I’m super excited to have a long time Star Wars fan here today to tell you what he thinks about introducing your children to Star Wars. Here is Jared Burkholder.
Anyone who has ever watched (and loved) Star Wars has a story to tell about the first time they saw those iconic words scroll up the screen and heard Darth Vader’s ominous breathing. If you’re anything like me you were instantly and incurably hooked. I consumed the original trilogy in one sitting. I had a Millennium Falcon and even froze my Han Solo action figure in a block of ice (carbonite is hard to come by for a kid). I loved it, and when I became a parent I couldn’t wait to introduce it to my kids.
There are many things to consider when introducing your kids to Star Wars and there is no shortage of very passionate opinions on the internet. I have given much thought to this topic and believe that I’ve come up with some answers that will help you successfully navigate your children’s first steps into the Star Wars universe.
What’s the right age?
All parents know that kids can be as diverse as Luke and Leia-same family, worlds apart. So when deciding what’s the right age, the answer will depend on your kids. The younger they are, the more likely it is that they will miss large portions of the story but will be more readily entertained by the special effects of the original trilogy. The older they are, the more likely they are to already know major plot points and reveals (i.e. Luke’s father.) However, they are also more likely to understand and enjoy the franchise. The overall theme is good vs. evil and it’s not too heavy-handed. There are some darker moments like the massacre at the Jedi Temple in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. So you may want to prepare your little Padawan when you get to those parts.
What’s the right order?
I believe that the age of introduction will have an impact on viewing order. If your child is young you may want to start with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It will have plenty of odd characters, cool fight scenes and funny moments to keep them entertained. If your child is older you may want to start with Episode IV: A New Hope and watch the original trilogy first just like you did. Here is the order I suggest:
Episode IV: A New Hope
You have to start with this one. It’s the foundation. All of the other movies revolve around the characters and themes introduced in A New Hope. If you really want to share this with your kids then it’s best to have them start where you started.
“Search your feelings, you know it to be true.”
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This is the whole reason you start with the originals. The big reveal of Darth Vader, “No, I am your father.” If you watch them in numerical order you lose the impact of that statement. Your kids will be blown away just like you were.
“Great job, don’t get cocky, kid.”
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Now is when I suggest you go back and watch the prequels. While this is considered to be the worst movie in the franchise, I think you should still have your kids watch it. It’s true that all of the principal characters introduced are either killed off (Qui-Gon Jin, Darth Maul), fleshed out in greater detail in subsequent movies (Mace Windu) or just plain annoying (Jar-Jar Binks). While you could easily appreciate the entire story without having watched the first episode, I say let your kids decide. At the very least, they will like the pod racing scene, which is pretty cool, and then, they will mature and come to dislike it as you do.
“Don’t give in to the hate, that leads to the dark side.”
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
This one begins to explain why Anakin Skywalker becomes so filled with hate. We also get to see Ewan McGregor do a fantastic impression of Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
“The Force is strong with this one.”
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This is probably the darkest episode in the entire series. If your kids are still young they may need some help getting through the pretty violent conclusion of the battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. It’s a harder movie to watch because of its themes but the payoff comes in the next movie, as Yoda said,
“Patience you must have my young Padawan.”
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Watching this after the dark and murder-y Revenge of the Sith will be refreshing. It starts out with hope (Solo is still alive) and ends with redemption (Anakin saves his son and the universe.)
“You do have your moments. Not many, but you have them.”
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
You’re going to love watching this with your kids. It successfully bridges the generational gap. There’s plenty of nostalgia for us old fogies and plenty of fresh faces and storylines for the new fans. It’s also one of the funniest Star Wars films.
“Laugh it up, fuzzball.”
Star Wars is an intense, fun and ultimately rewarding series of movies. You have no doubt identified with them in some way and now you have the opportunity to share that with your kids. Enjoy it and as a wise Jedi master once said,
“Always pass on what you have learned.”