By Alex Fitzpatrick
November 19, 2015

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THE PHANTOM MENACE

Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn discovers Anakin Skywalker as a slave on Tatooine.

Already strong in the force, Anakin wins his freedom in a pod race.

Qui-Gon wants to train Anakin as a Jedi; Jedi leaders worry he might be evil–prescient!

FORCEMETER

LIGHT SIDE

DARK SIDE

Senator Palpatine makes a power move to take control of the Galactic Republic.

Qui-Gon, killed by Darth Maul, makes a dying wish: train Anakin as a Jedi.

BEST BATTLE

Anakin’s space skirmish takes a back seat to an epic lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon and the evil Darth Maul.

BATTLE RATING 8

U.S. BOX OFFICE

$707 million

ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Qui-Gon’s student, Obi-Wan Kenobi, takes Anakin as his apprentice.

Anakin is tortured with visions of his mother’s death; he returns to Tatooine.

Anakin is assigned to protect Senator Padmé Amidala; the two soon fall in love.

After learning a group of Tusken Raiders killed his mother, Anakin slaughters their village.

Anakin marries Padmé in secret, as romantic love is forbidden to Jedi.

BEST BATTLE

A lightsaber duel with Count Dooku costs Anakin his arm. It’s replaced with a robotic limb–foreshadowing!

BATTLE RATING 5

U.S. BOX OFFICE

$434 million

REVENGE OF THE SITH

Palpatine convinces Anakin to kill a defenseless Dooku.

Anakin has more visions of death. This time, it’s Padmé, who’s now pregnant.

Palpatine, really an evil Sith Lord, recruits Anakin by promising him the power to cheat death.

Anakin helps Palpatine kill most of the Jedi, even children.

Palpatine tells Anakin, now Darth Vader, he is responsible for Padmé’s death.

Padmé gives birth to twins–Luke and Leia–then dies.

BEST BATTLE

A fiery duel with Obi-Wan leaves Anakin burned and dismembered, explaining his iconic and ominous costume.

BATTLE RATING 10

U.S. BOX OFFICE

$495 million

A NEW HOPE

Vader captures Princess Leia Organa, now a Rebel, on her mission to share Death Star plans via R2-D2.

Those plans get to Luke on Tatooine, who receives Anakin’s lightsaber from Obi-Wan

Luke sets out to become a Jedi; he and Obi-Wan travel to Alderaan with Han Solo.

The Death Star destroys Alderaan, causing “a great disturbance in the Force.”

On the Death Star, Obi-Wan is killed by Vader in a lightsaber duel.

As Rebels attack the Death Star, Vader is sidelined by Han.

BEST BATTLE

The rematch between Vader and Obi-Wan offers Anakin a chance at revenge, but it’s heavy on dialogue and short on action.

BATTLE RATING 3

U.S. BOX OFFICE

$1.2 billion

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Vader’s forces attack the Rebel base on the icy planet Hoth.

Luke travels to Dagobah to meet Jedi Master Yoda; Han and others escape to Cloud City.

Han walks into a trap set by Vader, who freezes him in carbonite.

Against Yoda’s advice, Luke cuts short his training to save his friends.

Luke denies Vader’s claim, but searches his feelings and knows it to be true.

Vader reveals himself to Luke: “I am your father.”

BEST BATTLE

In Cloud City, Vader bests Luke in a shadowy lightsaber showdown the son simply isn’t ready for, costing him a hand.

BATTLE RATING 9

U.S. BOX OFFICE

$658 million

RETURN OF THE JEDI

Luke returns to Dagobah, where Yoda confirms Vader is his father, then dies.

Obi-Wan’s ghost tells Luke to confront Vader in battle once more.

Believing his father will return to the Light Side of the Force, Luke surrenders to the Empire.

On the second Death Star, Emperor Palpatine entices Luke to join him.

Luke refuses, so Palpatine attacks him; Vader kills the Emperor.

A redeemed Anakin asks Luke to remove his helmet so he can see his son with his own eyes.

BEST BATTLE

Palpatine nearly kills Luke with a barrage of cracking violet lightning, inspiring Vader to rediscover the good inside him.

BATTLE RATING 6

U.S. BOX OFFICE

$675 million

BOX OFFICE NUMBERS ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION

Write to Alex Fitzpatrick at alex.fitzpatrick@time.com.

This appears in the November 30, 2015 issue of TIME.

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