Star Wars is a series of American epic space opera media franchises. The first film in the series, Star Wars, was released on May 25, 1977.
The film became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. This success led to two sequels, released at three-year intervals. Each sequel film has been followed by a set of spin-off films, taking place in the same continuity as the main film series.
The first seven films constitute the original Star Wars trilogy, widely considered one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history. The three prequel films, also written by Lucas, are also often cited among the best of all time and together have brought blockbuster movies to a new level of prominence and box office success. Officially licensed through the Star Wars Legends brand, other stories have been released in different media or as supplemental material to existing films.
The Massive Popularity of Star Wars Films
Star Wars films have garnered twenty-two Academy Awards and four hundred thirty-one nominations.
The films received awards with a total of eight Special Achievement Academy Awards. Tied with Harry Potter film series for most awards won by a film franchise to date. Together, the Star Wars sequel trilogy is one of the most critically acclaimed film series of all time. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that all the Star Wars films combined have a 96% approval rating.
List of Star Wars films
This is the list of all officially released films in the Star Wars franchise.
Several other works are set in the Star Wars universe but not considered part of the official canon. These are categorized as “Star Wars Legends”.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
This is the first film in the series of Star Wars films. It was on May 25, 1977, when they released the movie. George Lucas directed the movie, and Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan write the story. The story takes place in a fictional galaxy where Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are trying to save the Universe from the evil forces of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.
The film became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. This success led to follow-up films at three-year intervals. Finally, the trilogy was completed with the release of Return of Jedi in 1983.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
It was initially released on May 21, 1980. It was directed by Irvin Kershner and written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. The story takes place about one-third of the way through the saga. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia are now imperial fugitives chased by Darth Vader and the Empire.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
The movie was initially released on May 25, 1983. It was directed by Richard Marquand and written by George Lucas. The story takes place about one-third of the way through the saga. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, Darth Vader, and the Rebel Alliance fight the Death Star II before it can enforce their rule.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
This is the first film in the series of Star Wars films. It was initially released on May 19, 1999. It was directed by George Lucas and written by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales. The story takes place before any other in the saga, before the Jedi had even existed. It’s about how Darth Vader came to be, a young boy named Anakin Skywalker, and his journey to the dark side. Stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, and Ian McDiarmid.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
This is the second film in the series of Star Wars films. It was initially released on May 16, 2002. The story takes place ten years after the events of “The Phantom Menace”. Now Anakin Skywalker is a young man helping Obi-Wan Kenobi investigate an assassination attempt on Senator Amidala, Anakin’s former padawan. The story takes place in the “Jedi Temple” and surrounding areas of Coruscant.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
This is the third film in the series of Star Stars films. It was initially released on May 19, 2005. The story takes place three years into the “Prequel” era. We find Anakin Skywalker now a Jedi Knight under Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padmé Amidala’s protection. He is also secretly married to her; however, they cannot be together due to the Jedi code against attachment.
They are hiding in plain sight from their friend turned enemy Lord Darth Sidious, responsible for murdering Anakin’s old Master, then-Senator, Qui-Gon Jinn, and behind all of its plot twists such as forcing him to become a “Jedi Hero”.
Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
It was initially released on December 18, 2015. It was directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams with Michael Arndt’s story credit. The story takes place about 30 years after Return of the Jedi (ROTJ). A Resistance pilot named Poe Dameron teams up with a stormtrooper defector and a scavenger to rescue a princess from a First Order executioner called Kylo Ren. Then they must try to destroy an ominous weapon known as Starkiller Base before it destroys them all, even if it means spending their last ace in the hole, a droid named BB-8.
Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
This movie was released on December 15, 2017. It was directed by Rian Johnson and written by Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman. The story takes place approximately one year after The Force Awakens (TFA). Rey follows up with Luke Skywalker, whom she met at the end of TFA, to learn more about his late mentor Darth Vader. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren acts as a leader to a First Order splinter faction that plans to defeat both Leia Organa’s Resistance as well as whatever’s left of its failed predecessor, all while learning more about his powerful yet unstable power called “The Force”. The film is set on the Skywalker home planet of Tatooine for a significant battle scene and ends in an old Jedi temple.
Star Wars Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
This is the third film in the series of Star Wars films. It was directed by Colin Trevorrow and written by Rian Johnson and Chris Terrio. Rey has now joined Luke Skywalker’s new Rebellion to fight against Kylo Ren’s First Order; meanwhile, Finn wakes up from his coma only to find out that he had been turned against all odds into a Stormtrooper.
Star Wars Anthology – Rogue One (2016)
Rogue One is the first film in a new series of Star Wars films called the “Anthology Series”. It was initially released on December 16, 2016. Donnie Yen plays Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior monk looking to steal plans for Death Star alongside his Master Baze Malbus and Imperial defector pilot Bodhi Rook. Meanwhile, Jyn Erso leads an insurgency group to get info from Director Orson Krennic as the superweapon nears completion.
Star Wars Anthology – Solo (2018)
Solo is the second film in a new series of Star Wars films called the “Anthology Series”. The story takes place just after A New Hope (ANH). Han Solo is recruited by a young Jedi named Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca; they all must work for the crime lord Jabba Desilijic Tiure to pay off significant debts that Han has accumulated over the years.