever changed.

Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima

126 minutes

While X-Men Origins: Wolverine was bad enough to halt an entire line of X-Men Origins prequel movies, it wasn’t bad enough to stop more Wolverine movies being made. And for good reasons, Jackman had asserted his place as the character and was proven to be exceptional in the role. He just needed good material to work with. Thankfully, 2013’s The Wolverine brought that material to the light.

This solo outing sees Wolverine travel to Japan, where he is to meet with a man named Ichiro, portrayed by Haruhiko Yamanouchi. Back in the Second World War, Logan saved Ichiro from the atomic bomb in Nagasaki. Yes, Wolverine was there, and yes, it is as cool as it sounds. The film primarily centers around Wolverine getting caught up in a conspiracy that sees Ichiro’s granddaughter kidnapped.

Another huge piece of intrigue brought to the table by The Wolverine is making the titular character more vulnerable than usual, as his healing factor is greatly weakened for the majority of the movie’s runtime. Though the last act of the movie is slightly brought down by an alright climax and lackluster twist, the whole thing remains one of Jackman’s stronger outings as the character. It also contains one of the best mid-credit teasers of all time.


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7 X-Men: Days of Future Past

The send-off the original cast deserved

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from the past, “X-Men: First Class,” in order to change a major historical event and fight in an epic battle that could save the future.

Run Time
132 minutes

Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen

The mid-credit teaser from The Wolverine teased one more movie with Logan and the larger X-Men team, and X-Men: Days of Future Past certainly delivers on that promise. The movie sees Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan reprise the roles of Professor X and Magneto, alongside much of the original X-Men cast. The movie sees Logan sent back in time to stop the creation of the mutant-hunting machines, the Sentinels.

In the past, Logan interacts with the younger versions of the characters as they were introduced in X-Men: First Class, as well as tying up his own loose ends from the rest of the franchise. As great of a send-off as Logan would later be for the character, Days of Future Past is a perfectly serviceable ending for Wolverine alongside the rest of the original cast.

Days of Future Past also introduced Evan Peters’ Quicksilver to the X-Men movies. Although X-Men Apocalypse’s slo-mo Quicksilver scene set to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) may be the more popular iteration, Days of Future Past introduced the concept with a scene set to Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle.


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8 Deadpool

Deadpool, done right

Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Run Time
108 minutes

Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein

There was a time when the idea of a Deadpool movie seemed like a pipe dream. All throughout the 2010s, rumors flew around about the Ryan Reynolds-led Deadpool movie finally getting off the ground. By 2014, the movie seemed truly dead until test footage of the movie leaked — which was everything every fan had wanted to see on-screen for so long. The leaked footage reignited fan demand for the movie, and the rest is history.

Whereas X-Men Origins: Wolverine got just about everything wrong about Deadpool possible, 2016’s Deadpool got just about everything right.

Deadpool hit theaters in 2016 and was an instant hit. The movie still remains in the top five highest grossing R-rated movies ever made, and for good reason. Whereas X-Men Origins: Wolverine got just about everything wrong about Deadpool possible, 2016’s Deadpool got just about everything right. Although, beating the Deadpool adaptation where they sewed his mouth shut and gave him adamantium Baraka claws wasn’t exactly a high bar.

For those unfamiliar with the character, it’s the perfect place to get your first taste of Deadpool. Although, just about anywhere will be a better starting point than X-Men Origins: Wolverine.


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9 Logan

Wolverine’s last hurrah… for now

Logan (2017)

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

Run Time
137 minutes

Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

The longer Hugh Jackman stuck around as Wolverine, the more speculation swirled that we may eventually get an adaptation of Old Man Logan. While that idea was always a bit of a pipe dream, especially considering that most of the Old Man Logan comic book revolves around characters that were outside of Fox’s wheelhouse, a movie about an older version of Jackman’s Wolverine wasn’t that far fetched. And that’s exactly what we got.

Logan serves as a send-off for Jackman’s Wolverine and Stewart’s Professor X, although, ironically, both characters have since returned for appearances in the MCU. Rather than taking place in the post-apocalyptic world of Old Man Logan, Logan takes place in a future version of the X-Men movie timeline where mutants have simply stopped being born.

The film nails it on just about every front imaginable. By putting Wolverine and Professor X in their most dire straits, the movie is able to get to the very core of both characters. Jackman and Stewart both give the best performances they have ever given their respective characters and provide a very clear image of why they were both a beloved part of these movies for nearly twenty years.

As excellent of a send-off for Wolverine as Logan is, it does feel kind of dirty now knowing that Jackman will dawn the mutton chops again in just a couple of months. Whether there’s any merit to Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige’s words that the upcoming Deadpool & Wolverine will be reverent of Logan and its ending for the character remains to be seen.


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10 Deadpool 2

Where Deadpool left off

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Wisecracking anti-hero Deadpool joins a motley collection of mutants to save a rebellious teenage mutant from the grip of a powerful enemy.

Run Time
119 minutes

Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin

The final movie you need to watch before Deadpool & Wolverine hits theaters is, of course, Deadpool 2. Refreshingly, Deadpool 2 is about as direct of a sequel as you can get in terms of a superhero movie nowadays. There are no movies that took place in between these movies, and no extra implications about the wider X-Men franchise you need to be tapped into for it to make sense. If you’ve watched Deadpool, you’ll be just fine watching Deadpool 2.

Deadpool 2 is arguably better than the first, this time introducing Cable and Domino to the fold alongside the returning cast from the first installment. With Cable’s introduction in particular, the movie revolves around some time-based shenanigans as Deadpool gets caught up in the life of a future super villain.

While it’s a shame to know in advance that Josh Brolin’s Cable probably isn’t making the jump to the MCU, his dynamic with Reynolds’ Deadpool sets a high-bar for the kind of dynamic that should be brought to the table with Deadpool & Wolverine.


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Q: Do I have to watch every single one of these movies to understand Deadpool & Wolverine?

Absolutely not. As Deadpool’s first outing in the MCU, it’s likely that you don’t need to have watched any of these movies to have a good time with Deadpool & Wolverine. Though as referential as Deadpool is as a character, it probably wouldn’t hurt to be a little tapped in to some of the wider X-Men movie lore.

Q: Is Deadpool’s supporting cast returning for Deadpool & Wolverine?

From the looks of the movie’s teaser trailer, it does seem that Deadpool’s supporting cast will at least show up in Deadpool & Wolverine, except for TJ Miller’s Weasel.

Q: When does Deadpool & Wolverine come out?

Deadpool & Wolverine releases in theaters on July 26, 2024.

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