It is no hidden fact that the film series wasn’t exactly released in order. When George Lucas released Star Wars in 1977, the movie spawned an incredible array of sequels, prequels, spin-offs and origin stories. One can easily get confused about which order they should watch the series in.
Watching the films in theatrical order will allow you to see the series as it was released to the public, but it doesn’t give you a full scope of the entire franchise as a whole. If you want to watch Star Wars movies in order, it will involve a bit of jumping around. The easiest way is to split Star Wars into three sections; the originals, the prequels, and the sequels.
The original trilogy kicked off with the release of the 1977’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which set the benchmark for modern sci-fi films. The story follows young Luke Skywalker and his team of misfits – Han Solo, R2-D2, Chewbacca and C-3PO as they try to free Princess Leia, the leader of the Rebel Alliance from Darth Vader and the powerful Death Star created by the Galactic Empire.
The second installment, christened Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is set three years after the events of the first film. Master Yoda trains Luke to become a Jedi Knight while Darth Vader persistently pursues Luke Skywalker and the revel alliance, desperate to turn him to the dark side.
The last film of the trilogy is Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Set one year after Empire Strikes Back, this movie is a continuation of the Skywalker/Vader story.
It is said that Lucas had always planned a set of three prequels to be released retroactively after the first trilogy. In 1999, Lucas’ dream finally hit the cinemas with the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Following The Phantom Menace came Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which were released in 2002 and 2005 respectively.
In 2015, the third trilogy started with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In this series, a new order threatens to destroy the New Republic.
After The Force Awakens came Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where the new era of Jedi begins to take shape. The third trilogy was completed with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Best way to watch Star Wars movies is in this order
Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – To get the grip of the plot, you need to start with the first of the prequel films, The Phantom Menace. It introduces the Star Wars universe, while learning the inner workings of the Jedi Order.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – In this second prequel, a sinister plot is revealed that threatens to unravel the Republic. It gives a glimpse of the darker side of the Star Wars galaxy.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – Part of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith young Anakin Skywalker joins forces with Obi-Wan to set Palpatine free from the evil clutches of Count Doku.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – It is a semi-spin-off film that introduces us to Han Solo, one of the main protagonists from the original trilogy. The film explores the bounty hunter aspect of Solo’s backstory.
Rogue One (2016) – The movie follows rebel fighter Jyn as she joins a group of Resistance fighters to steam the blueprints of the Empire’s Death Star.
Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – This film introduces the iconic cast such as Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. The story takes over from where the Rogue One left off.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – It is probably the most iconic film in the series. Master Yoda train Luke Skywalker on the art of the Jedi while Darth Vader desperately tries to turn him to the dark side.
Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983) – The next film in the chronological run of the series is actually the next film to be released theatrically as well. It encounters the dangers of the Dark Side, testing Luke Skywalker and his team.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2016) – The initial film in the third trilogy, it sees newly-introduced characters Rey, Finn and Poe on the hunt to find the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker.
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) – The second in the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi revolves around Rey as she learns the ways of the Jedi under Luke Skywalker. Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – It is the epic continuation of the third trilogy. An all-out battle, which is full of surprises, reveals and lightsaber duels.