With Solo: A Star Wars Story currently in theaters, Disney now has four movies, two TV shows, and several novels and comic books to boast in the Star Wars genre. Among the media, there are the two sequel saga movies, the two anthology films, four seasons of Star Wars Rebels, and the 13-episode final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Everyone loves to re-rank the Star Wars movies after each new addition to the franchise, and there are usually few surprises. Empire Strikes Back is the consensus No. 1, and anyone that disagrees is either a cop or a narc. But anyway, what about simply ranking the Disney additions to the franchise? Here is how I line them up.
No. 6: Season 6 of Clone Wars
For those that are unfamiliar with the story, Clone Wars was canceled when Lucasfilm was purchased by Disney in 2012. Later, the show was briefly resurrected for its sixth season, adding 13 new episodes to close things out.
The final season started a bit slow, with the first few episodes following a clone trooper named Tup. But eventually the final season of Clone Wars picked up the pace, even bringing back Liam Neeson to voice the Force ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn. Yoda goes on a spiritual journey that teaches him how to commune with those who have passed on, and he gets a taste of the evil that is to come. These final episodes of Clone Wars lead us directly into Revenge of the Sith.
The Yoda stuff is pretty cool, and it’s even better that they explained how the knowledge of Force ghosts came about. I mean, if Jedi could manifest themselves into apparitions, where were all those old, dead Jedi in the council meetings? Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin also look into the mysterious disappearance of Sifo-Dyas, which is a name you might remember hearing in Attack of the Clones.
On the downside, the season really does drag its feet at the start. There are also a few episodes in the middle that feature Jar Jar Binks, and any amount of Jar Jar is way too much. Season 6 of Clone Wars is last on the list, but still pretty solid.
No. 5: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Let’s first start out with the fact that I really enjoyed Solo. It lives up to its billing as a heist movie set in the Star Wars universe, but also is legitimately an origin movie for Han Solo. There are plenty of Easter eggs along the way, including references to obscure characters from canon – like Bossk and Aurra Sing – and small cameos from characters like Weazel (Warwick Davis reprising his role from The Phantom Menace) and Two-Tubes.
There is even one very large, unexpected character cameo, but considering that I didn’t put up a spoiler alert, we won’t get into that one and why it was really effin cool.
Donald Glover absolutely knocks it out of the park with his take on Lando Calrissian, and is one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie. The chemistry between Chewie and Han is solid, which isn’t always easy to do when one character doesn’t speak English and isn’t afforded the luxury of subtitles. The movie is a little by the numbers, but all in all it’s hard to watch Solo and not have a good time.
However, Solo ranks at the bottom of the list among the live-action movies. It’s the most unnecessary Star Wars movie since The Phantom Menace, and Alden Ehrenreich – while perfectly fine as an actor in Solo – completely fails to embody the tone, look, and mannerisms of Harrison Ford’s character.
Weirdly enough, despite placing it where it is, I also find Solo to probably be the most re-watchable of Disney’s Star Wars movies to date.
No. 4: The Last Jedi
Rian Johnson’s movie is probably the most polarizing piece of Star Wars media ever created. Some absolutely love it. Some hate it with a passion equal to the fire of 1,000 suns. Others simply find The Last Jedi to be a pretty mediocre movie, and that’s where I fall.
It’s not that it’s bad, per se. There is a lot to like, including Mark Hamill’s performance as the old, jaded Luke Skywalker, the really awesome scene with Yoda, and the final moments between Luke and Leia. The standoff between Skywalker and his lost padawan, Kylo Ren, is also very good and comes with a fun twist.
But killing off Luke at the very end, which was extremely avoidable as far as the story goes, was kind of a punch in the gut. The second act drags, Finn was mostly wasted after feeling so necessary to the story in The Force Awakens, and the character of Rose was not at all compelling.
The Last Jedi blew up the sequel trilogy and pressed the reset button two-thirds of the way through, painting Episode IX director J.J. Abrams into a difficult corner. It ranks at No. 4 for those reasons.
No. 3: The Force Awakens
For my money, there is a sizable gap between The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens on this list. Where The Last Jedi felt like letting the air out of a balloon, The Force Awakens felt like an exciting trip down memory lane. Abrams directed this first installment of the sequel trilogy, and while he may have stuck so close to the source material that it felt suspiciously like a reboot of A New Hope, he mostly hits the right notes.
The new characters, primarily Finn, Rey, Poe, Kylo Ren, and BB-8, are complex and interesting. Complaints could be – and have been, exhaustingly – made about Rey’s confounding ability to suddenly grasp her Force abilities without any training, whatsoever. But for the most part, The Force Awakens is a fun mix of the new and the old.
The movie also left viewers wanting more, exiting the theater wondering who the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke might actually be and how Rey’s family lineage might fit into all of this. After all, Star Wars is historically a story about family.
OK, those might not be the best examples of why The Force Awakens is good. But subtracting out the retroactive ramifications of The Last Jedi, it was an excellent way to reboot the franchise after being absent from movie theaters for 10 years.
No. 2: Star Wars Rebels
Star Wars fans that only go to the movies will probably be wondering how a cartoon on Disney XD might be ahead of the entirety of the sequel trilogy. It’s simple: Dave Filoni is a magician. The man behind Rebels does a great job creating interesting characters and peeling back layers as time goes on.
Ezra Bridger, in typical Star Wars tradition, has no love for the Empire after having lost his parents. He comes across Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi, and joins up with the crew of the Ghost to learn about the Force while running some rebellious side jobs in the meantime. What follows is not only the development of these new characters, but the development of the Rebel Alliance.
Rebels exists in the few years prior to A New Hope, which allows them to bring back a bunch of familiar characters. That includes some breathtaking moments with Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) in Season 2. Darth Maul makes appearances in the second and third seasons, while Ahsoka Tano and Grand Admiral Thrawn also play key roles. Even Emperor Palpatine himself (voiced by Ian McDiarmid) pops up in the final episodes of the series.
A whole lot of the official Star Wars canon is tied up in Rebels. I won’t get into spoilers because I’m guessing that many readers haven’t seen it, but Rebels is a freaking masterpiece of a show. You should check it out.
No. 1: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Some disagree, but Rogue One has to be the very best thing that Disney has done since buying Lucasfilm from George Lucas. The film takes place in just the days prior to A New Hope, but serves to add context to the movie that started the entire franchise. Sure, it has its problems. The characters don’t ever really get fleshed out in a meaningful way, but that only makes it easier to accept when literally all of them die.
The thing that makes Rogue One such a success is how it supplements the original trilogy. The first words in the original crawl of 1977’s Star Wars ended up being the basis for the entire movie, following the rebel spies that steal the Death Star plans. They pull it off and get away in what might be the most — or one of the most — edge-of-your-seat third acts in Star Wars history.
We see several characters from A New Hope along the way, including major players like Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. There are also small cameos, ranging from Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan to Princess Leia in the film’s final scene. The Battle of Scarif is one of the best space battles the franchise has to offer, and a major throwback to the original movies in several ways.
There are few short Star Wars marathons that are more satisfying than watching Rogue One and A New Hope back-to-back. Try it next time you have around five free hours.
Also, Darth Vader in the hallway. Mic drop.
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