Updated May 2020
Navigating the Star Wars universe can be a complicated business. There are originals, sequels, prequels and anthology series. This then begs the question that has been asked by so many over the years: What is the best order to watch the Star Wars movies?
Do you go in the original order as they were released or chronologically, watching the young Anakin turn into Darth Vader and face off against the rebels?
How about neither?
At FinalBoss, have a completely different answer to this question, one we don’t think you would be expecting.
Our order is: 4 – Rogue One – 5 – 2 – 3 – Solo – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9. Let us explain:
Episode IV: A New Hope
You have to start off with the original.
A New Hope, or simply Star Wars as it was originally called, was the first-ever Star Wars film to grace the silver screen. Before this one there was absolutely no lore or merchandise out in the real world. A strange concept now, considering almost everything has a Star Wars tie – remember Star Wars Angry Birds?
A New Hope was our first glimpse into the Star Wars Universe, and so it makes the most effort to lower you into the story without going too crazy. The main character Luke Skywalker doesn’t have a clue what’s going on at all and Obi-exposition-Kenobi helpfully and happily introduces him (and us) to the force, Jedi and Sith, even going so far as to give Luke his father’s lightsaber; which he receives with the same innocence and wonder that we felt seeing it. The old Jedi even has the good grace to go by a normal human name, Ben, so we are not too freaked out.
Also, the Death Star explodes and that’s awesome.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Here we insert the first of the anthology stories; Rogue One.
Our first flashback, as we immediately turn the clock back to events just before A New Hope. Having seen in that film the destruction of the first Death Star now is the perfect time to see how the rebels came upon those all-important plans. The main case against placing Rogue One first is the lack of a proper introduction to Darth Vader. You want to meet the greatest menace in the galaxy properly, not getting out of a bacta tank!
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Next up Empire.
Picking things up from the end of A New Hope, this natural sequel continues the story of the rebellion, with the Empire hot on their tails, taking us into deeper layers of the Star Wars universe. Luke carries on with his training as a Jedi and, under the tutelage of Jedi Master Yoda, becomes good enough to take on the leader of the evil Sith, Darth Vader. Things become a little more sci-fi and fantastical, now we’ve been so gently lowered into the world through A New Hope.
Luke then battles the ominous Vader and at the climax of the film, the most famous and misquoted line in movie history is said:
“You killed my father!”
“No, I am your father”
This shatters the whole universe you’ve just built up, leaving you with so many questions. How can this be? Both story-wise and also logistically? How does a scary robot monster have a child? How does a human become a scary robot monster?
This is where our list takes a turn. Let’s go back in time and find out.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
That’s right; we skipped Episode 1.
The fact is that everything that happens or is explained in Episode I is re-explained in Episode II, so there’s no need to sit through the film. Admittedly, you do miss out on Jedi Liam Neeson and pod-racing but it’s a small price to pay to omit midichlorians, Jar Jar Binks, Jake Lloyd, and the creepy age gap between Anakin and Padme.
The story of Episode II shows young Obi-Wan Kenobi training an even younger Darth Vader in the ways of being a super nice Jedi, but something just isn’t quite right.
After a brief look at how Anakin should be behaving, we start to see his more human side, less altruistic side, when he and Padme do some good old-fashioned frolicking and commit their love to one another. The aforementioned unsettled nature of Anakin rears its head again, when, upon finding his dying mother in slavery, Skywalker straight-up slaughters all the Tuscan raiders (massacre number 1).
Murdering unarmed people is not terribly Jedi, and in Episode II, a bit of Vader starts to slip through the cracks.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Years have passed since Episode II, and Obi-Wan and Anakin are still doing the same old s***, different day, Jedi stuff.
A restless Anakin quickly grows tired of his quest to be a selfless martyr, leading him to be tempted over to the Dark Side and finally get on-board with the idea of being super evil.
He proves to us that he could be the monster we see in Episode V, by murdering a class of small children (massacre number 2). Revenge of the Sith accelerates Anakin’s fall into darkness, cementing his place as the fearsome Vader.
It ends with him losing his limbs and being transformed into the caped robot killing machine. It is now that Padme gives birth to Luke and Leia.
The circle is now complete.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
We now take a swerve to another of the side stories.
Before we get back into the original trilogy let’s talk Han. Having left him in great peril, frozen in carbonite, at the end of Empire it’s an opportune moment to explore his backstory. Find out how his friendship with Chewie was formed and what that rivalry with Lando is all about. If you watch in this order the reveal that Darth Maul survived being sliced in half will have somewhat less impact, however.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Back to the original story.
We now know the full history of the Skywalker family. We have seen the power that the Jedi once held and their almost total extinction. We understand the full extent of the Empire’s hold on the galaxy and can recount the good old days ourselves, enough to know that Luke and the Rebels succeeding must happen if the galaxy has any hope of ever returning to its once prosperous state.
Then the Death Star explodes again and it’s awesome.
Return of the Jedi nicely ties the whole saga off with a happy ending when Luke reconciles with his mass-murdering father and everyone gets nice shiny medals.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
Because, duh. This is the easy part, sit back and relax as you watch new heroes Rey, Finn and Poe mingle with the old favourites. You’ll experience waves of nostalgia as the series hits a lot of familiar beats. You’ll then be left scratching your head when the films seem to contradict each other.
Why This Is the Best Order to Watch Star Wars
Watching the saga in the original release order, the finale falls flat whilst the prequels are somewhat of an anti-climax after two Death Star explosions.
They are also super depressing, as they finish the story with the death of all the Jedi.
When watched in chronological order, the grand reveal of Vader being Luke’s father is lost and we just can’t accept Obi Wan’s gifting of the lightsaber after watching it be used in two separate murder sprees. It also seems very slow, considering its focus on lowering you into the Star Wars Universe, as we’ve already been exploring the damn place for the better part of 9 hours.
However, if watched in our order, the viewer gets introduced to the universe of Star Wars at the same pace as the main character, we get the original famously shocking reveal, then the lore and history of the main characters and their factions. Everything ends on a happy note with the Return of the Jedi before we transition into the newest trilogy. Ten films, 20 plus hours of time well spent in a galaxy far, far away.
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