Note: There is a lot more history in terms of the titles and business aspects of Star Wars that I won’t be touching on in this article. This is the simplified version. This piece isn’t for Jedi Masters but for younglings who are curious about the ways of the force. 

So, you’ve been hearing about this “Star Wars” thingy a lot. It seems like everyone is talking about it. Some are saying it’s the new definition of Christmas, while others are claiming it’s THE event of the year. You probably even have a couple of friends who just won’t stop tweeting about how it moved them or changed their life or heck, saved their life. But you… you just have no idea what’s going on. Or for that matter, why people worship this franchise like it’s God’s finest gift to mankind.

You would like to give it a shot, but you just don’t know where to begin. Everything seems so confusing. There’s like 234 different movies. Sequels, prequels, originals, special editions…. WHAAAATTTT? Wait… why is episode IV, V and VI released before episode I, II, and III? And why are there movies with no episode numbers?

Don’t worry young padawan. Show you the way of the force, I will.

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For starters, there are NINE Star Wars movies that have hit cinemas, thus far, including “The Last Jedi” which is out in cinemas right now. Eight of them are a part of the main saga and one, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is part of the new anthology series — in simple terms, spinoffs.

The first movie was released way back in 1977. At the time, it was simply titled “Star Wars”. The sequel, which was released in 1980, was titled “Empire Strikes Back”. And the sequel to that, released three years later in 1983, was titled, “Return of the Jedi”. These three movies centre around Luke Skywalker and the rebellion going up against Darth Vader, Darth Sidious, and the Galactic Empire — space Nazis.

Many years later, George Lucas (the Colonel Sanders of Star Wars) decided to work on another trilogy, this time detailing the origins of Darth Vader. This trilogy hit the big screens in the late 90s and early 2000s, but first George Lucas decided to make some changes to the titles (among others) of the already released films. He wanted to standardize everything so that generations to come would have an easier time comprehending the sequence of films.

Original Title New Title
Star Wars Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Empire Strikes Back Star Wars: Episode V – Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

The next Star Wars trilogy, released in 1999, 2002 and 2005, followed the new standardized titles. They’re called, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace”, “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones”, and “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith”. These movies focus on how Darth Vader came to be, as well as the rise of the Galactic Empire. They’re collectively known as the PREQUEL TRILOGY.

And that is why Episodes IV, V, and VI came before I, II, and III.

In 2012, Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas for a whopping $US 4 billion.

In 2015, 10 years after the conclusion of the PREQUEL TRILOGY, a NEW Star Wars trilogy was launched with “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens”. This is not a reboot nor a remake, but is set 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi”. The Star Wars movie that hit cinemas yesterday, titled “Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi” picks up immediately where “The Force Awakens” lets off. And in 2019, we will get the culmination of this new trilogy in the currently untitled “Episode IX”. This trilogy focuses on (mostly) new characters and a fresh storyline, with popular characters from the original trilogy returning in supporting roles.

But there was another Star Wars film that came out last year. What is that about?

That movie, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is the first movie in the new ANTHOLOGY SERIES. Which is basically spinoffs and side stories. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” centres around the soldiers of the Rebellion. It fits in between “Episode III” and “Episode IV”. In 2018, we will be getting the second of the anthology series, titled “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, a movie about young Han Solo.

So, now that you know the briefest history of Star Wars and its complicated titles, where do you begin? First, accept the lightsaber from Maz Kanata. It calls to you. I know you can feel it.

If you’ve accepted the lightsaber from Maz, here are few different ways you can jump on board the Millenium Falcon and go on this Star Wars adventure with us.

1) The Godlike way

First, you have to watch all the movies in its order of release (though, you can watch “Rogue One” before “The Force Awakens”). The reason you should watch the movies in its order of release is to not spoil the big twist that happens in “Empire Strikes Back”, for yourself.

Not only that, you also have to watch all the canonical animated shows and movies, which includes “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels”. But don’t forget about the books, comics, and video games too.

This is what it takes to be a true Jedi master.

But if you’re reading this article, chances are, you’re not going to use this method.

2) The almost-Godlike way

This is exactly like the first method, except you don’t watch the movies in its order of release, but instead watch it in its proper sequence: I, II, III, Rogue One, IV, V, VI, VII… This is a great way to watch the movies if you’re already a fan who is familiar with the lore. But if you’re a clean slate, watching it this way will definitely ruin the big “Empire Strikes Back” twist.  But to be fair, 9Gag has probably already ruined that twist for you.

You’re probably not going to use this way, either.

3) The still pretty awesome way

You’re not interested in video games, books, and animated stuff. You just want to focus on the movies. That’s pretty awesome too. In fact, most fans of Star Wars fall into this category. Just watch all the movies, either in its order of release (preferred) or proper sequence, as mentioned in number 1 and 2 and you’re good to go.

The only downside to this method is that you won’t have complete knowledge and understanding of the deeper lore.

4) The shortcut way

Welcome to the dark side.

You’re not exactly lazy, you’re just running out of time (I don’t believe you, but let’s just assume you’re telling the truth). You want to watch “The Last Jedi” with your Star Wars buddies this weekend, but you don’t know jack shit. If that’s the case, then you might need a shortcut.

The good news is, while all the Star Wars movies are interconnected, the threads in between each trilogy are thin. Watch the ORIGINAL TRILOGY (IV, V, VI) and then watch “VII – The Force Awakens” and quickly book your tickets to “VIII – The Last Jedi”. You’ll have sufficient knowledge with you and be familiar with the old characters and the new.

Once you’re done watching “The Last Jedi”, you can run home and watch the PREQUEL TRILOGY and the ANTHOLOGY SERIES.

5) The “har? Star Wars sounds like a lot of f**king work” way

You’re a piece of trash. A dark side loving scum of the earth. Your father probably idolized Darth Sidious. Heck, your father probably IS Darth Sidious. Many might consider you unsavable or too far gone. Mace Windu might warn me against it, but I think there is still some hope left. You can be trained in the ways of the force… slowly. Maybe.

Just watch “VII – The Force Awakens” and head to the cinemas to catch “VIII – The Last Jedi”. You’ll still understand the story completely, but you wouldn’t be very familiar with the backstories of the characters from the ORIGINAL TRILOGY. As a result, you most likely will not comprehend why your Star Wars buddies are beaming like they’re witnessing the rebirth of Jesus Christ right in front of their eyes, nor will you understand why they’re crying like their pet cat died.

But regardless if you’ve watched the past movies or not, “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” is brilliant in every regard. It is a movie you should not miss. Whichever method you choose to use, I urge you to pay top dollar and watch this masterpiece in cinemas. It is an experience you do not want to miss.

May the force be with you!

Also, be sure to check out my review of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” here.