I saw Episode I: The Phantom Menace when it came out, so I "get" the universe, but I didn't go to see any of the other movies and now my girlfriend wants to see Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. Is it going to make sense to me?

I know there will be some new characters and plot points and so on that carry on from the parts in between, but I don't know how serialized the movies are and whether it's just going to be completely incomprehensible without all that context. That is, I'm worried that it's going to be two hours of total gibberish - I understand that there will be payoffs to plot threads that aren't significant to me.

I figure movies are meant to be accessible to someone who walks in off the street. However, I saw there was a "Do I need to have seen The Last Jedi?" question on this site where the answer seems to be (1) yes and (2) incomprehensible, and that's gotten me worried a bit.

By sheer cultural osmosis I am aware of the big twist from the old series that

Darth Vader


Luke Skywalker's father,

so presumably they're related to Anakin Skywalker in some way and so is this film, and I know that

his sister

Leia was played by Carrie Fisher, which created some problems for the new movie. I also saw some of the TV movie with Chewbacca taking his human friend on a spaceship to visit his planet, with the song and dance scenes, but I understand that's a sort of elseworlds project outside the canon of the series (I don't remember much of the part from the Chewbacca planet anyway). I did ride Star Tours at Disneyworld once and it was all fine without the movies. That's the limit of my Star Wars knowledge so far.

I guess on this site people will tell me that I should've seen all the movies, and maybe I should have, but it's not going to happen before this screening. So it's probably better if I've seen everything in between, but is it a complete lost cause otherwise? Is there something I particularly need to know about for it to work out?

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    I'll just say that, as someone who has seen more than once all the 9 (+2) films, some of the cartoons, role-played in SW universe, read some novels, pretty often discussed all this stuff along 42 years, even so I have talked at length with friends about this latest film (in part, admittedly, about small, nit-picking points), and am still not sure I have caught everything. – DaG Dec 28 '19 at 20:30
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    It will be a jumble of nonsense featuring characters you've only heard of, doing things that are incomprehensible and culminating in an ending that's entirely incoherent. – Valorum Dec 28 '19 at 21:14
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    If your girlfriend insists on taking you, I recommend going to Youtube and searching on 'Star Wars recap Rise of Skywalker'. Even though I have seen all the other films, I watched the 'Cram It' one that takes 40 minutes but still that's only 5 minutes per movie. There are shorter ones. Note that these 'spoil everything' prior to this film. But it doesn't sound like you're going to watch the rest in order anyway. – nebogipfel Dec 28 '19 at 22:04
  • Do you need to have seen the other movies to understand Rise? Yeah, probably. To enjoy it? I'd say no. I don't think it is going to be hard to distinguish the goodies from the baddies, and what more do you really need to enjoy a high-budget space western? On the other hand, the fact that you didn't bother to see any of the other movies suggests you aren't into that genre, so YMMV. On the gripping hand, if it will make your girlfriend happy, won't it be worth it anyway? It's only two hours. – Harry Johnston Dec 28 '19 at 23:34
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    Does this answer your question? Is it possible to skip The Last Jedi and still make sense of Rise of Skywalker? – Mr Lister Dec 29 '19 at 13:50

So I've now seen the film, and the answer is yes, it is entirely understandable without seeing the other movies. It's mostly a pretty up-tempo action movie where all all the roles are clear and there's no need to know their names. There are occasional bits of technobabble and exposition that might mean more with context, but they don't get in the way and everything makes sense on its own terms.

For all that the various points people listed here and in the other question are probably important, they don't actually matter — the villain is back, ok, there's a thing called a Holdo manoeuvre, cool, this is a very long-standing conflict, neat — those paint a background when they appear but don't hold up the film. It's just like coming in to a standalone movie that starts in medias res with a detailed universe.

The only bit of background knowledge that I think is needed going in is the real-world information that Carrie Fisher died during production, which connects some of the lingering moments with a secondary character.

I'm sure there are payoffs that I missed and didn't even realise were happening, but it didn't feel like I was missing out and it was definitely understandable.

For anybody who comes in with this very specific scenario - go ahead and see it without worrying. I won't go as far as saying that it's better this way, but it's a nice enough movie even without all the background.

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    Thanks for this testimony from a rather unique viewpoint – desertnaut Dec 31 '19 at 0:26
  • I see your point, and I'm sure your answer is obviously going to be helpful to many, but still...you both spent a considerable amount of money on something you enjoyed only a fraction of, when it would be relatively easy to spend a bunch of hours watching at least the other 2 movies in the same trilogy. – motoDrizzt Dec 31 '19 at 13:29
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    @motoDrizzt-Are you actually suggesting for another person to watch The Last Jedi? Damn, and i thought Palpatine was evil – Gothamite24 Dec 31 '19 at 19:19
  • @motoDrizzt I was the only one who hadn't seen the others. I don't know that I enjoyed only a fraction of it; it was fine throughout. If you mean I would have enjoyed it more with the context - maybe, though I'll be honest, adding "a bunch of hours at least" to the process is probably not a net positive for me. – Phantom Worrier Jan 1 at 20:52
  • @motoDrizzt: watching all the other Star Wars movies is a huge time investment and not clearly worth it for someone who obviously has not been that interested in the past. Not really worth it to squeeze out of $20. As someone similarly disinterested, I don’t even remember anything about the other two movies. – Shamshiel Jan 3 at 12:52

If you haven't watched any of them, it would create some huge problems. We already have a question talking about The Last Jedi, so I won't mention that. And I will try to avoid spoilers. But you'd have some serious issues:

  • Who is the main villain? What does it matter that he is back?

  • Who are the protagonists and how did they get where they are now?

  • What is a Sith? What is a Jedi? What is their history?

  • What is a stormtrooper? What does it mean that one of the protagonists used to be one?

  • What is the Force? What is the dark side?

  • What was the Empire? What was the Death Star?

  • What do all these family relationships mean?

And that is just for starters.

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You will be able to enjoy it as it's own movie, however, you and your girlfriend will both get more appreciation for having seen Episodes II-VIII, although neither of the Ewoks movies or Holiday Special are considered canon, so they can be skipped.

Think of it kind of like Avengers: Endgame. The movie itself is quite enjoyable and a treat for casual moviegoers. However, for the people who watched the first 21 movies before it, there's more moments where you feel more payoff and more awesome moments. The same applies here.

If you want a deep insight of the universe before going in, you can also watch the various TV series (The Clone Wars, Rebels, Resistance, & The Mandalorian), although they are not required viewing.

Hopefully, this helps :)

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  • Is there anything else i can add to the question in order to help out? – Gothamite24 Dec 30 '19 at 0:39
  • This was reassuring, thanks. I've now seen the film and yes, it's perfectly understandable on its own and none of those missing details matter for that. I wrote an answer below but the only bit of background that really seems needed is that Carrie Fisher died while they were making it. I'm sure you're right that seeing all the others (turns out there are more than 7!) would make it better but absolutely not required. – Phantom Worrier Dec 30 '19 at 1:17
  • Well, there are 16 movies and TV shows, if you don't count the LEGO properties. There are 5 LEGO games, i believe and 4 LEGO TV series, and 5 LEGO movies, all varying in length. Really, the only movies that WOULD make it better are Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, & Episode VII: The Force Awakens. – Gothamite24 Dec 30 '19 at 3:25

Yes and no.

On one hand, The Rise of Skywalker is the ending of a 40 years, 9 movies long saga. So no, taken by itself it doesn't make much sense. I mean, it's the closing movie of a trilogy which is the closing trilogy of an entire saga, are you really hoping you can see just the first movie and the last one and understand what's going on?

On the other hand it's basically Disney's trashing everything that has come before, to adjust the Star Wars universe to whatever new audience they believe they need to satisfy. So yes, you can take some shortcuts, but you still need to watch Episode 7 and 8 if you want to make any sense of it.

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  • Ok, thanks. I understand that there will be payoffs to plot threads that won't be significant to me, I'm really more concerned that it's going to be 2.5 hours of total gibberish without all eight movies in the bank. Sounds like maybe yes. – Phantom Worrier Dec 28 '19 at 20:51

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