The Only Right Way to Watch the Star Wars Movies Is to Watch Them In Order

The Only Right Way to Watch the Star Wars Movies Is to Watch Them In Order

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Tis the season. No, not Christmas. It’s Star Wars rewatch season, which, to be honest, is really all year long. But especially around the 5th of May (there’s a pun that goes with that, right?), people always love to watch, revisit, and nerd out about all their favorite Star Wars movies. Are you an original trilogy person? If not, you should be—that’s where it all started, and that’s where it all comes from. A prequel person? There are more of us than you might expect. What about the sequels? Sure, they may be divisive, but most of us still enjoy watching them even if they aren’t exactly what some people wished for. No matter where you stand on the trilogies and the spinoff films that ultimately erupted from George Lucas’s mind, one thing is clear: there a lot of these movies. And there’s only one correct order in which to watch all 11 of them.

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Yep, that’s right: 11 movies. Eleven. People might tend to get confused, or maybe overthink the right order in which to watch these movies; when the chronological order is all jumbled, that’s pretty natural. After all, the movies that came out in 1999, 2002, and 2005 happen before the movies that came out in 1977, 1980, and 1983? What gives?

We know it can be confusing—Rogue One, which came out in 2016, is set story wise between the 2005 and 1977 releases; 2018’s Solo is in a similar spot. Hell, they aren’t movies, but if you’re still wrapping your head around The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett, you might want to know where they fits into everything too. Believe me, it’s utterly befuddling to write out, but if you know you know.

Granted some of this natural confusion, people love to try to mix up the order of watching all these Star Wars movies, whether it’s watching the prequels first or scrambling them up in any which way. But we come to you with a message: there’s only one correct way to watch these movies, and it’s the order in which they were chronologically released.

That means the correct order to watch these movies, for the fullest, and proper experience, is 4-5-6-1-2-3-7-Spinoff-8-Spinoff-9.

Think about it: the purpose of a prequel is to fill in blanks left originally. If you were to watch a prequel first, you’re robbing that movie of its initial purpose. It’s the same thing with in-between movies like Rogue One. [SPOILER WARNING IF YOU SOMEHOW HAVEN’T SEEN THIS SIX-YEAR-OLD MOVIE] If you watched Rogue One first, without the context of the original Star Wars trilogy, the Darth Vader scenes would mean nothing; yet these scenes are set before the events of the original trilogy, so if you watched the movies in the order of the story, you’d be robbing yourself of context.

There are countless examples of this context leading to nods and easter eggs to larger universe moments, even in a movie set in a time before events we’ve already seen on screen. It happens multiple times in Rogue One, Solo, the prequels, and even The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett; these moments are meant as nods to things that we know happen in the future, and that context is needed for things to fully make sense.

People love to mix the order of these up, and try prequels first, spinoffs, first, and even a little mix and match. But personally, I see no purpose—the movies hit theaters in a certain order, and that’s the way the story was meant to be told. It’s not our story to shift and mix around; it’s the Star Wars story. This is how it is, and any other order, frankly, is doing it wrong.

So, when it comes to the Star Wars movies, as the Mandalorians say in The Mandalorian, This is the Way.

Again, all 11 of these movies are now available to stream on Disney+ (which you can sign up for right here). Check out the right order in which to watch these movies below:

A New Hope (1977)

han luke leia a new hope star wars

Disney

The original Star Wars (originally called just that!) introduces Luke, Darth Vader Leia, Han, Obi-Wan, Chewie, and the rest of the gang. It’s essential that you start any re-watch (or first-time marathon) with this!

STREAM IT HERE

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

empire strikes back star wars in order

Disney

Empire Strikes Back expands the Star Wars scale, and seeing that in the context of this movie still being 41 years old is important; if you go back to movies made even in the last 20 years, the technical achievement of this film won’t seem as great as it really was.

STREAM IT HERE

Return of the Jedi (1983)

return of the jedi star wars order

Disney

The conclusion of the original trilogy; third of this bunch is the only correct spot.

STREAM IT HERE

The Phantom Menace (1999)

the phantom menace star wars in order

Disney

This is the first of George Lucas’ prequel trilogy, and has a prime example of the context necessity issue that we mention above. Not only do we already know who Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor here) is because of his presence in A New Hope, but the reveal that the young child they find is Anakin Skywalker is pivotal because we know, of course, that he becomes Darth Vader. If you watched this first…that’s just a kid with a name (Who could forget the legendary “I’m a person, and my name is Anakin” reveal).

STREAM IT HERE

Attack of the Clones (2002)

Guys. If you saw Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, his sprightly, acrobatic lightsaber moves are so absolutely golden here. We saw the little ancient green guy fade away under a blanket; his wild combat moves here feel so earned. Without that context? There’s no reason to believe Yoda isn’t that crazy warrior, now is there?

STREAM IT HERE

Revenge of the Sith (2005)

revenge of the sith star wars in order

Disney

Same as Return of the Jedi—it’s the end of this trilogy. You need to watch it in this order. Plus, some egregious examples of the context issue: learn vital facts about Palpatine, Darth Vader, Luke, Leia, and endless others. This one is considered the best of the prequels, and much of that has to be the fact that it so neatly ties in with the original trilogy, adding a rich backstory to a movie that was originally made on significantly lesser resources.

STREAM IT HERE

The Force Awakens (2015)

star wars force awakens in order

Disney

This one benefits deeeeply from all the nostalgia and goodwill that the rest have built up. When Han Solo steps back in the Millennium Falcon? You can feel the 38 years of history that fit right into that moment. More than just about any other series this side of James Bond, the Star Wars movies know how to play into the feels that some fans have been feeling for 40+ years, and that countless others have been feeling for their whole lives.

STREAM IT HERE

Rogue One (2016)

rogue one star wars in order

Disney

This one fills in some blanks, particularly, about A New Hope. Honestly, this (and Solo) are a pair that you probably could play around with the order a little bit on. I would keep them here, because, again, that’s when it was released. But if you wanted to watch this right before or after A New Hope to mix things up and feel bold, then go for it. You could also save Rogue One and Solo for the end of your watch-through, following the events of the larger Skywalker Sage—that’s the glory of a standalone story.

STREAM IT HERE

The Last Jedi (2017)

last jedi star wars in order

Disney

Think what you want about The Last Jedi, but this is undoubtably the most uniquely-told movie in the Star Wars franchise to date; also, obviously, it’s the most recent. The events of The Last Jedi lead into The Rise of Skywalker. To make sure you know exactly what’s going on with Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, and the rest of the gang, you’ll need to make sure you spend your 2 hours and 32 minutes watching The Last Jedi.

STREAM IT HERE

Solo (2018)

solo star wars in order

Disney

Note what we said above for Rogue One. While it’s great to get another dose of Han after the, uh, events of The Force Awakens, this isn’t necessarily a necessity to the larger story. It did set itself up for a sequel; we’ll see if we ever get one.

Alternatively, if you really wanted to, you could probably put Rogue One and Solo off to the end of your re-watch; get the sturdy volumes out of the way first, and then add this context. The movies are good, but you’re not missing a ton in terms of the overarching story.

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