The question: In what order do you consume your Star Wars?
Lee: This has the potential to be a contentious question! But I’ll start us off.
My relationship with Star Wars began with the Prequel Trilogy. I was a little brown haired girl, maybe ten years old, and once I saw Padmé my fate was sealed. She was, and is, the nexus around which my love of Star Wars is centered.
Combine that idolization of Padmé Amidala with a bit of OCD and you have the perfect storm for a staunch follower of the chronological watch order. So much so that a couple of years back I jumped head first into making the ultimate chronological list of canon material (books, comics, animated tv, and movies) using the Wookieepedia chronological order page. There are issues with this that even my OCD brain could not reconcile (namely: the comics have a lot of non-linear storylines and I get heart palpitations anytime I think about trying to decide where a comic series goes in my list—in its entirety, because I cannot break up a series *eye twitch*). So I ultimately abandoned that quest and settled on my preferred method of watching—which goes 1, 2, Clone Wars (in chronological order), 3, Rebels, Solo, Rogue One, 4, 5, 6, The Mandalorian, 7, 8, 9.
I often drop the animated series from my list when I want a movie marathon. But I have done a full watch of the entire TV/Movie universe (pre The Mandalorian). It took me about 8 months of watching with all the animated episodes (don’t get me started on Clone Wars release order… that’s a story for another day). But honestly, my order is only the best for me and my horrific brain chemistry.
Now how do you watch, Elena?
Elena: I grew up watching the movies as well as all the series as they were made, so in order of release. I would occasionally revisit the original three movies from time to time, not giving much thought to sequential order. Then we were lucky enough to get a final three, and two fillers Rogue One and Solo, along with the Rebels series, and now The Mandalorian, what a dream! This is what made me start thinking about watch order and how great it would be and interesting to go through the journey as it actually happened!
So watching them as they came out was exciting because you got to go back and learn in the prequel‘s what happened and how Anakin became Vader so yeah that it was mysterious in a way. Now that I’m going back and re-watching in actual bby order it is actually quite interesting to see it unfold in the manner it actually happened, almost a historical view and I’m enjoying it quite well, although while watching clone wars, in the very last episode of the last season of clone wars, it overlaps with episode six, and if you time it right you can go back and forth and watch it as it is occurring, which is actually quite interesting same with rebels that very last episode if you cut it off before Sabine starts talking and Ahsoka arrives you have to watch episodes one through three before you can watch that very last scene and it makes more sense it’s just very interesting in historical order.
Lee: Thanks Elena! And Anna, how about you, what’s your method?
Anna: I also grew up watching The Original Trilogy. One of my first memories is the trash compactor scene in A New Hope. I look at watching order depending on the situation. For a first time watcher who wants to see the Skywalker saga, I always suggest starting 456 then 123, then 789, with Solo and Rogue One optional. I do strongly suggest Rogue One, as it’s one of my favorite movies.
My nephew is coming to the age where we’re probably going to watch them soon. We talk about Star Wars a lot. He loves Darth Maul (because yay Darth Maul!). We’ve watched The Mandalorian together. We watch videos on YouTube of great lightsaber battles. He asks about things like how tall Darth Vader is (he’s really into the dark side). My big thing with kids is that I never want to spoil that Vader is Anakin. So for kids I’m more likely to do something akin to Machete Order. So, 4,5,1,2,3,6,R1, Solo,7,8,9. Then we can get into Rebels and Clone Wars, or take a divergence if there is something he’s really into.
I watch a little differently. Generally, if I’m going to watch a bunch of them for fun, I’ll go 3, R1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, then take it back for Solo. Now I would probably include The Phantom Menace because I freaking ADORE Qui-Gon Jinn after reading Master and Apprentice.
Lee: Have fun watching with your nephew, Anna! It’s always great to see how kids connect with Star Wars.
Now last but not least, Emilia. What’s your favorite watch order?
Emilia: Star Wars for me has been a slow burn. I was familiar with the original trilogy as a kid, although not extensively. My appreciation for the series grew with the prequels, as a teenager in high school in awe of the special effects on the big screen and particularly with The Phantom Menace how much it reminded me of books with lovely artwork my mother had – Dinotopia. By the time the Sequel Trilogy was starting, I was fully invested enough to give it proper preparation with a complete marathon.
At the recommendation of a review we read online, a friend and I watched all the movies up to that point in machete order, including Phantom Menace (IV, V, I, II, III, VI) and we loved that dynamic. My friend had a theater room, and we enjoyed watching A New Hope first just as the original fans were introduced to the series upon its release, appreciating what the story gave us…as well as the questions it left to be answered. The backtracking through the prequels was appropriate after The Empire Strikes Back since we have some of the questions now answered at this point, but we the viewers want to know how those answers came to be. By the time we finished Return of the Jedi, we had about an hour to get to the theater to watch The Force Awakens, and we felt fully prepared.
I will note though that while I prefer the machete order for first time watchers, I think once they’ve been watched and the larger story has been revealed, it can be helpful to watch them in chronological order. I did this with my family prior to the release of Rise of Skywalker to avoid any confusion of what happened and when. It didn’t ruin any spoilers of the Skywalker bloodline since we had all seen the movies already. It just added more timeline clarity to what was already known.
Lee: So really, I think what we’ve determined here is that there’s no hard and fast rule for watching the series. It’s really a personal experience to chose how you watch the films and that’s such a unique aspect to our fandom.
And, honestly, I think that’s wonderful.
I guess all that’s left is to ask: What are you watching next?