Here’s how to watch the Star Wars franchise in chronological order on Disney+
Catch up with the franchise ahead of The Rise of Skywalker premiere.
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When it comes to re-watching the Star Wars movies or even watching them for the first time, every fan has their own preference. Some tune in only for their favourites, while others set aside whole weekends to binge the entire franchise in theatrical release order. Another popular way of watching is in chronological order, following the official Star Wars timeline.
As with everything, there are some downsides to this. First off, it's not recommended for newbies, as there are spoilers about important parts of the story to come along the way. Next, your marathon will kick off with The Phantom Menace, which fans and critics agree is the weakest entry in the Star Wars universe. Still, if you've already seen the films, you can lay back and enjoy the Skywalker saga chronologically to mix things up.
As a result, you'll start with The Phantom Menace and work your way to The Last Jedi. Hopefully, you'll manage to finish your marathon before going to see Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which hits theatres on 20 December. We've listed the movies (and the live-action show) in chronological order below. They're all streaming on Disney+, so you can sign up for the free seven-day trial and start watching in minutes.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
The Phantom Menace is set 32 years before A New Hope, the original film. The story follows two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, who set out to search for someone who can bring peace to the Force, eventually encountering a gifted boy, Anakin Skywalker. At the same time, they have to contend with the return of the Sith.
The movie stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman, among others. It currently has a 54% score on Rotten Tomatoes, proving that the Star Wars prequels were off to a rough start. Still, the special effects are dazzling and the movie can end up being a lot of fun if you don't set your expectations too high.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Set 22 years before A New Hope, Attack of the Clones revolves around Obi-Wan Kenobi, who uncovers a sinister plot to destroy the Republic while pursuing an assassin. With the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance, a vicious battle will ensue.
In this instalment, Anakin Skywalker, now older, is portrayed by Hayden Christensen. Attack of the Clones is considered an improvement upon The Phantom Menace, bringing on more thrills and visual flair. Things will (mostly) get better from this point on.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Revenge of the Sith takes place 19 years before A New Hope, so the time gap between the final two prequels isn't very large. This time around, Anakin joins forces with Obi-Wan to help free Chancellor Palpatine, but he gets drawn into Palpatine's confidence. Their deepening friendship threatens the Jedi Order and the Republic.
This is a riveting conclusion to the Star Wars prequel series, delivering on both the action and emotion fronts. As far as endings go, it's quite satisfying, chronicling the rise of Darth Vader, which is pretty much what fans wanted from the prequels in the first place.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
The action of Solo: A Star Wars Story is set about a decade before A New Hope. The movie explores the early adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca, who get involved in a large-scale heist within the criminal underworld. The cast includes Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
This might not be a particularly "important" story in the saga, but it's a fun western that delivers plenty of action via chases and fight scenes, along with great performances from everyone involved.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One is set before the original film and actually ends moments before A New Hope. The movie follows a group of rebels on a mission to steal the blueprints for the Death Star. At the centre of the action is Jyn, whose father was forcibly taken by the Empire to help it complete a dangerous super weapon. The main cast includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn and Mads Mikkelsen.
The movie has a slightly different aesthetic to the rest of the Star Wars films, but that's not a bad thing. Rogue One has action, humour and great CGI. More than that, it features a Star Wars story worth telling.
Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
The film that started it all, A New Hope revolves around Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, who have to free Princess Leia from Darth Vader's grasp and destroy the Death Star. The classic and beloved space opera stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing.
To call this movie a phenomenon would be an understatement, so we'll just say that it makes for a satisfying watch, even today, when it has a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Even with all the prequels and sequels released so far, A New Hope stands the test of time, taking viewers on a memorable adventure.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Set three years after A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back is regarded as the best entry in the Star Wars franchise so far, with fans and critics praising it for its strong emotional beats and visual wonders. The story continues to follow Luke Skywalker as he trains to become a Jedi Knight, with Darth Vader adamant about turning Luke to the dark side.
Splashy and immersive, The Empire Strikes Back is a treat for fantasy fans, featuring some of the most iconic scenes in cinema history. It still takes your breath away.
Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
The conclusion of the original trilogy, The Return of the Jedi is set four years after A New Hope, as Luke attempts to bring Darth Vader back to the light side of the Force. At the same time, the Rebel Alliance embarks on a mission to destroy the second Death Star.
Exciting and intense, the movie is an excellent conclusion to the original trilogy, likely to satisfy viewers who sign up for this wild ride. It may not be as brilliant as the first two instalments released, but it doesn't disappoint.
The Mandalorian (2019)
The first Star Wars live-action series is set five years after the fall of the Empire, so you should tune in after The Return of the Jedi. The show, which became an instant hit, focuses on the adventures on a lone gunfighter operating somewhere at the edges of the galaxy. It stars Pedro Pascal, Werner Herzog, and Gina Carano, among others.
The show is highly praised for its stunning visuals and compelling story, so it’s a must-watch for any Star Wars fan. Plus, if you spend basically any amount of time on the Internet, you already know that the breakout star of The Mandalorian is adorable Baby Yoda. He should be reason enough to make you tune in. Episodes are released weekly on Disney+.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
The Force Awakens is set 34 years after A New Hope and it's a mix of familiar faces and fresh blood, delivering that same high the original trilogy became a hit for. When a new order threatens to destroy the New Republic, Finn, Rey and Poe, backed by the Resistance, must find a way to fight back and find Luke, the last surviving Jedi.
The cast of The Force Awakens includes veterans Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, as well as Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong'o. The movie was highly anticipated and didn't fail to deliver, offering plenty of thrills, great dialogue and some much-needed nostalgia.
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Building on the success of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi takes place immediately after and follows Rey as she receives Jedi training from Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile, the Resistance struggles after a devastating attack.
Another great entry in the franchise, The Last Jedi is entertaining, witty and full of heart, capturing the spirit of Star Wars perfectly. It ensures a great end to your marathon and will more than get you excited for The Rise of Skywalker, the final episode of the nine-part Skywalker saga.
Star Wars bonus content
Eager to add animated series into the mix as well? The Clone Wars series is set between Episodes II and III, while Star Wars: Rebels is set between Episodes III and IV. The Resistance storyline develops during the sequel trilogy time period. Once you've seen all that, you might also want to check out Jedi Temple Challenge, the first Star Wars game show. It's set to debut on Disney+ next year.
Image source: Star Wars and imdb website
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