via 20th Century Fox
When you hear mutants, you probably think of the X-Men. They’ve been off our screens for a few years, but they’re one of the most important supergroups in comic book history, and they’ve had plenty of cinematic representations over the years. However, the mutant genre is not limited to the X-Men. There are plenty of other great movies featuring mutants, and they span a wide variety of genres. The best movies with mutants include a few movies with X-Men, but also plenty of movies with other mutants that range from terrifying to tragic.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Perhaps the most famous mutants outside of the X-Men, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The movie is a pretty solid encapsulation of what turtles are. With innovative puppets from none other than Jim Henson, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the film also holds up remarkably well. If you want to introduce your kids to the concept of mutants for any reason, this movie would be a great place to start. It’s a pretty standard origin story and one that still works despite the glut of superheroes we’ve seen since.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
The time travel movie that acted a lot like x-menthe version of The Avengers, days of future past is pretty messy, but it works in large part thanks to its stellar cast and exceptional slow-motion sequence featuring Quicksilver. The x-men saga peaked here, and practically went downhill in the years that followed. For a bright moment, however, it looked like Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy could really make this thing work.
The Fly (1986)
If the X-Men are a bit too mainstream for you, you might be interested in Fly, a horror film where a scientist slowly transforms into a human/fly hybrid after an experiment goes wrong. This first collaboration between Jeff Goldblum and David Cronenburg is every bit as gnarly as a movie about a man who turns into a fly probably should be. If you like body horror, Fly is an excellent starting point.
X2: X-Men United (2003)
This sequel to the first x-men proved that it was a franchise that could last. the original x-men feels a bit dated in an era filled with superhero movies, but X2 holds up beautifully, in part because it manages to take full advantage of the metaphor that has always been central to the x-men. To be a mutant is to be another, and the ostracism these mutants feel is at the heart of this story. Thanks to the solid work of Hugh Jackman and Famke Jannson in particular, X2 feels as vibrant as it did in 2003.
The Descent (2005)
Lowering isn’t exactly about mutants, but it’s a mutant monster hunting our stranded climber protagonists. The film, which tells the story of a group of friends who get lost while caving, is ultimately about what they find when they start diving into these caves. The answer to that question is a group of truly gruesome mutants who appear to have descended from humans, but have learned to live completely underground and without sunlight. Personally, I think humans are more beautiful.
Possibly the original mutant, GodzillaThe first 1954 incarnation in the movie that bears his name is perhaps the best yet. Although there have been literally dozens of iterations of the character since, the original Godzilla dealt with the fallout from Japan’s nuclear history. He’s as clear a symbol as any lingering trauma in all of post-war Japan, and also happens to be a giant lizard that can demolish buildings with its enormous tail. Few characters have had a greater impact on pop culture, an impact that continues more than 60 years after their introduction.
A fitting ending to Hugh Jackman’s time playing Wolverine, Logan is also a pretty careful examination of Wolverine’s inherent violence and the trauma he has accumulated over his lifetime. Logan will satisfy those looking for a pure, adrenaline-pumping action flick, but it will also satisfy those looking for something a little more thoughtful and brooding. It’s no coincidence that this is one of the first superhero films to be nominated for a screenplay Oscar.
Batman Returns (1992)
Return of Batman (and Tim Burton more generally) are fascinated by people who might classically be called monsters. Of the main characters in this film, the Penguin is probably the only one who can definitely be described as a mutant, but the set is full of people who have something animal about them. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman is a woman who dies and is brought back to life by cats, and Danny DeVito’s Penguin is truly awful, though we understand he’s also a likable character.
28 Days Later (2002)
You can think of 28 days later like a zombie movie, but they make it very clear that the creatures in this movie are mutants that have been altered by a virus. This may explain what makes 28 days later so exciting. Mutants are truly menacing, and the speed and force with which they attack makes them somewhat unique in the world of zombie movies. 28 weeks later and I’m a legend are also worthy entries in this genre mutants like zombies, but 28 days later reigns supreme over this little genre of stories.
Total Recall (1990)
Another movie where mutants aren’t really the point, Total recall is a mind-bending story about a man in the distant future who discovers that the life he leads is really just a carefully constructed simulation. Which makes Total recall so endlessly rewatchable, however, is that it’s set in an immersive world where humans coexist with robotic intelligence as well as numerous mutants. It’s not as wild as Mos Eisley’s cantina, but there are some sequences in Total recall that feel really imaginative, and mutants are a big part of that.