As the Star Wars franchise’s fandom eagerly anticipate the release of the ninth episode of the epic space-opera film later this year, it becomes imperative to revisit the saga which began with the eponymous 1977 movie. But just how do we start on this visit? Considering that there are currently 10 live-action Star Wars films in existence – besides the multiple versions of each film and fan edits, it can complicate matters for anyone new to the iconic sci-fi franchise.
Apart from the Star Wars trilogies, there is also the Anthology films – Rogue One (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Regardless, there are several ways you can watch the film and still retain the Star Wars fever. Follow us as we lead the way on this tour.
What Order to Watch Star Wars
There are three trilogies to this saga; the original trilogy, Episodes IV-VI released between 1977 and 1983, Episodes I-III (1999 to 2005) which is the prequel trilogy, and then, the sequel trilogy, Episodes VII-IX released between 2015 and 2019 and then the Anthology films. Heightline.com has also provided four guides to watching the Star Wars film, even though there are countless other ways you could watch it.
The epic space-opera film can be watched in these four orders; the chronological order, the theatrical release order, the Machete Order, and the Rinster Order.
The Chronological Order
This order which also happens to be the series creator’s preferred watching order follows the events as they happen in the saga. Although it spoils an iconic Star Wars moment, that is, revealing the identity of Luke’s father for first-timers, it is still the obvious choice for viewers. The chronological order starts off with the prequel trilogy, Episodes I-III (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith) and is then followed by the 2018 film, Solo which has the first anthology film, Rogue One on its heels.
Following up is the original trilogy, Episodes IV-VI (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi), and then Episodes VII-IX, the sequel trilogy which comprises The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and the much anticipated final installment of the Star Wars trilogies, The Rise of Skywalker.
The Theatrical Order
This is like the simplest way to watch the franchise. This Star Wars order starts with the one that reached cinemas first and ends with the last one in cinemas, leaving little or no work on the part of the marathon watchers.
The fact that it keeps the twist of Luke’s father intact makes it a more interesting order but that does not conceal the given fact that the storyline is jumbled, thus, confusing, mostly for kids who are being introduced to the saga.
In this order, you start with the originals followed by the prequels and then to the sequels, with the Anthology films in between. Here, we have: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and Solo.
The Rinster Order
Being that the franchise theme is basically Luke Skywalker’s story and its climax centers on Luke’s belief that his father can be redeemed (and in so doing, instil hope for the rest of the galaxy), this viewing order serves that theme in an intuitive way while keeping the mystery around Darth Vader (Luke’s father) intact, making it far more digestible than the others. However, like the first two, it also keeps The Phantom Menace.
Named after the superfan who proposed it, it treats the prequel trilogy as an extended flashback sequence and there are no sequel films, as well as the spin-offs. Also, it starts with the first installment. It includes A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi.
The Machete Order
If you are looking for the most immersive, entertaining way to experience the Star Wars saga, then the Machete Order is for you. This order originated from Rod Hilton, a software developer who wrote a blog in 2011 to suggest a new viewing order for superfans who felt neither of the first two orders is right.
It puts a machete to The Phantom Menace, which is one episode we don’t really enjoy anyway and deems unnecessary to the franchise, by cutting it from your rewatch, while preserving the “I am your father” moment. Here, we have: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Return of the Jedi.
Despite the fact that it was created before the sequels, making it an incomplete viewing order, that does not in any way make it any less a desireable order. Having read these orders, what is now the best Star Wars order to follow?
Here Is the Best Sequence to Follow
Each of the above orders has its pros and cons. The theatrical release order is a much more exciting and rewarding experience. It serves you the shocks and surprises including the “I am your father” moment, and you would also get to experience the twists. Its low points, however, is that its storyline is jumbled and could leave you confused at times.
For George Lucas‘ preferred order, the chronological order, while some would argue it’s not as enjoyable being that it starts off with The Phantom Menace, which is our least favourite film of the saga, leaves what many consider the best movies in the series — Episode IV and Episode V — stuck in the middle when they should feel more climactic and also spoils the biggest twist in the franchise by prematurely revealing the identity of Luke’s father, we think it’s still the best Star Wars order.
For one, it is the most comprehensive view and the easiest to understand. It also helps newcomers to best understand the plot, as well as the Star Wars universe. The decision, however, is completely up to you. Whichever order that suits your interest, you are sure to have a whole lot of fun in the far, far away galaxy.