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Monday, July 13, 2020

How to Watch Star Wars

Not really RPG related, but what the hell… I need some help. I’m planning on giving Star Wars another chance.

I did not see Star Wars when it first came out. Couldn’t go to many movie theaters back then. Saw it on VCR and Laser Disc, of all things. And I thought “Eh, it’s OK, I guess.” It never really struck a chord with me. And as a result, I never really got into the craze that followed.

Naturally, I didn’t try to see any of the other movies, because I just didn’t care. But I did see most of them. Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, when they showed up on TV. Attack of the Clones in an actual theater, because my friends wanted to see it and I like my friends. Rogue One and The Force Awakens on VOD. And good chunks of Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith, and even the animated Clone Wars thingie. And so far, I haven’t really liked any of it except the holiday special, and that’s because of the RiffTrax version.

(On the good side, this means that I don’t hate the same movies that the fans hate. I honestly can’t tell the difference in quality between them. They all feel kind of meh.)

But I recently paid for a year of Disney Plus, because I had some extra money and really wanted to watch Avengers Endgame, which Disney has been hoarding away, as well as any Marvel movies/shows I missed (Currently working my way through Agent Carter.) And since I’ve got access to all this material, I’ve been thinking: Maybe should give Star Wars another chance? Try to watch them all again all the way through, in the proper order, from Phantom Menace to Rise of Skywalker?

But here’s where I need the help. I’m not sure where to put some of the auxiliary material. I know the basic order should be:

  1. The Phantom Menace
  2. Attack of the Clones
  3. Revenge of the Sith
  4. A New Hope
  5. (Rogue One)
  6. The Empire Strikes Back
  7. Return of the Jedi
  8. The Force Awakens
  9. The Last Jedi
  10. The Rise of Skywalker

Now, I’m not entirely sure where to place Rogue One. Before A New Hope, or after? I’ve seen them both and know part of it happens before, part during. Not sure what position would be best for maximum impact on a rewatch, though.

And I know Solo goes before both of those. Is 3.5 a good location?

Not sure whether I will actually try to watch the animated stuff or not, but if I did, where would it go? 2.5?

Where does the holiday special go? Before Empire, or after? Should I watch it unriffed, if available?

And I don’t even know where The Mandalorian goes in this sequence, although I’m thinking I might want to delay it if it’s too early. I don’t want to get bogged down in a series that relies heavily on fan knowledge while I’m trying to make my way through the basic Star Wars starter course.

Which raises the question: are there any other changes I should make to the proper order for pure aesthetic effect, to increase impact?

Haven’t even checked what else is available on Disney Plus. I probably will skip any cartoons, but is there anything that is a real must-see, as far as you true fans are concerned?

I want to give Star Wars a decent chance this time. Really focus on the material, without distractions, and try to see its true spirit and understand why fans love it so much. If you love Star Wars, what do you think is the best way to learn to love it?


  1. As an aging Star Wars fan who doesn't feel very engaged with this franchise anymore, I wish you well in your endeavor. Here are some answers:

    Rogue One comes before A New Hope. The ending of RO transitions immediately into the beginning of ANH.

    Yes, Solo comes after Revenge of the Sith and before Rogue One.

    The Mandalorian goes after Return of the Jedi and before Force Awakens.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks! I actually had the impression that The Mandalorian was a prequel, but I was probably just interpreting the phrase "baby Yoda" literally. I know nothing else about it other than Werner Herzog was involved in one episode (which is another reason why I thought I should do this.)

      Also, I was probably misremembering Rogue One. I thought it happened concurrent. Good to know it's actually a prequel.

  2. Watching the films in chronological order doesn't give you the best narrative structure for the story. To do that you will need to watch the main trilogies in Hatchet order.

    1. I think he means ep 4 followed by 5 and then go into prequels ep 2 and 3 and then finish with 6. Its probably the best way to view the Skywalker saga. And then go watch the other movies/series in any order you want.

      I personally think ep 1 is the best prequel. I don't hate ep7-9, but I don't particularly like them either. I like Rogue one and solo, not because they are great movies, but because they are pieces not dependant on the main skywalker storyline. The best star wars stories have come out from Dave Filoni and his team, this includes the clonewars series, rebels, the mandalorian and even the resistance series is decent.

    2. He means Machete Order. IV, V, II, III, VI.
      (He argues that Episode I can and should be skipped entirely)
      (Written before the sequel trilogy, before Rogue One, before Solo, before Mandalorian.
      And yes, Mandalorian takes places after Return of the Jedi, before The Force Awakens.

  3. Chronological order is not a good way to watch the movies. The prequel stories frequently spoil elements that are meant as surprises in the original trilogy.

    The best way to view it is probably publication order. It lets you see the franchise as it evolves, and nothing gets spoiled out of season. That'd be something like:

    * Episodes 4-6

    * The Christmas Special (If you insist on it)

    * Episodes 1 & 2

    * Clone Wars (the cartoon series)

    * Episode 3

    * Clone Wars (the CGI series)

    * Episode 7

    * Rogue One (set days before ep 4)

    * Episode 8

    * Solo (set in the big gap between ep 3-4)

    * The Mandalorian (set sometime after ep 6)

    * Episode 9

    The good content is a bit front-loaded, but that might be a good thing - even if you abandon the project midway through, you'll have seen most of the bits that everyone agrees are good. My experience is that after Episode 6, you can look forward to Rogue One (which was pretty solid) and the Mandalorian (which was very good). And maybe Clone Wars. While I didn't see either Clone Wars series personally, sources I mostly trust tell me that they are generally better than any of the prequel or sequel films.

    1. Kind of hard to be spoiled when I have already seen the original trilogy and some of the prequels and the sequels. Nevertheless, I'll be comparing your list to Troy's list.

    2. If you put in Clone Wars you might also recommend Rebels. I actually liked that one more than Clone Wars. This one would go between Ep. 3 and Rogue One

    3. Oh, okay. Dunno where I got it in my head that you hadnt even seen the original trilogy. I dont think you need to worry too much about the order then.

  4. Might I suggest the radio plays instead? I watched the original in the theater and when I think about spending any time with the franchise any more, I just can't reach for any of the movies, but I still find those radio plays fire up my imagination and love for the Star Wars universe in a way the movies no longer do.

    1. Seems doubtful that these are on Disney Plus.

    2. They are available on Amazon as a boxed set, though.

      For a couple hundred bucks. I loved the radio series, too, but that's a bit steep for me.

    3. Way too steep for me, too. I'm pretty limited on income. Only reason I bought the Disney Plus subscription was because I had extra money because of the stimulus payment. And honestly, I'm not that interested in radio plays anymore.

  5. The versions of the original trilogy available on Disney+ are the most futzed with - Han doesn't shoot first, CGI, etc.

    My favorite editions are only available illegally, unfortunately (Harmey Despecialized). If you're interested there is a great YouTube video on their excellent work. It really does make a difference.


    1. Seems more like a concern for the diehard fan, not someone who's just trying to judge the movies on their actual merits. Anyways, I've already seen the pre-manipulated original trilogy. It's not that I'm dead set against illegal media, but I can't see the point in tracking that stuff down when I'm just a casual viewer and have material I've already paid for.

  6. I'm really only a fan of the '77 theatrical release, but I've had the "machete order" recommended to me by several people. It rearranges the order to make more thematic and dramatic sense than the chronological order of the episodes.

  7. I was never a huge SW fan and whatever joy it brought has faded with the ongoing sludge of its offspring.
    You missed the wave, the excitement is over, find something new and ride that instead.

  8. A little late to this, but watch them in episode order. Your not a super fan, so spoilage isn’t a big deal (I say this as someone who went to the in theater marathon that they did for Force Awakens release).

    Go 1,2, Clone War cartoons, 3, Clone War CGI movie, Clone War CGI series, Solo, Rogue One, 4, Star Wars Rebels,5,6, Mandalorian, 7,8,9.

    If you want to just blitz through the series, watch the main 1 to 9 movies in order, then watch trailers for the other stuff to see what piques you’re interest. Then watch only those.

    If you’d like a little devil may care attitude in your Star Wars, try looking on Facebook for Star Wars Revisted. Guy is reeditting the original trilogy to remove some of the dumber CGI and fix a few mistakes. Like Chewbacca’s lack of medal for one.

    1. Whoops, I put the Clone Wars stuff one movie too far down. All the clone Wars stuff should be between episodes 2 and 3.

    2. Thanks! I'll have more to say in a follow-up post.

  9. pretty sure there's nothing worth watching in that franchise anymore if you're not already invested as a diehard fan. marathoning Star Wars in your position seems kinda like an asexual marathoning flicks from the Golden Age of Porn. there's obvious historic value, but man, there's a LOT of shit out there with historical value, and some of it you might actually enjoy. forcing yourself through Star Wars just seems misguided and fruitless.

    Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
    Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
    The Clone Wars
    Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
    Solo: A Star Wars Story
    Rogue One
    Episode 4: A New Hope
    Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
    Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
    The Mandalorian
    Episode 7: The Force Awakens
    Episode 8: The Last Jedi
    Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker