Solo: A Star Wars Story is coming out this month, and if you’re not up to date with the latest developments coming out of the Star Wars galaxy, it can be quite overwhelming. Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, much of the Star Wars universe was developed and created decades ago. To help you better understand this complicated fandom, here’s a recap of the entire SW saga.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
This episode revolves around a young boy, Anakin (Jake Lloyd), who is raised by his mother on the desert planet Tatooine. After a botched rescue of queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) from the idyllic planet of Naboo, two Jedi are marooned there after their ship malfunctions. The boy is then taken in by them and trained to fulfill his tremendous potential. This film is considered by most fans to be the weakest in the prequel trilogy, mostly due to the inclusion of walking merchandising opportunity Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best).
Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Anakin (Hayden Christensen), our hero from the last film, has grown into a dashing young Jedi Knight with a smoldering hatred for sand. His hotheadedness manages to somehow uncover a plot to assassinate members of the Galactic Senate, including his crush, the queen-turned-senator Padmé Amidala. Though the assassination attempts were initially pinned on the galactic separatist Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), the entire plot is much more sinister, and heralds the rise of the Sith Lords, masters of the Dark Side. Also features clones.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
With the creation of the clone army in the second movie, the stage is set for the takeover of the galaxy by the Sith Lords. The Jedi, which started out as a monastic order with a weird infatuation with laser swords, is now spread out around galaxy doing battle with the separatists; little do they know however, that this war is just a pretext for the Sith Lords to rise up and seize power, thus setting the stage for the Galactic Empire in episodes IV, V, VI.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
This movie, which is the first in a planned series of Star Wars side stories meant to fill in the (many) plot holes in the larger saga, features the spies and soldiers who risk life and limb to steal the plans of a rumoured superweapon, the Death Star. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), an enemy of the Empire, is recruited by the Rebel Alliance in a last-ditch attempt to steal the plans of the newly-constructed planet-sized spaceship. The film was created to neatly segue into Episode IV and also answer the multi-billion dollar question: how much more money can we squeeze out of a gullible fanbase.
Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Luke (Mark Hamill), a lowly farmhand on the backwater planet Tatooine, wants to run away and join the Rebel Alliance, which is in a desperate fight against the Galactic Empire. Little does he know that adventure is right around the corner, in the form of a little blue droid that carries a hologram of the beautiful princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) with a desperate plea for help. With the support of Obi-wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), an old Jedi Master; Han Solo (Harrison Ford), a smuggler; and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), a walking carpet, (just kidding, we love Chewie,) Luke goes on a quest to save the princess and defeat the evil Darth Vader (David Prowse) and his world-destroying weapon, the Death Star.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Widely lauded as one of the best films in the entire saga, it contains one of the premier twists in all of cinema (which is ruined if you watch the films in release order). Despite the triumph of the Rebel Alliance in the last film, the Empire has managed to recover and is now pursuing Luke, Leia, and Han across the galaxy in an attempt to snuff out our heroes. Luke meets a new mentor/rejected Sesame Street character on a deserted swamp planet - the iconic Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) - while Leia grapples with her newfound love for Han. Meanwhile, Han is lured into a trap by Darth Vader, who intends to use him as bait to capture all the rebel leaders.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Luke, who has now become a full-fledged Jedi, returns to save Han Solo and Leia after they are captured by crime lord Jabba the Hutt (Larry Ward). Meanwhile, the Empire has managed to learn zero lessons from history and built a second Death Star in exactly the same shape, which hovers over the last base of the Rebel Alliance on the sanctuary moon of Endor. Transported up to the superweapon, Luke faces Darth Vader and the sinister Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) as he struggles for the galaxy’s freedom, and his own.
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Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2016)
Luke Skywalker, the Jedi elder statesman, has disappeared. In the power vacuum left by his absence, the dregs of the Empire have reformed into the First Order, which now threatens to engulf the galaxy once again. General Leia leads the Resistance, a ragtag group of pilots and soldiers, who attempt to fight against the Dark Side’s resurgence in the form of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), formerly known as Ben Solo, Han and Leia’s son. But as the dark rises, the light meets it in the form of Rey (Daisy Ridley), a simple scavenger from the backwater planet Jakku (am I the only one seeing these coincidences?) Rey gets dragged into the galactic fray with the interfering actions of Rebel pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and stormtrooper deserter Finn (John Boyega).
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
The quest for Skywalker has ended, but Rey’s quest to learn the ways of the Jedi arts is just beginning. All the while, the Resistance have been forced onto their back foot after a disastrous attack on a First Order fleet led by hotheaded pilot Poe. The Resistance ship, which carries the last remnants of the group, are chased relentlessly by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice Kylo Ren, who ditches his helmet but gains chest-high pants.
To be continued in Episode IX…