Star Wars has been a hot-topic since The Last Jedi hit theaters and a lot of fans are split down the middle over the latest installment in the space opera franchise.
While some loved the direction that Rian Johnson took with the idea of The Force, others were angry that he moved the story forward from the ideas laid out in the original trilogy.
However, the opinions of the new movie pale in comparison to the prequels, which were universally hated. However, were they really all that bad, and was the original trilogy really that great? With those thoughts in mind, here is a look at our Star Wars rankings in this huge cinematic franchise, ranked from worst to first.
10. Attack of the Clones
It isn’t hard to see Attack of the Clones as the weakest of all the movies in the Star Wars universe. That is sad too since there was so much in this movie to love. The Yoda vs. Count Dooku fight was awesome, finally seeing Yoda going nuts in a lightsaber battle. Plus, seeing the Jedi warriors all gathered together ready to battle should have been a hugely crowd-pleasing moment. But there was too much crap that happened before that which dragged the entire movie down.
The CGI was overwhelming in Attack of the Clones, Hayden Christianson was extremely lackluster as Anakin and you have to wonder how that kid became the incredible Darth Vader. Honestly, outside of the Yoda fight and the always great Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, the movie was a bore and a labor to get through. Star Wars tried to make political intrigue exciting and failed. The movie was just bad and really the only terrible movie in the franchise.
9. Return of the Jedi
80-percent of the people reading this will see Return of the Jedi ranked below two prequels and just tune out the rest of the countdown. However, that is where it falls on this list. There are some cool things in the movie, like the opening rescue scene of Han Solo and the Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker battle, but there was also a lot of stuff that made the movie a shell of the two superior films it followed.
This was — for many fans — the Ewok movie. Kids loved them, probably without realizing they were little cannibal monsters who ate humans and would have eaten Han Solo and company as well if not for C3PO. Boba Fett was wasted. The battle at the end was nowhere near as good as any of the battles from Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back. Han Solo was neutered in this movie and Luke Skywalker wasn’t much better. Looking back, some have fond memories of this movie but it is the weakest of the original trilogy by far.
8. The Phantom Menace
Sure, there are some days where Phantom Menace rests below Return of the Jedi, but not today. There are two or three things that keep Phantom Menace ranked higher than the movie with the Ewoks in it. Those things are the sense of fun and wonderment that made people remember why Star Wars is magical; a fantastic bad guy in Darth Maul; and a perfect mentor/padawan relationship between Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
That pod race with little Anakin was better than you remember it being. Seeing that on the big screen was amazing and nothing in the other three prequels touched it. That was the fun that fans wanted from their Star Wars movies, and it delivered. Darth Maul was the best bad guy of the prequels as well, and his death came too soon (but thankfully he returned in Clone Wars). And the relationship between Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor’s Jedis was never matched by anything Hayden Christianson achieved in the next two movies.
7. Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith is a dirty, violent and horrifying movie — and that makes it a perfect conclusion to the prequels and exactly what it needed to be. After showing everyone how terrible he could act as Anakin in Attack of the Clones, Hayden Christiansen actually did much better as the insolent Jedi turning to the Dark Side in this movie. It was also nice to see Ewan McGregor get the chance to cut loose in this movie as well when he went one-on-one with the man who would be Vader.
Yes, the movie was uneven and never quite reached the levels of the first two movies in the Star Wars franchise, but it is much better than many Star Wars fans want to admit. The story was challenging and this was a movie about darkness winning out and evil growing to an almost unbeatable level. Yet, the good guys won the fight at the end — giving the fans something to smile about — while losing the war — something fans realized while thinking about the movie after the fact. This was the darkest movie of the franchise and remains a great film to watch to this day.
It was hard for Star Wars to tell an origin story of a man like Han Solo for a couple of reasons. The biggest is the fans reaction to learning the how’s and why’s of Solo’s past — taking away the mystery that made a character like Han Solo so popular, to begin with. There was also the problem of changing directors in the middle of filming and the movie feeling a little disjointed as a result. However, at the end of the day, this was a movie that did Han Solo right.
Solo exists to not only tell the story of Han Solo, how he met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, how he got the Millennium Falcon and more tidbits of info (like why would he shoot first), but to show that Han has always been a hero — albeit reluctantly. The movie was a heist movie, similar to the first spin-off movie Rogue One, another film that fills in the blanks in the history of the franchise. The acting is great, the action is fast and crazy and the story is fun. It is what fans should want from a Star Wars movie.
5. The Force Awakens
When J.J. Abrams announced that he was bringing back Star Wars for a new generation — with a brand-new trilogy — fans were skeptical. George Lucas tried it in the ’90s and failed more than he succeeded. However, Abrams did something that wasn’t surprising but was disappointing with his new movie. Abrams basically just retold the entire story from the first Star Wars movie with new characters.
Abrams hit all the beats from the first Star Wars film while introducing some great new characters, with highlights being Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and Adam Driver’s complex villain, Kylo Ren. The big difference is that the dynamic here is between Kylo Ren — a Jedi sith — and Rey, who is learning that she possesses the powers of the Jedi. It felt almost like a remake that moved the story forward, and as a result, it was still a fun time at the movies and a great way to introduce new fans to the franchise.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The first Star Wars spin-off story tried something completely new and risky. It told the story of how the Rebel Alliance got the Death Star plans to begin with (remember, the ones that Leia had on her spacecraft when Darth Vader showed up and captured her?). To do so, the movie introduced a new cast of characters and had no one that anyone knew from the original trilogy or The Force Awakens.
Felicity Jones was Jyn, a rebellious woman who ended up coerced into going on a suicide mission to extract the plans from the Death Star that the Empire was building. The entire movie was a heist flick, with the crew (including Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor and Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe) going to steal the plans and get them back to the Rebellion — something that helped Luke Skywalker destroy the Death Star down the line. It was fun, exciting and like nothing that Star Wars had ever attempted before.
3. Star Wars: A New Hope
The first movie, originally just titled Star Wars, was the perfect Hero’s Journey. A young farm boy named Luke Skywalker meets an old warrior named Obi-Wan Kenobi and when they realize that they are in possession of droids who have plans that can help deal a blow to the Evil Empire, they enlist a smuggler and his co-pilot to fly them to rescue a princess and try to get the plans in the right hands to help them win the battle.
This movie was a simple and thrilling space adventure. Luke was the character that started out as a boy and became the hero that helped save the galaxy (at least temporarily). The movie hit every beat of the Hero’s Journey (lose everything, find a mentor, lose that mentor, face unbreakable odds, and then have to make the decision to trust in hinself and win in the end). It was exciting and one of the best sci-fi adventure movies ever made.
2. The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Last Jedi did something risky and alienated a lot of hardcore Star Wars fans. The movie changed everything we know about the Jedi order — something that actually started all the way back in the first movie of the series — A New Hope. Remember, in that original movie, Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t want anything to do with the Jedi order anymore, despite being one of its most valiant warriors as a young man. He was content to watch over Luke Skywalker and never fight again.
In Last Jedi, Luke was that man. Much like Obi-Wan, he was a strong warrior as a younger man but now was content to watch over the historical documents of the Jedi Warriors and never fight again. Luke was Obi-Wan. He realized, like his mentor, that the Jedi were not what they appeared to be. In Last Jedi, the Star Wars universe showed that it wasn’t just the “elite” warriors who “deserved” to be Jedis, but it was anyone who reached out and accepted the Force — in this case Rey, and on a smaller note the slave kids on the gambling planet. Last Jedi showed that anyone could be a hero and that is more exciting than anything from most of the movies on the list. Add in some great action and set pieces, and this movie ranks behind only Empire Strikes Back as the best movie in the entire franchise.
1. Empire Strikes Back
The best movie in the Star Wars franchise is, and always has been, The Empire Strikes Back. The movie dared to allow the bad guys to win at the end, but unlike a movie that came out over 35 years later that tried the same tactic (Avengers: Infinity War), Empire Strikes Back was smart enough to at least give the heroes small wins at the end (Luke’s new hand, his standing by Leia while Lando and Chewy went looking for Han Solo). Fans had a reason to believe … and that made the horrors of losing the battle bearable.
The movie introduced Yoda as the grizzled Jedi master, someone who didn’t want to fight anymore (like Obi-Wan in Star Wars and Luke in Last Jedi) but was still willing to train Luke and do what was right. It had the memorable “I am your father” moment and the great moments in Cloud City with Lando and Han. This movie had everything a fan could want from Star Wars and gave them so much more. It was smart, it was dark, and it was satisfying — the best of the best.