(by Johnathan D. Kindall) It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan! With nearly a dozen live-action movies released and plenty more on the way, there’s never been a better moment to join thousands of fans around the world in following the story of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and a galaxy far, far away. With all the Star Wars content out there though, it can be hard to know where to start! Fans on the internet have conflicting opinions on the matter, and the whole debate can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to look. but worry no more; we’re here to help! Keep reading, and we’ll highlight all the can’t-miss Star Wars movies. We’ll also tell you the best order to watch them in and how you can watch alongside your friends with StreamParty!

How Can I Watch the Star WarsMovies With My Friends?

All Star Wars content—including movies, live-action miniseries, and animated shows—is available to watch on Disney + right now. If you want to watch with your friends and family in person, you need only to have a TV with Disney + access to do so. But what about watching with friends on the other side of the country? Or the world? Well, one choice is Stream Party, an awesome service that lets you watch your favorite shows with friends and family no matter where you are! Free to use, Stream Party lets you chat with your friends as you watch. It even  synchronizes the video so everyone sees the same thing! Services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, and YouTube are all supported as well, so text your friends, keep reading, and get ready to start your Star Wars binge today!

What Even Is Star Wars?

Starting in 1977 with a single science-fiction movie, Star Wars is now a pop-culture mega-franchise known worldwide. In the 42 years since the first film’s release, the universe and characters within it have become one of the biggest media franchises of all time, with the movie series alone making more than $10 billion. The Star Warsfranchise follows a number of characters, some with powerful skills and gifts, as they travel across the galaxy fighting for survival and good in a universe that’s nothing like our own.

Which Star Wars Film Is The Best?

As is the case with any major franchise, there are lots of debates within the Star Wars community as to which of the 11 films are the best. Ask any Star Warsfan, and they’re sure to have a ranking different from the person beside them. Because of that, there’s only one real way to determine which movies top the list — you’ve got to watch them all yourself!

That being said, there is a general consensus among most fans. The original trilogy (Episodes IV, V & VI) are considered by most to be best films in the Star Wars canon. These movies are all a piece of film history now, and Star Warsfans and movie buffs in general tend to regard the original three as untouchable in quality.

The same cannot be said for the prequel trilogy however. Even though filmmaking technology had improved quite by the early 2000s, many fans walked away from Episodes I, III, & IIIa bit disappointed. The internet has allowed the prequels to develop a bit of a cult following in recent years, but the consensus among critics and fans alike was that Episodes I, II & IIIfailed to match the heights of the classics.

Reception of Episodes VII, VII & IX, the most recent, Disney-produced Star Warsmovies, has been both positive and negative. Some find the newer filmsto be too derivative, while others find them too similar to something like the Marvel universe, and are worried that the steady stream of yearly releases is going to oversaturate the Star Wars market. Many fans are happy to have Star Wars back at all however, and the stories that these new movies tell are exciting, fresh, especially when they focus on new places and locations.

As is the case with the viewing order (which we’ll discuss below), which Star Wars movie is “best” is fairly subjective. In the end, it’s entirely up to you! Each of three trilogies have their own distinctive style and feel, so it’s a pretty safe bet that one of those styles will appeal to you more than the others. As you watch the Star Wars movies, consider writing down which ones you like and which ones you don’t care for. Maybe even keep a ranked list, so that you compare with your friends as you watch over Stream Party!

In What Order Should You Watch the Star WarsMovies?

In the last 42 years, there have been eleven live-action Star Wars feature movies released—nine in the main “Skywalker Saga” and two anthology films that connect to the wider universe. The first movie, Star Wars: A New Hope, was released in 1977 and the most recent, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, was released in 2019. If you’re new to Star Wars, you might think to just start with A New Hope and watch the films in the order they came out, right? Well, as many Star Wars fans will tell you, it’s not quite that simple.

A New Hope

When Star Wars: A New Hope was released 42 years ago in 1977, it was marketed simply as Star Wars, with no subtitle at all. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the new subtitle began to appear in releases of the film. Even then however, eagle-eyed fans noticed something rather strange. The subtitle read Episode IV: A New Hope. Had they somehow missed the first three movies? Were they supposed to know more about what was going on?

Not at all. George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars films, had, from the very beginning, planned Star Wars as an epic, multi-movie franchise, but when the cast and crew made the first film, no one knew if it would even be profitable. The idea that it would kickstart a billion dollar media franchise was even more preposterous. So, while Lucas was constantly writing scripts for what came before and what came next, he chose to make the movie he thought would be most appealing to audiences first.

You’ll notice references to a larger world all over the place in A New Hope. Things like The Clone Wars or the Jedi Order are regularly referenced, but the movie gives little to no context to what these things actually are. Instead, it throws the audience into the middle of the universe and lets them experience it all for themselves. This ensured that Star Wars: A New Hopewas a roaring success at the box office, but, more importantly, it set the stage for Lucas to later go back and add as much context as he wanted.

The Empire Strikes Back

A New Hope was followed up three years later by Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This film picked up soon after the events of the first film and continued the story of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the main characters of the first film. After another few years, Star WarsEpisode VI: Return of the Jediwas released in May of 1983.

16 years later, Lucas would return to Star WarsUniverse as director to make Episode I, subtitled The Phantom Menace. This film and the two that follow (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones& Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) tell the story of young Anakin Skywalker, and how he grew to become to be the villain we know and love. With these three movies, collectively referred to as the prequel trilogy, Lucas finally added the context he had planned from the very beginning.

However, after Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise for more than $4 billion in 2012, the media giant released three new movies, continuing the story without Lucas’s supervision. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalkerwere all released between 2015 and today. These films take place after the events of Return of the Jediand feature a number of new, younger characters—a new generation of galaxy-saving heroes for a new generation of moviegoers. They also feature Luke, Leia and Han Solo—the well-known heroes of the original films—but their roles are more supporting than starring.

But we still haven’t answered our question—what’s the best order to watch them?

Release Order or Chronological?

Among Star Warsfans, there are two main arguments for the order in which you should watch the Star Wars movies. On one side are fans who believe watching the films chronologically is the best, starting with Episode I and ending with Episode IX. Others think that the best way to watch is in release order, starting with A New Hope (1977)and ending with Rise of Skywalker(2019). Here are the pros and cons of both:

Chronological Order

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

This order follows the chronological timeline of when the movies are supposed to take place within the Star Wars universe. Starting with Episode I, fans who watch in chronological order will see Vader's origin story, followed by his fight against his own and the Galactic Rebellion. They will then finish with the recent Disney films. Rogue One and Soloare not essential in this order, but if you wish to include them they fall between Episodes IIIand IV.

When watched in this way, fans are able to see the full arc of Anakin Skywalker’s story—his rise, fall and subsequent redemption. There’s merit to this, as the prequels change the way in which one understands the original trilogy. Seeing the epic space opera in this manner makes it feel like the characters really grow and change on their journey, something that is harder to see when watching the films out of order.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks to watching chronologically. The first is that jumping from a film made in 2005 (Episode III)to a film made in 1977 (Episode IV) can be rather jarring, as the visual and special effects are noticeably worse. This is again apparent when moving from Episode VI to Episode VII. Worse than that though, watching the films in this order all but ensures that the mysteries of the original trilogy are spoiled before you can get to them, so this order probably isn’t best for total Star Warsnewbies. However, if you’re looking for a distinct beginning, middle and end to the Star Wars saga, chronological is the way to go.

Release Order

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

This is the order in which the films were released, and if you’re looking to experience the Star Warsuniverse in the same way that fans have since 1977, this is the order for you. If you’re watching with someone completely new to the franchise, release order is best, as this is arguably the way that George Lucas intended. It makes sure that the franchise’s biggest twists and turns are not spoiled for new viewers, and it keeps viewers from having to jump between old and new visual styles. In this structure, the two anthology films can again be skipped.

So Which Order Should I Pick?

The answer is that it depends! There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, despite what fans on the internet might tell you. In fact, these aren’t even the only two ways to watch! If you’re curious, “The Machete Order” positions the prequels as flashbacks of sorts, and even skips certain movies altogether.

If you’ve never seen the films before, or if you’re watching them with a friend completely new to the Star Wars universe, release order is likely best, if for no other reason than to see the look on their face when it’s revealed who Darth Vader really is. If you’ve seen the films through one way though, perhaps try watching them the other way next time you view!. In the end, it’s all up to you! Either way, now that you know the pros and cons of both methods, you can talk with your friends, send them a Stream Partylink, and start your marathon today!