The Ultimate Star Wars Watch Guide – Preparing for Episode VIII The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi is less than a week away and Star Wars fever is at an all-time high. Fans are salivating at the chance to finally see Luke Skywalker on the big screen again, and this time we will get more than just a quick shot of Luke with a conflicted look on his face. In preparation for The Last Jedi and to help facilitate any of you who want to get your Star Wars binge on, I am going to list my recommendation on how to watch the Star Wars Saga. Let’s get started!

Star Wars

We are going to bring all of the Star Wars films and even animated shows into the discussion. I know a lot of people do not have time to watch the animated shows, but they really do add a lot to the story and flesh out Star Wars for those who want to dive deeper into the saga.

Episode IV: Star Wars – A New Hope 

Poster for Star Wars Episode IV

I remember watching this move repeatedly on the old RCA Video Disk when Star Wars: A New Hope was just known as Star Wars. And for all those too young to know what the RCA Video Disk was, here ya go, you’re welcome. The original trilogy is where it’s at. Everything builds off of starting with New Hope. Including the build to the reveal in Empire Strikes Back. Starting with New Hope sets the tone for all the other Star Wars films. So, why not start with the film that started it all?

Episode V: Empire Strikes Back

Poster for Star Wars Episode V

This may be my favorite Star Wars film. The adventure continues in The Empire Strikes Back, which has one of the biggest reveals to date in the saga. (SPOILERS) The moment Luke finds out who his father is monumental. Even watching my young children watch this scene you can see the shock on their faces! “Noooooo, that’s impossible!” In order to get the full effect of this reveal, you have to watch it in the order I am recommending though. If you watch in chronological order, finding out Anakin is Luke’s father isn’t as impactful.

Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi

Poster for Star Wars Episode VI

What we thought was the finale of all finales. The Return of the Jedi is such an epic finish to the original trilogy. All hope looks to be lost as the rebels are outmaneuvered by the Emperor and Darth Vader. Luke makes the mistake of thinking that Darth Vader would turn on his Master and falls right into their trap. Little did the Emperor know what kind of power “sentiment” could have. The love of a son enabled Darth Vader to pull himself from the darkness to once again join the light side of the Force and save his son. The epic feeling you get of relief when the movie is over can only be accomplished if you want the films from Episode 4 through Episode 6. Once again it all depends on how you start the saga. So, start with New Hope!

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Poster for Star Wars Episode I

We get to travel back in time and see how the man in the black suit started out. Along the way, Lucas introduces us to the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan Kenobi, young Anakin Skywalker, Padme, Darth Maul, and…Jar Jar. Can we all just agree to fast forward through the parts with him? Episode One sets the stage as we get to see the raw potential of a young Anakin as he rescues his mother by winning a pod race and joining up with a pair of Jedi. But, unbeknownst to them all is a darker plot as we are introduced to the Phantom Menace.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Poster for Star Wars Episode II

We get introduced to an adolescent Anakin, now a young Jedi and his future love interest. All while giving us more backstory on epic characters like Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan. This is probably one of my least favorite films as some parts were painful to watch, but it does lend to us an understanding of who Anakin is; an emotional ball of mess. He struggles to become the Jedi he knows he can be, but we also learn in this film why Anakin is such a person of passion. His emotions rule him.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Poster for Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I am throwing the animated series The Clones Wars into the equation for a few reasons. It fills in some really big gaps between Episodes 2 and 3, and we get introduced to characters like Cad Bane, Ashoka, the surprise that Maul survived, and many more. The animated series allows us to really see Obi-Wan grow into the Jedi we see in Episode 3 and we see why Anakin was so quick to turn to the Dark Side. If you can manage it I recommend you watch this series. It really does add more meaning to Episode 3.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Poster for Star Wars Episode III

Senator Palpatine’s plan comes to completion with the destruction of the Jedi Order. If you watched the Clone Wars this film is so much better. As a follow up to Episode 2, it’s not horrible, aside from the fact that Anakin seems to turn to the dark side so fast. But, if you watched the Clone Wars series you know this was the build-up of Anakin’s frustrations with the Jedi Council and their shortcomings. The loss of his padawan Ashoka, and not being granted the rank of Master even though he was on the council was the last straw.

Star Wars: Rebels

Poster for Star Wars Rebels

This animated entry is a gem in the Star Wars franchise. Another gap filler like The Clone Wars, we get to see the events between Episodes III and IV. This is a very under-appreciated series. The final season has almost come to a close, and it gives us great looks at the rebels as they struggle against a more powerful empire. Many great Star Wars characters are introduced to the TV screen, and you don’t want to miss it. Another reason I recommend this series is that there are a few Rebels easter eggs in Rogue One. Things like Chopper on Yavin IV, the Ghost flying in for the final space combat scene, and Hera’s surname being called on a loudspeaker at the Rebel base on Yavin as well.

Rogue One

Poster for Star Wars Rogue One

The reason I went with watching Rogue One after all these other episodes is that it gives you greater context in the film. The film moves pretty fast and jumps around quite a bit at the beginning. We need to know a little about these locations, why there aren’t any Jedi, and why the Rebellion is so desperate. If you’ve seen the above films and animated series a lot, of the film, will make more sense to you. This includes things like the Whills and the Guardians of the Whills who were protecting the Kyber Crystals on Jedha. All that context matters and adds further immersion into the story.  Not to mention understanding why there is so little hope in the galaxy with Darth Vader and the Emperor rushing any group that resisted them.

Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Poster for Star Wars Episode VII

The last film you will want to watch is Episode VII. After watching all the previous films you can get all of the little callbacks and cliche lines in the film. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Watching episode VII last adds a lot more weight to some scenes like (Spoilers) the moment Ben Solo, also known as Kylo Ren, kills his father, Han. If you haven’t watched the other films you might be asking yourself why everyone was so upset about some old guy dying.

How would you recommend people watching the Star Wars saga? Sound off in the comments below!

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Founder and Podcast Host at Mulehorn Gaming & Analog Assault Podcast
Wade, also known in the gaming world as Mulehorn117. Founder of MHG, Podcast Host for Analog Assault Podcast, and Part of theSHED team on Mixer.