As Marvel Studios continues to churn out massive hits at a steady pace, fans forget they weren't the first superhero game in town, and Marvel benefited a lot from what the X-Men movies got right. In 2000, X-Men premiered and set the standard for Spider-Man, Iron Man, and every other modern superhero movie to follow.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is absolutely A-okay, but there are still plenty of criticisms of Avengers: Infinity War. Not every comic book cinematic universe is created equal, and while the MCU is the most dominant franchise in Hollywood, plenty of fans feel the cinematic X-Men are better than the Avengers.
The X-Men Cinematic Universe (XMCU) showcases dynamic, distinct characters and takes ambitious swings that push comic book movies further. The X-Men movies are more insightful and inclusive, and they say more about the genre as a whole than any other superhero property. Not every film in the XMCU is perfect, but you can't create something unique without weathering a few mistakes along the way.
Across 11 films, the X-Men Cinematic Universe has been able to pull off something other comic book franchises have attempted: They've given full character arcs to their biggest heroes. As a medium, comic books rely on maintaining the status quo to keep series continuing for decades. The XMCU thrives on how the characters change and evolve.
Fans can track the growth of characters like Charles Xavier and Magneto as they learn how to use their powers in X-Men: First Class and show those skills at their peak in the original trilogy. In Logan, fans get to see a vulnerable and aging Professor X reckon with the deterioration of his once-great mind. Speaking of Logan, his arc from X-Men to Logan covers more ground than any character arc in the MCU's first 20 movies.
True to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's intention when they created the superheroes in 1963, the X-Men movies have been diverse from the beginning. The first film in the series is told through the eyes of Anna Paquin's Rogue, and X2: X-Men United positions Halle Berry's Storm in a significant role. As the series continued, other actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Sophie Turner played prominent parts, and The Wolverine features a mostly Asian cast.
In the MCU, the characters can bleed into one another. Every Avenger is ready with a quip or pop culture reference to end a scene. After a while, conversations in the biggest Marvel team-ups begin to sound like white noise.
Conversations in the XMCU don't have that problem because each character has a distinct personality and role. Magneto doesn't speak like Wolverine, and he's also distinct when paired with Professor X. Jean Grey sounds nothing like Deadpool, and he can't be confused with Mystique. This shows how strong the different points of view are for each member of the XMCU.
The first wave of MCU movies fell into the trap that weighs down superhero franchises: origin stories. They all play out the same way and pack most of the action into the last 30 minutes. The XMCU takes a different approach. Instead of developing powers slowly, X-Men hits audiences with a fully formed super team adding new members. That allows prequels like X-Men: First Class and Wolverine to give origins to the actual characters instead of the superheroes.
This is especially evident in First Class. Magneto and Mystique get backstories that reveal more about their psychologies and how they become morally conflicted characters in later movies. And as far as origins go, the introduction of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past is a perfect piece of exposition. Not only does the "Time in a Bottle" scene dynamically showcase the character's powers, but it shows you exactly what kind of person he is in less than three minutes.