(Welcome to Survey Says, a feature where we conduct a movie-related survey for a random group of people and explain why they’re completely right, completely wrong, or somewhere in-between.)
People are pretty passionate about Star Wars. Those movies about events that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, really get some fans riled up. Naturally, there’s been a lot of arguments online in the past few years about which Star Wars flick is the worst, in part due to extremely mixed receptions to both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. So we figured it might be fun to issue a survey and ask a bunch of people which Star Wars movie was the absolute worst. Everybody and their mother has made some kind of Star Wars ranking, but we’re here to give you an unofficial group selection.
The results weren’t quite what I expected, given the amount of online hatred I’ve seen directed toward The Last Jedi. Thankfully, it appears that the people surveyed agree with me (and quite a few of the rest of the /Film crew) and rank Attack of the Clones as the worst Star Wars movie.
By the Numbers
Okay, so this isn’t the definitive worst Star Wars decision, but it does represent the responses of 611 Americans responding on Survey Monkey! 600-ish people isn’t a huge survey sample, but maybe it’s enough data to give us an idea of what the average American movie-goer might think. Maybe. I don’t know, I’m just extrapolating here. Probably not. I’m not a scientist. Go away. Also, it’s also worth noting that neither Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or Solo: A Star Wars Story were included, only the nine-film Skywalker saga. The Empire Strikes Back also wasn’t included, because no one in their right mind would ever call that the worst Star Wars (except maybe Randall from Clerks).
Without further ado, here are the survey’s rankings of the worst Star Wars movie according to a bunch of random strangers on the internet:
- Attack of the Clones 24.22%
- The Phantom Menace 19.15%
- The Rise of Skywalker 13.75%
- The Last Jedi 11.95%
- A New Hope 11.62%
- Revenge of the Sith 11.13%
- Force Awakens 8.18%
Breaking it Down
Attack of the Clones really runs away with the worst Star Wars movie title here, beating out The Phantom Menace by almost 5%. The second film in the prequel trilogy, Attack of the Clones is a love story with zero chemistry and a political drama with zero intrigue. There are moments here and there that work within the greater Star Wars story, but overall, it’s just kind of boring. Most of the movie is spent either trying to develop a romance between Amidala (Natalie Portman) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) that feels kind of icky since Anakin was just a kid in the previous movie, while Amidala was already an adult. The rest is a bunch of senate meetings, with occasional bursts of action.
The Phantom Menace coming in second is no surprise. It was the first Star Wars movie in a decade and a half, and expectations were high. Instead, many fans were disappointed by the first prequel’s zany humor and decidedly younger target audience. The Phantom Menace does have that incredible climactic lightsaber battle, which edges it out over the absolute blandness of Attack of the Clones.
The next two are really no surprise, and often come up in conversation around one another. J.J. Abrams‘ The Rise of Skywalker and Rian Johnson‘s The Last Jedi are both highly contentious among Star Wars fans. Many were frustrated by The Last Jedi‘s decision to turn series hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) into a bitter recluse. They also felt Johnson’s desire to focus on thematics and meta-context instead of delivery a straightforward Star Wars adventure didn’t fit in with the series so far, though other fans disagreed. The Rise of Skywalker was a quick about-face on the part of Disney and Lucasfilm, bringing back old fan favorites from the original trilogy and attempting to "fix" what fans didn’t like about The Last Jedi. Both movies have their fans and detractors, and those feelings are pretty intense.
The biggest surprise here comes from A New Hope being ranked as worse than Revenge of the Sith, which features the goofiest "No!" in all of cinema, and The Force Awakens, which is just A New Hope with a fresh coat of paint. It’s hard to imagine anyone hating on the original Star Wars film, the one that started it all, but clearly some people prefer the updated version. For some reason. What gives, random survey responders?
Maybe they can’t rate The Force Awakens as the worst because it’s relatively forgettable in the grand scheme. It’s hard to find fault with something you can’t remember.
For what it’s worth, I absolutely agree that Attack of the Clones is the biggest stinker in the Star Wars franchise, but A New Hope ranking at all feels blasphemous. What do you think?