star wars movie watch order

How to Watch the Star Wars Movies in Order

Ready to start a year filled with COVID19 lockdowns and stay-at-home orders with a Star Wars movie marathon? If you have subscribed to Disney Plus, then you are in luck as every Star Wars-themed movie or show is available on the platform, both in 4K and HDR. Disney Plus is the exclusive home of the Mandalorian, with season 3 set to arrive in early 2022, and is about to be the home of a whole new host of Star Wars TV shows and movies. Consequently, it's probably the best way to follow the Star Wars timeline if it's available in your region. Then, let's get to the Star Wars movie list in all available orders.

Table Of Contents

The available Star Wars movie orders​

In this guide, we will order the Star Wars movies in both chronological and theatrical release order. Add to these the ultimate watch guide that includes The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian in the Star Wars timeline, which follows the official Disney timeline. Still, even the chronological order can get quite tricky with the addition of “Solo” and “Rogue One.” Nevertheless, generally speaking, you start with “The Phantom Menace” and finish with “The Rise of Skywalker.” But we will clear the chronological order too in this guide. Finally, the Machete Order makes things more complicated by handling Episodes II and III as flashbacks and Episode I as an anthology with no real ties to the rest of the story.

As Disney enriches its Star Wars arsenal, with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, The Acolyte, Star Wars: Visions, The Bad Match, and A Droid Story planned, watching the Star Wars films in order will help you get prepared for everything that's coming.

The Star Wars movies in chronological order​

Generally speaking, the chronological order of the Star Wars movies is what most people look for. It makes the most sense, and it's the easiest way to follow and enjoy the films. Below you will find every Star Wars movie, plus the spin-offs, currently Solo and Rogue One, arrange in chronological order.

Let's start with the Star Wars movie list in chronological order:

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (set 32 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (22 years before)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (19 years before)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (about a decade before)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (ends moments before ANH)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (three years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (four years after)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (34 years after)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (34 years after)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (35 years after)

The movies' events are relative to “A New Hope,” the first theatrical Star Wars release. So the rest of the movies are listed as before “A New Hope” and after “A New Hope.”  

The Star Wars movies in theatrical release order​

In this order, the timelines will be quite intertwined, so it's definitely not an ideal option for first-time viewers, but let's throw it in the mix. Here is the Star Wars films' theatrical release order, starting with “A New Hope,” released back in 1977, almost 44 years ago.

Let's see the Star Wars movie list in theatrical release order:

The Machete Order​

If the theatrical release and chronological order of Star Wars movies don't fit your taste, there's another option to try: Machete Order. This order splits the difference and has you watch Episodes II and III between Episodes V and VI.

You can start with A New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back, but then you visit a flashback.

Just after the amazing end of The Empire Strikes back, you should switch to the prequels as a flashback sequence.

Watch Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith to see how a young Anakin Skywalker joined the Dark Side before going back to the original three and wrap them up with Return of the Jedi.

The Machete Order cuts out Phantom Menace entirely since almost everything in the movie is stands on its own and has no effect on the other prequels. Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) plays no importance to the greater Star Wars story.

The following movies barely mention midi-chlorians. Jar Jar Binks does not play a huge role overall. However, there is a young Skywalker in that film, too, so it's up to you whether you omit it or not.

The Phantom Menace is a bad movie but not much worse than Episodes II & III.

If you still want to watch Episode I and wonder where the sequel movies fit in here, the Machete Order's original creator has a suggestion. Rod Hilton recommends watching Episodes VII, VIII, and IX after the other movies update to his original post.

You can then treat Episode I as an anthology, like Rogue One and Solo.

Note: I don't fully agree with this recommendation. You don't want The Phantom Menace to be the last of the nine Star Wars movies to watch.

The Machete order Star Wars movie list: 

This list is a fascinating one as the flashbacks and the anthology treatment of “The Phantom Menace” save you the torture of going through the first three episodes at once. But if you ask my personal opinion, I would so much rather go with the chronological order if I were to start again. I have ended up with this order, which makes no sense, but I avoided the prequels until I watched “The Mandalorian.”

Episode IV, V, VI (so far so good), Episode VII, VIII, Episode I, II, III, Episode IX. But please keep in mind that the Star Wars lore is so vast that you will end up doing your own research anyway. Personally, I like the fact that I ended the list with episode IX, as I can't stand the CGI of the 2000s (unless it's the Lord of the Rings).

Adding “The Clone Wars,” “Rebels,” and “The Mandalorian” to the timeline​

Going beyond the live-action films, “The Clone Wars” animated movie and series are set between Episodes II and III and end during Revenge of the Sith (or slightly after) in The Clone Wars' final Darth Vader scene). Star Wars: Rebels is essentially set between Episodes III and IV.

Where does The Mandalorian fall in the Star Wars universe?

The Mandalorian is set between Star Wars Episodes VI and VII.

Where the upcoming releases are placed in the timeline​

The upcoming series The Bad Batch will be set after The Clone Wars. The Obi-Wan Kenobi series will take place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith. Meanwhile, the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story spin-off about Cassian Andor will be set five years before Rogue One. Therefore, after the prequels and before the original trilogy. 

The Resistance animated series is part of the sequel trilogy time period, running concurrently with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Again, check out our ultimate Star Wars viewing order below for a full breakdown.

The ultimate Star Wars movie & series order​

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise's rights, it reset the Expanded Universe continuity of other related media built up in the background. Only the Prequel Trilogy, Original Trilogy, and The Clone Wars CG animated series remained canon.

Disney has added significantly to the canon since, with books, games, comics taking place in the same timeline as the Star Wars movies. The list below doesn't include every movie and TV show in canonical order.

So here is the Star Wars movie list following Disney's official timeline:

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (32 years before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (22 years before A New Hope)
  • The Clone Wars animated movie (represents the start of the animated series)
  • The Clone Wars animated series (begins 22 years before A New Hope, ends 19 years before)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (set 19 years before A New Hope)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (about a decade before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars: Rebels animated series (starts five years before A New Hope, while the epilogue takes place later)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (ends moments before A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (set three years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (four years after A New Hope)
  • The Mandalorian (around nine years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars: Resistance animated series (34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (also set 34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (34 years after A New Hope)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (35 years after A New Hope)

The Star Wars movies ranked from best to worst (IMDB)

It's the consensus that there is a significant drop in quality after the first three releases (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Last Jedi. Luckily, the spin-offs and the last three Episodes have somewhat improved the overall situation despite their flaws. 

Here is the Star Wars movie list ranked from best to worst, based on IMDB ratings:

Are you interested in more movie watch orders?

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