Note: We ONLY covered theatrical movies/episodes. No TV shows, video games, comics, novels, holiday specials, the clone wars “movie," or other EU (Expanded Universe) properties and/or fan fiction.
6. Revenge of the Sith
5. The Phantom Menace
4. Attack of the Clones
3. Return of the Jedi
2. The Empire Strikes Back
Everything that works, and it does, about Empire, banks on our emotional connections to characters we’ve had a full movie with. We’ve seen Han shoot first (or second if you’re under 25, you poor deluded bastards). We know the Falcon can make the Kessel run in under twelve parsecs. We know just how grating or delightful Threepio and Artoo can be, and forcing them into situations with Han and Chewie can only be the best possible decision. We’ve seen the badassery of Darth Vader, and since his boss was blown up, he’s now unleashed – and probably pissed off at the whole “careening into deep space in a wounded tie fighter” thing. Almost all of the greatness and eventual “reveals” of Empire work because we spent an entire amazing movie with these characters. On top of that, it’s a better movie than Star Wars/New Hope and it explores mature themes.
Another benchmark by which we tend to measure modern “box office” movies, is the third act climax and ending. Empire’s kind of goes out on a soft whimper. Sure, there’s the best fight in the trilogy about fifteen minutes earlier and the classic reveal, the “father of all spoilers” if you will. After that? Luke attempts suicide (and again, this depends on WHICH version of George’s meddling you own), hangs on a pole, gets picked up and then has surgery. The actual ending, beautiful shot that it is, has Luke and Leia standing on the bridge of some nameless medical ship that picked them up. There’s no fanfare celebration, no Ewok dance party. We don’t even get the obligatory “viewing the new Death Star” shot to set up Jedi, which we now know Lucas wanted all along, as evidenced by the ending scenes of Revenge of the Sith. Also, you just watched a movie about the good guys getting bent over a table and done raw for the last two hours. Not the same feeling as “great shot kid, that was one in a million."
1. Star Wars
“Now let’s blow this thing and go home” (– Tinder results pending)