How to watch the ‘Wolverine’ movies in order

wolverine

It’s easy to see how Wolverine became the X-Men movie franchise’s key figure. The gruff Canadian mutant had been a fan-favorite since his introduction in the mid-1970s and one of the few X-Men to break through to broader popular culture before his big-screen debut in 2000’s X-Men.

X-Men had been a major comic book force for some time, and 1991’s X-Men Vol. 2, #1 remains the bestselling comic book of all time. Capturing the movie rights to that popular property for $2.6 million was a coup for 20th Century Fox in 1994. After Fox’s sale to Disney in 2019, history records show that the studio had more hits than misses over its two decades steering Marvel’s mutants to movie theaters. The first X-Men movie played its role alongside 1998’s Blade, establishing the comic book movie phenomenon we all know and love today. 

As Fox’s Marvel projects have grown to become more experiential, Wolverine was a crucial cog in the ongoing machine. His popularity, character traits, and mutant abilities made him the perfect link between timelines even before Days of Future Past took razor-sharp claws to movie chronology. 

Wolverine’s visceral appeal works across all visual media. With quiffed and forked hair, long sideburns, a blur of fur, and shiny, deadly weapons concealed in his knuckles, he’s a formidable foe. His healing factor, combined with enhanced senses, means that he can survive most scrapes, and he’s gifted with an extremely long life. That gift earned him a recurring role in Fox’s Marvel movies and the chance to end its chronology with Logan — a rare comic book big-screen western. 

Wolverine brings a lot to X-Men stories: he’s fierce and dangerous, but also melancholy and surprisingly romantic. He’s a shorthand for violent action (X-Men: Apocalypse) but also reliably gruff comic relief (X-Men: First Class). The movie Wolverine was particularly well-suited to the fish-out-of-water time travel shenanigans of X-Men: Days of Future Past, just as he was our introduction to the super team in X-Men.

Wolverine on camera

hugh jackman
Image via Fox / Disney /Marvel Studios

Despite his eventual success, on-camera Wolverine wasn’t immediately promising. Australian actor Hugh Jackman was better known for stage musicals and, whisper it, was over six feet tall. It was a far cry from the small Canadian ball of fur that had slashed and torn his way into many comic book fans’ hearts. Jackman’s dedication to the role would lift the character through highs, slumps, alternate timelines, and nearly 20 years of on-screen history. Popping up as the character every two or three years, Jackman’s Wolverine stands as one of the outstanding achievements in comic book cinema. 

How to watch the Wolverine movies in release order

Image via Fox / Disney /Marvel Studios

Wolverine was there in 2000’s X-Men, barely missing a chance to get his chest out after that. Over the course of two decades, the movies drew out the character, taking him on a journey that was occasionally complex, sometimes contradictory, and created one of the comic book cinema’s great antiheroes. That’s what fans expected, although screen Wolvie proved to be a bit more hero than anti. Here are the Wolverine-led movies in order of release:

  • X-Men (2000)
  • X2: X-Men United (2003)
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
  • X-Men: First Class (2011)
  • The Wolverine (2013)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  • Logan (2017)

How to watch Wolverine’s movie journey in chronological order

Image via Fox / Disney /Marvel Studios

Warning: The following timeline contains some spoilers for the events of the X-Men and Wolverine movies.

Wolverine’s mutant powers have granted him a long life, so the reset that came with First Class presented some exciting opportunities. Time travel didn’t take long to hit the franchise and made things even more confusing by creating two distinct timelines in the franchise. Through it all, Wolverine remained a constant.

The time-travel antics of Days of Future Past saved the future by splitting the past in two. Watching Wolverine movies in strict chronology means leaping around a few films and breaking his first two solo adventures into segments. If you have an adamantium-reinforced resolve to watch the mutant’s movie life in the correct order, here’s how to do it.

Early Timeline

As a boy, James Howlett’s mutant powers develop when he kills Thomas Logan, learning in the process that he was his father. Taking the name Logan, he runs off with his half-brother, Victor Creed (the mutant Sabretooth)

  • 1840s-1944 (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) Logan and half-brother Sabretooth fight through major conflicts.
  • 1945 (The Wolverine) Logan survives the Nagasaki nuclear strike.
  • 1962 (X-Men: First Class) Xavier and Magento fail to recruit Wolverine to their prototype X-Men.
  • 1970s (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) — Logan and Creed fight in the Vietnam War.
  • 1973 (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) Mystique’s attempt to assassinate the creator of the mutant-hunting Sentinels splits the timeline dependent on her success.

Original late timeline

A timeline where Mystique kills Trask, cementing mutant mistrust and ensuring a dystopian future where Sentinels hunt mutants to near-extinction by 2023.

  • Late 1970s (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) — Logan joins William Stryker’s Weapon X program and has adamantium bonded to his skeleton.
  • 2000 (X-Men) — Logan meets Rogue in Canada, before they discover the X-Men.
  • 2003 (X2) — Returning to Weapon X, Logan starts to uncover his forgotten past.
  • 2006 (X-Men: The Last Stand) Logan is forced to battle the love of his life, Jean Grey, when her Phoenix persona emerges.
  • 2013 (The Wolverine) — Logan is reunited with a man he saved in Nagasaki, only to find his immortality at risk.
  • 2023 (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) — On a post-apocalyptic Earth, the last mutants send Logan back in time, hoping to alter history by stopping Mystique in 1973.

New late timeline

This timeline was created when Logan successfully stopped Mystique’s plot during X-Men: Days of Future Past

  • 1973 (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) — As his future conscience returns to 2023, the 1970s Logan is captured by the military.
  • 1983 (X-Men: Apocalypse) — As the X-Men battle Apocalypse, a feral Wolverine escapes from Weapon X just after his adamantium treatment.
  • 2023 (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) — Logan’s consciousness returns from the 1970s to find a new timeline where all his friends are alive and well …
  • 2028/2029 (Logan) — …for five years. After most of the X-Men are killed during the Westchester Incident, Logan takes Xavier into hiding in Mexico.

Wolverine’s future

Wolverine’s movie career may have reached a full-stop, but that doesn’t mean much in comic books. What’s next for everyone’s favorite hairy mutant? The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). 

Wolverine’s story ended satisfactorily with Logan, which took its inspiration from Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Old Man Logan comic arc. The folding of the former Fox Marvel properties, Fantastic Four and X-Men, into Marvel Studios has set in motion a long game to bring them to the MCU. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gave us a glimpse of the future, incorporating John Krasinski’s Mr. Fantastic and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X. 

Xavier’s distinctive wheelchair suggested he was the Xavier of the popular 1990s X-Men: The Animated Series rather than the Fox movie sequence. Still, it built on Spider-Man: No Way Home to show the potential of variants in paying tribute to past movies. Marvel Studios President Kevin Fiege has suggested the MCU will introduce a different kind of X-Men in the future, but Wolverine hasn’t seen his Days of Past Future yet. There’s no doubt that their gruffest and most popular mutant has some big trips to movie theaters ahead of him.