The Star Wars saga has been captivating audiences for over four decades, with its epic space battles, iconic characters, and timeless themes of good vs. evil. With so many films in the franchise, it can be hard to know where to start or which ones to prioritize. That’s why understanding how the Star Wars movies rank can be crucial for fans and newcomers alike. Whether you’re a die-hard fan looking to revisit the classics or a casual viewer seeking a jumping-off point, knowing which films are the most beloved can help guide your viewing experience and deepen your appreciation for this beloved franchise.
Below is a list of how all of the Star Wars currently rank according to Rotten Tomatoes (RT) and Metacritic.
#1: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – RT: 94%, Metacritic: 82%
Plot Summary: After the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance is forced to flee their base on the ice planet of Hoth. Luke Skywalker travels to the planet Dagobah to train with Jedi Master Yoda, while Han Solo and Princess Leia are pursued by the Imperial fleet. Meanwhile, Darth Vader continues his search for Luke, hoping to turn him to the dark side of the Force.
Audience Consensus: Widely regarded as the best Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back is a masterpiece of sci-fi storytelling. The film’s iconic twist ending and emotionally charged climax have left an indelible mark on pop culture.
#2: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) – RT: 93%, Metacritic: 90%
Plot Summary: In a galaxy far, far away, a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker dreams of adventure beyond his mundane life on the desert planet of Tatooine. When he discovers a message hidden in a droid, he is drawn into a rebellion against the evil Empire, with the help of a rogue smuggler and a wise old Jedi.
Audience Consensus: The film that started it all, A New Hope is a classic space adventure that still holds up today. Its iconic characters, thrilling action, and epic soundtrack have captured the hearts of audiences for over four decades.
#3: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) – RT: 93%, Metacritic: 80%
Plot Summary: Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens introduces a new generation of heroes, including scavenger Rey, rogue Stormtrooper Finn, and X-wing pilot Poe Dameron. Together, they must confront the rising threat of the First Order and its leader, Kylo Ren.
Audience Consensus: With a return to the classic Star Wars formula and a fresh new cast, The Force Awakens revitalized the franchise for a new generation. Its mix of nostalgia and new characters delighted both old and new fans.
#4: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) – RT: 84%, Metacritic: 65%
Plot Summary: Set just before the events of A New Hope, Rogue One follows a group of rebels as they attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star, a superweapon capable of destroying entire planets.
Audience Consensus: A bold and gritty departure from the typical Star Wars formula, Rogue One tells a thrilling tale of sacrifice and heroism. Its darker tone and emphasis on war make it a standout in the franchise.
#5: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) – RT: 82%, Metacritic: 58%
Plot Summary: Luke, Han, and Leia lead a mission to rescue Han from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, while the Rebel Alliance prepares to launch a final assault on the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star II.
Audience Consensus: While it suffers from a weaker plot and some questionable creative choices, Return of the Jedi still delivers plenty of thrilling action and satisfying closure for the original trilogy’s beloved characters.
#6: Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) – RT: 91%, Metacritic: 84%
Plot Summary: Rey seeks to learn the ways of the Force from a reclusive Luke Skywalker, while the Resistance struggles to fend off the First Order’s relentless pursuit. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren grapples with his conflicted loyalties and the legacy of his family’s dark past.
Audience Consensus: The Last Jedi divided fans with its subversion of expectations and bold storytelling choices. Some praised its themes of failure and redemption, while others criticized its treatment of beloved characters and plot inconsistencies.
#7: Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) – RT: 80%, Metacritic: 68%
Plot Summary: As the Clone Wars draw to a close, Anakin Skywalker is seduced by the dark side of the Force and becomes the evil Darth Vader. Meanwhile, the Galactic Republic falls and the Jedi Order is nearly wiped out.
Audience Consensus: While it suffers from clunky dialogue and some wooden performances, Revenge of the Sith is a visually stunning and emotionally charged conclusion to the prequel trilogy. Its tragic portrayal of Anakin’s fall from grace resonates with fans.
#8: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – RT: 70%, Metacritic: 62%
Plot Summary: The film follows a young Han Solo as he teams up with a group of criminals to pull off a dangerous heist. Along the way, he meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious smuggler Lando Calrissian.
Audience Consensus: While it may not be the most memorable or necessary entry in the Star Wars canon, Solo: A Star Wars Story is still an enjoyable adventure with charming performances and thrilling action. Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of a young Han Solo is a highlight, and the film’s nods to classic Star Wars lore will please fans.
#9: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) – RT: 65%, Metacritic: 54%
Plot Summary: Ten years after the events of The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker is now a Jedi Padawan tasked with protecting Senator Amidala from assassination attempts. As he investigates the plot, he begins to fall in love with Amidala and grapples with the temptations of the dark side.
Audience Consensus: Despite its improved action sequences and introduction of key characters, Attack of the Clones is often cited as one of the weaker entries in the franchise. Its stilted romance and clunky dialogue detract from the overall experience.
#10: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) – RT: 53%, Metacritic: 51%
Plot Summary: Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to negotiate a treaty between the Trade Federation and the planet of Naboo. Along the way, they discover a young boy named Anakin Skywalker, who may be the chosen one who will bring balance to the Force.
Audience Consensus: While it introduced some iconic characters and memorable moments, The Phantom Menace is widely considered a disappointment compared to the original trilogy. Its overuse of CGI and convoluted plot have earned it a mixed reputation among fans.
#11: Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – RT: 52%, Metacritic: 54%
Plot Summary: The remnants of the Resistance face their final battle against the First Order, while Rey grapples with her true identity and the return of an old enemy.
Audience Consensus: The Rise of Skywalker attempted to tie up the loose ends of the sequel trilogy, but its rushed pacing and reliance on fan service left many fans unsatisfied. Its muddled plot and lack of cohesion with the rest of the trilogy make it a disappointing conclusion to the Skywalker saga.
Overall, the Star Wars franchise has had its ups and downs, but there’s no denying the impact it has had on popular culture. From the original trilogy’s groundbreaking special effects to the sequel trilogy’s diverse new cast, Star Wars continues to capture the imagination of audiences young and old.
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