Star Wars Movies List in Order of Release

As of this writing, there are a whopping ten Star Wars movies to occupy your mind and time, and to nurture your budding fan-theory glands.

Now, thanks to prequels and interstitial stories and sequels and such, it can be confusing trying to figure out how you should watch these things. Thankfully, there are several guides to help you choose an order that best suits your needs, such as this one from Empire Online.

But, really, you don’t need to get that fancy, and you don’t need to sweat it.

If you want the authentic Star Wars experience, same as us old guys have lived for more than 40 years now, just watch the films as they came out.

To help with that, here is a Star Wars movies list, in order of release, along with our snarky but indispensable comments about each.

You can thank us in the comments.

(Release dates for each film culled from the respective IMDB pages.)

Episode IV – Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars A New Hope movie poster

Release Date: May 25, 1977

Before Star Wars debuted in 1977, nobody — including George Lucas himself — knew if it would be a big hit or a big flop.

So profound was Lucas’ angst, in fact, that he made an infamous bet with buddy Steven Spielberg about which movie — Star Wars or Spielberg’s own Close Encounters of the Third Kind — would carry the box office day.

While both films became money-making monsters, it was Star Wars that ultimately changed the world.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Empire Strikes Back movie poster

Release Date: June 20, 1980

Even though Star Wars was a humongous hit and fans around the globe were clamoring for more, the fact is The Empire Strikes Back faced a major hurdle.

In particular, it was a sequel.

And back in those days (and now, in these days), you usually don’t score all that well as a sequel unless “Godfather” is in your name.

True to sequel form, Empire fell short of A New Hope in terms of box office success but, man, this thing is, like, the best movie ever.

Hyperbole? Maybe, but I’m not alone in that opinion, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone (who matters) who doesn’t think Episode V is among the best two or three sequels ever.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

Return of the Jedi movie poster

Release Date: May 25, 1983

This Star Wars thing can be like clockwork, huh?

Three years after Episode IV, we got Episode V.

Then, three years later, in 1983 and just when we’d started to forget (nah, not really) about the Skywalkers and their various dilemmas … *bam!* … we got Episode VI.

Nobody (who matters) ranks Return of the Jedi with A New Hope or Empire, but it was a solid third installment in the Star Wars trilogy and pretty much wrapped things up.

The only questions that remained, really, were … which way would Luke turn?

And … how many Ewoks could a Wookie eat on a bender?

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

The Phantom Menace movie poster

Release Date: May 19, 1999

Turns out, we had a lot more Star Wars-related questions than we knew. Or … at least George Lucas had a lot more to tell us.

And wanted to sell a lot more toys.

And wanted to confuse us by flopping orders around.

So, in the spring of 1999, when all us kids who had cut our teeth on light sabers were starting families of our own, we dipped into our diaper-and-formula funds to head out to a galaxy far, far away once again.

Two-plus hours later and feeling emboldened because we were so much more imposing than Darth Maul, yet sickened about what had become of our franchise, we stumbled out into the light of day and tried to forget Jar Jar Binks, a young blond Darth Vader, and all the rest of the hideosity of Episode I.

And “prequels.”

The Phantom Menace? More like The Phantom (Raving-Fans-of-This) Movie.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

Attack of the Clones movie poster

Release Date: May 16, 2002

Clockwork kicked in again — it was three years after Episode I, so along came Episode II.

Attack of the Clones was better than The Phantom Menace, at least, and it featured a cheesy love story.

And Anakin was (sorta) grown up.

And there was a Clone origin story. Cool, I guess.

Maybe things would get better in three years.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Epsiode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Revenge of the Sith movie poster

Release Date: May 19, 2005

Tick … tick … tick …. tick … tick … ding!

So, yeah, things got better in 2005 when Revenge of the Sith hit theatres.

Anakin was gnarly and nasty and conflicted and just deliciously awful.

And who can’t look back at his own life and pick out a few Mustafar moments, when the meltdown was complete and nothing could ever be the same.

The point of no return.

The exposition of (one of) your tragic flaw(s).

It was great.

It closed the loop.

It gave us Darth Vader.

The thing was complete. Finally.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

The Force Awakens movie poster

Release Date: December 18, 2015

Ah, yes, but even complete things can change over time.

Take musicians …

They say they’re done putting out new stuff all the time, and, unless their name happens to be “Billy Joel,” it never sticks.

Children grow.

People die.

Technology gives us flip phones and Myspace.

Coffers deflate.

Franchises are sold.

And so it went with Star Wars in the 10 years between Episode III and 2015, when The Force Awoke.

By this time, many of the first generation of Star Wars fans were dead or grandparents, and all of us were eager to take another pass at an icon of our youth.

And the kids who were babies or toddlers during the Prequel years could take their dates to see Episode VII.

This time, epic anticipation was rewarded with an epic movie that “felt” like the old stuff, whether you liked it or not, yet introduced new story lines and new characters.

Thanks Disney.

Thanks J.J. Abrams.

(But … Han Solo is not dead.)

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One movie poster

Release Date: December 16, 2016

By 2016, it was clear that Disney intended to pump all the money they could from the deep wells of the Star Wars franchise.

Part of their plan for further world domination included releasing a series of “Star Wars Story” flicks in between the normal “Episodes” of the series.

As the release date for the first “Story,” Rogue One, loomed, anticipation built like the line at your dentist’s office.

We all had to go because it was Star Wars, but we weren’t looking forward to it. And we weren’t expecting to like it much.

As it turned out, Rogue One was actually a really good standalone story, and a few strategic call-outs to canon made our Star Wars senses tingle.

Good stuff all around, and a happy surprise.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)

The Last Jedi movie poster

Release Date: December 15, 2017

Clockwork in this new world seems to mean a new Star Wars movie every Christmas. And, since 2017 was an odd-numbered year, that meant a new Episode.

The big news here, of course, was the return of Luke Skywalker and the creepy floating-Leia footage that you will never be able to forget.

While The Last Jedi didn’t quite sink to the depths of Episode I, it still presented plenty of turdness.

But one of the biggest problems with this film is that it left us with a lot of questions — and we don’t even really care about most of them.

What’s the deal with Snoke?

Will Rey find her parents?

Will Finn find true love?

Now that we’ve lived through Laura Dern, can Nicolas Cage be far behind?

Lord help us all.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

The Last Jedi movie poster

Release Date: May 25, 2018

Even year … back to a “Story.”

Why May?

Why the Hell not?

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a perfectly acceptable western.

Great villains.

Flawed heroes.

Rough-and-tumble love story.

A Star Wars story, though? And, especially the Solo origin story?


You can check out our biggest problems with this thing, courtesy of Addison, right here — suffice it to say, though, that we hope Rian Johnson finds some big projects that will draw him away from the Star Wars universe.

(Check out the IMDB page for this movie.)

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