Ranking all 9 Star Wars Films: May the 4th Edition

Ranking all 9 Star Wars Films: May the 4th Edition

Reilly McKnight

In the spirit of the date of May the 4th, also known as Star Wars Day, I thought it would be a perfect time to share my complete ranking of Star Wars films in the main Skywalker saga. I know for some individuals this can be an incredibly divisive topic, so if you have any critiques, thoughts, or just want to share your own list with me, my email is [email protected] 


  1. Episode I – The Phantom Menace
  • To any fans out there of this movie, I am deeply sorry for putting it in last place on this list. Although I too can enjoy the great moments of this film, such as the lightsaber duel with Darth Maul, and the podrace with young Anakin Skywalker, I cannot help but be dismayed with The Phantom Menace’s bad aspects which include “wooden” acting, an incredibly boring plot, and a slightly unbearable comedic sidekick in the form of Jar Jar Binks. To The Phantom Menace critics out there—no, this movie did not “ruin your childhood,” but I do agree that it must come last on my list.


  1. Episode II – Attack of the Clones
  • It pains me to put this film so low in my rankings as I loved watching it as a child, however, the flaws do somewhat ruin it for me now. Unfortunately, the intriguing story and the technologically-impressive backdrops are both overshadowed by the negatives. On repeat viewing, the whiny behavior of teenage Anakin, the unintentionally funny dialogue, and the mediocre lightsaber fights create a movie that can be described as a bit “cringe.” Still, as a whole, the movie has a much more enjoyable viewing experience than The Phantom Menace.


  1. Episode IX – Rise of Skywalker
  • Okay, although some people loathe this movie, I believe it is a solid film and a decent enough conclusion to the Skywalker saga. Yes, the final battle on Exegol is a bit unoriginal, the film relies too heavily on nostalgia, and Palpatine’s sudden revival is a head-scratching move on Disney’s behalf. Nevertheless, this movie was a joy to watch in the theater, especially during its climactic moments, and the weak plot only starts to reveal itself on later viewings. While Rise of Skywalker is a mixed bag, I still appreciate this movie.


  1. Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
  • The Last Jedi is arguably the most controversial Star Wars movie to ever be released. However, I don’t have as polarizing a viewpoint on the film, as some fans do. I must admit that the side adventure to Canto Bight is pretty bad, some of the new characters introduced aren’t super interesting, and there is not enough background information provided to explain the complete off-screen character transformation of Luke Skywalker from heroic Jedi Master to a stubborn old hermit. Still, I was very engaged in Luke’s redemption arc throughout this movie, and I thought that some of the plot twists were quite fascinating and unique. To this day, I’m not sure why this movie gets so much hate and attention; in my opinion, this is a flawed, yet special addition to the Star Wars franchise.


  1. Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  • Many people discredit this movie by claiming that it’s simply a rehash of the plot of A New Hope. I believe that there still are many unique plot elements here that are often overlooked. Finn, a former stormtrooper turned Resistance hero, undergoes inspiring character growth, while Rey’s past is shrouded in mystery, enhancing the audience’s fascination with her connection with the Force. And of course, the death of the beloved character, Han Solo, hits deep for any Star Wars fan. So, therefore, while TFA isn’t ground-breaking, it’s still a very underrated movie deserving of much more praise. 


  1. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  • Return of the Jedi concludes the Original Trilogy in epic fashion. Iconic scenes include the rancor fight, the battle at Endor Imperial bunker, the climactic lightsaber duel of good vs. evil, and the emotional embrace between father and son moments before the peaceful death of Darth Vader. However, this movie struggles with pacing, and the inclusion of the Ewoks isn’t fully warranted. For that reason, this overall amazing movie comes in at the 4th place spot.  


  1. Episode IV – A New Hope
  • This film is where the Star Wars franchise became a global phenomenon and is an all-time classic. The famous “Hero’s Journey” is perfectly illustrated through the arc of Luke Skywalker going from a farm boy seeking adventure to a hero of the Rebellion and future Jedi. Although A New Hope is practically flawless, I still believe that the two films ranked higher were a bit more bold and revolutionary, so that is why it’s ranked here.


  1. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
  • Revenge of the Sith is yet another divisive Star Wars movie. Some people cast it off as trash, whereas others view it as George Lucas’s masterpiece. For me, I agree that there are some flaws which hurt the movie (more cringe dialogue, odd CGI, bad pacing), however I also see that rare Star Wars magic which is hidden inside this film. Revenge of the Sith, my least favorite Star Wars movie as a kid has now become a film I can really cherish. I must admit that the emotional weight for me of Order 66 and Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side are both heightened by my previous viewings of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, so I definitely recommend giving that show a watch if you want to experience the dramatic moments of ROTS in full effect. So to summarize, in my personal opinion, I believe this is an incredibly special Star Wars movie and one that requires the audience to look past its flaws and witness the masterpiece inside.


  1. Episode V – Empire Strikes Back
  • This is truly not just the best Star Wars movie, but one of the best films of all time. The countless famous quotes, the introduction of Yoda to the Star Wars universe, the epic battle of Hoth, and the shock reveal of Luke’s father all make this movie the amazing spectacle that it is. In comparison to Revenge of the Sith, while both films possess that unique magic of Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back is simply flawless which places it as the obvious best movie in the entire 9-film Skywalker saga.