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Every Star Wars Movie Ranked
There’s no way to get this right. Every fan has a different ranking of Star Wars movies. Hell, someone out there probably has The Phantom Menace at number one. But that doesn’t stop Star Wars fans from comparing their rankings. Sure, no one will ever agree on a perfect order from worst to best, but the fun is in comparing, in arguing, in turning friends into enemies. That said, the below list is absolutely 100 percent right and yours is wrong.
Attack of the Clones
Okay, yes, they significantly cut back on the amount of Jar Jar in this second prequel, but George Lucas’ garbage dialogue made for an absolutely cringeworthy pivotal romance. It also doesn’t help that Hayden Christensen is completely unequipped to make the best of an already bad situation. This is the love that sent Anakin Skywalker down the path of the Dark Side, that destroyed the balance to the Force—yet here it plays out like an embarrassing high school drama adaptation of a Nicolas Sparks book.
The Phantom Menace
Despite the introduction of Jar Jar Binks, The Phantom Menace has enough redeeming qualities to place it above Episode II. Although he was tragically underused, Darth Maul is possibly the best Star Wars villain this side of Darth Vader. In my memory, this film is 50 percent the final Maul fight scene and 50 percent podracing, which makes for a not entirely shitty movie.
Return of the Jedi
A few minor missteps in Return of the Jedi set the Star Wars franchise on an unfortunate path that it has yet to shake. First, there are the Ewoks, the cuddly teddy bear-like creatures that are the spiritual grandparents to Jar Jar Binks (that is, characters George Lucas likely created for the merchandising opportunities). Second is the repetitive storytelling, which involved another Death Star, the likes of which we basically saw again 32 years later. Plus, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all the independent contractors killed on the half-built Death Star or the fact that under the mask of the greatest villain in movie history is some chunky white dude.
The Force Awakens
With The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams did the impossible. He rebooted the Star Wars universe in a way that didn’t completely ruin the integrity of the franchise. More importantly, he stuck to the heart of Star Wars, while making the narrative more inclusive, setting a sturdy foundation for a new trilogy, and writing a new cast of solid characters. But here’s the problem: it relies on the same old Star Wars tropes so egregiously that it feels like a reboot of A New Hope. The amount of unoriginality here is nearly unforgivable, right down to the Death Star 3.0.
Plot holes aside, Rogue One should get immense credit for allowing this franchise to finally break from its repetition. This is a darker side of Star Wars, one that’s deep in the trenches of a war and aims to highlight the sacrifices of Rebel soldiers. Did anyone see Disney killing off every single main character? Hell no! Plus, the final scene, which ties in perfectly with the first scene of A New Hope, is possibly the most exciting risk Star Wars has pulled off yet.
Revenge of the Sith
After two movies someone finally taught our boy Hayden how to act. Certainly, he’s not good, by any means, but he’s at least not distractingly bad. I’m convinced he was only cast for his ability to scowl and murder children. But here, Lucas deserves credit for tying this uneven prequel trilogy up in a satisfying way. The passion of Anakin’s betrayal, the rise of the Empire, the destruction of the Jedi—it’s all brutally executed to near perfection.
The Last Jedi
Star Wars movies aren’t known for being complex. They’re not supposed to be dark or polarizing. Love it or hate it, Rian Johnson made a movie that does all of these things. Yes, Space Cow and Casino Planet were bad, but those are forgivable outliers in an otherwise beautiful movie. This is the first film in the franchise in which good and evil exists on a spectrum. The Last Jedi explores these nuances of morality and psychology in a much more complicated way than any previous Star Wars film. It’s a visually beautiful middle chapter that doesn’t mirror Empire too heavily and deviates from the repetition of Star Wars as a whole.
A New Hope
It’s the movie that changed pop culture forever. If Star Wars had ended here, it would still be regarded as one of the greatest movies in film history. Yet Star Wars launched a franchise that four decades later is stronger and bigger than ever. The opening scene alone—with the crawl and the Star Destroyer and John Williams’ score—is one of the most iconic movie moments of all time.
Empire Strikes Back
Empire Strikes Back vividly captures love, loss, pain, and fear—even for a kid who knew nothing these emotions. (Lines like “I know” and “I am your father” have stuck with me through life.) Characters like Han, Leia, and Luke represented the best of us. They weren’t just heroes, they were, for so many millions of people, real-life people that could feel heartbreak, fear, or uncertainty. This movie put these characters through incredibly difficult challenges, yet there was always hope, right down to the stunning final image of Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3P0 watching the Millennium Falcon fly off in search of Han. This represents what a perfect Star Wars movie can do, and my hope is that sometime Disney and Lucasfilm will do it again.