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The Beginner’s Guide to Star Wars (So You Don’t Have to Watch Them!)

It’s one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, and if you haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies, it’s considered to be almost blasphemous! But there are plenty of us who don’t feel the urge to dive into the Force, the Dark Side and the world of the Jedi. With the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, we put together a beginner’s guide so you can keep up with the conversation without having to watch each movie!


This post is full of spoilers from the Star Wars franchise. You have been warned!

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

As you can guess by the title, this isn’t technically the beginning of the Star Wars story but, in order to stay true to the films, we have to start with the first release from the franchise. A New Hope is our first glimpse into the galaxy, the Force, the Dark Side et al. It tells the tale of Luke Skywalker, who becomes the main protagonist as part of the Rebel Alliance – they’re the good guys, comes across droids C-3PO and R2-D2. In order to rescue Princess Leia from the Death Star, Luke has to take on the Empire and leader Darth Vader (they are considered to be the bad guys). Luckily, he has help from Obi Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Obi Wan is a Jedi who trained Luke’s father whereas Han is a rogue smuggler.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The next episode is widely thought to be the best Star Wars movie yet. Set three years after A New Hope, Darth Vader is on the hunt for Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance. Luke heads for Dagobah where he will learn the ways of the Jedi from none other than Yoda. What he learns from Yoda will be hugely beneficial for his duel with Darth Vader. This duel will lead to the incredible revelation that Darth Vader is in fact Luke’s father.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The first trilogy is tied up with Return of the Jedi, following on from Episode V’s cliff hanger. Luke Skywalker and Leia come together to create a plot to save Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt. They are successful but learn of another Death Star’s construction which is bad news for the Rebel Alliance. The final battle takes place on the Forrest Moon of Endor; Darth Vader is intent on turning Luke to the Dark Side and the two duel. Luke is tortured by the Emperor but Luke remains a Jedi as his father once was.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The next Star Wars trilogy is the prequel trilogy. Whilst they were released almost 16 years after Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace tells the tale of Anakin Skywalker, set 32 years before A New Hope. Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jin and his apprentice Obi Wan Kenobi are responsible for protecting Queen Padmé Amidala. The Queen has been marked for death by Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord. They stumble upon a nine-year-old slave, Anakin Skywalker who Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force within and is convinced Anakin is the ‘chosen one’.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones, the following episode, is set 10 years after The Phantom Menace. Padmé Amidala is placed under the protection of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. They must battle former Jedi Count Dooku who has organised the Separatist movement. Dooku injures Obi Wan and Anakin in a lightsabre duel before Yoda arrives to duel Dooku. Anakin and Padmé marry in secret.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Three years since the start of the Clone Wars, the galaxy is in a state of civil war. Anakin defeats Count Dooku and Obi Wan is sent to eliminate General Grievous. Padmé falls pregnant but Anakin envisions her dying in childbirth. Anakin also becomes close with Chancellor Palpatine which is Darth Sidious in disguise; he manipulates Anakin with the promise of the safety of Padmé and their unborn child. Anakin pledges himself to Palpatine, who dubs him Darth Vader – he duels with Obi-Wan who defeats him.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The most recent instalments to the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens is set 30 years after the Galactic Civil War. Luke Skywalker is missing; Poe Dameron, the Rebels’ best pilot is sent to collect coordinates from planet Jakku. Sith Lord Kylo Ren – who was taught by and then betrayed Luke, because the Dark Side seem to love to do that – is sent by the Empire to capture Dameron. Poe escapes thanks to a rogue Stormtrooper named Finn and they both end up back in Jakku. Finn meets scavenger Rey who searches for Luke with the help of Han and Dameron’s droid BB-8.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

The second instalment of the current trilogy would unfortunately be Carrie Fisher’s (the iconic Leia) final film, which has been dedicated to her. As General, Leia leads the Resistance away from the First Order. Her son, Kylo Ren, is hesitant to attack as he senses his mother’s presence but most of the Resistance leadership is killed and Leia is incapacitated. Luke is reluctant to train Rey as he believes the Jedi should become extinct, but R2-D2 persuades him to train her. A showdown between Kylo and Luke helps the remaining members of the Resistance to escape; and Kylo learns he has been fighting a projection rather than Luke himself. Leia informs the surviving rebels they have all they need to rise again.

The third instalment of the current trilogy is slated for release in 2019.
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