Self-reflection is an important exercise that every man should practice regularly. I find that Tuesday is a great day to do just that … to really sit back and ponder some of the finer things and important decisions that life has to offer. I use this as my day to pontificate and contemplate and every other “-ate” that will unlock the secrets of my existence.

Why’s that? Well it’s because there’s nothing else to do on Tuesday. Because Tuesday is probably the worst fucking day of the week. At least Monday brings hope of a new beginning, Wednesday means we’re halfway done with the week, Thursday/Friday are basically the weekend. Tuesday? Just sitting there, waiting to suck.

Anyways. There I was, on a random Tuesday, somewhere in between diaper changes and general awesomeness, minding my own business while pondering some of the biggest questions that this journey called life has to offer:

  • What is so awesome about the presence of feet that makes babies want to study them like an archaeologist opening up the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh?
  • Why hasn’t there been an official declaration of donuts being considered a dessert? Like it’s weird if I bring home a dozen donuts at 8 p.m., but I’m applauded for doing so at 8 a.m.? Let’s cut the shit already.
  • Does “R + L” really and truly “= J”?

Then all of the sudden, it hit me like a force push to the chest: My daughter now lives in a world where she could cognize that Vader is Luke’s father … before she even sees the Empire Strikes Back for the first time.

What a time to be alive. Or … is it?

There are few moments that I can recall with exact precision and phenomenal detail like this titanic shift of epic proportions that rocked me to my very core. It was movie-game-changing flipped on its head. Only Maury Povich can come close to revealing with any sort of excitement a paternal relationship with such suspense as Anakin revealed his true self to young Luke. And we were all left to deal with the consequences of this unwrapped present until we could brace ourselves to watch the third and final film of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Vader I am your father

Our generation was fortunate enough to grow up in a world where the original trilogy of Star Wars was the only trilogy of Star Wars. We survived the 80s and the better part of the 90s trying to emulate the decision of Luke Skywalker to choose good over evil. We celebrated when Leia managed to finally free Han Solo from the carbonite. Only to be terrorized by when the grotesque Jabba the Hutt and his little rat-like byotch Salacious Crumb caught them. Only to cheer once again when Leia (gold bikini) strangled the life out of that fat ass mob boss.

And there really is no other moment in movie history that will live up to Darth Vader telling Luke that he is, in fact, his daddy.

We were spoiled. Spoiled by the awesomeness of those original three films – Episodes IV, V and VI. Honestly, we were so spoiled that when George Lucas created the prequels, we raised the expectations to a level that was simply impossible level to meet. And unfortunately, not only did Lucas fail to meet those expectations, he created a load of crap that was pretty decent on the eyes, but pretty terrible in content.

But now, there’s actually A New Hope (see what I did there?) for success with the beginning of a new chapter in this epic space saga from a long time ago.

The Force Awakens promises to bring to a renewed sense of Jedi Mastery and lightsaber dueling, Force-wielding movie magic to theaters everywhere. Many of us are no longer the children and boyhood geeks that loved the snarkiness of Han Solo. Now, we’re full-fledged kids in adult’s bodies pretending not to be so damn nerded out by having a new set of Star Wars films to watch. And we still love the snarkiness of Han Solo.

whos scruffy looking
However a very important question now challenges the fans of this film series: How the hell do we introduce our childhood fantasy space opera to our young generation of Padawans?

Which is why introducing your munchkin to the ways of The Force are more than just popping on a film for family movie night. It’s opening your child to an epic saga full of life lessons, awesome duels and unforgettable signature quotes.

There are a million and one different life lessons we can take from the Star Wars saga:

  • Good will always prevail against evil
  • A bond of father and son will eventually always win out over a wrinkly old emperor dude
  • The cave in the Dagobah System is dark and full of terror; and confusing as fuck
  • Despite the death of many Bothans, never believe for a second that the Emperor would let your fleet attack the Death Star head on as planned … without something else up his sleeve.Its a trap

These are all life lessons we must instill for the next generation of Padawans to be successful future Jedi Knights. Thus, we have a great responsibility in how we introduce this saga to the youth of today.

First things first: determine if your kid is of the proper age to watch the film. Obviously, you don’t want your kid to be so frightened by the Wampa in Empire Strikes Back that they never want to watch another minute of the trilogy. There’s also some pretty intricate political story lines that present themselves throughout the series. Granted, they don’t need to be fully read on how Emperor Palpatine eventually dissolved the Imperial Senate to turn it into the Galactic Empire, but no need to leave them totally clueless on the goings on in this galaxy far, far away.

Watching all six of the Star Wars movies will take roughly 13 hours of your time. So you need to approach this strategically in order to get the most out of the series as you prepare to take on the newest in the saga. That includes determining the order in which you will watch the first six films:

  • Do you go in Episode order by tackling The Phantom Menace (Episode I) and the prequel series first and then watch all the way through Return of the Jedi (Episode VI)?
  • How about working in the order of the release of the movies, by starting with A New Hope (Episode IV), running through Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) and Return of the Jedi, before jumping back to the prequels?
  • Or do you find another order in which to figure out this classic series and make sense of it all?

Have no fear. For fear leads to the Dark Side. Instead, allow us to present three ways to introduce Star Wars to your kids and watch all of the classic films in an order that will make sense and fulfill your destiny of passing along true meaning of The Force to your mini-mes.

The Original Release order
1st: Episode IV – A New Hope
2nd: Episode V – Empire Strikes Back
3rd: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
4th: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
5th Episode II – Attack of the Clones
6th: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Follow along in the order in which we were all originally introduced to the story. We watch Luke Skywalker grow up to become a X-Wing piloting, lightsaber dueling, Jedi mind trick mastering, badass who finds out that Darth Vader is actually his proud poppa and Leia is his sister … whom he kissed. Um … we’ll just leave that be for now and move on. We also get to hang out with Han Solo and Chewie and watch as Lando and Co. mount an epic assault on the Death Star.

Then we can go back and learn why this all happened to begin with: because Anakin Skywalker was a little bitch who couldn’t get his rage issues in order and wanted to have more power to rule the entire galaxy, so he knocked up a Queen – who was like a lot older than him in Episode I. But … um … we’ll just leave that be for now and move on (again).

Let’s just call a spade a spade here. Lucas kind of made some of this stuff up as he went along, didn’t he?

Episode Order
1st: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
2nd: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
3rd: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
4th: Episode IV – A New Hope
5th: Episode V – Empire Strikes Back
6th: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Sure, this makes sense from a chronological viewpoint. But, be wary my friends: This path only leads to the Dark Side. You’ve now just unlocked the greatest secret in movie history before the big reveal even rocks the screen. First impressions are important, so letting The Phantom Menace be the original “welcome to the Star Wars universe” may be setting yourself up for failure. You’ve been warned.

Do you think Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson knew this movie sucked so hard while they were filming?

Do you think Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson knew this movie sucked so hard while they were filming?


Machete Order

(Popularized by Ron Hilton at NoMacheteJuggling.com)
1st: Episode IV – A New Hope
2nd: Episode V – Empire Strikes Back
3rd: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
4th: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
5th: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Here’s the deal: You begin by being introduced to the story of Luke Skywalker and his journey to learn a little bit more about this awesome thing called The Force. We get to watch as Luke is pulled into this rebellion to try and beat the biggest baddest Sith in the galaxy – who turns out to be his father. Whoa.

Then we jump back to the story of Anakin Skywalker in flashback fashion to learn how this whiny little turd would end up being the best villain of all time. We even get to watch as Obi-Wan Kenobi spanks him like a father figure should and even get a dose of Yoda being a boss.

To complete the journey, we circle back to the original trilogy where Luke is now a Jedi Master and he’s able to finally face his father and put an end to this whole plot of Imperial domination by besting Vader and the Emperor, while his sidekicks blow up (another) Death Star. Since The Force Awakens is set to take place after the events in Return of the Jedi, this allows you to get your new movie watching on with a full recap of the previous events.

As explained by the creator of this order:
… this creates a lot of tension after the cliffhanger ending of Episode V. It also uses the original trilogy as a framing device for the prequel trilogy. Vader drops this huge bomb that he’s Luke’s father, then we spend two movies proving he’s telling the truth, then we see how it gets resolved. The Star Wars watching experience gets to start with the film that does the best job of establishing the Star Wars universe, Episode IV, and it ends with the most satisfying ending, Episode VI.

Note: Missing from this list is the Phantom Menace … and for good reason. Episode I is total bovine excrement and there’s really no reason to ever watch that 2-plus hour waste of nonsensical dung. We’re all friends here, so let’s be honest with each other. Episode I is more of a confusing, convoluted mess than that damn cave in Empire Strikes Back.

Of course, removing Episode I from your journey also removes from existence the criminally-underused Darth Maul. Have no fear, you can watch the only scene from that film that’s worth watching in it’s entirety:

There’s also the option of just showing your kids Episodes IV, V and VI and basically pretending as though the second set of films actually never happened. You will not be ridiculed for this strategy. In fact, most of us would probably prefer to have those Episodes removed from our collective memories, but Jar-Jar fucking Binks is still very much ingrained in our psyche now. We can’t escape.

Jar Jar Binks sucks
This is all up to you and how you’d like to fully indoctrinate the youth and the future leaders of tomorrow to the best movie series of all time. But, ya know, there’s no pressure on how to do that properly.

What is your plan for watching the Star Wars series before watching The Force Awakens? Chime in on the comments below with your strategy and what it was like to share such a special occasion with your kids.