Why ‘Revenge of the Sith’ Is My Favorite ‘Star Wars’ Movie

If you’ve ever met a Star Wars fan, you know how invested people can be in this franchise. They are passionate and protective of their favorite characters and films. They definitely have a favorite series or moment in Star Wars and you can bet they have their least favorite moments as well. Star Wars fans can get defensive, especially when talking about their favorite film set in a galaxy far, far away. And, of course, they might even judge you depending on what yours is too. As a female fan who’s covered Star Wars for a living in the past, I know this intimately and still am not afraid to state such a controversial phrase as: I love Revenge of the Sith the most.

Yes, yes, I know. You can pause for dramatic effect. Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith does not have a good rep with many Star Wars fans. It was the last installment in the prequel trilogy and the last Star Wars movie (and last movie, period) that George Lucas directed. It is arguably the best prequel film and led to the highly anticipated reprisal of Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Disney+ series. However, in comparison to the many movies in the Skywalker Saga today, and especially the spinoff Rogue One, it's not always at the top of people's "Best of Star Wars" lists. As a lifelong fan, I know this. Believe me, I do. But that does not make it any less true that Revenge of the Sith is my favorite Star Wars movie of all time.

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The Prequels Had Some Tough Obstacles To Overcome

<p>Lucasfilm Ltd./Everett</p>

Lucasfilm Ltd./Everett

The Star Wars prequels, being a continuation of a massive and important franchise, had a lot riding against them from the get-go. They were up against high expectations from older fans, along with the fact that there wouldn’t be a ton of recognizable faces this time around. Sure, you had R2-D2 and C3PO. But other than familiar names and younger versions of characters, you couldn’t exactly bring back beloved actors like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher or Harrison Ford in a movie that takes place almost two decades before A New Hope.

On top of those massive shoes to fill, the prequels came with a more earnest tone than the original trilogy did. While Episodes IV, V, and VI weren’t meant to be fully silly or campy, they could be at times while also being a bit whimsical, not taking themselves too seriously. And with the new CGI and special effects of the prequels—at least new to the early 2000s—and the seriousness and angst of Anakin Skywalker’s (Hayden Christensen) arc, the prequels were just not able to lean into campiness in the same way. Anakin was angsty and sometimes a little too aloof for some fans’ liking. This made lines like, “I don't like sand,” come off worse (or memorably worse) than a similarly annoying teen Luke whining “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!” in 1978.

Despite the fact that Anakin Skywalker made several good points about sand being “coarse, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere,” he was remembered for that silly line because it was during a pretty intense subplot where Anakin is warring with feelings for Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), who he then shares a first kiss with. It’s for reasons like this that the prequels were originally looked down upon by lovers of the originals.

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The Prequels Gained a Whole New Generation of Star Wars Fans

Regardless of all of that, though, the prequel Star Wars trilogy holds a special place in the hearts of kids who grew up with it. Those of us who went to see The Phantom Menace in theaters at three years old, or who cried in the audience at 10 during the Mustafar scene in Revenge of the Sith, are going to feel differently about these movies. Star Wars is indeed made for children, so you can’t be mad at a whole generation of Star Wars fans discovering this franchise through the prequels and attaching themselves to it (don’t tell the Jedi).

For me, Revenge of the Sith is so enthralling and a movie I can’t turn away from because of just how dramatic and angsty it is. It’s the ultimate culmination of the story at the core of the prequels: Anakin Skywalker’s journey from a 9-year-old on Tattooine, to a cocky, rebellious teen, into a (still) cocky, daring Jedi Knight who just wants to secure something he was never able to have—family—leading to his downfall.

<p>Disney / Lucasfilm</p>

Disney / Lucasfilm

As a child getting to know Anakin and seeing the ways in which his efforts at being a good Jedi keep resulting in disaster was disheartening. He’s made to be the hero we root for, and it’s so dramatic and sad to see his turn to the Dark Side. Sure, as an adult, I can better see how he didn’t do himself many favors. But being an adult means that I can also see just how screwed up the Jedi Order was. With not even a therapist at his disposal, it’s no wonder why Anakin felt like he had to aggressively protect what he loved most to the point of destroying it all in an emotional break for the ages.

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Revenge of the Sith Just Hits So Many Emotional Notes

There are also so many other reasons why Revenge of the Sith just makes my fangirl feels flutter. Being a massive Anakin and Padmé “shipper” before I could coherently even understand what that meant, this movie shows the Greek tragedy that is the end of their relationship and the death of Padmé. There’s the moment where we see the last time Obi-Wan (McGregor) and Anakin interact before Anakin turns into Darth Vader, both unaware of what was coming. And of course, there’s the moment where Anakin disarms (literally) Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), which always makes me scream, “Don’t do it!” even though I know the ending.
Of course, the climax of Revenge of the Sith is probably the biggest reason I adore this film so much. I don’t think any fight in Star Wars hits me as hard, emotionally, as Obi-Wan and Anakin’s duel on Mustafar (though Vader and Ahsoka's in Star Wars Rebels is a very close second). The lava, the darkness in Anakin, the way they’re so in sync because Kenobi taught his padawan everything he knows! Plus, don’t even get me started on the poetic dialogue that leads into their fight.

“I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire…”

“Your new empire?!?”

“Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic. To DEMOCRACY!”

“...Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

The anguish, the pain, the betrayal and Obi-Wan having the high ground! The prequels come down to this moment and it never fails to break my heart and excite me all at the same time.

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Nothing Can Wreck Me Quite Like Order 66 and Revenge of the Sith’s Climax Has

Above all, Revenge of the Sith gave us one of the most pivotal turning points in all of Star Wars canon—Order 66—something that Star Wars just loves to recreate over, and over, and over again. The agony of the destruction of the Republic, democracy and the Jedi Order right before our eyes is hard to watch but also so hard to turn away from. 

Senator Amidala’s line when Chancellor Palpatine (AKA Darth Sidious, played by ‎Ian McDiarmid) establishes the first Galactic Empire with him as dictator and Emperor—”So, this is how liberty dies, through thunderous applause”—is haunting when we know where this saga goes after this movie. The dismantling of the Republic and an active Senate, along with the destruction of the Jedi and the extermination of every Jedi that could be found, gave way to this fascist regime that wouldn’t be thwarted for decades.

Revenge of the Sith is the catalyst for most of the newer Star Wars stories we have today. The emotional and monumental toll this movie not only has on me but on the franchise at large is unmistakable. Sure, my love and attachment to the core characters definitely cloud my judgment and make me biased toward this movie. But it’s impossible to not see just how crucial this film is in the greater canon, and why the Mustafar scene and the birth of Darth Vader alone, make Revenge of the Sith one of the best Star Wars movies to exist.

Next up, read a more traditional ranking of the 12 Star Wars movies, from worst to best.