All 11 Star Wars movies ranked from worst to best

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm's OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /
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1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

The second Star Wars feature ups the ante in almost every category. The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best direct follow-ups to an acclaimed cinematic event, extraordinarily capitalizing on A New Hope by honing in on that film’s best aspects and amplifying the sci-fi themes, the visual effects, and the character development, on top of strengthening the narrative structure.

The landscapes are beautifully designed and well-defined, from Hoth to Dagobah, to Cloud City. The early Empire Strikes Back battle on Hoth is already far superior to all the action sequences in A New Hope. While Tatooine’s milieu acknowledged Star Wars Western influences in the first movie, the expertly paced reveal of the imperial walkers on Hoth’s horizon goes even further by emphasizing the tense tone of the genre’s inevitable confrontations.

In this middle chapter, Han illustrates that he has deeper qualities than a simple renegade smuggler and Leia’s assertiveness continues to showcase her unwavering heroism. The supporting characters balance the story flawlessly, with Lando operating under ambiguous alliances, Chewbacca’s stalwart dedication to his friends, Boba Fett’s impenetrable facade as an inconspicuous bounty hunter, and Yoda forever redefining the wise mentor persona. At the center of the narrative remains Luke Skywalker.

Right from the opening act, Luke finds himself facing precarious predicaments, getting captured by a Wampa creature and almost freezing to death on the ice planet Hoth. Luke is clearly more doubtful of his abilities and stumbles to keep up with Yoda’s training on Dagobah. Although his bravery never subsides, his insecurities expose him as a hero with internal struggles, and deftly hint at moral dilemmas; in short, this is the movie where the most significant Star Wars protagonist emerges as a truly multifaceted character.

Luke’s arc comes full circle when he is torn apart by Vader in multiple ways. Mark Hamill’s distressed shriek coupled with the agonizing look on his face as Luke loses his hand and his heritage is permanently seared into the memory of millions of Star Wars fans. The rebels’ defeat was secured by Lando’s betrayal and exacerbated by the sight of Han’s petrified body being taken away. The Empire Strikes Back’s climax is stylishly somber, a bombardment of bleakness, despite leaving viewers with a denouement that captures confidence (perhaps unearned yet entirely essential) from our heroes, fueled by their will to keep fighting the empire.

Next. All 4 live-action Star Wars shows ranked from worst to best. dark

With more feature-length projects currently being planned, will future Star Wars movies be able to make their way toward the top of the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.