To read more on The Last Jedi, pick up Entertainment Weekly’s The Ultimate Guide to Star Wars, which features photos from the new film and takes a look back at the franchise through the years. Buy it on Amazon or the Time Inc Shop.
If you’re preparing for Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi with a marathon binge, you have a choice to make: what to watch first? Here are some paths you could pick.
RELEASE ORDER4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7
It’s how we met.
The original trilogy is where it all began. If it had not been as groundbreaking or inspiring, we would never have had prequels (or sequels). Unfortunately, while the action was fast-paced in 1977, it has aged; the attention span of today’s millennial audience may not be suited for the drawn-out scenes on Tatooine in A New Hope.
Under the age of 20? The Phantom Menace was your first.
And that’s the order that George Lucas intended the films to be viewed, stating that the prequels and the original trilogy is the story of just one man: Anakin Skywalker. While this order will spoil some of the surprises in the originals, the generation of kids that grew up on the candy-colored digital effects pioneered by Lucas will love the pod-racing.
Skip Phantom entirely.
Without Menace, the story is tighter, and the reveal for Luke’s parentage is maintained. Just one actor plays Anakin in the prequels (and thus there’s no creepy age difference between Portman and Lloyd). While you’ll miss that awesome lightsaber battle between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, it might be worth it to both avoid the introduction of midi-chlorians (Force bacteria!) and cut down Jar Jar to just five lines.
Start with Rogue One.
Not a fan of the prequels? If you want a story that better frames the Empire (and Vader) as bad guys, begin with Gareth Edwards’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which seamlessly fits directly before A New Hope. Bonus: Vader is terrifying.