How has Solo changed the ideal Star Wars watch order? Jay and Daryl are joined by Dale (from Network 1901) and Albie (from the No Midnight Podcast, check out their new serial!) to discuss the ideal Star Wars watch order. Should you watch in Machete order? Episode order?
PROPOSED STAR WARS WATCH ORDER: THE ERAS ORDER
In this podcast, Jay also proposes: “The Eras Order”
[PODCAST SPOILERS AHEAD!]
Here’s the Star Wars watch order proposed by Jay. What do you think of it? Comment with your thoughts! Listen to the podcast to hear it described in more detail!
STAR WARS “ERAS” WATCH ORDER:
With the “Eras Order,” you would start with the first bullet point and then proceed from there.
- The Classic Era
- Ep. IV: A New Hope
- Ep. V: Empire Strikes Back
- Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- The Republic Era
- Ep. I: The Phantom Menace
- Ep. II: Attack of the Clones
- Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith
- The Awakening Era
- Ep. VII: The Force Awakens
- Ep. VIII: The Last Jedi
Does this order work for you? How would you change it? What’s your preferred watch order?
Before we bring up the various watch orders that are out there, and before we define our own preferred watch order, let’s spend some time exploring the MOST IMPORTANT moments in Star Wars films. What moments stand out to you as critical to this overarching story?
I feel like this is a tricky one, because I’m tempted to list my *favorite* moments here, but they’re not necessarily the *most important* to the overarching story. [Jay’s Note: Yep. That’s basically what we did in the podcast. LOL.]
Even though Ep. I isn’t my most loved film in the franchise, it has a critical moment that alters the fate of the galaxy. It’s the moment Qui-Gon decides to defy the Jedi Council’s recommendation and train Anakin as a Jedi. Without anyone realizing it, he’s setting up the eventual fall of the Jedi Order through Anakin, the downfall of the Republic, and the rise of the Empire. Without Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader learning to harness his Force powers, we wouldn’t have the Star Wars franchise.
Most of the other critical moments in this franchise revolve around the Skywalker family: Anakin choosing to give into the dark side and then eventually swinging back to the light and sacrificing his life for his son, Luke. You also have Luke choosing not to accept the Emperor’s invitation to embrace his anger and join the dark side.
Then, in the sequel trilogy, Luke does give into despair and darkness for the smallest fraction of a second, but it’s enough to propel his nephew, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, down the path to the dark side. Yet in the end Luke fully embraces the light and the Force, and his act of sacrifice by Force projecting himself across the galaxy saves the floundering Rebellion. And it will (I hope!) pave the way for Ben to bring this franchise full circle by returning to the light.
The biggest non-Skywalker moment in the franchise is probably the Rebels stealing the plans for the Death Star. Without this important sacrifice, the Empire probably would have wiped out the Rebellion and Luke never would have gotten a chance to redeem Vader.
If you were to rank order those moments, what would your top 3 look like?
Again, it’s tricky not to simply list my three *favorite* moments, but I feel like this is a compromise of the three moments I think are the most important to the story AND had the biggest impact for me personally: 😉
#3 – Luke Force projecting himself across the galaxy and saving the Resistance in “The Last Jedi.”
#2 – Darth Vader telling Luke he is his father in “The Empire Strikes Back” and forever altering how we see both these characters.
#1 – Darth Vader sacrificing his life for his son in “Return of the Jedi.”
Now that we know what some of the critical moments are, let’s take a look at some of the watch orders out there. What are the benefits/drawbacks of each?
Episodic Order (Chronological to Star Wars time): Ep. I, II, III, Solo, RO, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII
On a surface level, this is the watch order that probably makes the most sense, because you get to watch the narrative in order, as the events play out. The drawback is that it starts with Ep. I and II, which are regarded by a number of fans as the weakest films in the series. If I was introducing people to Star Wars who had never seen any of the films before, I don’t know that I’d want their first Star Wars encounter to be “The Phantom Menace.”
Rogue One Order: RO, IV, V, VI, I, II, III, VII, VIII
This way, you get to see how the Rebels steal the plans for the Death Star before it actually gets destroyed in Ep. IV, so you’re not left watching “A New Hope” and wondering how the heck Luke blew up the Death Star so easily and why the Empire built a planet-destroying space station that was so vulnerable. 😉 “A New Hope” has even more emotional impact when you know the sacrifices that were made behind the scenes. Still, I might hesitate to start new fans on “Rogue One” because it has more of a war movie feel than the classic Star Wars space opera feel. I really feel like “A New Hope” is best film to start on, regardless of how the watch order proceeds from there.
Release Order (Chronological to “real life” time): IV, V, VI, I, II, III, VII, RO, VIII, Solo
This is generally my go-to recommendation for watch order. You begin with the film that started it all, “A New Hope,” and then you get to watch the story unfold in the order the movies originally came out. It’s interesting to watch how the franchise has developed and how filmmaking/storytelling techniques have changed over time. However, I think “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” have more impact if you watch them together. And it will probably feel weird to eventually throw “Solo” in between Ep. VIII and IX.
Machete Order: IV, V, II, III, VI, VII, VIII
I can see why some fans advocate for this order. You still get to start with “A New Hope” and then move directly to “The Empire Strikes Back,” which is a favorite film for many fans. Then you jump to how Anakin fell to the dark side in Ep. II-III and then his eventual redemption in Ep. VI. Yet this order leaves out Ep. I, which I personally feel is actually a better film than Ep. II, and the momentum from Ep. V could be stalled by some of the awkward romance in Ep. II.
Before we reveal our preferred watch order, let’s discuss other possibilities. Now that we have “Solo” and “Rogue One,” it feels like there are more possibilities. Let’s hear what you think.
I feel like you could possibly start with “Solo,” to kick things off on a lighter note, then jump to Ep. IV, V, and VI, then hit “Rogue One,” then the prequels and then the sequels. Or you could just do a Han Solo-themed watch order, watching “Solo,” IV, V, VI, and VII.
Now, it’s time for us to choose the watch order that we would advocate, both for someone who has NEVER seen Star Wars, and then also for huge Star Wars fans…
As a huge Star Wars fan, if I was going to do a marathon with other fans, here’s what I’d pick: IV, V, VI, Solo, RO, I, II, III, VII, and VIII. I like this order because you get to start with the classic original trilogy, then hit “Solo” and “Rogue One,” which add some cool details to characters you meet in the original films. Then, you get the prequels out of the way. 😉 (Although to be fair, there are still moments I enjoy in the prequels, like the lightsaber battles, the John Williams music, and Ewan McGregor’s overall performance as Obi-Wan). Then, you get to watch VII and VIII back-to-back; I know some fans didn’t care for “The Last Jedi,” but I really loved that film and think it flows better with “The Force Awakens” than it sometimes gets credit for.
[Jay’s Note: This is super close to the “Eras Watch Order” we came up with on the podcast, too!]
For brand new fans, I’d probably pick: IV, V, VI, RO, I, II, III, Solo, VII and VIII. You get to start with the classic trilogy once again, then jump back to see how the Death Star plans were actually stolen. Although I think “Rogue One” retroactively makes “A New Hope” more impactful, seeing “A New Hope” first makes “Rogue One” more impactful (if that makes sense). 😉 Then, you get to see a lighter film — “Solo” — after Ep. III, which is a pretty heavy film, and then jump into the conclusion of Han’s story in the sequel trilogy.