Thanks to Disney and its plans for world domination via Star Wars movies, the Force franchise is alive and well... and growing at an incredible rate. From the original A New Hope to the first spin-off Rogue One, there’s now eight different Star Wars movies in the universe (and counting), which means it’s definitely time for a ranked list. With Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 kicking off this week, the GR+ team sat down and argued, hair-pulled, and finally agreed on the order of this list. So read on and find out which Star Wars movie is the worst and which is our favourite. Oh, and let us know your ranked list in the comments below - now all you need to do is figure out which prequel you hate the most.
P.S. Yes, I know that Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and more are technically Star Wars movies, but we've not included them in this ranked list because, let's be honest, they'd just end up at the bottom. And that's where the prequels deserve to be, so this is every MAIN Star Wars movie ranked.
If you like the look of this, don’t forget to check out Every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, ranked from worst to best and Every upcoming Star Wars movie to 2021 and beyond.
8. Attack of the Clones (2002)
Though it’s not bogged down by trade negotiations or explanations about midichlorians, Attack of the Clones is easily the weakest of the prequels. Obi Wan’s investigation into and eventual discovery of the clone army isn’t awful, though the reaction of “oh, hey, neat, free army” is definitely a head-scratcher. The location itself, with its soft-spoken alien administrators is appropriately spacey, and the fight with Jango Fett, which inadvertently leads to the creation of Boba Fett, is also a fun bit of jetpack-infused chaos. But oh, lord, the developing “romance” between Anakin and Padme is genuinely painful to sit through. Hayden Christensen is a charisma vacuum who comes across as more of a creepy, peevish stalker than a charming, enigmatic protector. He provides zero reason for Padme to lend him a pen, let alone get naked with him. And that’s before he reveals his true feelings about sand. Susan Arendt
7. The Phantom Menace (1999)
If we only focused on the worst bits of The Phantom Menace - poor Jake Lloyd's whiny young Anakin, alien designs that vaguely evoke racist caricatures, the entirety of Jar-Jar Binks' existence - we could ostensibly be here all day. So instead, let's highlight what the first prequel gets right, despite just how much people love to hate it. Regardless of your feelings towards the Gungans, Naboo's verdant rainforests, Atlantean underwater cities, and utopian palaces serve as gorgeous backdrops unlike anywhere else in the Star Wars universe. The prolonged podracing scene, while a bit hokey, is a fun advanced-tech take on Ben-Hur's timeless chariot race, the wuh-chur-chur sound of the vehicles' thrumming engines no less distinct than a TIE Fighter's scream. And the grand finale lightsaber duel is just phenomenal. Darth Maul and his double-bladed lightsaber versus Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan is easily one of the greatest fight scenes in the entire series. Restrained yet riveting choreography, stunning set pieces, and John Williams' unforgettable score combine to create a masterpiece of captivating conflict between Jedi and Sith. Lucas Sullivan
6. Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Revenge of the Sith wins a candy bar for being the least-worst prequel, but not a good one: a Payday, or Three Musketeers. General Grievous is wasted in an entertaining but throwaway fight; Mace Windu just stops, like the end of a used toilet roll; and Anakin’s youngling-killing turn to the dark side is laughable. Even the best bit, where Emperor Palpatine teases Skywalker into apprenticeship with talk of the Dark Side, is marred by Lucas’ weird, pointless edits. Don’t believe me? Just watch Anakin’s hair. But despite this, Revenge of the Sith is oddly satisfying after two terrible prequels. Ewan McGregor finally gets to grips with Obi-Wan, and we see him at his dashing-yet-weary best. Thinking about that just makes me want that standalone Obi-Wan film even more. And the battle between Yoda and a full-evil Darth Sidious is thrilling, if brainless, fun. There’s a gulf between this and the next-best Star Wars film, but at least it’s better than Attack of the Clones. Matt Elliott
5. Rogue One (2016)
The most recent addition to the Star Wars universe is also one of the best. While it can never outstrip the original trilogy (nor The Force Awakens for some), Rogue One had a much tougher job being Disney’s first spin-off movie. Based on a single line from A New Hope’s opening scrawl, it tells the story of the Rebels who retrieved the Death Star plans so that Luke Skywalker can eventually blow it up. Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso, who discovers the plans from her father (Mads Mikkelsen), and joins forces with Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, and a host of other stand-out actors to take on the Empire. Ben Mendelsohn is the one facing off against them in the name of the Empire, but the iconic Darth Vader also puts in an appearance. Not only is director Gareth Edwards a huge Star Wars fan, but it was also important to him that Rogue One be a Jedi-less story, which gave us a truly exceptional addition to the Star Wars universe that still broke the rules. It’s both refreshingly unexpected AND full of Easter eggs. A dream come true. Lauren O’Callaghan
4. Return of the Jedi (1983)
Return of the Jedi is the rare trilogy closer that manages to pick up all the pieces left behind by its predecessors and give them satisfying conclusions. Tons of stuff happens in this movie, and save for a few pacing missteps, it all works and leaves us feeling like we got our fill. This is to say nothing of the actual resolution of the film, the climactic battle above Endor. The way the film jumps between the one-on-one fight between father and son to the ground war of Stormtroopers vs Ewoks to the space dogfights led by Ackbar and Lando without you feeling lost is masterful and gives us a taste of each level of conflict in this galaxy far, far away. And remember, this movie was our proper introduction to Emperor Palpatine. Lots of people forget that Return of the Jedi was the first time we had any real time with the villain other than short hologram calls to Vader - yet he clearly made an impression, even before his scheming was made old hat by the prequels. And admit it, you loved the Ewoks and their stupid yub-nub song. Sam Prell
3. The Force Awakens (2015)
The fear is that two things will happen if you continue a beloved story: either it will be a hollow imitation of the past or it will fail to recapture the power of the original. The Force Awakens has been accused of both. Detractors say it’s a crass remake of A New Hope. They say its characters aren’t as memorable as Luke, Leia, and Han. They are very, very wrong. In continuing the story started in 1977, The Force Awakens re-establishes the visual language and boundaries of the Star Wars universe - this feels like the same place - but dares to break our hearts at the same time. The good guys didn’t win after the Emperor was defeated. Life just kept going in the galaxy, and the glorious new age we all thought Luke and the reborn Republic would usher in never happened. So we’re treated to a story about the scrapper Rey and the rebel Stormtrooper Finn finding new hope at the same time as seeing our old heroes contend with the failures and challenges of aging. We get a deeply human story more concerned with character than lightsaber fights (which in turn makes the lightsaber fight that does happen feel meaningful again). It’s safer to delve into a story’s past; it takes courage like The Force Awakens has to move forward. Anthony John Agnello
2. A New Hope (1977)
This is where it all began. The film that introduced a whole new universe filled with characters, lines and scenes that would go on to influence a generation of fans and filmmakers a like. It wasn’t just the effects (which were great for the time) that blew people away, it was the cohesiveness of the world. Where a lot of sci-fi tended to feel almost magical, this was a dirty, ‘used’ universe. Sure there were spaceships and robots but there was something horrible practical and ordinary about it all - and in turn the story felt more grounded, even when it was in hyperspace. Into all this Lucas then weaved what was basically a classic Disney princess story where a lowly villager (Luke) discovers a higher calling and battles the evil space witch (Vadar) to save the day. The only reason this isn’t top is because one other film took A New Hope’s strengths and built even more on them… Leon Hurley
1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Of course this is the best Star Wars movie. While some would argue the climactic resolution of Return of the Jedi offers more feel good factor, and the sheer wonder of the universe building in A New Hope trumps the rest, The Empire Strikes Back is a brilliant example of what makes Star Wars so magical. It certainly starts with the biggest bang - a battle for survival on Hoth, both on a personal level (Luke’s struggle with the Wompa) and a grander scale (snow speeders, AT-ATs, last minute Falcon escapes). In stark contrast to the fairytale feel of the preceding movie, Empire then gets very dark, very quick. There’s torture, genuine betrayal, disturbing visions, and that scene where Luke loses a hand but gains a father. It’s the grand reveal of the Star Wars universe, a shocking revelation that shifts the perception of all that went before and after it. More than that, this scene - and the whole of Empire - shows Star Wars coming of age, maturing from regular sci-fi into something much more complex and deep. And who can forget some of those incredible scenes? Leia telling Han she loves him as he’s lowered into the Carbonite chamber. Luke nearly raising the X-Wing from Degobah’s swamp. And the final thrilling rescue of Luke, dangling from an antenna at the bottom of Bespin. Empire isn’t merely a bridging movie between the two ends of the trilogy - it’s the solid spine of the biggest entertainment franchise on the planet, and a superb movie in its own right. Andy Hartup