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'Star Wars' Movie Timeline for Beginners

While at times complex, the 'Star Wars' movie timeline for beginners is crucial to decoding it's universe.

George Lucas’ Star Wars saga may be the most popular form of media in this galaxy. With a huge fandom, and vastly populated world, there are so many stories that can be told in the Stars Wars universe. Getting its start in 1977, the saga has survived the test of time, continuing to produce successful feature films that have been like an heirloom in some families, passed down from generation to generation, thus people are always in need of a Star Wars movie timeline for beginners. Beginning with A New Hope and hitting the box office most recently with The Force Awakens, the Star Wars movie timeline for beginners is imperative for new fans of the saga to understand. So let’s look at the main seven: the Star Wars saga, and start exactly where Lucas did, in the middle.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

A New Hope is the true beginning of Star Wars, everything you know, and love about the saga was born here in the 1977 film on the Star Wars movie timeline for beginners. It’s the story of Luke Skywalker, a frustrated teenager on the backwater planet of Tatooine. Thirsting for adventure, Luke comes across two droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, who possess a mysterious distress call from Princess Leia. With the help of Obi Wan Kenobi, a Jedi knight who trained Luke’s father, and the roguish smugglers Han Solo, and Chewbacca, Luke must take on the dreaded Empire, and it’s terrifying leader Darth Vader, to rescue Princess Leia from the planet destroying space station, the Death Star.

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Cushing, Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones, and Alec Guinness

Cool Facts: In the original script, R2-D2 had a foul mouth. While the dialogue was cut, C-3PO’s reactions stayed in the finished version.

Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford had a lot of respect for Alec Guinness, if the legendary thespian was on set, the actors would act professional, when he wasn’t they would be more likely to fool around.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, Darth Vader, and the Empire, is in a vengeful mood as he leads a galaxy-wide manhunt for Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance. Luke, after a near death experience on the planet Hoth, travels to the Dagobah system to learn the ways of the Jedi from Jedi Master, Yoda. After separating from Luke in Hoth, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are pursed by the Empire: braving asteroid fields, bounty hunters, and the Cloud City before Vader catches up to them. The Empire Strikes Back is the crown jewel of the franchise for many fans. With a darker story than others on the Star Wars movie timeline for beginners, characters that are comfortingly familiar, and one of the series best lightsaber battles between Luke, and Vader, George Lucas set the standard for blockbuster sequels.

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Billy Dee Williams, Frank Oz, Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones, and Alec Guinness

Cool Facts: Poor Mark Hamill had to bang his head on Yoda’s ceiling 16 times before the director was happy with the shot.

To achieve the effect of Luke Force-pulling his lightsaber to himself, Mark Hamill threw it away so the sequence was filmed backwards.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The conclusion to the Original Trilogy of the Star Wars movie timeline for beginners is a great, but flawed, movie to many fans. After Empire’s cliff hanger ending, Luke and Leia plot to save Han from the crime lord, Jabba the Hutt. After Han’s rescue, the rebels are alerted to the construction of another Death Star. In order to destroy it, Darth Vader, and his Jedi Master Emperor Palpatine, the rebels must reach the Forrest moon of Endor, take out the power station that controls the shields, so their fleet, led by the reformed Lando Calrissian, can mount an attack from space. Luke is conflicted after the previous film’s revelation that Darth Vader is his, and Leia’s father. Luke chooses to try and save Vader, leading to an epic showdown between father and son.

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Billy Dee Williams, Frank Oz, Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones, Ian McDiarmid and Alec Guinness

Cool Facts: Fake scripts were leaked to crew members who were thought to perhaps leak information. In one of the fake scripts it states that it’s Lando who is the rebels last hope making him a Jedi.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 

In the lists of many Star Wars fans, the prequel trilogy is at the bottom end in terms of quality. While they can’t compete with the original films, the prequel trilogy has its own merits, and forms a pivotal part of the whole Star Wars story.

Set thirty-two years before A New Hope, The Phantom Menace is the first of the prequel trilogy charting the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader on the Star Wars movie timeline for beginners. Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jin, and his apprentice Obi Wan Kenobi, are tasked with protecting Queen Amidala, who is marked for death by the Sith lord Darth Sidious. The Jedi must battle Sidious’ apprentice, the highly dangerous Darth Maul, as well as care for a young boy named Anakin Skywalker, a child who is strong with the force.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August and Frank Oz

Cool Facts: Ewan McGregor had a habit of making lightsaber noises during fight scenes, which had to be edited out in post-production.

After the film's end credits, you can distinctly hear the unmistakable breathing of Darth Vader, a little tease for things to come.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones 

Ten years after The Phantom Menace on the Star Wars movie timeline for beginners, Jedi Master Obi Wan, and his new apprentice Anakin Skywalker, must battle the former Jedi Count Dooku who is the leader of the Separatists, and is intent on causing a galactic civil war. In the midst of this, Anakin and Senator Amidala become romantically involved after the senator’s life is threatened. Having to keep their love a secret, Anakin, and Padmae must battle to keep peace while Obi Wan investigates discovers a new threat to the Galactic Republic.

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Temuera Morrison, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Frank Oz

Cool Facts: Samuel L. Jackson brought his own unique flavor to the character of Mace Windu, as he has the words “bad mother-f*cker" engraved on his lightsaber.

In the Star Wars canon, Count Dooku paid the Tusken Raiders to kidnap Anakin’s mother, on the orders of Darth Sidious.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

The conclusion of the prequel trilogy sees Obi Wan, Anakin, and Padme, in the midst of the clone wars, with Jedi knights spread across the galaxy battling the Separatists. After the death of Count Dooku at the hands of Anakin, Obi Wan is sent to eliminate General Grievous. Meanwhile Anakin becomes close with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who is really Darth Sidious. Palpatine manipulates Anakin with promises of Padme, and their unborn child’s, safety. This causes Anakin to turn on the Jedi Order, killing his former allies culminating in an epic battle with Obi Wan, and Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader. Revenge of the Sith is widely regarded as the best of the prequel trilogy, and its reputation has grown in some parts of the fan base.

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Frank Oz

Cool Facts: Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, trained for months, fencing, and learning complex choreography for their lightsabre battle.

The volcanic world of Mustafar, in which this battle took place, is actually designed as George Lucas’ version of hell.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens may have already taken many fans top spots in their Star Wars favorites list. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the ultra-successful franchise re-starter has guaranteed Stars Wars’ popularity for years to come.

Thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi on the Star Wars movie timeline beginners, Luke Skywalker has vanished. The Rebels, led by General Leia, have sent their best pilot, Poe Dameron, to collect coordinates from the planet Jakku. The strengthened Empire send Sith-lord Kylo Ren, who was taught by Luke, who he then betrayed, to capture Dameron. Thanks to Finn, a rogue Stormtrooper, he and Poe escape only to be shot out of the sky landing back in Jakku. Separated Finn then meets Rey, a scavenger who can talk to robots and fly anything, including the Millennium Falcon. With the help of Han Solo, Finn, Rey, and Dameron’s droid BB-8 search for Luke, as well as trying to evade Kylo Ren.

Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow

Fun Facts: Harrison Ford’s reply when asked if he’s the real Han Solo: “I used to be...” is the answer he has been giving fans for years.

It’s also the first time that a non-Jedi character has been billed first in the credits. This time the honor goes to Harrison Ford.

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