Annlyel hits play on the Star Wars machete order theory and discovers the power of the Force…
I love movie marathons. I’ve watched a Hobbit marathon, a Lord of the Rings marathon, a Marvel marathon, a Harry Potter marathon, but the most fun marathons of all are undoubtedly Star Wars marathons. There’s something extremely magical and satisfying about watching all of the Star Wars movies in succession and ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm the simple marathon concept has reached a whole other level.
Some people say to watch the movies in chronological order (starting from A New Hope and watching every entry afterwards as they arrived in theaters), some people say the best order to watch the films is in the episodic fashion (Episode I and on), some people say to erase the prequel trilogy altogether. Honestly, it’s a lot and until recently I didn’t pay much attention to the “In-Which-Order-Should-You-Watch-The-Star-Wars-Movies” conversation. But then one day, I decided to read an article where someone shared his opinion on which order you should show the Star Wars movies to your children. Hence, I met the Machete Order.
The Machete Order works like this. You watch Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, A New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back. Then, to understand Anakin’s story and how he became Darth Vader you go backwards and watch The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Then you continue the story by watching Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, and finish it out with The Last Jedi. It sounded like a brilliant idea and could potentially be a lot of fun so I decided to give the marathon order a try. I’m so glad I did!
Not only did it provide me with an entirely different view on the franchise but it was beyond a fun experience. So, naturally, I wanted to share that experience with you all.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
The Machete Order doesn’t work without Solo because this standalone film is rather pivotal to the entire storyline as it focuses on one of the franchise’s most important characters; Han Solo. When you begin the Star Wars marathon with this film you’re being introduced to characters and storylines that shed a greater light on the later films.
For example; Han meeting and becoming best friends with Chewbacca, our introduction to Lando and the Millennium Falcon, the infamous Kessel Run, Han’s tragic relationship with Qi’ra, Han’s good heart, all of these things end up impacting the future films in ways that I will explain in greater depth later on in this post.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
When you depart Solo and hit Rogue One it’s a jarring change. Rogue One is set ten or so years after the events of Solo and the galaxy is in a dire state. The Empire, which is fleetingly glimpsed in Solo, becomes a major staple of this second standalone film as we watch the tyrannical regime building a weapon that can destroy entire planets. Woah! That’s serious.
That’s when we meet the heroes of this story; Jyn, Cassian, K-2SO, etc. These characters are only present in this one film but their impact is felt long afterwards.
It’s also the first time we meet Darth Vader. In this movie his presence is small and one who doesn’t know Star Wars wouldn’t know how important he actually is which makes it all the more exciting. But what makes it even more fascinating is Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie in this marathon that features the Force, so imagine the sheer surprise and wonder at seeing Darth Vader use this power to choke people with a gesture of his fingers or tear blasters from his opponents’ hands with an invisible yank. That’s kind of amazing!
And then to see Leia at the end is 100% magical and perfectly leads into A New Hope.
A New Hope
So, as the marathon continues things begin to fall into place. We meet Leia again who is apprehended by Darth Vader. C-3PO and R2-D2, who made cameo appearances in the previous film, are much more important. And then we meet Luke Skywalker. When Luke Skywalker arrives it truly is a magical moment because, for someone who maybe hasn’t seen the movies before, they have no idea how important this young farmer is going to become. It’s fascinating.
And then, after Luke’s uncle and aunt are incinerated to mere meat and bones, he’s determined to learn about the Force and become a Jedi like his father, Anakin Skywalker. *rubbing my hands* It’s all so exciting. And then, to make things even more incredible, Han and Chewbacca show up with the Millennium Falcon in tow!
By this point in the Machete Order, it was clear that this marathon worked in utterly exciting ways but it wasn’t the end. It was just the beginning.
The Empire Strikes Back
While A New Hope was fascinating as it brought all of these wonderful characters together in an exciting fashion it’s still a tad bit slow, especially compared to Solo and Rogue One. The same can’t be said for The Empire Strikes Back. In this movie, everyone’s a little older, a little more mature, and Luke’s journey to becoming a Jedi is just beginning. We see him train with Yoda in Dagobah while Force Ghost Obi-Wan watches from afar.
Meanwhile, Han and Leia are across the galaxy falling in love and trying to evade the Empire’s clutches. That eventually leads them to the Cloud City where we are reintroduced to Lando Calrissian! It’s a perfect way for him to return to the story because we know who he is thanks to Solo and so to see him and Han reunite is on another wavelength of awesomeness. But Lando betrays Han (WHAT!) and Han is frozen in carbonite just to be sent to Jabba the Hutt. It’s all very emotional.
And then Luke, now trained further in the ways of the Force, goes to face Darth Vader only to find out that Vader is his father! Ultimate bombshell. The story takes a dramatic turn, for the better, and as the movie comes to a bittersweet ending one can only appreciate how incredible Star Wars is.
The Phantom Menace
Now, this is when things get weird because you go from The Empire Strikes Back and jump all the way back roughly 30 years to a time before The Empire was even a thought. In this story, we are introduced to two of the main characters, a pair of Jedi, and we soon discover, much to our delight, that one of the Jedi is a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Um, mind blown! The movie continues on and we are introduced to fascinating new worlds and cultures that are so much more beautiful and wealthy than the places and people we saw in the previous four films.
And then, surprise! The story takes us back to Tatooine where we meet nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker. Things are beginning to click as we learn how Anakin’s story began and that he too lived on Tatooine but wanted to fly among the stars like Luke.
We meet Palpatine, who at the time is a senator of Naboo but would one day be the leader of the Empire. But, if you’ve never seen Star Wars before, you wouldn’t know he’s the diabolical sith we see briefly in Empire Strikes Back, or the same man speaking to Darth Maul the entire film. And then there’s Padme who is destined to be the mother of Luke and Leia. We even get to see Yoda at a younger age on the Jedi council. It’s all so fascinating. The revelations, the storylines, the characters, the machete order brings everything to light in an almost disturbingly perfect way.
Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones is my least favorite Star Wars film. In fact, I wasn’t ever going to watch it again after my last viewing about, I’d say, two years ago. But, because of the machete order, I tried to power through it. I couldn’t. This movie is just awful. Anakin is way too whiny, Padme is now infatuated with a boy who’s barely out of his teenagehood, and the script is so CORNY.
Anakin: “I’m haunted by the kiss that you should’ve never given me. My heart is beating, hoping that that kiss will not become a scar.”
Really? This is how the infamous Darth Vader confesses his love to the woman who would be the mother of his children? And we wonder why Leonardo di Caprio didn’t take the role.
I tried to push through and finish the film but not even Obi-Wan could save me from the torment. The one moment that shone in this film was when Anakin and Padme hug before he goes to find his mother, Shmi. It’s powerful seeing them at the same spot Luke had been standing watching the two suns fall years and years after.
Revenge of the Sith
As bad as the prequels can be Revenge of the Sith is lightyears better than its two predecessors. Anakin is nowhere near as annoying as he once was, Obi-Wan is beginning to get older and transform into the man we met in A New Hope, and the fall of the Republic and the Jedi is gradually coming to fruition.
Revenge of the Sith is a heartbreaking film as we get to see just how the Jedi were reduced to nothing by the time of A New Hope. We also get to see Chewbacca as a leader among the Wookiees before his home was ravaged and his people were slaughtered or enslaved.
It’s also disturbingly fascinating seeing Emperor Palpatine’s true self finally arrive in this film. His evil plan plays out beautifully and by the end of the movie, he has brainwashed Anakin Skywalker to the point of killing his wife and becoming Darth Vader. It’s all very sad but riveting as well.
Return of the Jedi
So when we return to the present (Luke, Leia, and Han’s story) everything makes that much more sense. We now know how Anakin is Luke’s father, we know who the creepy dude in the hologram is (Darth Sidious), and we know that Leia surprisingly is Luke’s sister (which is a bit gross in retrospect but that’s another story.)
Return of the Jedi turns out to be a beautiful tale of redemption for Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. The scene that stuck out to me the most was when Darth Sidious was electrocuting Luke to death. After just watching Revenge of the Sith, it’s an utterly powerful moment seeing Anakin in the exact same situation that had changed everything for him.
Was Vader going to let Palpatine kill his son as he had let Mace Windu die or was he going to change his fate? He decided not to let Palpatine rule his story anymore and threw him down the chute to his death to save his son. It was such an impactful moment that I nearly burst into tears. In fact, Vader’s redemption was so beautiful that when I saw Anakin’s (Hayden Christensen) ghost at the end of the movie I, once again, had to hold back the waterworks because the emotions were getting to me hard. And I never cry at that part! Yeah, the machete order works.
The Force Awakens
So, of course, the story continued but this time we were jumping thirty years in the future. It’s a bit jarring seeing the state of the galaxy after just witnessing the Empire being defeated but it was also rather interesting…until it wasn’t.
I’m not going to harangue J.J Abrams too much for what he did with The Force Awakens. He had the near impossible task of reviving a franchise that people didn’t care so much for anymore and he did, leading the Star Wars film to make over $2 billion dollars at the box-office and reawakening the Force within all of us. But, from a storywise point of view, he had no idea what he was doing.
Poe’s a great character. He’s immediately likeable, charming, and he doesn’t feel like a Han Solo ripoff. Kylo Ren is fascinating, intimidating, and really cool looking. Finn is original and easily relatable. And Rey is great for a time, but then she, like the movie, became annoying and this is why.
Everything in The Force Awakens was WAY too convenient. The Millennium Falcon was conveniently parked on Jakku. Rey conveniently was a great pilot. Han and Chewie conveniently found the Falcon. Rey conveniently discovered Luke’s lightsaber in the basement of Maz’s castle. And how does that make any sense? We’re talking about the same lightsaber that fell into the gaseous planet of Bespin! Did Luke really go retrieve it instead of just crafting another lightsaber of his own like he did with his green-bladed saber? Ugh, ridiculous.
Then Rey was conveniently powerful after knowing the Force for basically two seconds which makes zero sense. I’ve never been a fan of the Mary Sue comparisons people associate with Rey but now I get it because it is a bit ridiculous how incredible she is after a short amount of time. Anakin and Luke took years to master their abilities and she’s able to best Kylo Ren in a mind Force battle as soon as the Force awakens in her? That’s nonsensical. R2-D2 conveniently wakes up to show everybody where Luke was hanging out. I mean, I was baffled by how ridiculous the story was. The only thing that made sense in context with the previous eight movies was Kylo Ren.
Learning that he was Han and Leia’s son is just remarkable, in a heartbreaking way, but it’s remarkable nonetheless. And boy, when he removes that helmet for the first time it’s like a slap to the face. Wow! Not only does he look incredibly similar to both Han and Leia but he also is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes with that dark wavy hair and those beautiful dark eyes. He’s an impressive figure among the major Star Wars characters. But let me tell you, it was utterly devastating watching him kill Han Solo. I couldn’t even hold back the tears. After going from Solo and following Han’s story all the way through to The Force Awakens watching him die in such a terrible fashion was just so, so sad. *sniffling* Kylo Ren is the worst.
I will say, even though The Force Awakens was a hodgepodge of nothingness wrapped in a Star Wars action flick box it was still very magical seeing Luke Skywalker standing on that cliff with Rey holding his lightsaber to him. That’s movie magic right there.
The Last Jedi
And finally, we reach the last instalment (so far) of the machete order. As soon as The Last Jedi started I knew it was going to be phenomenal. Rian Johnson may not have made the greatest Star Wars movie ever made but it is still very good as these characters presented in The Force Awakens are given complex storylines that enhance each character in impactful ways moving forward.
I loved Rey’s storyline in the movie because it was all about identity. She’s trying to find out who she is just as we are trying to decipher the same thing and that becomes a riveting tale that leads to her unexpected but incredible relationship with Kylo Ren. And Kylo Ren, in turn, truly comes into his own as he realizes that he needs to let the past die if he is also to become a greater wielder of the Force. We learn of the traumatic events that turned him on the dark path, thanks to Luke, and we see that his love for his mother, Leia, is still stronger than ever,
We’ve never seen Leia so stricken as she is in The Last Jedi but for the first time she has found herself in a position that she doesn’t know how to handle. In secret, she mourns for the failing Resistance and her deceased husband but her strength helps propel her followers to continue to fight in her name. And Luke is a broken man which is a jarring reality when compared with the last time we saw him. He laments to Rey over and over again how the Jedi need to end but she continues to see the good in him, the legend that she had heard stories of, and it’s her determination that leads him to save the Resistance at the end of the movie.
When participating in the machete order it becomes abundantly clear that this sequel trilogy is more about Kylo Ren than Rey. Yes, Rey is powerful and is a major character to this story (for some unknown reason) but it is Kylo Ren that this story is revolving around. (Like Kylo Ren said to Rey, “You don’t belong in this story.”) His connection to both Han and Luke makes him one of the most interesting characters in the franchise and I am excited to see how Kylo’s story will end in the upcoming Skywalker saga finale.
So, as you can see from this extensive post the machete order was incredible. It brought me revelation after revelation and if I told you every single one in great detail this would undoubtedly be a 10,000-word post.
If you’re ever showing a friend or your children Star Wars for the first time I highly recommend the machete order. It’ll relay the story to them in an effortless fashion that’ll make them avid Star Wars fans just like you. And even if you’ve watched the movies multiple times, like I have, you should still try it. It is quite worth the adventure.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.