Originally published via Alternate Dimensions in 2014
So last week we awoke to Disney throwing us a new scrap of Star Wars information to feast on like the news hungry dogs we are. Episode Seven is now officially Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And with that news, 1Up Culture is going to take a biased look and rank each of the seven titles in order of worst to best. Feel free to agree or disagree, but the quality of the movie will not be taken into consideration. What will be taken into consideration is punchiness and how interesting the title is, as well as how well it operates in resembling both the movie and the franchise itself. So without further ado, let’s pretend I know what I’m talking about for a while.
*Spoilers for the six released movies below, but seriously? If you haven’t already go watch at least the Original Trilogy already…*
7: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Although I wasn’t taking into account movie quality, it’s only fitting the worst of the released movies finds itself at the bottom of the list. Firstly the title is misleading. The clones mentioned in the title don’t fight until the very end of the movie, and they’re attacking on behalf of the good guys, when generally a title like this would be referring to the antagonists. A more accurate title would be Episode 2: No Chemistry, for the awful and badly acted romantic subplot that dominates a lot of the screen time between Anakin and Padme. It’s also not a terribly interesting movie title, and feels more like a B movie description than a high profile franchise film. As a result, it’s at the bottom of the pile by a good margin.
6: Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Obviously I can’t look at the title with the same foresight as the others since there’s no movie to base it off, but as a straight title it just isn’t that interesting to me. It paints a picture of what we might be able to expect from the movie, but it feels dull and generic. When I heard the title I was just like “Oh, that’s it?”. There was no real excitement or sense of anticipation, which is what I should feel being a fan as long as I can remember. It doesn’t matter in the long run, they could have named it just about anything and come opening night people will be there in Jedi robes ready to watch. But it would have been nice to at least get something a bit more interesting.
5: Episode 4: A New Hope
This one is a little unlucky, but it finds itself this low simply because the title was a later add on. It was originally just Star Wars. That all it needed, and it worked fine. A New Hope works as the movie title since it describes Luke and the rest of his plucky gang perfectly, and even describes the movie itself, which became a startling revelation and encouraged a growth in a small cinematic boom. But it lacks impact. Great movie of course, but A New Hope is a rather passive title, it’d work as a Rom-Com title as well as it does a Sci-Fi masterpiece.
4: Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
The best movie from the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith does a decent job of capturing the dark and ominous feel of the movie. Unfortunately it’s effect is lost simply by virtue of being a prequel. We already more or less know the main plot points that we’ll find in the movie. We know Palpatine is going to win by drawing Anakin into the Dark Side to become Darth Vader. How much of it could be counted as ‘revenge’ per say is hard to say. It’s not really presented as payback for Jedi dominance but simply a new rise to power, and Anakin doesn’t even win his battle against Obi Wan, he just (barely) survives it. This is all forgiven though, because the title is a homage to the original planned title for Episode 6: Revenge of the Jedi. Because of that it gets enough Bonus points to just, just squeeze ahead of A New Hope.
3: Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
This movie is far and away the best film in the series for me personally. It was a more adventurous story that delved into the character motivations and twisted and turned it’s way through compelling subplots and startling revelations that to this day are remembered fondly. The title itself packs a punch and the movie is ‘exactly as described on the tin’. The Empire got their butts kicked in the first movie, so they come back and basically beat down the Rebellion for the ENTIRE MOVIE. Curb-stomped at Hoth and outsmarted at Bespin, the only kind of victory our heroes get is the Milennium Falcon surviving the asteroid field. And by doing so it simply forced Vaders hand to enlist Boba Fett, aka Mr ‘He Who Should Not Have Died So Lamely In The Next Movie’. It’s only glaring flaw is the brother/sister kiss. It’s a cool title for an even cooler movie, but I had to reserve movie bias in determining it’s rank.
2: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
I fully expect this to be the most controversial of the rankings. The Phantom Menace is not a good movie, and earns special ire from fans for being such a let down (at least with Attack of the Clones we had this movie to warn us that it might suck). It also features Jar Jar Binks, who manages to earn Twilight levels of hate from many of the fans (myself included) to the point fans of his character sometimes have to tread carefully around fellow Star Wars fanboys. For all of the movie’s faults however, it’s an awesome and eerie sounding name. It describes the Sith in the movie (and for most of the prequels) perfectly. You know they’re there, but they’re attacking from the shadows, influencing events and people in ways that the Jedi aren’t prepared for. It’s also the movie title that would stand best on it’s own if you took all measure of Star Wars branding from it. Not a great movie, but a fantastic title.
1: Episode 6: Return of the Jedi.
From a movie perspective I thought ‘Jedi’ was the weakest of the holy trilogy. It was hampered by pacing issues and the Ewoks feel like the first step Lucas made to ‘merchandising’ the series rather than telling the right story. It also hurts because the original plan of it being Wookies is so much cooler and Stormtroopers being torn to pieces by seven foot monsters makes sense as opposed to teddy bears throwing stones at helmets.
But this isn’t about the quality of the movies, but the titles. It’s a good title in of itself, but where it really shines is the two-sided meaning behind it. The story of the orignal trilogy follows Luke from whiny moisture famer to brash but unsure Jedi apprentice. He’s trained by Yoda in ‘Empire’, and despite being defeated handidly by Vader (rimshot), shows a maturity and poise against his newfound father’s offer to join him. By rejecting the ways of the Sith, he truly starts to becomes a Jedi. Episode six is all about the new maturer and more poised Luke, strengthened in the ways of the force. So now Luke returns, not as the boy apprentice, but as the Jedi Knight.
But even more so the title also follows Vader. He makes his heroic turn to throw Palpatine off of the balcony, sacrificing himself in a way no Sith ever could. In his last moments in the galaxy he makes the jump back from Sith to Jedi, and so Return of the Jedi as a title is as much about Luke’s path as it is Anakin/Vader. Because of that I feel as a strict movie title Return of the Jedi deserves the top spot. I would argue as a straight title it’s not as good as ‘Empire’ or ‘Menace’ but when you factor in the dual meaning and how perfectly it caps off that segment of the Star Wars saga it deserves the top spot.
So there you have it, my completely arbitrary and pointless but hopefully interesting and entertaining ranking of the seven titles. Feel free to tell me how wrong I was.