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Where does Solo rank among the Star Wars prequel films?

Contributed by
May 31, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story was released on May 25, and officially takes its place as one of the prequels for the series. We’re sorry if that word made you shudder. Though it’s not part of the prequel trilogy, it takes place before the original trilogy, which includes A New Hope (1977), Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983). 

People have been ranking the Star Wars films like crazy on social media, starting debates and arguments and possibly family feuds. We respect your feelings on this matter and we love you, whatever your choices. Here’s where we feel Solo: A Star Wars Story falls in the list, from worst to best. (We don’t have to tell you that there are spoilers in here, do we?)

Side note: For the purposes of this list, we’re only including films that take place before that trilogy. TV shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and Forces of Destiny are fantastic and have time to delve into far more detail than the movies do.

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The Clone Wars (2008)

The animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars was brilliant. We got a female lead for the first time in Star Wars history, and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) is a fan favorite. Her story had fans riveted for years and we love her with all our hearts. That said, the animated movie that launched the TV series was dreadful. They hadn’t gotten the hang of the animation style yet, the script was painful, and the film deserves its Rotten Tomatoes rating of 18%. Thank goodness the series was so good. Maybe just go watch that again. 

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Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)

Fans were already upset after the disappointment of The Phantom Menace, and this film added insult to injury. Though we love Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan throughout all the prequels, there are things about Attack of the Clones that are difficult to watch. We’re talking, in particular, about the attempt at love scenes between Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padmé (Natalie Portman). These two actors are skilled in their craft, but for some reason, it doesn’t show in the prequels. The love scenes are beyond painful to watch, from attempts at seduction by Force-lifting food to carefreely rolling around in the grass. Seriously, rolling in a field full of giant animals doesn’t sound like a great idea. If you can make it though the moment where Anakin tries to explain what he did after his mother (Pernilla August) died in the Tusken Raider campsite without a groan, you are made of stronger stuff than we. 

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

Fans waited out on sidewalks and dressed up in costume for the wildly anticipated first prequel. They left the theater disappointed, though for some of us, it took a bit to sink in. (Personally, I kept thinking I watched it wrong, or that I missed something when I blinked a few times. How could a Star Wars film be this bad?) The Phantom Menace was a disaster of overdone effects and overcomplicated lore. There were characters that were thinly-veiled racial stereotypes, not to mention a very creepy torch held for a queen (Portman) from a very young boy (Jake Lloyd). The pod race was clearly a scene inserted to sell future video games and toys, and Darth Maul (Ray Park), cool as he looked, was pretty much pointless. Also, Jar Jar. Need we say more?

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Of the three prequels, Revenge of the Sith is the easiest to sit through. It all culminates in Anakin becoming Darth Vader, fighting with those he loves, killing younglings, and being manipulated terribly by Palpatine/Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid, whose performance might make you forgive some of the lesser ones). The final battle on Mustafar was almost worth watching the previous two films for. However, the death of Padmé makes very little sense, as does her loyalty to such an abusive and awful man.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Look, Solo may have its issues, but at least it’s fun. The acting is dreadful in the beginning. Emilia Clarke and Alden Ehrenreich have absolutely no chemistry. There was really no reason for us to know how Han got his last name. He doesn’t even have much of a character arc, ending up basically where he started. (Maybe they were leaving it open for a sequel?) That said, Ehrenreich takes on the role made famous by Harrison Ford and does a good job of it. It’s fun to watch him bumble through his first train job (RIP Rio). Paul Bettany’s Dryden Pos is actually a blast to watch. The relationship between Han and Chewie is adorable, despite the fact that their meeting is yet another example of Star Wars' self-referential moments. The effects are great and they aren’t overdone like they are in certain other prequels. L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is a freaking riot, and her relationship with Lando (Donald Glover) is sweet. Ah, Lando. Glover’s every eyebrow lift is full of charm. (Yes, we all know this should have been a Lando movie with a cameo from Han.) At the end of the day, despite its flaws, Solo is a blast(er) of a film.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

It’s hard to argue against Rogue One: A Star Wars Story being at the top of this list. It’s darker than most Star Wars movies and full of characters that you’re sad to see die. It can certainly be argued that Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) isn’t drawn as well as some of the other characters, but in the end the story is about her bravery and how she changes the world, despite her initial desire to only take care of herself. If you didn’t shed a tear for the death of Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and his devoted Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), you are dead inside. K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) is one of the best droids in Star Wars history, and his death is brutal. Though it was hard to watch Governor Tarkin (Guy Henry in a role made famous by Peter Cushing) recreated in certain moments, it’s still an incredible feat of technology. There's also a cameo from our beloved Princess Leia (Ingvild Deila, based on the performance by the late Carrie Fisher whose voice was used). The thing that really pushes Rogue One over the top, however, is the final battle where Darth Vader (played by Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous and voiced by James Earl Jones) tries to regain the schematics for the Death Star. Finally, a scene where we see Vader as a badass instead of just hearing about it. That terrifying moment alone firmly places Rogue One in the number one spot.

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