The original Star Wars trilogy might seem like years (or a Galaxy) far, far, away, but its hype certainly isn’t. In fact, following the relaunch of the saga in 2015, the space-opera’s universe has gained in popularity, with new, hardcore fans joining the fandom every year.
That being said, most of the Star Wars movie timeline isn’t in chronological order, and the recent prequels that take place decades before the latest installments haven’t made things easier for newbies at all. It might take a bit of a head-scratch to know what order to marathon the story in.
Wondering how to watch all the movies? Without further ado, from the early 2000s prequels to the latest 2019 movie, The Rise of Skywalker, here’s a complete list that will guide you through Star Wars in perfect chronological order.
Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
Although released 16 years after the original trilogy, this is actually where the cinematic saga chronologically begins. If this film was titled in the style of Friends, it would be called ‘The One with Liam Neeson’, though obviously the best part of The Phantom Menace is the introduction of pre-teen Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. We warn you now – this isn’t exactly Hollywood’s blockbuster of the year (it was ranked the worst Star Wars movie), so don’t abandon the saga just yet – the good stuff is coming!
Delve into some pretty kitsch, but entertaining-enough dialogue and enjoy trademark early 2000s CGI. An all round tolerable introduction to the franchise, except for Jar Jar Binks – but we promise, he practically never appears again after this one.
Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (2002)
Chronologically set ten years after The Phantom Menace, this one sees Darth Sidious ready to annihilate the Republic, meanwhile Anakin has grown up into Hayden Christensen and Padme and him become a long-anticipated item. Although Episode II might feel like a never-ending love story, still, unfamiliar viewers can discover what led Anakin to the Dark Side and finally feel part of the crowd after hearing the famous “may the force be with you” line used by Obi Wan Kenobi.
Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
The last, yet least worst of the prequels, Revenge of The Sith is the ultimate showdown that leads up to Anakin becoming the greatest, most merchandised villain to ever have lived. In this opus, Anakin goes full-on baddie, and we witness a magnificent lightsaber duel between the future Darth Vader and his once-friend Obi-Wan. Everything you need to get hyped up about the original trilogy!
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
By watching Star Wars in our recommended order, you probably have no idea who Han Solo at this point in the timeline. Although a 2018 movie, Solo is a prequel that tackles the backstory of the beloved character, ten years before the original trilogy begins.
Introducing the one and only iconic captain of the Millennium Falcon, ladies and gents! This chapter reveals the origins of our favorite broody hero, this time around played by Alden Ehrenreich. Although we can’t expect this young actor to fill the shoes of the iconic Harrison Ford, Solo is nonetheless an entertaining-enough, stand-alone origin story that fuels the dreams of hardcore Han-fans and rightly introduces newbies to the legendary character.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
At this stage in your Star Wars marathon, you’re probably wondering, where is this so-called Skywalker? And when will the iconic Princess Leia turn up? Hold on tight, get through one more prequel, and we promise you’ll meet them!
Rogue One takes place just before A New Hope, and aptly depicts the hassle that the rebellion (embodied in this opus by Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor) went through before the Death Star plans got into the hands of Princess Leia. It is by far the most realistic-looking and grittiest of all Star Wars films and you’ll even get amazing CGI cameos from unexpected characters…
• Get to know the famous Star Wars lineage by checking out our detailed Skywalker family tree!
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• Thought about treating yourself or a friend to a gift? Check out some Star Wars merchandise!
Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
And so here we are, taking it back to 1977, introducing the movie that changed everything in sci-fi history. A New Hope was an immense success upon its release and it lives on as a pioneer of its genre and one of the best films ever made.
Essentially reciting the beginning of the adventures of a trio of rebels trying to topple the evil Empire – Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, and Han Solo (yeah, you know all about him by now) – A New Hope is about the most perfect thing this franchise has ever given, and we wouldn’t blame you if you started with this one instead of going through its prequels. We really, really wouldn’t.
Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The second opus of the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back is slightly darker than its predecessor, but it remains just as epic, if not more so. In what has been dubbed the best Star Wars movie, we see the rebels overpowered by the Empire, Luke trained by Yoda, while Leia and Han get chased by Darth Vader.
There are several aspects that cement this opus as a must-watch including the epic action scenes and fight sequences – but the most iconic moment has to be its big “reveal” and the famous line uttered by Darth Vader to Luke. We won’t spoil it for you, but we guarantee Vader’s line will stay with you forever.
Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi (1983)
The final showdown of the classic trilogy, The Return of the Jedi is the perfect closure for our hardened heroes (until the 2010s sequels, obviously). The story ends fantastically with a legendary space battle which sees Luke clash against his genocidal nemesis, while the good guys move on to live happily ever after after having largely earned themselves some rest. You even get an Ewok dance at the end, if that’s not a treat!
Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
The movie that put the franchise back on the tracks after almost exactly a decade, The Force Awakens is set 30 years after The Return of the Jedi and sees a whole new set of leads and brand new plot. We meet Rey, a fierce scavenger of mysterious lineage, Finn, a defected stormtrooper, and Poe Dameron, a Resistance operative, as they try to defeat the First Order. We also see old favorites including a now-general Leia and a grey-haired Han, still sided by his bestie, Chewie.
This opus manages to revitalize the franchise while having its own personality and turning the prequels into a bad dream, which is all we could ask for. It also happens to be the highest-earning movie of the saga!
Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
Although it intensely divided fans all over the globe, it’s still safe to say that The Last Jedi was a watchable movie. Rey seeks an exiled (and much older) Luke Skywalker’s help against the First Order, and from then onwards, most expectations are kicked out of the window as the story takes a turn that’s quite unlike any traditional Star Wars plot. But then again, this was released in 2017 – can Hollywood break the mould just a little?
The Last Jedi will either surprise you or make you crawl back crying to the original trilogy, but either way, it was great seeing the return of Luke – even if you did just watch the classics a few hours ago.
Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Lightsabers at the ready! The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of an era and a wrap on the Star Wars chronology. After more than 40 years of wonderful space drama, we see Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren bring the story to an ultimate conclusion – it only makes sense to end your marathon with this marvellous movie. Enjoy this final ride through the light and dark sides of the Force and oh, congratulations on making it through a total of 24.8 hours of Star Wars bonanza!
There are indeed many conflicting theories about the chronology and different ways to watch all the Star Wars movies. Fans will argue about the “correct” timeline order, whether it’s in Episode Order, Machete Order or the Rogue One Order. But in the words of George Lucas – “Start with one. That’s the way to do it right: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, that’s the way they’re supposed to be done.”
You can’t argue with the Star Wars pioneer, right?
Let us know if you agree with our list and if not, tell us what order you prefer to watch Star Wars in. And as always, ‘may the force be with you’.
Want more from the Galaxy? Check out our list of the best Star Wars characters – RANKED!