“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, just thinking about that opening crawl makes the hairs on your neck stand up! Star Wars is more than a group of movies, it is a franchise that showcases the most basic of human feelings: trust, faith, hope, good, evil, and mythology.
George Lucas ingeniously crafted a universe on the back of a young man looking off to the horizon for a better future. Since A New Hope hit theater in 1977, Star Wars has produced 12 movies, countless comics, books, and is the cornerstone of Disney + exclusive content like the upcoming series Kenobi and the highly successful The Mandalorian.
Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Maul, Mace Windu are just some of the franchises most memorable characters. Each movie has left a mark on the franchise and the fans, each movie is/was an event, magnetized even more in the social media age. While flawed, each film has given the fan something special. Here is each Star Wars film ranked from worst to first!
12: Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Why is Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the bottom of the list? Well sadly it must be the least creative movie of the whole Skywalker saga. After fans clamored and complained about the Prequels, Disney and J. J. Abrams provided a retro edition of the franchise, which was basically a rip off of A New Hope. Despite great performances from Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac the film provided great nostalgia that the Star Wars universe was back on the big screen. A few years later, the film is what it is, a reboot of a franchise that did not need one, rather it should have been much more creative in moving the story along, it didn’t, and it sits last on our list for a complete lack of effort from Disney and Abrams to do something special and unique.
11. Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker
J.J. Adrams retakes the role of director for the last installment of the new trilogy and while the movie has some exceptional moments, the final battle of the Resistance against the Final Order and Ben Solo and Rey fighting against Palpatine, the film does well to tie up the loose ends. Nonetheless, the saga relies too much on rehashing the past as Palpatine has to return from the dead, since the would be main villain, Snoke, was killed in The Last Jedi, and Kylo Ren has to turn good by films end. The film is entertaining, no question, it is visually spectacular and is a fitting end to the Skywalker story, but it rides the wave of two very shaky films before it to get to the finish line.
10. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars was an animated feature that served as a starting point for the Cartoon Network show by the same name. The Clone Wars is one of the best animated series of all time, the final season which was just released on Disney + is maybe the most powerful storytelling in Star Wars history. Unfortunately, the film that kicked it off was a bit dopey, childish, and while Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee provided their voices, the plot, which was the Separatist kidnapping of Jabba the Hutt's son in order for Ziro the Hutt (Jabba’s uncle) to take over Jabba’s empire and have Jabba turn against the Republic was less than spectacular. The movie is the first appearance of Ahsoka Tano, who has gone on to become one of the most popular characters of the whole franchise. While the movie may not be the greatest, the series is pure Star Wars, absolutely fantastic.
9. Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
Hard to believe that The Last Jedi tops both of J.J. Abrams efforts in the director's chair, but the film does something the other two films did not. It was unique, Kylo Ren kills Snoke in one of the most unexpected moments in all of Star Wars history. Luke Skywalker had abandoned the whole Jedi order and it took Rey to bring him back. The climactic scene where (spoiler) Luke is a force ghost was original and shocking, his death even more. The final chat between Luke and Leia was moving and memorable, and Yoda’s return to provide some much-needed wisdom was pure Star Wars. Out of the new trilogy it is my favorite just because it wanted to go in a direction no one expected.
8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Am going to defend Solo: A Star Wars Story, it was a very decent movie in telling the origins of Han Solo. It was much more creative in its approach than the new trilogy, which was coming out at the same time, and the performances were top level. Unfortunately, it seemed that the public was Star Wars fatigued and Disney and Hollywood executives made a criminal error in trying to do a Han Solo movie without Harrison Ford. Had they waited a year or two they could have done an Irishman CGI face treatment on Ford. The film was not successful at the box office and forced the Star Wars custodians to rethink their movie strategy, but as a film, one standalone film, it works, if you can look past that it’s not Harrison Ford as the lead.
7. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Time rights everything, and considering what came after, George Lucas can be faulted for cheesy dialogue, but he can never be faulted for a lack of creativity. Attack of the Clones has it all despite its flaws, a love story, a promising prodigy’s frustration, the ever-growing power of Palpatine, a detective story, and a big finish that makes Yoda DRAW AND USE HIS LIGHTSABER! Fans hated Attack of the Clones because it brought us up to the Clone Wars and not the war itself, which time has shown works best as an elaborated series than a movie. The film also shows Anakin falling closer to the dark side and already showing those traits which are not identified by Obi-Wan, who is too busy trying to correct Anakin, and Padmé who is too love-bitten to see Anakin has some seriously dark ideas about government and revenge.
6. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Okay Jar Jar Binks will always be a stain on this movie, but The Phantom Menace is not a bad film, we get everything we ever dreamed of as Star Wars fans, a look inside the Jedi Council, the Jedi fighting in their prime, and the plot while not gigantic, is how most evil people truly rise to power, by using those around them. The Darth Maul vs Obi- Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn lightsaber duel is in my opinion the best duel in the whole saga. The subplot of Palpatine’s rise to power while secretly laying the seeds for war is very well executed by Lucas.
5. Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope
The film that kicked it all off, that made us dream in a galaxy far far away. The story of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Obi- Wan Kenobi rescuing the Princess from the evil Darth Vader. The force, the Death Star, the experience. George Lucas' original film was a huge gamble, and it was the starting off point for so many movies, TV series, comics, and books. The holy grail, the first movie, a film full of hope.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was Disney’s first attempt to do standalone Star Wars films and it worked, the story of the Rebels who stole the plans for the Death Star is very well written and acted. Highly entertaining with great cameos from Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin, the film works on many levels. I can’t for the life of me remember any of the main characters of the films names, but it was pure Star Wars fun!
3. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi was the climactic conclusion to the first trilogy, where Luke Skywalker must go face to face with the evil Emperor and his father Darth Vader to once and for all save the galaxy. The stakes could not be higher, and the film is a fitting end to a great series of films. Darth Vader is redeemed by his son and the Empire is defeated by an unlikely group of heroes; the Prequels later made Return of the Jedi much more important as we saw Darth Vader’s transformation from hero to monster back to hero.
2. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Once again despite all their flaws the Prequels have their moments and Lucas best effort was Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. I remember going to the theater and there was this feeling that the audience was about to see a tragic film, the story is layered perfectly; the first half of the movie we see the best of Anakin Skywalker the hero, the ending is what happens when a hero falls. The rise of Palpatine is equally as important and entertaining, and his duel with Yoda is one of the best in the saga. We are genuinely saddened to see Anakin turn to the dark side, the film ends with a glimmer of hope as Obi Wan and Yoda deliver Luke and Leia to their caretakers. The film also brings to canon Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s master, through a story the Dark Lord tells Anakin as a way to lure him to the dark side, equally as fun is to listen to Palpatine gleefully explain the harsh traditions of the Sith, every Master eventually becomes a victim of their Apprentice.
1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
One of the greatest movie sequels of all time, The Empire Strikes Back shocked the world when it was revealed that Darth Vader was in fact Luke Skywalker's father. Aside from that “Empire” allowed Lucas to expand on the mythology of Star Wars, the Force, the Jedi, the Sith, and the legacy of the Skywalker bloodline. The movie has everything from the introduction of Yoda to the love story between Han and Leia which produced the famous “I know” line. Darth Vader goes full badass in the movie cementing himself as one of the greatest movie villains of all time. Few movie sequels of any kind have lived up to the originals that made them successful, The Empire Strikes Back is by far the best Star Wars movie ever.