Every Star Wars movie, ranked from the worst to the best!
Which Star Wars movie comes out on top in Popverse's ranking?
Want to see every Star Wars movie ranked? If you’re a fan of lightsabers and lasers, you’ve undoubtedly thought about your favourite Star Wars movie at some point. However, with 11 movies now part of the Star Wars universe (and more on the way), picking a favourite can prove tricky.
Below, we’ll rank the best Star Wars movies, including every movie in the Skywalker Saga and the Disney spin-offs, Rogue One and Solo. (We're purposefully not including the Disney+ shows such as The Mandalorian, however.)
While the newer Disney-era films have flashier effects that make lightsabers look better than ever, the original trilogy is still always going to be a classic. If you do fancy revisiting the whole series though, we've put together a list of the best Star Wars watch order too.
The best Star Wars movies, in brief
You can find the reasons for the rankings below, but if you're pressed for time and just want to see the list from 11 through 1, here you go...
- Attack of the Clones
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- The Rise of Skywalker
- Phantom Menace
- The Force Awakens
- The Last Jedi
- A New Hope
- Return of the Jedi
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Empire Strikes Back
- Revenge of the Sith
The best Star Wars movies, in full
11. Attack of the Clones
Episode 2: Attack of the Clones is the baseline of everything a Star Wars movie shouldn’t be. The first act, which reintroduces Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), slowly lumbers along through two assassination attempts and a car chase amidst the Coruscant skyline. While this opening had the potential to capture the audience’s attention, the wooden performances from Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen make it feel lifeless and stale. This intro ends with Kenobi and Skywalker splitting until the finale, as Kenobi seeks a bounty hunter on Kamino while Skywalker protects, and ultimately starts a relationship with, Padme on her homeworld of Naboo. Rather than capturing any of the heart or allure of the Solo/Leia relationship in the original trilogy, the romance between Anakin and Padme only provides awkward and, at times, unbearable dialogue.
Despite being the worst of the Skywalker Saga, Attack of the Clones does have a few silver linings. Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of master Kenobi has some sense of identity at times, as he occasionally manages to cut through the stiff dialogue to look marginally more comfortable than his co-stars. However, it’s Christoper Lee’s portrayal of Count Dooku that steals the spotlight, with the terrifying Darth Tyranus becoming an infamous villain.
10. Solo: A Star Wars Story
When Disney got hold of the Star Wars franchise, they quickly started a new trilogy and a number of spin-offs. Solo: A Star Wars Story was the worst of the bunch, as it took Han’s backstory (that had been well-documented in countless other forms of Star Wars media) and ran through it like a checklist, making little attempts to deviate from the ideas that were already established. The result is a bland plot that serves to add almost nothing to Han’s character, who feels strangely absent in his own movie. That’s largely due to a stiff portrayal from Alden Ehrenreich, who fails to capture any of the allure of Harrison Ford’s Solo.
Fortunately, Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover manage to inject some energy into the proceedings, with Qi’ra and Lando quickly becoming the best parts of Solo. Unfortunately, with a poor reception and box office seemingly dooming Solo to the sidelines, it seems unlikely that we’ll see them return in live action.
9. The Rise of Skywalker
As Rey (Daisy Ridley) reckons with the discovery that her heritage is meaningless, a Sith cult resurrects her secret grandfather (Ian McDiarmid’s Darth Sidious) on the remote planet of Exegol. This brings Rey and her nemesis, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), on a collision course as they determine the fate of the galaxy. The grand culmination of the Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker highlights the greatest issue with Disney’s sequel trilogy: the lack of a planned narrative.
Rather than building on the storyline laid out in Episode 8, The Rise of Skywalker introduces a tirade of new plotlines and flounders through them in a desperate attempt to stick some landing. Ultimately, it fails to deliver any sense of justice for the Skywalker Saga, bringing this grand generation-spanning narrative to a close with little more than a whimper.
8. Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace is the first chronological entry in the Skywalker Saga, introducing a young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) long before he becomes the infamous lord Vader. However, The Phantom Menace spends little time subtly foreshadowing his fate, focusing instead on the political unrest of a galaxy in turmoil. While senate meetings and legal proceedings provide plenty of exposition dumps that’ll make fans squeal, The Phantom Menace doesn’t have the energy to bring anyone new into the fold.
It certainly tries to entice new fans, though, as new character Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) provides awkwardly endearing humour to appeal to a younger generation. He’s a highlight for those that were young when The Phantom Menace originally released, but an absolute travesty for anyone who grew up with the Original Trilogy. In trying to appeal to both the hardcore fanbase and a new generation of potential fans, The Phantom Menace ultimately feels like a soulless mess. Fortunately, it manages to wander into a thrilling conclusion, as Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) battle Darth Maul (Ray Park) in an action-packed, heart-wrenching duel with a blisteringly epic score.
7. The Force Awakens
After over a decade, Star Wars was back on the big screen with The Force Awakens. However, the latest entry in the Skywalker Saga did little to differentiate itself from its predecessors, with the plot bearing a striking resemblance to A New Hope. In fact, it’s almost a carbon copy with a new stack of characters, hitting the same plot beats with little desire to bring something new. While that serves as a lovely testament to what came before, The Force Awakens fails to reinvigorate the Star Wars universe with new stories.
What it does well, though, is visual spectacle. The Force Awakens is the most blockbuster of the Skywalker Saga, with every scene dripping with beautiful VFX. The Millenium Falcon cruising over the dunes of Jakku is a sight to behold, as are the X-Wing squadron skimming the waters of Ak-To and Kylo Ren’s unstable lightsaber rippling with uncontainable energy. It might not do anything to set itself apart from Episode 4, but The Force Awakens is still an entertaining romp that looks incredible.
6. The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi picks up where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey handing Anakin’s lightsaber over to the dishevelled, long lost Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). That’s where any plot ties end, though, as The Last Jedi rips up the rule book to deliver the best entry in the sequel trilogy. It doesn’t hold much love for old Star Wars tropes, but it sets up an invigorating plot by throwing them away. As Rey finds herself torn between light and dark, Luke Skywalker ignores her plight almost entirely, choosing to focus on swigging some blue milk over saving the galaxy.
In abandoning the tired plotlines that you might expect, The Last Jedi takes the Skywalker Saga in unexpected directions. As Rey ventures off in search of Ren, who is doing his best to coax her to the dark side, we’re treated to the best pairing of the sequels as the two carve through First Order guards and kill the grand villain of the trilogy, Snoke (Andy Serkis), in one beautifully brutal scene. While it may have left JJ Abrams scrambling for a conclusion in Episode 9, The Last Jedi subverts the Star Wars routine and finally provides something fresh.
5. A New Hope
Star Wars, now often known as A New Hope, was an instant classic that had a profound effect on Hollywood and audiences worldwide, kickstarting this global phenomenon. While the main beats in Luke’s journey from farmhand to hero aren’t particularly inventive, A New Hope uses this template to introduce an energetic cast and a galaxy that’s teeming with adventure. As Luke, Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) embark on their quest to defeat the evil Empire, Star Wars deftly blends a space epic with personal stories that are full of heart.
The fact that A New Hope comes 5th on this list might make you wonder what it does wrong, but the answer is very little. In the 40 years since it was released, elements such as the practical effects and dialogue have certainly started to show their age, but the influence of A New Hope has only grown. That led to some magnificent sequels that build on this origin to create one of the most iconic narratives in cinematic history.
4. Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi brings the story that started with A New Hope to a close, pitting Luke Skywalker against the emperor and Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) in a fateful duel. Here, Hamill’s Luke has undergone a dramatic transformation from his previous appearances, evolving from scrappy-yet-brave padawan to a jedi master who exudes power. As he saves Han on Tatooine and journeys across the galaxy alone to oppose Sith lords, it’s clear that this is the strongest Luke we’ve seen yet.
With Han back in play after a snappy rescue mission at Jabba’s Palace, Return of the Jedi takes our heroes to the forest moon of Endor for a heavy dose of what makes Star Wars special. We learn that Luke and Leia are twins in a shocking reveal, while the cuddly Ewoks show that Star Wars’ designs really are the best. Here’s where the plot gets thrown off balance, though, as Luke struggles to resist the dark side in a thrilling stand-off against Lord Vader and Darth Sidious while Han and Leia simply blow up another Death Star. As a a result, Return of the Jedi is an epic conclusion to the original trilogy that relies on some old plot devices to find that finale.
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One is a strange occurrence, where an entirely unnecessary explanation for a minor plot point sprouts into an unforgettable adventure. As it explains how the Rebels got the Death Star plans in A New Hope, Rogue One introduces a cast of characters that bleed charisma and energy. Rather than beholding itself to the past, it strides with confidence as it tells the tale of the titular group, brave heroes led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who gave the Rebellion hope.
As it moves into the finale in the battle of Scarif, Rogue One boldly sheds light on the brutal nature of Star Wars that we rarely get to see. It’s a sombre, tear-jerking final act that underscores the importance of the original trilogy’s efforts to defeat the tyrannical Empire while highlighting the cruelty of their regime. To top it off, Rogue One ends with a mesmerising display of raw power from Darth Vader that seamlessly blends into A New Hope.
2. Empire Strikes Back
Empire Strikes Back is a standout sequel that matches the witty optimism of its core trio with a wave of despair that spreads across the galaxy. After a first act that leaves our heroes scattered and the Rebellion in ruin, Luke meets the wise and weird Master Yoda (Frank Oz) on the swampy planet of Dagobah while romance blossoms between Han and Leia on their journey to Bespin. While these storylines offer plenty of the heart that you’d expect from Star Wars, they also separate the heroes and allow the villain to take centre stage.
Empire Strikes Back relishes the opportunity to let Darth Vader defeat the hopeful heroes, solidifying him as one of the most terrifying villains in cinematic history. This gives us a chance to understand the desperation of the Rebels and the fear that the Empire has spread throughout the galaxy, setting the stage for a triumphant finale in Return of the Jedi.
1. Revenge of the Sith
After two inferior entries in the prequel trilogy, hopes were low for the finale. However, Revenge of the Sith soars where its predecessors sank, telling the terrifying tale of a hero corrupted by power. While the original trilogy led us to believe that Luke could’ve become a sith lord, Revenge of the Sith shows his father, Anakin Skywalker, fall to the dark side in an intense, emotional, and energetic finale.
While Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Skywalker remains a bit wooden, Revenge of the Sith uses that as its greatest strength. It makes Anakin seem unhinged and ready to do anything to protect those he loves - even if that means dooming an entire galaxy. Ewan McGregor returns as Obi-Wan Kenobi to set the stage for an epic conclusion, as the pair grow apart and ultimately duel on the fiery rocks of Mustafar. It’s a raw, thrilling battle that perfectly portrays the pain and betrayal they both feel. While it provides a sombre ending to the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith expertly executes the most pivotal moment in Star Wars history.
Wondering how the Star Wars timeline works? We have a guide to help with that.