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Best Viewing Order for Fans and First Timers: "THE FLASHBACK" Order

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With Disney+ now live with just about all the Star Wars films, and in anticipation of The Rise of Skywalker hitting theaters next month, many casual and diehard fans will probably do a deep Star Wars dive and are wondering what order to watch the Star Wars saga. Needless to say, there are a lot of established orders already out there (release, chronological, Machete, etc.).

Forgive me if somebody on here has already come up with this viewing order, but I think it’s the definitive one that I call the “Flashback Order.” It’s an expansion of the famous Machete Order, but allows for almost all the films to fit in that makes some kind of whole narrative cohesion. Here it is, which I’ll explain below:

  1. A New Hope
  2. Rogue One
  3. The Empire Strikes Back
  4. Revenge of the Sith
  5. Return of the Jedi
  6. “The Mandalorian”
  7. Solo
  8. The Force Awakens
  9. The Last Jedi
  10. The Rise of Skywalker

As you can see, almost all the films in the Skywalker Saga have a “flashback” film in between. This allows the story room to breathe and enhances character development.

You should always start with A New Hope, whether you’re a diehard fan or first time viewer. It’s what started it all and is about as perfect an introduction into this world as it gets.

Next up is where it gets interesting. You then watch the immediate “flashback” that is Rogue One, which does a good job in filling in some of this new world you’ve now found yourself in and creates even more mystery and tension. Even though it was filmed relatively recently, It spoils nothing about what comes after in the saga.

We follow with Empire Strikes Back. Then, like reasoned in the Machete Order, we go to the prequels. But unlike Machete who only omits The Phantom Menace, I’ll go even further and don’t even think Attack of the Clones is necessary. IMO, it’s by far the worst Star Wars movie. Just watch Revenge of the Sith as the one “Lucas Prequel” film that counts as a flashback, which gives the only essential background on the Skywalkers’ past and enhances the next film in the saga, Return of the Jedi.

Now that we have finished that part of the saga, let’s breathe a little and watch the side-story that is the self-contained “The Mandalorian”, which is where it fits chronologically.

Then next up is Solo because it will fill in a lot of details about Han and make a more sympathetic portrait of the character, setting up who is perhaps the prime figure of The Force Awakens.

As there are no more “flashback” films produced, that’s where it ends and we continue with the Disney Trilogy uninterrupted. But with the Ewan McGregor “Obi-Wan” prequel show currently in production, I think that would fit in nicely right before The Last Jedi, as Obi-Wan’s story will likely be a great parallel what we see with Luke’s story and perhaps create a more interesting watch.

What do you guys think? Would you watch this order?

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fluffyburger said:

What do you guys think? Would you watch this order?

I respect the time and thought put into this, but I think chronological is the way to go. It’s the way the story was intended to unfold and it’s been fine for everyone I’ve introduced the saga to. All these different “viewing orders” do nothing but confuse newcomers and any newcomer isn’t going to be as pedantic about the films as we are. Plus let’s be real, even most people who haven’t seen Star Wars know about the Vader twist in ESB, so it’s not exactly a surprise anymore.

So Episode I - VI for me.

That business with the corporate fan fiction doesn’t, doesn’t count.

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I got whiplash reading that.

PM me for links to my edits; apparently, some feel shy about this.

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Yeah, I see your motivations behind all of these choices. I have also said in the past that if you’re gonna do the Machete Order, you might as well do ROTS as the only prequel flashback rather than 2 and 3. I do agree that maybe there are a little too many “flashbacks” that could make the watch through feel a little disorienting, but maybe you could show someone this order and report back to us. If you’re worried about overwhelming someone with too many movies and flashbacks, at the very least I think you could do IV-V-III-VI-VII-VIII-IX.

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Honestly, I think the simplest order for children is probably:

  1. The OT uninterrupted
  2. The PT uninterrupted
  3. Solo? The Clone Wars?
  4. The ST uninterrupted

This is for children who have remained oblivious to the Vader twist, and are likely too young to handle R1. For adults just do it chronologically. I don’t think adding tons of backstories is a good idea because it may become confusing for first-timers. Although it would make an interesting marathon watch.

Maul- A Star Wars Story

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I still think I-IV-II-V-III-VI is unironically a decent way of watching the movies, because of the twists it ‘preserves’ (Vader in ESB, Leia in ROTS), the contrast between the state of the galaxy (and Obi Wan) in I and IV really driving home the idea of the dark times, and having III and VI combine to feel like a satisfying ending to the overall saga.

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RogueLeader,

The motivation of this sequence is like Machete, to have IV be the first up in the order (which I think is essential), but also account for the recent standalone films and Lucas prequel(s) to have the entire Star Wars franchise into some kind of narrative cohesion.

I think while this type of bouncing back and forth may in the past have been dizzying, I think today’s audience is used to this kind of storytelling because of how much of modern television is told. Think of “Lost”, “Westworld”, “The Walking Dead”, “The Affair”, “This Is Us”, etc.

I think this kind of flashback storytelling can sometimes enhance the character and overall narrative, and shouldn’t be confusing when it’s just one film at a time.

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I just watch this as my flashback after watching TESB …Vader’s Memories , a fanedit by Baker Man …This is a black and white, silent reedit of all three Star Wars prequels, with an electronic soundtrack and an extremely pared down story , the black and white gives it a real feeling of being a flashback and tells the essential parts of the story in a more dark and serious tone .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1AcBBpjkDg plus, it is only about an hour long and tells all you need to know so you don’t have to spend so much time getting to the resolution in ROTJ

https://screamsinthevoid.deviantart.com/

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With all these… viewing orders…
I sorta think too much emphasis is placed on these, maybe even a little unnecessary? If you’re a die-hard fan, you’ve already seen each film an excessive amount of times. You already know all the plot points, and hell, have many lines of dialogue memorized. You could watch any one film without context of the previous or next in line sequel. The stories are relatively simplistic and doesn’t require hours of keeping track of who said what or how such and such event happened.
To me, a first time viewer can easily follow chronological or release order. Sure, they might get hung up about where Rogue One and Solo fit, but after some light research or asking a friend, they can figure it out. However, I imagine it may look overwhelming to find all these fan-suggested viewing orders.
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be fan favorite viewing orders, and of course it’s just harmless enjoyment. I’m just saying, if you’re a die-hard fan, you’ve already sunk hours into analyzing the expanded universe material, seen the cartoons, read the novels, comics, etc. Watching the main saga in whatever order, in my opinion, doesn’t really recontextualize the story. It’s not like while I’m watching ROTJ, I forget that, “Oh yeah, what did they say Anakin was in the Phantom Menace? The Chokin… Oh yeah yeah, the Chosen One! Wow cool, he totally is fulfilling that prophecy!”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, don’t most Star Wars fans just watch whatever the hell film they wanna see? And that most fans would probably suggest release order to new viewers anyway? These viewing orders just seem to imply that there’s something inherently wrong with the more traditional route and that the fan-method is somehow more necessary in order to fully enjoy these films.

The Hope Awakens

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nah, for me it is just an alternative and fun way to watch . As you say , some of us have seen the films countless times . Why not mix it up a little ? And when I do a marathon , I do just that . Next time around , I might throw in the Tatakovsky Clone Wars cartoons as a flashback . One thing I did find years ago , was that by reading all of the original Marvel Star Wars comics that took place before Empire , when I watched Empire , the scene with Han saying goodbye to Luke just before the battle of Hoth had a lot more meaning for me as I spent more time getting to know the characters and the emotional beat of that scene resonated stronger with me than it ever had before.

https://screamsinthevoid.deviantart.com/

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I suppose I’ve watched and rewatched the main saga so many times that it doesn’t feel like I’m spicing things up. However, I’ve truthfully never read any of the comics, so in that example you mentioned, that’s something I can see enhancing the experience. I just personally think that there’s little to dervive from mixing and matching the films alone, given the simplicity of it.

The Hope Awakens

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RogueLeader said:

Yeah, I see your motivations behind all of these choices. I have also said in the past that if you’re gonna do the Machete Order, you might as well do ROTS as the only prequel flashback rather than 2 and 3. I do agree that maybe there are a little too many “flashbacks” that could make the watch through feel a little disorienting, but maybe you could show someone this order and report back to us. If you’re worried about overwhelming someone with too many movies and flashbacks, at the very least I think you could do IV-V-III-VI-VII-VIII-IX.

This makes sense to me.

Honestly it depends on the first time viewer. If it’s a kid, I wouldn’t dare risk not showing in release order. Yet, even if they’re older and know the twist, I probably wouldn’t risk not showing in release order because the PT could easily turn them off to the whole thing. In fact I’d only do chronological order if the first time viewer in question is fully committed to watching all of them, and then release order for someone who’s open to viewing all, but not sure. And then ^this order for someone who doesn’t really care about the prequels, so they just get a taste.

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Exactly. I think 4-5-3-6-ST Order is best for a friend/family member that might not be interested in watching ALL the movies. I guess it is the minimum to get the whole story.

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You guys bringing up kids is something I haven’t thought about. The one thing that throws this off is if a kid is watching and really into the Star Wars vibe, they’ve likely already been shown the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons. Since I didn’t grow up with those shows, I haven’t seen them and don’t really see myself going back to watch multi-season kids cartoons to make sense of when to logically place them.

If that’s the case though and if a kid has watched Rebels, maybe they very well could start with Rogue One as the first live action film? Only thing there is that one’s pretty dark and violent, so it may be a little too intense for a kid younger than 10. I don’t have kids but my understanding is they don’t think in viewing order terms and don’t care about anything like this. They just watch whatever appeals to them in the moment, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

My Flashback Order in the first post is based on older teens and adults watching that works for first time viewers or long time fans wanting to shake things up on a rewatch. I still can’t ever recommend Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones for anyone of any age or interest level. I wish somebody had told me never to see them!

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Well you come back to the important point about these viewing orders is that it really depends on who is watching them.

Really the universal choice is Release Order. That is how everyone saw them and you can’t go wrong with that. Chronological is good for rewatches, to go back and see the whole picture.

But, if your person knows Darth Vader is Luke’s Father, but don’t know Anakin Skywalker is Darth Vader, then there may be some merit in watching it chronological. I’ve seen some pretty intense reactions from kids who watched Episode III and were shocked by Anakin’s turn.

I do remember reading someone who showed their kids the Clone Wars show before the OT (or maybe it just happened that way because it was on TV all the time, and they weren’t old enough to watch the movies yet). But seeing them fall in love with Anakin and Obi-Wan, seeing them as these heroes, made the twist in Empire that much harder for them.

If you’re wanting to get you’re kids into Star Wars at a young age, I can see the merit in introducing them with Clone Wars, then jumping to Episode IV, V, then back to III to see how Anakin fell, then coming back to VI.

So yeah, it depends on who you’re showing it to and how into Star Wars you think they might be.

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I think these atypical viewing orders can be super fun for fans already familiar with Star Wars and can re-contextualize the stories in interesting ways. For the first time viewer though, release order is the only way to go.

The Star Wars prequels rely 100% on the viewer’s existing knowledge of Ep. IV, V & VI. There are so many things in the prequel movies that make absolutely no sense at all without having seen the OT.

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I don’t think you should do Solo. Why? Because having Darth Maul in the movie is confusing to audiences that haven’t seen The Clone Wars, and you shouldn’t have to rely on external sources in order to understand a movie.

Adywan’s Star Wars Revisited edits are to Blade Runner: The Final Cut as the original theatrical releases of the original trilogy are to the original version of Blade Runner.

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So you’re saying that in order to watch Solo, you’d have to watch an entire 121 episode cartoon just to have some background on a 2 minute scene? Seriously?

And in any event, if you do my order list, there’s no Phantom Menace, so naturally no Darth Maul and no confusion. When he shows up in Solo, he’s now just some random scary looking guy, so who cares.

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I’m increasingly of the opinion that these reworked viewing orders are more trouble than they’re worth. There was an argument for it in the days before the ST when a release-order viewing was a bummer because it ended with the PT, but now that there’s another act, I think there’s less reason to break up trilogies. And if we really want to get heretical, I think it would probably be fine for someone with no SW experience who wants to get in on the fun of TROS to skip right to the ST if they’re pressed for time; TFA is pretty much designed to be a secondary entry point.

But yeah. Ideally OT first, and ST is a fine way in as well, but I don’t think the prequels would be terribly compelling to someone not already invested in that world. And in my opinion, which is probably worth less now than it was before I said I support the decision to start with TFA, you shouldn’t go slicing up the trilogies. Experience them each as their own thing.

As for R1 and Solo, I’d honestly save them for later if I was trying to get someone caught up on the Skywalker saga before December. I think they work better the longer you’ve spent in that world, and they’re not directly relevant to what’s going on in the saga, so put a pin in that. You’ve got eight movies to watch as it is. Consider them a nice little treat waiting in the future.

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joefavs said:

I think it would probably be fine for someone with no SW experience who wants to get in on the fun of TROS to skip right to the ST if they’re pressed for time; TFA is pretty much designed to be a secondary entry point.

I’m going to go several steps further and say that because of the existing Disney era material, the original film has become practically irrelevant to the Saga.

Here’s my bold viewing order:

TPM - AOTC - ROTS - Solo - RO - ESB - TFA - TLJ - TROS

Funny enough, the numbering of the episodes still basically works here.

The prequel trilogy is essential in establishing the ineffectiveness of the Jedi Order and the fall of Anakin/rise of Vader. It introduces Luke and Leia and hints at their future lives. It even gives Luke the binary sunset referenced in TLJ. The bridge from ROTS to ESB can be easily crossed with Solo and RO, since Solo introduces the only three characters left unintroduced in ROTS, Han, Chewie, and Lando. RO bridges the Rebellion gap with Bail Organa and implies that the Death Star will be destroyed through the sacrifice of Jyn and friends.

Skipping ANH for ESB loses very little in terms of continuity, since everyone has already been introduced in some form. Seeing Obi-wan as a ghost shows that he has died and giving Luke so many failures shows that he hasn’t matured into a true Jedi even though he has that potential, and can be trained further by Yoda. It also brings back Lando, giving some much appreciated continuity to his arc and prepares for his reappearance in TROS.

Skipping from ESB to TFA leaves a lot for the imagination to chew on since the crawl establishes that the First Order arose from the ashes of the Empire. This allows the previous heroes their victory without showing all the details. It could be implied that the Empire didn’t lose as decisively as was shown in ROTJ, and there is good reason for this new strength. Han is never shown to be a general in the Rebellion, so his character doesn’t really regress. Leia isn’t so heavily implied to be Luke’s equal in the Force, allowing her to slip more easily back into her prior role of Rebellion leader.

A big bonus to this order is that there is only ever one Death Star-esque plot (unless TROS recycles it yet again), so the Sequel trilogy gets a major boost right out of the gate. Finally, this saves the best for last if anyone wants to go back and watch ROTJ and ANH, allowing someone to appreciate each film for what it brings to the table as they (mostly) climb in quality throughout the marathon.

DuracellEnergizer: “^He’s embraced the absurd. Don’t expect to gain any conventional understanding from his posts.”
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V2 Released!) and The Starlight Project

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But… then you’re skipping the best one. You don’t watch ANH because of how well it does or doesn’t work as plot-bearing architecture, you watch it because it’s a joyous and life-affirming experience, without which the whole enterprise would be that much poorer.