Star Wars movie timeline explained: from Phantom Menace to Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Last Jedi
With now 10 Star Wars films – released in anything but chronological order – you would be forgiven for wondering where Solo: A Star Wars Story fits in. Here we lay out the full timeline, together with each film’s main events
The Star Wars universe has been rapidly expanding in recent years, with the new trilogy as well as stand-alone films such as Rogue One and the forthcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story.
But unlike many of its predecessors, deciphering just where Solo fits chronologically in the franchise has been a bit of a head scratcher (in part because it’s unclear exactly how old Han Solo is in the prequel).
While diehard fans may be able to accurately guess where the Solo film fits into the bigger timeline, more casual viewers will have a tougher time deciphering the proper order. With that in mind, here’s a quick film timeline from the introduction of a baby-faced Anakin Skywalker to the recent debuts of Rey and Finn.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
Anakin Skywalker, a young slave with a penchant for electronics, is discovered on Tatooine to be a strong wielder of the Force by Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Meanwhile, the Jedi’s evil counterparts, the Sith, have resurfaced.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
Padawan Anakin Skywalker must choose between his Jedi duty and the love of a royal senator (which it turns out is forbidden because of Jedi training that controls emotion). On another planet, his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, uncovers a sinister plot that leads to war.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Faced with haunting premonitions that his secret wife, Padmé Amidala, is going to die, Anakin Skywalker is seduced by the dark side, turning against his master Obi-Wan and helping to topple the Jedi.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
In Solo: A Star Wars Story, a new adventure will tell the history of an old character. Han Solo, future hero but current smuggler and general scoundrel, meets his future co-pilot and friend – the wookie Chewbacca – and encounters the notorious gambler and also future hero Lando Calrissian. There’s also the introduction of the iconic ship, the Millennium Falcon.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
The first stand-alone film in the franchise fills out a story hinted at many times before as a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. This moment in the Star Wars timeline brought together ordinary people who signed up with the rebellion and gave their lives for freedom. Read SCMP’s full review
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Luke Skywalker begins a journey that will change the galaxy as he leaves his home planet, meets lifelong friends (Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, etc) and family (Leia Organa), battles the evil Empire and learns the ways of the Force. He also destroys the Death Star, thwarting the evil plans of the Empire.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire has regrouped – with Darth Vader leading the hunt for Luke Skywalker. Luke meets a new mentor, Yoda, and discovers more about his connection to the Force, while Han Solo and Leia Organa are double-crossed by Solo’s friend Lando Calrissian. Luke helps rescue them, though Solo is captured, and Luke finds out that Vader is his father.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
Luke Skywalker heads a mission to rescue Han Solo from the clutches of gangster Jabba the Hutt, and faces Darth Vader one last time. Meanwhile, the Rebellion pushes to destroy a second Death Star, with a little help from alien teddy bears called the Ewoks.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
Thirty years after the defeat of the Empire, Luke Skywalker has vanished and a new threat has risen: The First Order, led by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke and his dark side apprentice, Kylo Ren. One-time Princess now General Leia Organa leads the militaristic Resistance, and they are the galaxy’s only hope at thwarting the new evil. Read SCMP’s full review
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
With the destruction of the Republic, the evil First Order reigns. Supreme Leader Snoke, the latest Sith Lord, looks to crush what’s left of the Resistance. But hope survives: Rey has found Luke Skywalker, a now legendary Jedi Master who can change the tide of war. Read SCMP’s full review