The New Order: How to Marathon the Star Wars films from The Phantom Menace to The Rise of Skywalker

You’ve likely heard of the ‘Machete order‘ of which to marathon the Star Wars films (IV, V, II, III, VI) designed to make the franchise more palatable as a whole, now in 2020 with five more Star Wars films a part of the franchise, the Machete order still (kind of) works, but there’s a much better way to rearrange your Star Wars watchlist. Through ten films in two parts, the sagas of Rebellion and the Force, prepare to rediscover a galaxy far, far away. So strap yourselves in and get ready to punch it as I guide you through: the New Order.

(If you don’t want spoilers, then blast shields down)

• 1) Rogue One (beginning of the ‘Saga of Rebellion‘)

The first of the ill-fated ‘Star Wars Spin-offs’ that literally no one asked for, and yet, Rogue One proved to be something of a hit, simultaneously re-capturing a sense of the ‘old Star Wars’ and capturing a new and exciting ‘grittier’ vibe, the standalone feature greatly enhances the Rebellion lore of A New Hope by treading through the story of the renegades that stole the plans to the first dreaded Death Star. Not only does R1’s end connect seamlessly with ANH’s beginning, it also gives weight to Vader’s first appearance and the Luke’s desire to join the cause.

• 2) A New Hope

Where it all began in 1977 and now a perfect sequel to R1’s prequel, we follow on Leia’s search for hope and see the Rebellion’s first major victory that started with Jyn Erso succeed at the hands of farm boy turned rebel Luke Skywalker.

• 3) Solo

For our first flashback we travel back before the events of R1 to learn more the enigmatic smuggler Han Solo and the path that led him to become the character we all instantly fell in love with. Although the least well received of all the Disney-era Star Wars films, Solo is a fun and engaging adventure that gives more depth to Han as a character and adds a fun tinge of recognition to Han’s reunion with Lando in The Empire Strikes Back.

• 4) The Empire Strikes Back

Picking up where ANH left off, the Rebels are now on the back-foot as they try to find sanctuary from the obsessively deranged Vader, intent on finding Skywalker and crushing the rest of the Rebellion. This is the first film that put the franchise at a real crossroads and is at the heart of all that Star Wars has and continues to represent. This is the strongest chapter in the saga of Rebellion.

• 5) Return of the Jedi (end of the ‘Saga of Rebellion‘)

The last chapter in the saga of Rebellion is weaker than TESB, but is still of great importance, Luke, now a Jedi Knight, puts himself on a path to redeem Vader, Leia continues to be the inspiring voice behind Rebel forces and Han realises there’s more to the Force than just simple tricks and nonsense. The Rebellion is afforded a final victory as the reign of the Empire ends.

• 6) The Force Awakens (beginning of the ‘Saga of the Force‘)

Thirty years after Anakin Skywalker restored a ‘balance’ to the galaxy after destroying Darth Sidious and dying in the arms of his son Luke, there is a new awakening in the Force. The light and dark sides of the Force have reached an opposing level of power, focused within just two individuals. As Rey and Kylo Ren’s worlds collide they find themselves on paths to shape the galaxy’s future. Ending infamously with Rey finding a self-exiled (and rather quiet) Luke Skywalker.

• 7) The Last Jedi

Picking up right where TFA left off, Leia’s Resistance’s victory against Starkiller Base is short-lived as the First Order are in fast pursuit, looming over the remnants of her forces. Both Rey and Ren have their faiths shaken as Ren feels an overwhelming call to the light side, and Rey to the dark. Ren is desperate to move on from the past, to let it die, but Luke insists Rey learn from the past, to recognise the mistakes made by the Jedi of old. Just like TESB, this is the strongest chapter in the Saga of the Force, and the biggest turning point for characters new and old.

• 8) The Phantom Menace

Our second flashback takes us 66 years before the events of TLJ to the beginning of Anakin Skywalker’s (Ren’s grandfather) journey to become a Jedi. This also chronicles the beginning of the fall of the Jedi Order and the Grand Republic, as told to Rey by Luke on Ahch To. The Phantom Menace may be hated on a lot, but is also an important first step in the journey of the Force through the franchise, and on a practical level was absolutely groundbreaking.

• 9) Revenge of the Sith

‘What about Attack of the Clones?’ Compared to Revenge of the Sith, AOTC doesn’t push the story anywhere near as far it could, despite showing a gradual descent of Anakin towards the dark, the film is the most aimless of the franchise overall, and I think you can rest easy if you don’t watch this one, so instead jump forward to ROTS, see the Emperor’s grand plan first take effect. Anakin is now grown up, the Jedi Order is on the brink of collapse and the rise of Darth Vader has begun.

• 10) The Rise of Skywalker (end of the ‘Saga of the Force‘)

Back to present time, and now we’ve seen where the Jedi went wrong and how Ren’s grandfather and inspiration fully fell to the dark side, will Ren follow in parallel? Will Rey be able to finally connect completely to the Force? And we finally get to see the end of Sidious’ decades-long plan to rule over the galaxy. Of course The Rise of Skywalker has been poked at every which way by fans, but it brings a nice closure to the journey of the Force through the Skywalker lineage.

Hopefully the New Order has given you something to think about and a new and fun way to revisit the saga during the upcoming Holidays.