Wow, this Machete Order thing got big! After the post first "went viral" and got mentioned on Wired.com, I started getting around 2,000 visitors to it per day, which I thought was a lot. But then in the months before Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released, it blew up like Alderaan, peaking at 50,000 visitors DAILY. This year, over 1.5 million unique users visited the page. It's been nuts.
So let me start out by thanking everyone for liking and spreading the original post - I'm truly floored by how well-received the post was. Considering I wrote a nearly 5,000-word essay on Star Wars, I'm pretty amazed that it was only a handful of times someone told me I was a loser neckbeard who needs to move out of my parents' basement and get a girlfriend (I'm married with a kid by the way). People only called for my public execution a couple times. On the internet, that's the equivalent of winning an Oscar, so thanks everyone!
In all seriousness, I've had thousands of people tell me I "fixed" Star Wars and made the saga more enjoyable for them. I think this is an unnatural amount of praise - after all, I'm just a guy who watched some movies in the wrong order and skipped one, then wrote down why. I didn't create fanedits or anything truly difficult like that. But at the same time, the reason I published the post in the first place was that I felt Machete Order "fixed" Star Wars for me personally, allowing me to use the relevant parts of the Prequels to make Return of the Jedi a better movie, so it's really awesome that so many other people felt similarly. All joking aside, thank you.
Since it's been about 4 years since the original Machete Order post, and now that Episode VII is out, I thought I'd post a small update answering a lot of the questions I've been asked and responding to the most common criticisms of Machete Order. There will be no spoilers of Episode VII here, though I will be talking about it a bit and I can't predict what people will post in the comments, so if you haven't seen it yet, make like a Tauntaun and split.
But Episode I has Maul!
"Are you really advocating I never watch Episode I or show it to anyone?"
Man, no. By far the most common complaint is that I am advocating never watching Episode I, and that's a shame because it has the best podrace/duel/song/whatever. So let me be perfectly clear, I am not advising anyone to pull their Episode I disc out of their box set and throw it in the garbage. By all means, watch Episode I. Hell, I think Episode I is probably a better movie than Episode II is.
The point of Machete Order is not, and has never been, ignoring Episode I because it's bad. It's been about skipping it because it's not relevant to Luke's journey. Episodes II and III are, because we see how his father falls to the Dark Side, and we see elements of his path that are mirroring his father's.
By all means, if you like Episode I, watch it. What I'm advocating though, is watching it sort of like an Anthology film - remember that we're going to be getting Han Solo origin movies and Boba Fett spinoffs and Rogue One films, and so on, until Disney stops making money off Star Wars. These movies are all going to take place at different times, between different Episodes, or before all of them. If you enjoy or want to share Episode I, I say view it as an Anthology movie, sort of like a prequel to the entire series.
In other words, when you're watching "The Main Saga", like maybe if you're doing a Marathon or you're introducing someone to Star Wars for the first time, watch in Machete Order: IV, V, II, III, VI. When you're done and that "book" is closed, you can pull in whatever "Anthology" stuff you enjoy, such as the Clone Wars TV shows or movies, the Han Solo spinoff, and Episode I.
But for some kind of contiguous viewing experience, I think Episode I should be skipped, because it provides mostly backstory to the Republic itself and political goings-on. This makes it an interesting prequel to the entire saga, but a useless distraction from Luke's journey.
But Episode I has backstory!
"Aren't parts of Episode I crucial pieces to the story?"
No, they aren't. They might be crucial pieces to the Star Wars overall story, but not to Luke's story, which is the whole point of Machete Order: re-centering the main saga narratively on Luke.
Yes Sheldon, Chancellor Valorum is relevant to understanding Palpatine's rise to power. Yes, Qui-Gon's belief that Anakin is the chosen one, combined with his untimely demise are very directly responsible to understanding Anakin's fall. Those make them interesting backstory - but they are not relevant to Luke's journey.
People who point this out act like it's sacrilege to (temporarily, see above!) skip Episode I because it fleshes out the Star Wars universe in various ways. So they might advocate Episodes I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, in order. But imagine that Disney releases an Episode 0, all about how Qui-Gon ignored some other ancient Jedi prophecy, and as a result his entire family died or something. This would provide a great understanding of why Qui-Gon is so insistent on training Anakin, and why he passes that burden to Obi-Wan. If someone were to suggest skipping Episode 0, by the logic of Machete Order detractors this would be impossible, because it's critical in understanding Qui-Gon's motivations. But skipping it would simply be regular Episode Order that we have now, which is what they're arguing for. This could go back forever, the exact order being advocated as "correct" is somehow now missing a critical component, because it skips hypothetical "Episode -1" and "Episode -2".
In other words, we don't really need to know why Qui-Gon is so intent on Anakin being trained or why he believes so strongly in a prophecy that the rest of the council doesn't seem to care much about. "He just does" is a perfectly fine answer for now, and it would be a perfectly fine answer if Episode 0 existed too. Similarly, we don't really need to know all of the machinations that led to Anakin embracing to the dark side, "he just does" is perfectly suitable, and in fact I argue that "he lacks proper training" is a far less sympathetic answer than "it's very seductive", which is what we're left with skipping Episode I.
All of these movies make references to past events that we don't ever see on screen. That's what these big "worldbuilding" movies are all about, and why there's a whole business for books and comics and video games to support them. We don't need to see Anakin's mother becoming a slave (not even in a movie), just like we don't need to know exactly why Nute Gunray hates Padme so much in Episode II. It's all backstory and fleshes things out a bit, but it's not critical, your mind fills in the gaps, makes educated guesses, and so on.
Bear in mind, people happily enjoyed Star Wars without ANY of the prequels for sixteen years, and nothing that happened in the original trilogy left some kind of gaping unanswered question in the minds of the audience. So really, since the whole point of Machete Order is refocusing the story on Luke, claiming that any part of the prequels is truly necessary is a bit of a hard sell. I argue that Episodes II and III make Luke's story more enjoyable to watch in VI, but crucial? As in, unable to be understood without them? Nah.
But the prequels aren't that bad!
"I grew up with the prequels and they're not as bad as you think! You're blinded by nostalgia for the originals!"
I had no idea what a huge population there was of Prequel fans, people who were born in the 90's and grew up watching the prequel trilogy and love them. Many people even claim Episode I is their favorite, or their favorite character is Jar-Jar. These people are not trolls, they genuinely love these movies. In fact they claim that the only reason that myself and others dislike the prequels is because our own nostalgia for the original trilogy blinds us to their flaws.
First, a bit of an admission: I am not a huge Star Wars "superfan"; I'm just a movie geek. If I was some kind of rabid Star Wars fanboy, I would imagine I'd consider it borderline blasphemous to advocate skipping an entire film in the Gospel of Star Wars. But as a movie nerd, I'm more than happy to make whatever adjustments I think make for a better film-watching experience, because Star Wars is just a bunch of movies to me. I skip Godfather III and The Incredible Hulk too. They're just movies.
So, here's my big secret: I did not grow up watching Star Wars. In fact, whenever I saw clips or images from the movies, I thought they looked boring (it looked like they mostly took place in the desert), and I skipped them. I liked parody movies, so I watched Spaceballs instead (a bunch). It was not until I was a senior in high school that my older sister discovered I still hadn't seen any Star Wars movies, and insisted I watch them. This was in 1999. To reiterate: I saw Episodes IV, V, VI, and I all for the first time, the same year, when I was seventeen.
As a result, I can confidently say that I am not blinded by nostalgia for the original trilogy - they played no role in my childhood. I saw Episode I almost immediately after seeing the original trilogy, and I feel totally justified in saying that the prequel trilogy films, every single one of them, is vastly inferior to the original trilogy entries. I think my opinion here is pretty much objective - in fact I think the younger crowd talking about the greatness of the prequels are the ones blinded by their nostalgia.
Further, the very first versions of the original trilogy I saw were the Special Editions, because that's what was available on VHS at the local video store at the time. Han never shot first for me. A cartoon Jabba always talked to Han after Greedo, Jabba's palace has always had an extended dance number, and the entire galaxy (not just Ewoks) always celebrated the fall of the Empire, at least for me. I didn't see the "Despecialized" versions until years and years later, and so I can once again confidently say, with total objectivity, that they are better than the special editions. The improved special effects for Cloud City and some matte improvements are welcome, but otherwise the Special Editions make the movies worse.
Look, you can like or even love the prequels, and I totally understand why you might if you grew up watching them. But really, they are dreadfully bad movies, as far as movies go. Frankly I also think Return of the Jedi isn't a very good movie either, it's a mediocre movie that's elevated by having stellar moments. But all three of them are parsecs better than all of the prequels (yes, even III, "the good one").
It doesn't make the prequels genuinely good movies just because you liked them when you were a kid. Kids are completely capable of loving terrible movies. Kids are stupid. When I was a kid, I thought the two best movies in the world were Back to the Future and Superman III. Turns out, one of them is genuinely good, and one of them is actually dog shit.
I am officially completely dismissing outright any criticism that my dislike for the prequels is because of my nostalgic childhood affection for the originals. I have no such childhood affection, and the prequels are dreck. Sorry.
What About Force Lightning?
"Doesn't Machete Order ruin the surprise that Emperor Palpatine can shoot lightning?"
Yep, sure does. This was something I hadn't realized before, and was pointed out to me by a commenter. But indeed, if you're watching the original trilogy, the first time Palpatine starts electrocuting Luke, it's quite a shock (har har).
With Machete Order, this surprise happens when Count Dooku just casually does it in Episode II. It's a real shame because it doesn't have the emotional or narrative impact here. I have no real defense for this, and I actually now consider it Machete Order's greatest flaw.
I kind of always thought the lightning wasn't a "Sith power" so much as something that Palpatine could do because he's so incredibly fucking evil. But no, the prequels make it clear this is just one of the video game powers you get by embracing the darkside, and they just do it willy nilly all over the place. Apparently you can just absorb it with a lightsaber if you have one handy, or without one if you're Yoda (hint to Luke, don't throw your lightsaber away, it has a +2 against Force Lightning!)
It's even kind of annoying that this is typically referred to as "force lightning" now, like it's some kind of standard-issue thing you learn in Graduate Level Sith Academy before you get your diploma. I think it was better when it was just "that evil scary crazy lightning shit The Emperor does out of nowhere." But alas, the prequels ruined this (have I mentioned that they suck?) and Machete Order is unable to fix it.
The only way to preserve this twist is to simply move Episode VI two movies earlier, which is effectively just Release Order (IV, V, VI, I, II, III). I like the lightning surprise a lot but I think overall it's worth giving it up in order to make the final confrontation between the Emperor, Vader, and Luke more enjoyable by watching II and III first.
The best defense I can offer is that there's basically no way to preserve this twist without moving the "Luke and Leia are twins" surprise back to Episode VI. And as I've pointed out elsewhere, it actually works far better at the end of III, when the audience has no idea they are related, but does know who they are (by watching IV and V before it). So in a sense, you kind of have to choose if you want an effective twin twist or an effective lightning twist, and I personally choose the twins.
Where Does Episode VII fit?
"Now that The Force Awakens is out, how does it fit in Machete Order?"
It's amazing how often I've been asked this. I was even getting asked this question before I'd seen the movie, in the form of "now that (spoiler), where does it fit with Machete Order!?" so thanks for that.
But I could have answered this question before even seeing Episode VII, and now that I've seen it I'm just as confident in my answer. It goes after.
IV, V, II, III, VI, VII.
The Force Awakens is a continuation of the story, and without giving any spoilers away, having now seen the film I'm confident the entire sequel trilogy is going to be viewable as a continuation or epilogue to Luke's Journey. Thus it is even more appropriate than ever to refocus the first part of the saga, Luke's adventure as a young man, by framing Episodes II and III within the narrative as relevant to Luke's own temptations.
Clone Wars, Episode I, Rogue Squadron, Young Han Solo, The Adventures of Yoda, Boba Fett's Big Day, and whatever other movies come out that aren't part of the numerical "Episode" structure, can all pretty much be viewed in any order, as supplemental material outside of the "main saga" which I suggest viewing in the above order. Before watching any of those movies, you just say "this takes place between X and Y" and you're done. I don't imagine Episode 7, or even Episode 9 will be the last Star Wars Episode that Disney releases, either. It's entirely possible that the Episodes 10-12 "trilogy" will be a completely separate thing, but for now it seems clear that going forward my position is going to be:
IV, V, II, III, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII...
In any case, for the time being my answer is: watch Star Wars in Machete Order (4, 5, 2, 3, 6), and then watch all subsequent episodes in the order they're released, because they are both in episode order and chronological order, so there's no reason to play musical chairs with them.
But What If The Next One...?
"What if Episode VIII reveals that (spoiler)?"
There's lots of speculation in the wake of Episode VII's release. There's a particular piece of speculation that I personally am not dismissing at all, which would present a bit of a problem for Machete Order if it turns out to be true. Basically, if any of these Star Wars movies come out and have something happen that will basically make no sense unless you've seen Episode I, Machete Order is bunk. But I think that's very unlikely to happen, Disney is trying to capture a new audience, even Episode VII is largely watchable even if you've never seen any of the previous movies. Hell, any one of the Star Wars films works without any other Episodes - the whole point of the opening crawls is that they harken back to the days of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials where people would permanently miss episodes and need summaries to be caught up.
Is it possible that Episodes VIII or IX would contain some revelations or twists that would be more enjoyable if you've seen Episode I? Yeah, completely possible, but I doubt anything will make Episode I required viewing. So I'm still confident in saying, even if you're watching Star Wars films in preparation to watch entries in the sequel trilogy, Episode I can still be skipped.
Besides, "Darth Jar Jar" was dismissed by J.J. Abrams so I think Machete Order is safe.
Did you like Episode VII?
"What did you think of The Force Awakens?"
I'm surprised people care what I think of the movie itself. I may publish a full review on another movie blog I run, but let me summarize with: it's fine. I think it's generally pretty forgettable like most of J.J. Abrams's movies, and I think like all his other movies, the more you think about what happens in it, the less sense it makes.
But I'm also reserving judgment until the other episodes are released. Lots of things that seem like huge coincidences or plot holes could easily be addressed and explained in subsequent films. It's certainly the best movie J.J. has ever made, and it's definitely better than the prequels, at the very least in terms of technicals.
Aesthetically and tonally, it's much more similar to the original trilogy than it is to the prequel trilogy, and I'd argue far closer to the originals than the prequels were themselves. It "feels like Star Wars" though I think a big part of that is that it leans so heavily on the original films that one could easily mount an argument that it's a soft reboot. I'm certainly not the first to point out how much it borrows from the prior films, and I think it's a legitimate criticism.
In a lot of ways, Episode VII is a highly cynical piece of marketed, productized material. For all their faults, you can tell that the prequel trilogy films existed because George Lucas had a story that he really wanted to tell. Episode VII didn't give me that feeling, it didn't come off like a movie that was dying to get out of the creative mind of an auteur. It felt like a product that had been assembled and expertly directed by a committee of very smart businesspeople. It was naked and transparent in its intentions and its methodologies, pulling the strings to elicit an almost impossible-to-avoid sense of joy in the audience.
None of this is to say it's bad - far from it. I, the puppet, was able to look up and see all of the strings attached to me, and notice as they were pulled and prodded. I rolled my eyes, knowing exactly what my puppet masters were doing and why. But it didn't change the fact that the puppet masters were successful in eliciting the desired movements from me. They forced me to feel joy, I was aware that it was being forced, but I felt it nonetheless.
I enjoyed the hell out of Episode VII and I consider it an extremely good but flawed movie, a quality "Star Wars Sequel" like Return of the Jedi, that manages to be a good franchise entry but not an "excellent film" on its own in the way that Empire Strikes Back and the original Star Wars are. Like Die Hard is a classic piece of near-perfect filmmaking, it belongs in the pantheon of great films for all time. Die Hard 3 is a really good Die Hard sequel, but it's not a timeless classic like Die Hard. Same deal for Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens - great entries in their franchises, but not Top 100 Films of all Time material.
In any case, I'm definitely looking forward to Episode VIII. I think the franchise is in good hands and, made-by-committee or not, there's a level of consistent quality that makes me confident in future installments. I hope that Episode VII got all of the placating fanservice out of the way and calmed everyone's fears about the upcoming slate of movies, so now they can focus on just telling interesting, original stories set in the Star Wars universe, and I think that's relatively likely (fingers crossed).
Where Does Rogue One fit?
"Since Rogue One is basically a prequel to IV, should Machete Order start with it?"
Every time a new Star Wars movie comes out, I get a bunch of tweets and e-mails asking where it fits in Machete Order. It's flattering people care so much, but my answer is probably going to always be the same. So I'm going to try and answer it once and for all.
In my opinion, it doesn't matter that Rogue One takes place right before A New Hope. The purpose of Machete Order was and always will be to refocus the story of the Original and Prequel Trilogies to be about Luke's journey. Episodes II and III aren't included for all their mythos and world-building, they're included because Anakin's fall is directly relevant to Luke's path.
Lots of people are claiming Rogue One is "necessary" now because it helps explain a lot of A New Hope. I disagree. The original Star Wars (Episode IV) is a timeless piece of groundbreaking cinema, and it's been beloved by generations for nearly 40 years without Rogue One. I don't know how much less "necessary" a film could get than having 40 years of fans being unbothered by its nonexistence. It is true that Rogue One is essentially a two-hour retcon of a huge 2-meter-wide plothole, but the film is structured as a retcon, not as a new introduction to the series. Some have suggested Rogue One should be the first film in the viewing order and I don't see it at all. That's like suggesting you read "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" before "Hamlet". Rogue One doesn't work as an introduction, it does none of the worldbuilding that A New Hope does (or hell, even that The Phantom Menace does). Frankly, the movie's most glaring flaw is that the first 45 minutes or so are incredibly rushed and disjointed - the film's own characters aren't given proper introductions, let alone the entire galaxy. Characters in Rogue One talk about The Force without a single line explaining what it is. Darth Vader's introduction is abysmal if it's the first time an audience is seeing him, and his first scene ends with a dorky pun. No, Rogue One as the first movie doesn't work to me, I cannot strongly enough recommend against showing someone who has never seen Star Wars the Rogue One entry first. These Anthology films are meant to viewed in the margins of the main Episode series, that's where they belong.
All of these "A Star Wars Story" entries are going to basically work in any order, after viewing the main Episodic content. When the Han Solo movie comes out, I virtually guarantee that it'll work better when viewed after the main Episodes than it would before the Original Trilogy. This is why I recommend viewing all of the actual Episodes released thus far, and then viewing all the other Star Wars stuff, optionally, after that. If the Episodes are up to Episode XII by the time someone wants to watch Star Wars, do Machete Order for the Original/Prequel Trilogies, then Episodes VII through XII, then any/all of other Star Wars content, in any order. It's in this category of "other Star Wars stuff" that I'd put any TV series, the Clone Wars cartoon, the Holiday Special, Rogue One, any Star Wars Anthology films and, yes, Episode I.
So, every Christmas when one of these Star Wars movies comes out, this is my final answer. Machete Order, then episodes VII through whatever, then anything else. I'd be absolutely shocked if a Star Wars movie ever comes out that will make me want to "revise" Machete Order.
What Would Alter Machete Order?
"If Rogue One doesn't make you want to update and revise Machete Order, what would?"
Just to cover my bases, here are the situations that would make me want to update this post with a revised Machete Order. Like I said above, Machete Order is just for the Original and Prequel trilogy, to focus on Luke. I consider it extremely unlikely that any future movie would make me want to alter it in some way, but here are the only situations I can think of that would:
- A movie that expands Luke's journey - The purpose of Machete Order is essentially to hijack the prequel trilogy which is meant to be "about" Anakin Skywalker and re-purpose it to be tangentially about Luke Skywalker instead. As I've said, the prequels don't really work if they're about Anakin (he doesn't even show up until 30 minutes into The Phantom Menace), but they do work if they show a contrasting path to Luke's journey so that you understand his temptation toward the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi. If one of these Star Wars Anthology films were to come out that helped flesh that out even further, I could see wanting to modify Machete Order to include it. For example if they were to make an Obi-Wan movie starring Ewan McGregor and a substantial portion of the film included scenes of him watching over and interacting with Young Luke, I could see suggesting that movie be viewed between III and VI. There's a lot of demand for an Obi-Wan movie so I think that this is somewhat likely, though I'm not sure that it will expand on Luke enough to be worth adding a 6th film to the Machete Order.
- A movie that retcons/fixes issues introduced with Machete Order -
Machete Order has a couple issues that I've mentioned previously, the largest of which is that when Anakin returns to Tattooine in Episode II, we find out that his mother is a slave and that he built C3P0, both of which were established in Episode I (which we skipped). If a Star Wars Anthology film were to be released that was something like The Adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin before the Clone Wars and that film manages to reestablish the stuff that Episode I establishes, I might suggest it be viewed between Epsiodes V and II. However, I don't see this as a possibility due to Ewan McGregor and Hayden Chistensen aging, and I highly doubt Disney would want to return to this particular era of the Star Wars mythos anyway since they're the least-liked films.
- An official Episode pulls in information only shown in Episode I - As I've mentioned previously, if Snoke turns out to be Jar Jar or something goofy like that, Episode I will become required viewing and Machete Order will be bunk.
I am currently unable to think of anything else that would make me want to change Machete Order in any official way. Essentially, these reasons boil down to a) a movie makes the point of Machete Order (Luke's story) better b) a movie fixes a thing that makes Machete Order worse or c) Machete Order is invalidated altogether.
Is Machete Order Still Relevant?
"Disney is releasing a new Star Wars movie every year - does Machete Order even still matter?"
Honestly, probably not. I still think that, if you're going to watch the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy, the best way to watch them is to skip Episode I and watch in Machete Order. However, in the Disney era of Star Wars, I'm not entirely sure that viewing the Original and Prequel trilogies even matters anymore.
I know that this is sacrilege and it makes me sad too because I think the Original Trilogy is great, but you have to sort of look down the lens of time for a bit and realize that, at some point, there will be 50 or so Star Wars movies. There may well be theatrically released Star Wars movies that you don't get to watch because you're dead. When the 50th Star Wars film is released in theaters, will someone have to watch all 49 previous films to watch it? Remember, these movies are for kids, so you're talking about sitting an 8-year-old down to watch over 100 hours of film and who-knows-how-many hours of Television, just go to see a silly movie about laser swords and space ships.
As of this writing, the only Episode we have after the Original and Prequel Trilogies is The Force Awakens. And yeah, that movie has Han Solo, Luke, Leia, C3P0, R2D2, references to Vader, and so on. With only 6 other Episodes (5 with Machete Order), it's not unreasonable to sit down and marathon the other films before watching The Force Awakens. But once the Sequel Trilogy is completed and we're at Episode IX, will the other trilogies be necessary viewing? I honestly don't think so - I think The Force Awakens can be watched as the very first Star Wars movie a person sees, and it works just fine. Everything from previous films is either established well enough in The Force Awakens, or treated like a mysterious legend. The truth is, pretty much any of these movies can be watched alone, that's what the opening crawl is for. And yes, Episode VIII will likely have Luke training Rey or something like that, so I would argue that Episodes VII-IX are an extension of Luke's story and thus should be viewed after a Machete Order viewing of the other trilogies. But I have no doubt that Luke and Leia will both be dead by the end of Episode IX, so by the time Episode X is released, will someone need to watch the other trilogies? Won't those stories be about Finn, Rey, or possibly their descendants, or yet another new set of characters?
It's like the Marvel movies. If someone wanted to go see Civil War in theaters having never seen an MCU movie, I don't think I'd tell them "alright well, pull up a chair and we'll watch these 12 movies first." I think I'd try to whittle it down a bit; what's truly necessary to enjoy Civil War? Well you need to understand Captain America and Iron Man's motivations the most, so Iron Man and maybe Iron Man 2 are required, as well as Captain America and The Winter Soldier. You can skip the Thor movies, Hulk movie, and Guardians movie because they aren't in Civil War. You're going to need to watch The Avengers and Age of Ultron to see the group working as a team to put emotional weight behind them splintering. Iron Man 3 is sort of important to watch to explain Tony Stark's actions in Age of Ultron. Ant-Man might be worth watching because he's in the airport fight, but he's only in that one scene so I'd probably skip it, too. So Iron Man 1, Iron Man 2, Captain America 1, The Avengers, Iron Man 3 (maybe), Captain America 2, Avengers 2, then Civil War. 7 movies instead of 12.
I think that would maximize one's enjoyment of Civil War while minimizing the number of films watched beforehand, but I'm not sure those 7 movies are "needed" per se. In a lot of ways, even framing the question as "what previous films need to be watched before the new one?" doesn't really work in the modern era. That kind of question made sense when movie sequels tended to get up to number 3 or sometimes 4. In the case of cheesy horror movies, they might even make it up to 6 or sometimes 10 before being remade altogether. But the cinematic landscape has changed since The Avengers and studios are all trying to build massive connected cinematic universes. Quick, without checking Wikipedia, which movie came first: Thor or Captain America 1? Unless you're a superfan of the MCU, you probably don't know. "Which previous entries should I watch?" is a relic of an era of moviemaking that is, frankly, gone (at least for a while). It's the kind of thinking that doesn't apply anymore. Any of these connected universe movies can be viewed in any order, and usually they take great pains to work as the "first" movie, especially when they're geared towards children.
If you're going for a full Marathon of Star Wars, Machete Order is the way to go when covering the Original and Prequel trilogies. Or if someone loved The Force Awakens and wanted the backstory, Machete Order all the way. But I think the Original and Prequel Trilogies are going to become increasingly irrelevant as time goes on. One of the main criticisms of The Force Awakens is that it pulls so much material from the original trilogy that it seems like fanservice. I think that's missing the forest for the trees - The Force Awakens is re-using elements from the OT because it's a quasi-reboot. It's intentionally giving us another Death Star, a Vader-esque character, a Luke-esque protagonist, a trench assault on a giant base, and a retread story about a secret file carried by a droid for a group of rebels trying to destroy an empire. It's doing all that so that people who watch The Force Awakens without watching any previous Star Wars movie can enjoy those elements. The truth is, going forward the Star Wars films you personally love will just seem old and stupid to kids growing up on the Disney era. The new ones aren't really for you, they're for your children and grandchildren.
Those are all the questions I get regularly. I think I'll update this one post with new questions I get in the future, so that my poor little Software Engineering blog doesn't turn into Star Wars Central or something. If you have other criticisms of Machete Order or other questions, feel free to leave a comment. I've gotten over 1,000 comments on the original post, and I read them all.
And again, thank you to everyone who made Machete Order blow up all over the place. I've been on the radio multiple times and NPR, and had articles that mention me by name published in New York Daily News, Washington Post, and CNN. The order has been mentioned on King of the Nerds, The Big Bang Theory and Late Night with Seth Meyers by one of my favorite comedians, Patton Oswalt. As far as 15 minutes of fame go, it's been a real blast, and I have everyone who saw the post and shared it to thank.
May the Force be with you, always.