The X-Men comics were created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and have been a very successful property to the Marvel Comic universe ever since. This world follows the lives of members of the human race who have mutated, ushering in the next stage of human evolution. Each mutant, for the most part, has a unique power such as telekinesis, accelerated healing, teleportation, mind reading, etc.
Professor Charles Xavier has a school for gifted children (mutants) and teaches them to use their superpowers for good. Sometimes they do battle with evil humans and sometimes they must face off with mutants who wish to do harm.
The First Trilogy
In 2000, the mutants hit the big screen with the film X-Men, written by David Hayter. This film kicked off the new age of superhero movies, using new technology to bring superpowers to life. The movie was a huge success for 20th Century Fox and a franchise was born that has yielded nine more films to date.
The first three movies are a pretty straight forward trilogy following Professor Xavier, playing by Patrick Stewart, his arch enemy Eric Lensherr, AKA Magneto, played by Ian McKellen and their followers. The franchise lost its director Bryan Singer, who left the third film to go make Superman Returns. 20th Century Fox needed to find a way to continue the successful property without the singular vision of the director who had helmed the first two films and who had moved on to what everyone assumed would be a different successful franchise.
The idea was floated of creating a series of films that depicted the origin stories of our favorite mutants. Magneto and Wolverine were the first two characters to get attention for this series. X-Men Origins: Wolverine premiered in 2009 and followed Logan through adolescence in 1800s to adulthood in the 1980s. Watching this film creates some confusion because it plays as if it exists in the same timeline as the X-Men trilogy, but there are huge pieces that do not fit in that puzzle. For example, in the first X-Men film, Sabertooth is depicted as little more than a Toadie for Magneto, where in Wolverine, he’s Logan’s brother/best friend/ greatest enemy. The character of Sabertooth is visually very different in both films and is clearly not the same character.
This Wolverine film spawned a sequel titled The Wolverine, which carries Logan further toward his eventual meeting with Professor X. The film Logan will premiere in 2017 and where the previous Wolverine films were prequels to X-Men, this film will take place after the events of the first trilogy. It also seems this will be the last of the Wolverine movies for Hugh Jackman.
The Second Trilogy
As for the Origins: Magneto film, development was stymied by trying to figure out how to tell a story about young Magneto without having to recast Ian McKellen. In the first scene of X-Men: The Last Stand, the studio had aged down both Stewart and McKellen using fancy computer magic, but doing so for an entire film would prove costly. Eventually, the concept for the story was blended into what would become X-Men: First Class, which takes place in the 1960s and recasts every character that had previously appeared in an X-Men film, with the exception of Wolverine, who has a brief cameo sized appearance.
First Class was an origin story for many characters and was followed by Days of Future Past. This second film was interesting because it took place in two time periods and was therefore able to integrate the casts of both sets of X-Men films. Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy both played Xavier. Hugh Jackman was the bridge between the two, time traveling with the help Kitty Pryde.
The third film to feature the ‘new’ cast was X-Men: Apocalypse, which takes place in the 1980s and introduces even more mutants. How 20th Century Fox will choose to move on from here remains to be seen. Marvel Studios, which has become a force to be reckoned with in the last decade would no doubt like to fold X-Men back into its Universe. 20th Century Fox, however, will no doubt want to keep this money maker on its books. There have already been dustups between the two universes. Most notably is the use of the character Quicksilver by both the Avengers and the X-Men. In the X-Men, he is the son of Magneto, as he is in the comics. In the Avengers, he and his sister are not even called mutants, which is a term Marvel cannot currently use for any of its films.
Only the future will tell how these two universes get blended together if at all. For the moment, X-Men films are not streaming on Netflix, but that could change.