Star Wars you might say is in a bit of a resurgence right now with the release of the new trilogy and the anthology films. More and more people are getting into Star Wars from little kids to adults, but with so many movies now there has always been one big question. Which leads to our next installment of Dumb Movie Questions:
What order should you watch the Star Wars Saga?
It seems like a simple answer on the surface but because of it’s weird structure and out order release schedule it becomes super complicated. Especially now with the addition of Rogue One it complicates things even more! So we are going to tackle what the best way for a newcomer is to watch Star Wars. I do have a few references here and there to story elements but I’ve left this guide mostly spoiler free since this is more for those who’ve never gotten to experience the magic of Star Wars. I want everyone to be able to enjoy the awesomeness that is the Star Wars Saga! I’m going to throw a few options out there and tell you what I think is the best way to view Star Wars as a first-time viewer. Just to establish, we are just talking about the official live action theatrical Star Wars films:
Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) - Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) - Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999) - Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) - Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) - Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) - Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Option 1: Release Order
Simple enough just watch the movies as they were originally released, which is how most original fans enjoyed it. That being:
IV - V - VI - I - II - III - VII - Rogue One - VIII
The advantage of this is that you get to experience the Star Wars films the way most people experienced them and the way they were “meant” to be viewed. You aren’t spoiled of the major twists and plot points. You also get the benefit of enjoying the easter eggs, fan service and call backs just as they were meant to be seen. The clear disadvantage to this is narratively it’s very unsatisfying because you’re jumping all over the place in the time line and continuity. It’s especially jarring ending the first 6 films on the incredibly sad and dark ending of Revenge of the Sith then jumping into the fun of The Force Awakens, it just feels weird.
Option 2: Chronological Order
Another simple concept, if release order is too all over the place for you, then just watch them in the story’s chronology:
I - II - III - Rogue One - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII
The advantage to this is that you get to watch the movies in the order the story is told so you’ll be able to follow the threads clearly and get a grand sense of an epic story being told. This is by far my least favorite way of introducing someone to Star Wars because it spoils and ruins so many great moments from the original trilogy. You also don’t get to experience the weight that certain moments should carry because you have no knowledge of certain things. This is true for the entire prequel trilogy but in particular Rogue One has some moments that won’t be nearly as impactful to people who’ve yet to see the original trilogy. Like seeing Bail Organa show up repeatedly in the prequels and again in Rogue One or Boba Fett taking his dad’s helmet. People are going to watch that and be like why do they keep showing Jimmy Smits so much…?
Option 3: Flashback Order
This is my favorite way to introduce someone to the Star Wars movies. I like to call this the flashback order because it treats the prequels and Rogue One like a flashback that happens in the middle of the original trilogy:
IV - V - I - II - II - Rogue One - VI - VII - VIII
You would start with A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back like normal and get to experience, in my opinion the two best movies, completely spoiler free and be introduced to Star Wars the right way. However, instead of Return of the Jedi next you launch into the prequels then Rogue One. Since The Empire Strikes Back leaves you on cliffhanger anyways it’s a great place to insert the prequels as a flashback to help fill in the back story and build up even more anticipation for the climax of Return of the Jedi. With that you can now feel ready to jump forward to the Force Awakens and beyond. The advantage to this option is that it preserves arguable one of the greatest twists in film history while limiting the the jumping back and forth. The down side to this is you do put off the resolution to the original trilogy for four movies two of which are pretty bad and there is also a certain reveal in Return of the Jedi with Luke and Leia that is spoiled in Revenge of the Sith, but it’s something I can live with.
As the Star Wars franchise continues to grow each year there will be more movies to keep up with and there are many different ways to enjoy them but in my opinion option 3, the flashback order is my preferred method it strikes a great balance between storytelling and practicality. The eventual Episode IX will be pretty easy to place at the end but the new Han Solo anthology movie and others will definitely complicate things much more but that's half the fun of the expanding universe of Star Wars. Star Wars is easily my favorite movie franchise, I have loved it since I was a little kid. There is something about special about these movies that resonates with you and I want to share that love of these movies with as many people as possible! I hope you found this helpful and let me know what your preferred order to watch the Star Wars movies is!