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It’s one of the more controversial film debates of all time. How should a young viewer first travel to a galaxy far, far away?
Do you start with 1977’s A New Hope and just watch the movies as they were released in theaters? Or perhaps chronologically from The Phantom Menace on (even if that means risking prequel boredom)? There are arguments for both sides, but it doesn’t end there. Heat Vision has surveyed a number of fans to break it down.
Theatrical release order (IV, V, IV, I,II,III, VII, Rogue One, VIII)
This is the most popular option, with people pointing out that beginning with Episode I would kill part of the experience.
“Showing them in chronological order would ruin the greatest twist in film history: I am your father” says blogger and podcaster Blake Larsen, who has shown the film to his son this way.
There of course, is a risk of spoilers. Only the youngest of children will not have heard through the pop culture grapevine that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.
“Kids grow up knowing Darth Vader is Luke’s father.” said Star Wars superfan father Adam Friedlander, “It’s engrained in pop culture as common knowledge. If I can somehow keep that massive spoiler a secret from my daughter, I’d go original release order. It hinges on that because it’s such a huge revelation in the saga and I wouldn’t want to take away from it.”
In chronological order (I, II, III, Rogue One, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII)
While this order takes away the surprise reveal that Vader is Luke’s father, it recreates new ones that one wouldn’t expect. In this order, Senator/Chancellor Palpatine being Darth Sidious becomes a plot twist, as is Anakin’s turn to the dark side. A down side to this order is that there is a serious lack of story in the prequel trilogy, as it’s all basically a setup for the original trilogy. If attention span is a potential issue, this can be pretty boring, notes THR‘s Kimberly Nordyke, whose son Braden watched the movies in the order of theatrical release, and has published reviews of Empire and Return of the Jedi.
“He was truly bored during parts of Episodes I, II and III — he just wanted to see how Darth Vader turned to the dark side,” says Nordyke. “There is really no reason to watch the prequels if you don’t know the story of Darth Vader and Luke and Leia. If the prequels had been Braden’s introduction to the Star Wars universe, I don’t think he would have stuck with those movies.”
And for some, maybe the prequels should be skipped altogether.
“The prequels are only necessary when a padawan starts to ask “How did Darth Vader get like that?” says Preacher and Better Call Saul actress Julie Ann Emery, who has shown her nieces and nephews the films in theatrical release order.
Machete order (IV, V, II, III, VI, VII, VIII)
First introduced by a fan in 2011, this order takes all the twists described above and attempts to preserve them, but also cuts The Phantom Menace. After the reveal that Darth Vader is the father of Luke, we get a two-movie backstory on how that came to be. The Emperor is seldom seen in A New Hope and Empire, so his turn at the end of Revenge of the Sith would still likely surprise the viewer. Someone could also run an updated variant on this that include Rogue One as the first entry.
After these three main orders, there are all sorts of insane orders people have argued for. Some skip certain movies altogether and some mix the movies up in a nonsensical way. The debate rages on, and everyone will find their own way through them. But perhaps its time to worry less about how and instead just sit down and press play.
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