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Today I want to address a very pressing and important question: What is the best order to watch the Star Wars movies?

When I was growing up, this wasn’t even a question. There were just the original 3 Star Wars movies, and the order was clear. But now, you have 9 sequential Star Wars movies (i.e., Episodes I-IX), PLUS two stand-alone movies (i.e., Rogue One and Solo). Do you watch them in sequential order? Do you watch them in the order they were released? Some other order? Let’s settle this debate once and for all 🙂

Option #1: Chronological Order

One option is to watch all the Star Wars movies in chronological order. This is probably how George Lucas intended the story to be told, as the story progresses chronologically. There are a couple of key drawbacks to this option, however. First, this option starts off with arguably the worst Star Wars movie ever made (Episode I—The Phantom Menace). Also, you don’t get to experience one of the best plot twists EVER in a film—the reveal of Darth Vader as Luke’s father.

Grade: C

Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: Episode VII—The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars: Episode VIII—The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Option 2: Release Date Order

A second option is to watch the Star Wars films in the order they were released. This gives you a similar experience as Star Wars fans historically have viewed the movies. The films are out of chronological order, but it preserves the plot twists and viewing experience that we have all grown to love.

Grade: B

Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens (2015)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Star Wars: Episode VIII—The Last Jedi (2017)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Star Wars: Episode IX—The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Option 3: Machete Order

It’s kind of a weird name, but this order was first suggested on a blog called nomachetejuggling, and the name stuck. The basic idea behind this order is to watch Episodes IV and V first, and when the big reveal happens that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, you go back and watch Episodes II and III as Anakin’s backstory. Then you finish with Episode VI. Another way to think about it is you watch two episodes of Luke’s story (i.e., IV and V), two episodes of Anakin’s story (i.e., II and III), and then one episode of their stories coming together (i.e., episode VI). The machete ordering skips Episode I because it stinks. It was also created before the newer movies came out.

Grade: A

Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi (1983)

Option 3a: Updated Machete Order

How might we update the machete order with the new movies included? Episodes VII, VIII, and IX come after Episode VI chronologically, so it makes sense to watch them after the original machete order is complete. But where do the other new movies (i.e., Rogue One and Solo) fit into machete order? Chronologically, you could watch them first, since they technically happen before Episode IV. I don’t think is the best viewing experience, however, because they feel more like “set-up” or “supplemental” movies to the main trilogy. I also don’t think they are the best movies to kick off your Star Wars watching experience. You could also watch them in between Episodes V and VI (along with Episodes II and III), but this provides a pretty long gap of backstory before you get back to the main story in Episode VI. My opinion is to do the original machete order first, then watch the three new sequential movies, and finally watch the supplemental films.

Grade: A

Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: Episode VIII—The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars: Episode IX—The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Discussion

What do you think? What’s the best order to watch the Star Wars films?

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