I was at work the other day when I heard a coworker about 10 years younger than me trying to explain Star Wars to a much younger coworker. The second girl is in her early 20's, and had never seen any Star Wars anything. As shocking as this was to me I was even more surprised that the girl explaining the correct order was 4,5,6 followed by 1,2,3. I felt forced to jump in at this point of the conversation and tell them that chronological order would make more sense than order of release for someone who knows nothing about Star Wars. Then I got to thinking about all of the media, and the order everything should go in. I'd still suggest chronological, but suddenly things were a lot more complicated.
Why would I choose chronological order over the order they were released? Really it comes down to the chance to have a choice to go in to the prequels uncolored by a past with the previously released episodes. I have a feeling that if I'd never seen A New Hope I wouldn't have minded The Phantom Menace quite so much. It probably still wouldn't have been good, but I'll just never know. But if you want to really go all the way with Star Wars then you have a whole bunch of cartoons to watch, and (just a few) books to read. To go off on the books for just a minute: turning all of the older books into Star Wars Legends instead of canon made everything easier for Disney, but really fucked up the way I thought everything had happened. For many many years following Return of the Jedi there was no Star Wars outside of books. Or comics I guess, but I never really read them. To divert from one tangent to another briefly, it's not that I don't like comic books. I just can't keep up with them all. I had a whole world of Star Wars that had been built up in my head only to have Disney pull it all out from under me. From starwars.com "Lucasfilm has begun mapping out the narrative future of Star Wars storytelling that will appear on film and television and other media". If shit like Aftermath:Star Wars by Chuck Wendig is anything what this "real-time collaboration and alignment" is going to give us then I don't want to live in the book world anymore. I'm holding out hope for Timothy Zahn's upcoming Thrawn since it'll put the most evil admiral in the empire back into canon (which is my assumption since it's being published by Del Rey, and they're the only books that will be considered canon), but I'm still annoyed that he was cut out for so long. I don't even know if any Star Wars video games exist anymore. I mean I'm looking at some of the boxes right now, but do they exist in canon? I don't think they do, but this is all getting too existential for me. Okay, tangents over.
So basically the first 6 movies, The Clone Wars, and anything that Disney puts out is canon now. If you watched all these things as they came out it can make for a pretty confusing timeline. At least for me. So what is the correct chronological order? As far as I can tell it should be like this:
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
The Clone Wars
Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Young Han Solo movie
Episode 4: A New Hope
Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
Episode 7: The Force Awakens
and so on...probably forever.
I will admit that I don't know if the events in Rebels takes place before, after, or during the time of Rogue One. I do know that none of the cartoon characters cross over to real life so they could be around the same time, but in different places. I also feel fairly certain that even though Admiral Thrawn has been written back in to history since he's on Rebels he won't make it to a movie. I guess I'm okay with that as long as he made it back in there somehow. Given the number of seasons The Clone Wars ran for (and how much it slowed down towards the end) and that Rebels is in season 3 right now (and has gotten so good that I'm sure it'll make it to a fourth) you can see that it's a whole lot of viewing. It's crazy to think how much time I've given to Star Wars over the years, especially since I've seen the original trilogy so many times (Empire most of all).
So could I go back and watch all of this stuff in order? I guess, but it wouldn't work out the way it would for the uninitiated. I'm assuming that it wouldn't work out for most of you either. Unless we all get blackout drunk and then start watching over during the ensuing memory lapse. That just doesn't sound healthy though. If you happen to have kids or friends or coworkers who have never seen Star Wars try having them watch in chronological order (even if you skip the cartoons, and just go straight for the movies). I'd be interested to hear how their experience differs from the rest of ours. My young coworker hasn't started yet, and given her lack of interest I don't think I'll be getting any information from her anytime soon. Maybe the intergalactic Senate hearings won't make a noob fall asleep, but probably not. I also can't imagine a world where Jar Jar Binks isn't annoying, but then I thought Ewoks were cute when I was nine years old. It's easy to judge with the eyes of an adult, but I'll stand by the fact that Ewoks were never as annoying as Jar Jar. I'll take "yub nub" any day. Which reminds me of another tangent. We can't get too pissed off about Disney retconning given that George Lucas set the precedent back with the remastered trilogy, and the "who shot first?" controversy. Nobody likes CGI Jabba the Hutt, that new Max Rebo song, or most of the changes to Jedi really. Anyway, retconning is nothing new, but at least it's probably done all of the damage it's going to do. Unless somebody lets George Lucas start tampering with things again.
Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been reborn as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet. Follow beth0rama on Instagram or on Twitter @NeedlessBeth where she doesn't post often enough to be annoying, but updates way more than Google+