Disney Plus is now live in many parts of the world. If you are a Star Wars fan, there’s good news: You can stream every feature film in the space fantasy series with a Disney Plus subscription. Soon, all of the Star Wars movies will be on the service. But which Disney Plus Star Wars movies are the best?
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We will admit to being massive Star Wars fans. We will also admit that the quality of the theatrically-released Star Wars films varies quite widely. In addition, many films in this franchise have proved divisive among fans. For our part, we are just going to examine the movies as, well, just movies. Your opinions on our picks may be different, but that’s OK!
With that in mind, here are our picks for the best Disney Plus Star Wars movies.
Best Disney Plus Star Wars movies
Editor’s Note: We will be updating this list as more Disney Plus Star Wars movies are added to the service.
1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
George Lucas might have thought he was making a kids movie when he thought up Star Wars. In the end, the release of this film in 1977 transcended all genres and ages. At its core, this is a space fantasy tale of a farm boy, Luke Skywalker, who dreamed of leaving his home for adventure.
Lucas’ original film has humor, action, and suspense. It also had visual effects that were years ahead of every other sci-fi movie, which made this tale of galactic conflict even more real to an audience.
This version of A New Hope is the 1997 “Special Edition” version with unwanted and distracting new effects and sequences. Despite this, and also the new “Macklunkey” edit of the Han Solo-Greedo shootout, it’s still an all-time classic.
2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back was the most highly anticipated movie sequel ever released at the time. The 1980 film, directed by Irvin Kershner, still has some memorable sequences. These include the battle on the ice world Hoth, and Luke’s first direct battle with Darth Vader, which concludes with maybe one of the biggest plot twists in movie history. It’s also the first time audiences were introduced to Lando Calrissian and Yoda.
It’s also got a pretty bleak ending for a space fantasy movie. All of these features and more made The Empire Strikes Back stand out from the crowd, and it’s easily one of the best Star Wars movies on Disney Plus.
Again, this is the “Special Edition” version of the movie, although this time the new visual effects are not quite as annoying.
3. Star Wars Episode V: Return of the Jedi
The third and final movie in the original Star Wars trilogy didn’t have quite the impact that the first two films did. However, the 1983 release, directed by Richard Marquand, still wrapped up the storyline very successfully. It also introduced us to Jabba the Hutt and the first full appearance of the Emperor, the true bad guy of the trilogy. We also got an epic lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader, a massive space battle, and a swashbuckling fight on a sail barge. There’s also the battle on the Endor moon that involves the small and furry Ewoks, which we still have mixed feelings about.
We will point out once again this is the “Special Edition” version of Return of the Jedi. There’s some new visuals in Jabba’s palace, and most importantly some added scenes in the finale.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
With this 2016 release, we finally get to see some of the untold backstory behind the Star Wars universe in a live-action film. This is a grittier version of the space opera franchise, featuring a cast of characters that come together to secure the plans of the Empire’s first Death Star. That includes Jyn Erso, the daughter of the man who designed the spherical space station. We also get to see Darth Vader as we have never seen him before as a truly powerful agent of the Emperor. It all concludes in a huge battle in space and on the planet Scarif. Rogue One is the kind of Star Wars movie we want to see more of after The Skywalker Saga is complete.
5. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012. Three years later, fans finally got what they wanted for so long: an official continuation of the saga that showed the events following the end of Return of the Jedi. Co-writer and director J.J. Abrams created a movie that added new characters to the mix, including the mysterious Rey, and a cute new droid named BB-8. We also got some returning favorites, including an aged but still quick-witted Han Solo. Many critics have since felt that this film was basically a remake of A New Hope. For our money, there were just enough new plot twists and character development to make this film stand out. That includes the death of a beloved character, so bring your tissues.
6. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
The second part of the new trilogy has definitely generated some debate among Star Wars fans. Writer-director Rian Johnson definitely took the film in directions most fans didn’t see coming. For our part, The Last Jedi is uneven, but still has some of the best scenes in the sequel trilogy. Oh, and the tissues will need to come back again.
7. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This is easily the best film in the prequel Star Wars trilogy. The 2005 film was the first Star Wars movie to be rated PG-13, and it shows. It gets into more mature subject matter, as the final plans of the Sith manifest themselves. We also get perhaps the best lightsaber battle of all time between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. The movie still suffers from too many digital effects for some people’s taste, but it’s an overall good movie nonetheless.
8. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones introduces us to Hayden Christensen as the older Anakin Skywalker. His performance may be extremely stilted, but it fits the overall style of the movie. It’s a bit hard to understand why Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala would fall for the guy, even if he is a Jedi. Attack of the Clones still has some nice sequences, including a final battle between the clones and the droid army. We also get to see Christopher Lee for the first time as Count Dooku, who is excellent in this role.
9. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Oh boy. The 1999 release of The Phantom Menace was something all Star Wars fans were eager to see. It also made a lot of money, which meant that writer-director George Lucas could complete this prequel trilogy. Unfortunately, this film was a mess almost from the start. The bumbling Trade Federation villains were awful, Jake Lloyd is a little cringey as Anakin, and the CGI character Jar Jar Binks remains one of the biggest missteps of the franchise. Thankfully, we have the exciting podrace in the middle and a huge lightsaber battle at the end. Liam Neeson is terrific as Qui-Gon Jinn and Ewan McGregor was the perfect choice to fill Alec Guinness’ shoes as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
10. Solo: A Star Wars Story
As bad as The Phantom Menace is, at least there are a few entertaining parts of that movie. That is not the case for this 2018 film. It is more famous for what went on behind the scenes, as the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired after they had shot a majority of the movie. Ron Howard stepped in for reshoots and to finish off the film. However, what we get here is just boring, through and through. Seeing the early life of Han Solo is a good idea for a movie. Unfortunately, what we get here is a dull space opera. At least we get Donald Glover’s performance as Lando, but he’s not enough to save this snoozefest.
11. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
While the latest trilogy started off well with The Force Awakens, the second movie, the second movie, The Last Jedi, was definitely uneven. That did not prepare us for this mess of a final film. It really seems like director J.J. Abrams used a dart board to pick which plot points he would use to complete the storylines. In the end, we get the return of Admiral Palpatine, a fetch quest of a plot, lots of cames from the original trilogy, and a final battle that’s supposed to be epic, but turns out to be a massive mess. It’s a very poor way to end the long-running Skywalker saga.
Honorable mention Disney Plus Star Wars movie: Empire of Dreams
For true fans of the original Star Wars trilogy, this two and a half hour documentary is a must. Made in 2004, it goes into heavy details on the making of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. It also has lots of behind-the-scenes footage and new interviews with the cast and crew of the movies.
Those are the best Star Wars movies on Disney Plus right now! We’ll update this list as more films arrive on Disney’s streaming service.