“In a galaxy far, far away” are the iconic words that start one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. Forty years ago on Friday, one of the film’s from George Lucas’ franchise released — “Return of the Jedi.”

Since the first film released in 1977, the “Star Wars” franchise has exploded into a sprawling pop culture phenomenon of films, spinoff series, video games, books and theme park rides — all connected to the fictional universe in the series.

Here’s a ranking of all the “Star Wars” films.

Lego set to (Boba) fête Star Wars with new May the 4th, Return of the Jedi anniversary releases

1. ‘Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back’

“I am your father” is one of the most iconic lines in movie history. The most stellar aspect of this movie are its action scenes. By now, the special effects seem dated, but those scenes have still held up because of how the scenes were staged. This may be the movie when “Star Wars” truly became epic — the film has a more serious tone than “A New Hope,” but also retains the wit of Han Solo.

This movie has become a pop culture phenomenon and it still is. In 2020, Brian Lowry said in a CNN article, “At the moment, the future of ‘Star Wars’ is, as Yoda would say, in motion. The linchpin of its past, however, runs straight through ‘Empire’ and the summer of 1980.”

There’s also something about it being the sequel to “A New Hope.” The success of that movie led to the creation of “The Empire Strikes Back” and since then, “Star Wars” has boomed.

2. ‘Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi’

This is where Luke’s relationship with his father really develops. The movie itself feels like an in-between of the two which precede it — the Jabba’s palace scenes are campy and a little sordid, but the action scenes are well done. Han Solo’s character develops and his relationship with Leia becomes more mature.

The Rebel Alliance’s fight scenes have interesting special effects and they do the pace well — it might not be the most interesting narrative a “Star Wars” movie has, but the character development and action scenes make up for it.

3. ‘Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope’

“A New Hope” is a little campy. It’s a great movie, but there are moments in action scenes, like when they’re running around inside the Death Star, that feel more campy than epic action drama. At the time, the special effects were advanced and even still they avoid the pitfalls of other special effects at the time. Since this is the film that started it all, it deserves a special place. It’s also just a great film.

4. ‘Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace’

Darth Maul is one of the most interesting Sith Lords. He wields a double-edged lightsaber and fights in a different way than other Sith Lords — his battle with the Jedi is perhaps the most interesting battle in the series. As one of the prequels, it explains more about the Force and brings in modern special effects. It doesn’t rank higher because the original movies are the best in terms of storytelling.

5. ‘Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones’

“The Attack of the Clones” feels like a longer movie than it actually is. A decent amount of the movie is world-building and backstory, which is interesting, but it makes the pace of the movie slower. The highlight of the film is Yoda’s fight scene with Count Dooku. More information about the rules of the Jedi and how the Sith operates is given, and Anakin’s character becomes a little insufferable. The movie gets a lot of points for its storytelling and its thoroughness in explaining the droid factory, but fewer for Anakin’s character.

6. ‘Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith’

It’s the downfall of Anakin Skywalker. Anakin’s reasons for becoming a Sith center around his desire to save Padme. But this is complicated by Anakin’s weak reasons around fearing who will be in power, which isn’t fully explored. The special effects in fight scenes were done well, but the storytelling in this movie wasn’t as strong, which is why it’s ranked lower.

7. ‘Rogue One’

Taken on its own, the film is pleasant to watch, but it’s not the best “Star Wars” film. It comes across as a more of a war film than a space epic, which is a departure from the other films. It’s not intended to be part of the main saga as it’s a spinoff, but it still had ties to the originals, including Jyn’s relationship with her father. It’s a good film, but its main issue was it didn’t depart enough from the main saga. The CGI was subpar, the battle scenes were interesting, but as a spinoff, it would have functioned better if it either committed to being a space epic or it created more distance.

8. ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi’

Was Luke Skywalker’s character ruined? That’s the main debate of this trilogy — by this point, Luke has exiled himself and is in the fallen hero archetype. This complicates the film for a couple of reasons. One, passionate viewers of the original films and even the prequels tend to think Luke Skywalker is one of the best characters. Making him a fallen hero complicates that. Also, it’s a predictable move — it’s part of the Skywalker cycle.

Kylo Ren is also somewhat predictable. He’s not different enough from Darth Vader — whom he worships — to be a unique villain. The good parts of the film are the action scenes and the return of Yoda.

9. ‘Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens’

Rey is basically a female version of Luke Skywalker, which is disappointing because there’s room for a new Jedi to emerge. The stories are the same, not in an artful parallel way, but the viewer is constantly reminded of that fact. Han Solo’s death was also disappointing — it reminded viewers of the scene between Luke and Darth Vader in “The Empire Strikes Back,” but is more disappointing than that.

The best part of the film was the cast — the individual members of the cast were great, but the writing could have been better.

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10. ‘Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker’

When Rey can hear the voices of previous Jedi, it feels like a scene out of “Harry Potter” or like a previous iteration of “Star Wars.” And that’s emblematic of this film — it’s derivative. It’s a good film, made technically well, but the film wasn’t unique. It didn’t end up adding much new or interesting to the saga and came across as an amalgamation of the films which precede it.

11. ‘Solo’

Harrison Ford had become synonymous with Han Solo and was a tough act to follow — unfortunately, the film failed to capture the gritty wit Han has. Lando Calrissian was the best character in the film whereas the other characters were just OK. If you’re a casual “Star Wars” fan or new to the franchise, it’s probably worth seeing, but it was ranked last on this list because it was just OK.