Abhay Rana aka Nemo

Star Wars Beskar Viewing Order

I tweeted out my recommended viewing order for Star Wars recently1:

Thought I should expand a bit on the what and why. Spoilers towards the end (marked). I also went ahead and named it:

The Beskar Order

  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.
  3. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Returns
  4. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
  5. The Mandalorian (S01E01-04)
  6. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
  7. The Mandalorian (S01E05-08)

If you’ve enjoyed the above, you should pick between the following 2 next:

  1. If you liked the core Skywalker Saga (Episodes IV-VI), and want to explore Anakin’s origins - Go and watch the prequel trilogy (Episode I, II, III).
  2. If you liked Force Awakens, you should go finish the sequels (Star Wars Episode VIII, IX)

In either case, I want to leave this as a choice to the viewer. The prequel trilogy has a lot of flaws. The Machete order famously drops an entire film, and it wasn’t even trying to make room. Go to the prequels if you want to explore the lore. On the flip side, if you liked how Disney handled Episode VII, and want to see closing arcs for the major characters, try the sequels. I wouldn’t recommend interleaving them - it doesn’t get you much and makes it confusing.

If you’re still here after finishing both of these (that makes for a total of 10 films and 1 season of telly) - you ought to explore for yourselves. Here’s suggestions depending on what you’d like:

Clone Wars (TV Series, 7 seasons)
for exploring the franchise at a less grand scale. There’s an Essential viewing order, which covers all the major arcs and best episodes.
The Mandalorian (Season 2, Oct 2020)
To find out what happens to Baby Yoda
Star Wars: Rebels (TV Series, 4 Seasons)
If you want to explore new characters and like something Firefly-esque.

There are boardgames, RPGs, and some really great books in the franchise as well. Pick what you’d like to explore.


Inspiration

The classic Machete Order which does a lot of great things, by skipping a film, preserving tension and plot-twists. Also of note are the various fan-edits, of which I’ve only ever tried The Phantom Edit.

Rationale

I tried to optimize for a few things:

  1. Fun while watching the series. So good stuff comes first, paired films etc, and intentionally including The Mandalorian.
  2. Easy stoppage. In case you don’t like the series, you should be able to stop midway, and still have seen the important/best bits.
  3. Sticking to chronological order in the stuff I picked (as much as possible). Sticking to chronology makes it easier to consume.
  4. Total time. I don’t want to prescribe a “complete-viewing-order”, but rather a “starting point”.

(1) is easy to optimize for. (2/3) results in things getting thrown around a bit, and (4) means I leave out stuff that you should pick for later.

Why not include __?

This is not meant to be an exhaustive order, and I was optimizing for total time. Important mentions:

Solo
Not really essential viewing.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The film is terrible (5.9 on IMDB), because it wasn’t meant to be one.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Series
I wanted to stick to the main saga, and its just too damn long to recommend casually in any viewing order.
Star Wars: Holiday Special
I still can’t bring myself to finish it. It isn’t even canon any more (Life Day is)
Legends/Resistance
Again, not essential viewing.

FAQ

Who is this for?
Recommended for first-time viewers. If you are doing a rewatch, I recommend following The Beskar Machete order.
Have you watched everything Star Wars?
I can’t even claim to have watched all 12 films, because I couldn’t finish The Clone Wars (movie). I’m still watching Clone Wars (TV series).
Why Beskar?
I wanted something that would work well with Machete, for the hybrid order. It also makes a point about The Mandalorian 2 belonging in the order.
I don’t have this much time!
I’ve tried to optimize for viewing time already. If you wanna trim further - you’ll be left with just the original trilogy (Episode IV, V, VI). Alternatively, just watch The Mandalorian - it stands very well by itself.
Did you backdate this post while publishing?
Yes. I wrote it just a few days after May 4th, and thought it would be nice.

More Rationale (SPOILERS AHEAD)

SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS FOR ALL 12 FILMS. READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL

Why start with Rogue One?

Rogue One is a great film, and I love how well it segues into A New Hope. Watching them both back-to-back makes for a great experience. You have this ragged group that has laid down their lives for just a memory chip - and you get to see that bloom into an entire saga. Finishing the original trilogy from there makes sense. The Machete order strongly recommends against starting with Rogue One, but I’ve tried it and it works.

Why not stick with the Machete order as well?
The Machete order goes (IV, V, II, III, VI), deciding to leave out Episode I, and wedging Episodes II, III before you see Return of the Jedi. I was optimizing for time here a bit, and I had to leave the prequels as “for-later” in order to make space for the remaining. If you’re doing a rewatch, and aren’t short on time - you can totally follow it. This is what it morphs into:3

<details markdown=1>

Beskar Machete Order
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
  • Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Returns
  • Star Wars: Episiode II - Attack of the Clones
  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
  • Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
  • The Mandalorian (S01E01-04)
  • Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
  • The Mandalorian (S01E05-08)
  • Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
  • Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

</details>

Why add the Mandalorian at all?
Because frankly - it is both a piece of art, and the best entry into the Star Wars canon in a long time. It also fits into chronological order just after Return of the Jedi - you see how the New Republic has been incompetent, and the ashes of the Empire. You get to experience the power vaccuum in the galaxy, which hopefully makes sense before jumping into The Force Awakens and rise of the First Order.
Why jump to Episode VII (The Force Awakens) instead of finishing The Mandalorian?
We jump a bit ahead (before finishing The Mandalorian) to “A Force Awakens”, getting to just the start of Rey’s story. This is the only “chronology break” in the order, but has no side-effects4. The reason for the jump (as opposed to finishing The Mandalorian first) is to have a switch in pace. While I love The Mandalorian, I think pacing it out makes it better.
Why keep Episode VII (The Force Awakens) but not the other sequels?
The best and the worst thing about The Force Awakens is that it is very much “Star Wars”. It doesn’t take any risks, sticks to the tropes, and more importantly - it closes mostly as a self-contained film. Yes, there are a few plot-hooks (Rey’s parentage, Luke, Finn’s coma), but given how badly they are resolved in the following films - it seems Disney didn’t have any better idea to the answers than the viewers. It also gives you a “tasting experience” of the sequels. The sequels have always been polarizing, and watching it gives you a better heading to make the choice b/w Prequels/Sequels later on in the order.

We close with The Mandalorian finale. The Mandalorian isn’t, strictly speaking, essential viewing. While there are hooks, it doesn’t really change anything of consequence to the main saga (at least not in Season 1). But frankly, it is so well made - you deserve to enjoy it. Just look at the trailer:

If you have feedback, send me a tweet. If you’re reading this in the future, note that this was written in May 2020 and could not include media yet to be published.

  1. Happy Star Wars Day! 

  2. Beskar is the Star Wars universe’s Vibranium, and features majorly in The Mandalorian as a minor plot device. 

  3. The arguments against starting with Rogue One don’t even apply to rewatches, so we ignore the Machete Guideline to keep it to the end. 

  4. In other words, watching The Force Awakens can’t alter the experience of watching the last few episodes of The Mandalorian season 1. 

Published on May 04, 2020 in