Science fiction fans hail the Star Wars movie franchise, but even the most sophisticated of sci-fi geeks will have a hard time remembering the right order to watch them according to the plot.
As most know, the first Star Wars movie was (actually) the fourth and it gets trickier with the introduction of animation films and the characters' backstories.
If you want to get with the crowd and celebrate May 4 (May the Fourth be with you!), then here’s a guide on how to watch George Lucas’ most successful movie series.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Release date: May 19, 1999
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 1.89 Billion
The Star Wars franchise doesn’t start at the beginning nor the end, but rather the uncomfortable middle. This movie starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman is the ultimate Star Wars prequel.
Darth Vader starts a pre-pubescent teen, but the Jedi Council doesn’t want to train him yet, marking him on a path to the Siths and eventually the Dark Side.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Release date: May 16, 2002
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 1.05 Billion
Starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Hayden Christensen, the second episode features the love story between the young Padawan, Anakin (Hayden Christensen), and Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman).
Although falling in love is forbidden for Jedi, Anakin is ready to give in to his heart.
Outside the love story, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) realizes the extent of force the Republic is ready to deploy while Count Dooku begins putting together his own forces.
The Universe faces a fragile peace.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Release date: August 15, 2008
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 68.3 Million
Voice actors Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, and James Arnold Taylor star in the first animated movie in the Star Wars franchise.
There were a lot of negative reviews for this movie, with many Star Wars purists criticizing the plot and the animation.
The story begins with the ward between the Republic and Dooku’s underground forces. The Droid army tries to fuel the animosity amongst planets by staging the kidnap of Jabba the Hutt’s son and blaming it on the Jedi.
Obi-wan uses his diplomacy to broker a peace deal with Jabba who tries to kill Anakin despite the Jedi’s successful rescue of his son. Upon the return of Rotta, Jabba’s son, the gangster eventually makes peace with the Republic.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Release date: May 19, 2005
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 1.24 Billion
Anakin’s intentions are doubted throughout the movie, despite being allowed to sit in the Jedi Council.
The movie circles around Anakin’s fears and turmoil, including his premonition of Padme dying while giving birth to their children.
The force certainly is strong in Anakin, as his worst fears come to life.
The story ends with Obi-Wan placing Anakin (who is soon to be known as Darth Vader) and Padme’s fraternal twins (Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia) under his protection, placing them away from harm’s way.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Release date: May 25, 2018
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 393 Million
This movie succeeded where every single Star Wars movie failed. It was the first to lose money to the tune of USD $ 77 Million dollars.
Fans felt that the story of Han Solo didn’t merit its own movie and that it distracted from the main plot. Still, if you want a complete Star Wars experience (with the good and bad to go along with it), then this should be included in your list.
Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, and Emilia Clarke, the movie begins with the origin story of Han Solo and Chewbacca the Wookie.
The two meet in jail and quickly devise a plan to break out. It then highlights Han’s moral dilemma between a petty galaxy criminal or a good guy. He does help the rebel group, Cloud-Riders, but declines to be part of the movement.
Rogue One - A Star Wars Story
Release date: December 16, 2016
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 1.056 Billion
Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, and Ben Mendelsohn, the story revolves around Jyn Erso whose mission is to find her father (what is it about Star Wars and Daddy issues?) who was drafting the plans of the would-be Death Star.
A group of rebels makes plans to retrieve the plans and they lose their lives but not before they are able to send a message to Princess Leia detailing the Death Star plans.
Star Wars- Episode IV – A New Hope
Release date: May 25, 1977
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 3.26 Billion
Purists are still raving over the 1977 release of Star Wars. This top-grossing movie of all time, hitting USD $ 3.26 Billion dollars in ticket sales, was the perfect movie to mark an era fascinated with anything to do with outer space.
Midway through the saga, Princess Leia is captured by Darth Vader. The Princess though was able to transmit the plans to R2D2.
Luke and Obi-Wan together with Han Solo and Chewbacca embark on a mission to save the Princess.
The mission would’ve been a stellar success, if only Obi-Wan survived his battle with Darth Vader.
Star Wars- Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Release date: May 21, 1980
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 1.91 Billion
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher reprise their roles in one of the most iconic movies of our time.
While not nearly as successful as Episode IV, the Empire Strikes back set the perfect stage for one of the most memorable lines to come out of Hollywood, “I am your Father.”
The movie ends with the successful escape of Princess Leia, Luke, and the rest of the gang.
Star Wars - Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Release date: May 25, 1983
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD$ 1.41 Billion
The third installment featuring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher delivers one shocker after another and is an important bridge to all the Star Wars plots.
As Yoda prepares to die, he reveals that Luke Skywalker’s father is indeed Darth Vader and that Luke and Leia, were twins.
Luke was dying at the hands of the Emperor, but Darth Vader, his father, turns against the Emperor- eventually killing him to save his son.
Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Release date: December 18, 2015
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 2.3 Billion
The second top-grossing Star Wars film features Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Harrison Ford.
In this episode, we are introduced to Kylo Ren- the love child of Han Solo and Princess Leia- who has moved to the dark side.
Kylo Ren and Rey battle it out in an epic showdown and Rey eventually sets off to find Luke Skywalker.
Star Wars - Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Release date: December 15, 2017
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 1.39 Billion
Rey eventually finds Luke who is reluctant to join the resistance. He did though provide Rey with Jedi training.
Luke though eventually becomes the hero- showing up to battle with Kylo Ren.
Luke loses but Rey is able to bring the rest of the team to safety.
Star Wars - Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
Release date: December 20, 2019
Box Office Sales (*adjusted with inflation): USD $ 1.12 Billion
Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Carrie Fisher are back once again for the final movie in the franchise.
Rey is more committed than ever to being a Jedi, continuing her training with Princess Leia.
On Princess Leia’s deathbed, Kylo Ren senses the death of his mother and turns back into the light and renaming himself as his parents intended- as Ben Solo.