Lightsabres, Jedi, and the Force, Oh My: A Star Wars movies timeline

Lightsabres, Jedi, and the Force, Oh My: A Star Wars movies timeline

Solo: A Star Wars Story is finally arriving in theatres this weekend! The film marks the 10th movie from the storied sci-fi franchise since its 1977 debut with Star Wars: A New Hope (then just called Star Wars. Feel old yet?)

Directed by Ron Howard, Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the tale of how a young Han Solo (played by Alden Ehrenreich) met his lifelong sidekick Chewbacca and his frenemy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) years before joining the Rebellion. Based on the action-packed trailer, we fully expect that this, like all Star Wars movies, is a definite must-see on the big screen, preferably in IMAX for that full space-battle action and sound!

As Star Wars fans, we are pretty excited for this one. But as much as the franchise is a large part of our cinematic pop culture, many are unfamiliar with the entirety of the movies originally brought to life by filmmaker George Lucas. The galaxy far, far away is filled with many fun characters and storylines, and to help you space rookies out there, the following is a quick introductory guide of the past movies in chronological order to catch you up! (Obviously some spoilers here for anyone who hasn't seen the movies.)

Read on and catch Solo: A Star Wars Story in theatres this weekend!

1. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

The Jedi Knights are a big thing in the Star Wars movies. The Jedi are a monastic religion who believe in a Force connecting all things in the universe; their ability to tap into the Force gives them some mind control powers and heightened fighting abilities, which they use to help protect those in need. They are the good guys in the galaxy. In Phantom Menace, we follow two Jedi knights (played by Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson) as they first protect, then join forces with Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) to secure a peaceful end to a large-scale interplanetary trade dispute.

The important development in this movie is the introduction of a young boy named Anakin Skywalker, a slave who is adopted by Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) as his protege, and who will later grow up to be the one and only Darth Vader!

To buy or rent Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in our Cineplex store - click here!

2. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones is the sequel to Phantom Menace. Set ten years later, the galaxy is on the brink of civil war. The majority of the cast from Phantom Menace returns, except Anakin Skywalker is not a little boy anymore. Played by Hayden Christensen, he is a young man now and a Jedi apprentice - but despite the Jedi vow of celibacy, he falls in love with Queen Amidala. The action in this one is great, as Anakin goes to any length to protect the woman he loves. The Jedi weapon of choice, the lightsabre, features heavily in many battle scenes here.

The key development in this movie is that we start to see the dark side of Anakin, as the death of his mother enrages him so much he goes on a murderous killing spree.

To buy or rent Star Wars: Attack of the Clones in our Cineplex store - click here!

3. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Okay, this is a big one! While the storyline mainly follows the rise of the evil Emperor and Anakin Skywalker's continuing struggles to resist the lure of the dark side of the Force, Revenge of the Sith has many key developments. By the movie's close, Anakin has officially turned on Obi-Wan Kenobi and given himself over to the dark side, becoming Darth Vader. But what Anakin/Darth Vader doesn't know is that his wife, Queen Amidala, is pregnant! She secretly delivers twins, who she names Luke and Leia. To protect them from their evil father, the twins are separated at birth and placed with adoptive families.

To rent or buy Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith in our Cineplex store - click here!

4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The first spin-off from the main Skywalker saga, Rogue One tells the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a noted aerospace engineer, who was kidnapped and forced to work on building a new superweapon for the Empire: The Death Star. When she learns that her father secretly built in a hidden vulnerability, Jyn joins the Rebel Alliance and forms a risky plan to steal the Death Star plans in hopes of destroying it. The impressive cast in this includes Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna and Ben Mendelsohn.

The key development here is that (spoiler!) the rag-tag band of rebels succeeds in stealing the plans, but at a heavy cost. Oh, the ending of this movie also has one of the most bad-ass Darth Vader scenes of all time.

To rent or buy Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in our Cineplex store - click here!

5. Star Wars: A New Hope

Picking up immediately after the events of Rogue One, the Death Star plans have been successfully stolen and are now in the hands of Princess Leia (played by the late Carrie Fisher) who is a leader of the Rebel Alliance. Her brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is living a simple life as a farmhand on Tatooine, but he gets caught up in the action when he inadvertently acquires two droids that possess the stolen Death Star plans. When Darth Vader begins his destructive search for the missing droids, Luke teams up with Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) on a mission to return the plans to the Rebel Alliance and rescue Leia from the evil Empire.

This is the original classic in which we are introduced to the charming smuggler Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) and his lovable sidekick Chewbacca, who help Luke on his mission.

To rent or buy Star Wars: A New Hope from our Cineplex store - click here!

6. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Considered by many die-hard fans and critics to be the best of the Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back is set three years after A New Hope. The death star has been destroyed, but Darth Vader and his army of Stormtroopers are back with a vengeance, on a mission to destroy the Rebel Alliance. On the run when their rebel base is destroyed, Han, Leia, and Chewie seek refuge with Han's old pal Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). Meanwhile, Luke must decide between finishing his Jedi training with Master Yoda (the wise little green muppet played by Frank Oz) or returning to save his friends from Vader. The father and son dynamics between Vader and Luke get intense and complicated with Vader getting the upper hand in this one. (Sorry not sorry.)

In one of the darkest endings of any Star Wars film, at the end of the movie the Rebel Alliance is fractured and our heroes are on the run from the Empire.

To buy or rent Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back from our Cineplex store - click here!

7. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

After a failed attempt at rescuing his friends in Empire, Luke returns as a true Jedi master and triumphs. In a return to the more lighthearted mood of the original, Return of the Jedi features a host of fun and memorable characters including Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett, and a planet full of Ewoks! The epic final battle between Good vs Evil gets played out and the family drama comes to a dramatic conclusion.

Ultimately, the Rebel Alliance triumphs over the evil Empire, and Vader finally turns his back on the Emperor and becomes Anakin again, thanks to Luke's intervention. Peace is finally restored in the galaxy...for now.

To buy or rent Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in our Cineplex store - click here!

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Thirty years have passed since the events of Return of the Jedi and a new enemy now threatens the peace of the galaxy. The First Order, led by the mysterious Snoke (Andy Serkis), have risen from the ashes of the Empire to seize power over the new Republic.

Continuing with the family theme that plays out through the entire series, our new Big Bad is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the child of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Our original cast of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are back with Mark Hamill making a cameo at the film's very end. Most importantly, we are introduced to the new generation of rebels helping to take on Kylo Ren.

Rebel pilot Poe Daemeron (Oscar Isaac) has a critical piece of a map that may lead to Luke Skywalker's whereabouts. He's captured by Kylo Ren, but not before he hides the map in a droid named BB-8. A deserting Stormtrooper named FN-2187 or Finn (John Boyega) helps him escape. Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger, finds BB-8 and soon finds herself pursued relentlessly by Kylo Ren. Our new band of heroes saves the day, but at a high cost. (Heads up: a beloved character dies in this, so have tissues handy.)

The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams, broke numerous box-office records and became the highest-grossing installment in the franchise, the highest-grossing film in North America and the highest-grossing film of 2015.

To rent or buy Star Wars: The Force Awakens in our Cineplex store - click here!

9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The sequel to The Force Awakens picks up the storyline almost immediately. As Kylo Ren doggedly pursues the last of the Rebel fleet, seeking revenge for their thwarting of his plans, Rey finds Luke in hiding, having given up his Jedi ways. Both Rey and Kylo Ren use their command of the Force to try to sway each other to their respective sides.

This one has all the feels as Luke is persuaded to come out of retirement to help the rebels take on Kylo Ren. The movie received four nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects. It is a part of a trilogy, so this one does have a bit of a "to be continued" ending. We are very excited for the next chapter in a galaxy far, far away!

To rent or buy Star Wars: The Last Jedi in our Cineplex store - click here!

It's too early to say exactly where in this chronology Solo: A Star Wars Story takes place, but best guesses place it after the end of Revenge of the Sith and a few years before the events of Rogue One. In other words, we can expect the Empire and the Dark Side to have a presence in Solo, but it's likely that the Rebel Alliance isn't yet a fully credible threat to the rising Empire.

Based on what we already know about Han Solo's rogueish personality, we're betting that he won't be much of a fan of the Empire. Will that get him into all kinds of trouble? We'll have to wait and see Solo: A Star Wars Story to find out!

Tickets are on sale NOW for Solo: A Star Wars Story - click here for more info and may the Force be with you!