Star Wars Movies Ranked



The iconic franchise, Star Wars, is approaching its 45th anniversary this year.

Star Wars is approaching its 45th anniversary, so let’s look back at the movies and see what each of them brings to the table. If you’re not familiar with the franchise, Star Wars is a science-fiction (although the creator, George Lucas, likes to call it a “space-opera”) saga about different adventures and conflicts that take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. 

There are nine main movies, which all follow the Skywalker family and how their actions affect the Galaxy at large. These nine movies can be grouped by trilogy. The original trilogy are the first three movies created, despite them being titled Episode IV, V and VI, and it’s about Luke Skywalker’s journey to become a Jedi and bring down the evil Galactic empire. The prequel trilogy takes place decades before the original trilogy, and it tells the story of Darth Vader before he turned evil, the rise of the Galactic Empire and how the Jedi were wiped out. After Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, they created their own sequel trilogy that takes place thirty years after the original. It follows a Force-sensitive scavenger Rey and her fight against The First Order. Star Wars has become one of the best selling and most popular movie franchises of all time, with its influence reaching far beyond pop-culture. 

The chronological order of the movies goes as follows:

“Episode I: The Phantom Menace”

“Episode II: Attack of the Clones”

“Episode II: Revenge of the Sith”

“Episode IV: A New Hope” 

“Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” 

“Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” 

“Episode VII: The Force Awakens”

“Episode VII: The Last Jedi”

“Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker” 

(Spoilers ahead for every movie.)


9. “Rise of Skywalker” 

Favorite Soundtrack: “Main Title”

Favorite Character: Kylo Ren/Ben Solo

Favorite Scene: Force ghost Han Solo visits Ben 

Ben gets paid a visit by his dead father (Disney)

Somehow, Palpatine has returned. The main villain of the previous two trilogies has somehow returned to the series without the slightest hint of why or how. The final entry in the 9 movie saga starts off proudly displaying its greatest flaw, which is the blatantly rushed script that fails to explain any of the plot points it introduces. How did Palpatine return, and why was it never foreshadowed? How is Rey Palpatine’s granddaughter? Why do we still hardly know anything about the main cast of heroes we’ve been following for three movies? It fails to pay off any of the plot points that the earlier movies set up, while setting up so many new elements that they don’t have time to explain. “Rise of Skywalker” felt more like a TV show pilot episode than the conclusion of a nine movie saga. The whole film gave off “This assignment is due tomorrow, and I haven’t started writing yet” vibes, putting it at the bottom of the list.


8. “The Phantom Menace”

Favorite Soundtrack: “Duel of the Fates”

Favorite Character: Darth Maul

Favorite Scene: The Podrace

A young slave Anakin Skywalker in the middle of his podrace to win his freedom (Disney)

Director George Lucas’s first movie from the prequel trilogy received poor reviews from critics and fans alike. Although it greatly expanded on the lore, introducing new concepts about the Force and Jedi, it was presented in a convoluted and confusing manner. It set up a great story that had great potential, but cringy dialogue and drawn-out scenes made this movie simply boring. Nothing much happened other than politics and dialogue in the first two acts of the film. It did have some exciting scenes here and there, like Darth Maul’s fight against Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan (which had one of the best soundtracks of all time, link above) or the epic podracing sequence with a preteen Anakin. Less trade disputes and more action would have made this movie much more enjoyable.


7. “The Last Jedi”

Favorite Soundtrack: “The Fathiers”

Favorite Character: Kylo Ren

Favorite Scene: The Holdo Maneuver

Admiral Holdo jumps the ship to hyperspace, destroying the First Order fleet. (Disney)

The Last Jedi took everything that its predecessor film built up for it and subsequently threw it out the window. For two years, fans theorized about all the mysteries presented in “The Force Awakens”: Who are Rey’s parents? Who is Snoke? “The Last Jedi” took that set up and did a complete 180 on the story’s direction. Rey’s parents are dead junkies, Snoke got killed off in the first scene he appears in and Luke Skywalker is a dead-beat hermit. Not the most satisfying way to pay off the hype and world building “The Force Awakens” gave us. I think the worst aspect of the movie is devolving Finn, arguably one of the most interesting characters in the sequels, into a mere side character that has less importance in every movie. His only contribution in “The Last Jedi” was a drawn-out side plot that did not lead anywhere. Even though the plot was controversial, Disney’s budget did get to show off with incredible action scenes and CGI.


6. “Attack of the Clones”

Favorite Soundtrack: “Love Across the Stars”

Favorite Character: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Favorite Scene: The clones arrive on Geonosis

The Jedi get surrounded by battle droids during the Battle of Geonosis (Disney)

“Attack of the Clones” did not improve the prequel trilogy’s rocky start. The romance and politics driven plot did not interest many fans, and the sub-par CGI did not make this any better. Although Anakin’s teenage years were filled with some of the cringiest and forced dialogue you will ever hear, the theme they play during the romantic scenes do make up for it. The movie did have its redeemable moments, like showing Anakin’s slow turn to the dark side after the death of his mother, his massacre of a Tusken Raider village and the introduction of Count Dooku and the clone troopers. 


5.“The Force Awakens”

Favorite Soundtrack: “Rey’s Theme”

Favorite Character: Finn 

Favorite Scene: Han Solo’s death

Kylo Ren murders his father in a heart breaking scene. (Disney)

“The Force Awakens” is the first of the sequel trilogy, which tells a brand new story set 30 years after the events of the original movies. With a new cast of characters and new enemies to face, the first Star Wars film in 10 years quickly became one of the highest grossing movies of all time. As one would expect from a multi-billion dollar company, Disney went all out with the mind-blowing CGI and special effects. However, the gorgeous scenery distracts from the movie’s greatest flaw, it’s a beat-by-beat recreation of “A New Hope’s” story. A Force-sensitive main character who lives on a desert planet gets a hold of a MacGuffin which is hidden inside a companion droid that both the ragtag freedom fighters and the militaristic dictatorship need to win the galactic civil war. Sound familiar? The only original story telling it had going was all the mystery’s it set up, most of which fell flat in the later installments. 


4. “Return of the Jedi” 

Favorite Soundtrack: “Victory Celebration”

Favorite Character: Luke Skywalker

Favorite Scene: Darth Vader’s death and the Jedi ghosts appearances

Luke takes off his father’s helmet right before his death.

“Return of the Jedi” is an outstanding conclusion to the original trilogy, providing a brilliant end to the story arc in the movies that defined generations of fans. The movie showed the culmination of the character arcs of the main cast; Luke Skywalker going from a farmer dreaming for adventure to the Galaxy’s hero, Darth Vader’s redemption and Han Solo going from street criminal to a Rebellion General. Every aspect of the final act is beautiful. Anakin asking Luke to remove his helmet so he could see his son with his own eyes is one of my favorite scenes from all of Star Wars. It also has the best trilogy ending scene of the movies; while the rebels celebrate their victory over the Empire, Luke looks off into the distance and sees Obi-Wan, Yoda and a redeemed Anakin, not Darth Vader, as force ghosts just before the credits roll. Although “Return of the Jedi’s” visual effects and music were beautiful, it suffered from retcons that the other trilogies created, making it the weaker of the three original movies. 


3. “A New Hope”

Favorite Soundtrack: “Binary Sunset” (0:15 to 0:50)

Favorite Character: Han Solo

Favorite Scene: Twin Sunset

Luke Skywalker stares off into the Tatooine sunset outside his farm (Disney)

The movie that started it all, originally titled simply “Star Wars,” established the foundation of modern cinema as we know it today. Even to non-avid fans, characters such as Yoda or Darth Vader are instantly recognizable due to the massive influential effect that the movies have had on pop culture and beyond. “Star Wars,” later retitled as “Episode IV: A New Hope,” is at its core a very simple story. It tells the story about a farm boy dreaming for adventure who then gets thrown into the quest of a lifetime. Such a straightforward story has been told countless times, however the groundbreaking film techniques, scenery and the unforgettable soundtrack left us all mesmerized and cemented this movie as a classic. 


2. “Revenge of the Sith”

Favorite Soundtrack: “Battle of the Heroes”

Favorite Character: Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader

Favorite Scene: Anakin vs. Obi-Wan and Order 66

Anakin, now Darth Vader, clashes with Obi-Wan above the lava rivers of Mustafar (Disney)

The final film in the prequel trilogy delivers fans with answers they have been waiting for for decades. The birth of Luke and Leia, how Darth Vader and the Empire were created and the fall of the Jedi Order all gave a spectacular conclusion to the trilogy. “Revenge of the Sith” dove deep into the flaws of the Republic and the Jedi, a nice breather from the strict good guy/bad guy themes from the original trilogies.This movie presented ideas such as the hypocrisy of the Jedi claiming to be peacekeepers while simultaneously serving as war generals and how quickly a democracy can turn into an authoritarian state. Not only is the way the politics are presented much more interesting than the earlier movies, the action and CGI are equally on par. Anakin’s (now Darth Vader) fight against his former mentor Obi-Wan is my favorite lightsaber battle out of all the Star Wars movies, not to mention an amazingly well choreographed one. And the clones being told to execute Order 66, in which they kill their Jedi Generals that they’ve fought alongside with for years, was such an emotional and heartbreaking scene and beautifully depicts the fall of the Jedi Order. As with any Star Wars film, it presented an amazing soundtrack combined with epic lightsaber fights, darker themes and gut wrenching scenes that helped redeem the prequel trilogy from the mediocre first two films.


1. “The Empire Strikes Back” 

Favorite Scene: “No, I am your father”

Favorite Soundtrack: “Imperial March/Vader’s Theme”

Favorite Character: Darth Vader

Darth Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father after their battle on Cloud City (Disney)

Often considered the best sequel of all time, the second installment in the original trilogy has everything you would want out of a movie. People camped outside movie theaters the night before for a chance to get tickets for the highly anticipated premiere, and for good reason, too. Action, romance and plot twists combined with an unforgettable soundtrack, stunning cinematography and heart-wrenching scenes create one of the most influential and popular movies of all time. “The Empire Strikes Back” took everything great about “A New Hope” and made it better. Each planet is unique and expands the Star Wars universe. The characters are more developed, each with their own motivations and flaws. The main antagonist of the movie, Darth Vader, is as terrifying as always. It showed us truly how strong the Empire was and it also continued Luke’s training under Yoda to become a Jedi Knight. “The Empire Strikes Back” also delivered the most quoted Star Wars line, and arguably the best plot twist of all time, by Darth Vader: “No, I am your father.” This movie pioneered exactly how to make a sequel.