The Epic Movies in Chronological Order by Year Released
Unless you have been living under a rock, you at least know of the existence of the Star Wars movies. If you’re one of the cool kids, you’ve seen all of them. If you’re one of the super cool kids, then you’re here to learn the chronological order in which all of the movies were released so you can watch them in the way that the people who grew up with the films had to. Unfortunately, it is rather difficult to find the original versions of Episodes IV-VI after they were digitally remastered. Nonetheless, any Star Wars is better than no Star Wars.
Here’s a quick view of the list:
•1977 – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
•1980 – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
•1983 – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
•1999 – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
•2002 – Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
•2005 – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
•2015 – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
•2016 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
•2017 – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
•2018 – Solo: A Star Wars Story
•2019 – Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
If you weren’t yet aware, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker y’all) is very active on Twitter and still loves to live in his Star Wars days. We love to see an actor devoted to their saga that touched so many people’s lives and imaginations. Check out this entertaining tidbit he recently tweeted:
FUN FACT: Very early in the shooting of #SW studio execs expressed deep concern that Chewie didn't wear any pants & suggested he wear a pair of lederhosen. That they would focus on this amidst all the grotesque elements in the script made us laugh (& a bit worried)???? #TrueStory https://t.co/BCNhWDrwdl
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) April 22, 2021
Read on to gain plot insight or reminders of key points of the films (don’t worry, major spoilers have been removed for the sake of the aforementioned rock-dwellers).
Here’s some music to throw you into nostalgia while you enjoy the rest of this article.
In a galaxy far, far away….
*Image courtesy of Movie House Memories.
The release of A New Hope introduced us to Luke Skywalker, a farm boy living in the desert of Tatooine with his aunt and uncle. Upon his acquiring of two droids, his life changes completely when stormtroopers come for the droids. Luke is thrown into a reality he had never known before – the way of the Force. With his teacher, Old Ben Kenobi, or Obi-Wan, Luke meets Han Solo and Chewbacca as they journey to rescue Princess Leia, the leader of the Rebel Alliance, from Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire.
Fun facts about the film: George Lucas used ground-breaking special effects on an $11 million budget to lead to a $552 million in box office revenue for the United States as well as overseas. A New Hope is considered to be one of the most successful and influential films of all time.
*Image courtesy of CNN.
Luke, Han, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance are discovered by the Galactic Empire on planet Hoth and forced to evacuate under a massive attack. Luke travels to planet Dagobah after seeing a vision of Obi-Wan instructing him to train there under master Jedi Yoda. Han and the others travel to planet Bespin to seek refuge from Han’s friend Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately, a turn of events leads to Han’s capture and Luke coming face to face with Darth Vader in a battle that leaves Luke wounded and fleeing with Chewbacca and Leia.
Fun facts about the film: George Lucas wanted to avoid sharing creative rights and funded the $18 million production himself, using a combination of his profits from A New Hope and a hefty bank loan. This risk paid off several times over, with Lucas recovering his investment within three months of the movie’s release. He then passed on the love to his employees with nearly $5 million in bonuses. What a guy!
*Image courtesy of Parent Previews.
Luke, Chewbacca, and Leia travel to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. Afterward, Luke finishes his training on Dagobah, receives a message from the late Obi-Wan and says goodbye to Yoda. Now an official Jedi Knight, Luke rejoins the others to take down the Galactic Empire’s base and planet-destroying weapon under construction, the Death Star. Luke allows himself to be captured to face Darth Vader and try to convince him to leave behind the dark side. Han, Chewbacca, and Leia work to destroy the Death Star’s shield generator on the forest moon Endor, which is covered in Ewoks and you really need to see these Ewoks. Do not go living the rest of your life without seeing an Ewok.
Fun fact about the film: The original title was Revenge of the Jedi and even had 6,800 teaser posters with the title ready to be shipped. George Lucas stopped shipment and sold the posters to Star Wars fan club members. The reason for the title change was that Lucas said it is not the Jedi way to seek revenge, and therefore the original title would not be suitable.
*Image courtesy of BFI.
Twenty-two years after the release of A New Hope, the Phantom Menace kicks off giving the watcher the background stories of important members of the films. Such members include Obi-Wan, Darth Vader as young Anakin, and even the droids from Episodes IV-VI.
Obi-Wan and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon escape an assassination attempt by the Sith and end up on Naboo, where they run into and save the life of Jar Jar Binks (a character whom Star Wars fans would have much to say about). The three head to the capital of Naboo and rescue Queen Amidala and bring her and her handmaids, one of which is a handmaid named Padmé, along for the journey. The group is forced to land on Tatooine to repair their escape ship and it is there that they meet young Anakin, who is a slave.
Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force in young Anakin, and his mother admits Anakin never had a father, he just kind of came into existence, which is kind of odd and suspicious but moving on. Qui-Gon is convinced that Anakin is the “Chosen One”, meant to bring balance to the Force and Qui-Gon strikes a deal that earns Anakin his freedom to become a Jedi apprentice. Anakin has to leave behind his mother on Tatooine as he joins the group and they all head to planet Coruscant so Padmé can meet with the council to save her people and Qui-Gon asks the Jedi Council to train Anakin. They all return to Naboo, surprises are revealed, tensions grow, and battles begin as we begin this journey with a new set of main characters.
Fun facts about the film: With an astounding breakthrough in computer-generated imagery (CGI), the film has around 1,950 shots with visual effects. The film required not one, not two, but three visual effects supervisors in order to cover all of the work.
*Image courtesy of Greg King’s Film Reviews.
Ten years after Anakin was taken under Obi-Wan’s wing, the pair save now-Senator Amidala once more, this time from a bounty hunter. Anakin is instructed to take the senator to Naboo to hide and protect her, where they fall in love (a no-no in the Jedi code). Obi-Wan makes a discovery of a clone army being created under the name of a deceased Jedi. Anakin begins to have nightmares about his mother being tortured, so he brings Amidala with him back to Tatooine to check it out. Anakin encounters feelings and commits actions that a Jedi is not supposed to have, according to the Jedi Code. He makes a vow to protect the ones he loves at all costs, no matter what it takes, and marries Amidala in secret.
By the end of the movie, it’s clear that the capability of making mass amounts of clones is a game-changer in the battle between the Light Side and the Dark Side of the Force.
Fun facts about the film: Since fans had a negative reaction to Jar Jar (I told you) in Phantom Menace, the original working title of this film was Jar Jar’s Great Adventure as the production team’s own sarcastic, inside joke.
*Image courtesy of Syfy Wire.
Obi-Wan and Anakin are recruited to save Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who was taken captive by the Sith. Anakin’s wife reveals that she is pregnant and Anakin begins to have nightmares about her dying in childbirth. Palpatine senses Anakin’s fears and tells him that he has the power to prevent death with the use of the Force. Anakin reports Palpatine to the Jedi Council for his suspicion that Palpatine is playing a major role in the clone war, which soon leads to Anakin being faced with the decision of which side of the Force he will choose.
The synopsis must end there without providing major spoilers for this film and Episodes IV-VI. The end of this film brings together everything that we already know from Episodes IV-VI to make sense of the storyline and give an explanation as to how everything came to be in the Star Wars galaxy timeline.
Fun facts about the film: George Lucas rewrote this film numerous times. He felt had to edit the storyline to center around Anakin. One of the story drafts included Palpatine claiming himself Anakin’s father, having produced him from midichlorians, which are a sort of way of measuring how powerful or connected one is with the Force.
*Image courtesy of Talk Film Industry.
In the Disney version’s continuation of the Star Wars story, new faces emerge in The Force Awakens and unite with characters that we have already met in the previous Episodes. Finn is a stormtrooper who rebels against the First Order, which is the new version of the Galactic Empire, and joins forces with Resistance pilot (team New Republic) Poe, his droid, and a young female named Rey. With the help of Han Solo and Chewbacca, the team set out in an attempt to find Luke Skywalker using a map inside Poe’s droid. The new antagonist, Kylo Ren, captures Rey, who has a surprising hidden talent for lightsabers, the weapon of choice for Jedi. The Resistance attacks the base of the First Order as the remaining heroes continue on their journey to find Luke Skywalker.
Fun facts about the film: Harrison Ford fractured his leg on set from a hydraulic door malfunction and forced alteration of some of the scene filming. There were scenes that had to be shot from the waist up so that production could continue while Ford healed. Because of this incident, Disney’s subsidiary Foodies Production (UK) Ltd. was fined $1.95 million for breaches of health and safety.
*Image courtesy of Time Magazine.
Breaking away from the story of Rey and the others in The Force Awakens, the timeline of this film is set taking place directly before Episode IV: A New Hope. The protagonist Jyn must find her father, whom she was separated from, in order to discover the Death Star’s hidden weakness for the Rebel Alliance. Jyn’s father is killed, which encourages her to come up with a plan to steal the Death Star blueprint on planet Scarif with the help of the Rebel fleet. The end of the film is far different from any of the others and it also allows explanation of some plot questions in Episode IV.
Fun facts about the film: It was one of the most expensive films ever made, with a budget of around $200 million.
*Image courtesy of Grapevine.
Jumping back to the story surrounding Rey and the others from The Force Awakens, things appear bleak for the Resistance forces as Kylo Ren launches multiple attacks on their ships. Meanwhile, Rey tries to convince Luke to help the Resistance efforts and trains under him in the ways of the Jedi for a short time. She discovers why Kylo Ren chose his path to the dark side and the reason behind Luke’s refusal to continue the Jedi Order. Rey comes face to face once again with Kylo Ren and hopes to turn Kylo back to the light side of the Force. A surprising end leaves us with mixed feelings due to the loss of another character, but there is a renewed hope for the Resistance.
Fun facts about the film: With 180-200 creatures created with practical effects, this film has more practical effects than any of the other Star Wars films. The version of Yoda in this film was created with puppetry, like Episodes IV-VI, versus the CGI version that was used for Episodes I-III.
*Image courtesy of NBS News.
Described as an “American space Western”, this film centers around a young Han Solo. Getting into trouble, as Han usually does, he finds himself receiving a punishment that throws him into a pit to be eaten by a Wookie prisoner named Chewbacca. Luckily for Han, he speaks Wookie and the two plot to escape together. Impressed, the leader of the Crimson Dawn syndicate hires the two to steal valuable starship fuel. As part of the plan, Han meets with the smuggler pilot Lando Calrissian (yes, that Lando Calrissian) to barter using his ship, the Millenium Falcon. The implementation of the plan leads to meeting members of the Rebellion and the end of the film ultimately leaves Han with a very important, useful tool at his disposal.
Fun facts about the film: This installment in the Star Wars galaxy was directed by Ron Howard, best known for his original Hollywood breakthrough as a child actor for The Andy Griffith Show. Howard was actually cast in George Lucas’s film American Graffiti in 1973. Life is a funny thing sometimes. The budget for this film was around $275 million, surpassing Rogue One’s hefty $200 million budget and earning #7 on the list of most expensive films ever made.
*Image courtesy of Star Wars News Net.
As the final episode in the “Skywalker saga”, one side of the Force must prevail. Kylo is ordered by an antagonist we encountered from previous Episodes to kill Rey. In attempts to defeat the antagonist, whose name shall not be revealed to avoid spoilers, and the defeat of the dark side, Rey must find means to travel to the planet Exegol by way of Sith Wayfinder. A dagger is found with Sith script that must be decoded to find the coordinates to the Wayfinder. Kylo finds and battles Rey yet again before Rey leaves for Exegol to vanquish the aforementioned mystery antagonist.
The Skywalker saga comes to a dramatic close, tying up all loose ends and leaving us with a feeling of finality. There are bittersweet farewells, new beginnings, and since it is a Disney movie, some love and laughs speckled throughout.
Fun facts about the film: With the $275 million budget, this film tied with the Solo installment for #7 on the list of most expensive movies ever made. Also, the return of Billy Dee Williams in his role marked one of the longest intervals between character portrayals by the same actor in American film history, having not been seen in Star Wars since Return of the Jedi in 1983.
*Article featured image courtesy of Fatherly.