The X-Men series has become one of the biggest and longest comic book movie franchises of all time. Launched in 2000 with Bryan Singer’s original, we’ve seen two direct sequels and two prequels since – and this weekend the universe is getting a little bit bigger. James Mangold’s The Wolverine will be making its way into theaters nationwide on Friday, but what do you do if you’re not totally up to date on your comic book and movie history?

Sifting through the history of both the X-Men comics and movies I have come up with a list of seven things to know before you go see Hugh Jackman kick some ninja ass this weekend. Read on!

WARNING:This article contains some minor spoilers for The Wolverine. While the first five entries are safe, I’ve only included the last two for those of you who know absolutely nothing about the X-Men.

Jean Grey
Who Is She? Similar to her mentor Professor X, Jean Grey was a mutant with incredibly telepathic abilities and, in the comics, she was one of the original X-Men. As portrayed by Famke Janssen the original trilogy of X-Men, she had a close, long-lasting relationship with her fellow-mutant boyfriend Cyclops (James Marsden), but also had a deep love for Wolverine as well (which was more than reciprocated). The last time we saw her on screen she had lost control of her powers and turned into the murderous Dark Phoenix, which lead to Wolverine having no choice but to kill her.

How Does She Fit? Jean may be dead, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have an important impact on The Wolverine. After all, it’s not easy for someone to get over stabbing the love of their life right in the gut. When we first meet Logan at the start of the new movie he is reeling from the loss and has taken to living in the woods like an animal. The hero’s journey to overcome his grief over Jean is one of the biggest and most important emotional arcs in the film.

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