Most Star Wars movies aren’t great.
This isn’t a counterintuitive argument. And you don’t even need to stretch out with your feelings all that much. All you have to do is think about it for one second. There’s really only two Star Wars movies everyone agrees are great; the original 1977 film, and The Empire Strikes Back. Everything else is up for debate. And for that reason, it really doesn’t matter which order you watch the movies in. Because, if we’re just playing an odds game here, your chances of watching a Star Wars movie that is universally believed to be great is 22 percent, or 2/9. And that’s counting The Last Jedi.
To be clear, this isn’t to say that most Star Wars movies that aren’t A New Hope and Empire are bad, it’s just that they’re not great. Every single Star Wars movie has something good in it, even if it’s just a shot or a line or an entire plot lifted from one of the other movies. Good ideas and cool stuff can’t totally be ruined just because they’re hanging out with bad ideas and stupid stuff. This is why everyone continues to love Darth Maul, even though the vast majority of The Phantom Menace is the sci-fi equivalent of spending the holidays with your racist distant cousins.
So, when people say “Hey, should I start with Episode I, or Episode IV?” you should just tell them to flip a coin. Or, if it’s the newer question — which one should my kids see first — I think you should just let the kids pick which poster looks the coolest to them first, and that will be their first Star Wars movie.
Beyond the fact that most of these movies aren’t great — and most people with a passing interest in Star Wars will see all of them at some point anyway — there’s another compelling reason to not care about which order a newcomer watches them in. Get ready for it.It’s really obvious.
With that in mind, imagine you’re first Star Wars movie was The Force Awakens. Seeing Rogue One that very next year was probably really confusing. Why is this movie out now? Doesn’t it have anything to do the movie that just came out? To be clear, there is an explanation as to why Disney is releasing these “standalones” (most set in the “past”) but try explaining that to someone who isn’t a fan or has never seen Star Wars.
Correlatively, The Empire Strikes Back caused a ton of confusion in 1980 with the vast majority of moviegoers because of the “Episode V” thing. People did not understand this, and that’s because Lucas only put the “Episode IV” subtitle on the original Star Wars, after its firstFocus on the moments. theatrical release. This is not normal. And it’s not a straightforward way to make a series of anything. We hardcore Star Wars fans just accept the insane way in which these movies are released as a result of some kind of geeky Stockholm Syndrom.
The best moments in Star Wars films are great moments regardless of story context. Qui-Gon Jinn kneeling down and meditation as Darth Maul prowls like an animal. The look on Rey’s face when the lightsaber first flies into her hand. Han Solo steering the Falcon into an asteroid field. Luke starring out into the sunsets.
And so on. If you take the long view and see these nine movies as overly convoluted from a story perspective, you’ll realize you need a break from worrying about which one someone who has never seen the series should watch first. Focus on the moments. Even hardcore fans are still confused by so many elements of these movies. And that bewilderment is touchingly shared by the people who have made these movies, too.
So, if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie before, it’s a good time to live a little. Pick a number. Any number. And if that number happens to be eight, you’re in luck. There’s a film that just hit the cinemas that could be you’re perfect entry point into this wacky galaxy.
Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi is out now. Episodes I-VII and Rogue One are available on Blu-ray or as a digital download.