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All 6 George Lucas Directed Movies, Ranked

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars.
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Ask any casual movie watcher who isn’t a Star Wars fan, and they'll likely tell you that George Lucas directed six Star Wars movies. But the truth is, George Lucas only directed four Star Wars movies, even though he had a major hand in Episodes 1-6. In fact, two of the most beloved Star Wars films ever, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, were actually directed by Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand, respectively. 

That said, George Lucas has, in fact, directed six movies, with two of them being the non-Star Wars films, THX 1138, which came out in 1971, and American Graffiti, which came out in 1973. Both were released before his landmark film, the now retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which debuted in 1977. But, when it comes to his four Star Wars films, how do those two non-Star Wars films stack up in comparison? Well, you’re about to find out.  

Natalie Portman in Attack of the Clones

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

6. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones 

When ranking every Star Wars movie, I think most fans will agree that Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones sits near the very bottom, and for good reason. Even though I have a soft spot for the Star Wars prequels and think they’re better than the sequels, I still can’t get over how uneven Anakin Skywalker feels as a character, or how slow this film moves.     

This is a story about the “Clone Wars,” which was mentioned in the very first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. It introduced us to Jango Fett, and featured the Jedi at maybe their highest moment, but it was just so… so boring! To this day, I’ve “watched” Attack of the Clones four times, and have fallen asleep each time. It just has such terrible pacing. 

And the acting, which is one of a director’s main jobs to control, is probably the weakest of the entire series in this movie. As mentioned, Hayden Christensen, whom I actually like in movies like Shattered Glass and Life As a House, has to deliver terrible lines like, “I hate sand,” and he doesn’t do a very convincing job of it. It’s also just a low point for the entire prequel trilogy, and the one movie that I always groan about when I try to do a Star Wars marathon. I’m not a fan. Like, at all.  

Natalie Portman in The Phantom Menace.

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

5. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 

Disagree with me all you want, but I think Star Wars is for children. (And that’s okay!) I mean, even George Lucas says that Star Wars is for 12-year-olds, so I’m not far off when I make that comment. In fact, that’s why I once wrote that parents should start with The Phantom Menace when introducing kids to the Saga, and I stick to that argument.     

With all that said, The Phantom Menace definitely feels like it’s for children, which is why, as an adult who saw the movie at 16 when it first came out, it’s hard for me to find much enjoyment out of the film. We’re introduced to a very young Anakin, and we get to see him do some podracing while the older Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jin, need to settle a trade dispute.     

Jar Jar Binks is annoying, sure, but kid Anakin wasn’t all that intriguing as a character, either. Yes, Ewan McGregor was inspired casting, and I’m looking forward to seeing him return as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new Disney+ series, but everything else around him and Darth Maul kind of didn’t work for me as an engaging experience, which is why it lands so low on this list.   

A diner in American Graffiti

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

4. American Graffiti  

I mentioned earlier how I saw The Phantom Menace at 16, which means I was only a glimmer in my parents’ eyes when American Graffiti came out in 1973, which was the year my sister was born. The movie is a period piece, and it takes place in 1962, which I have no frame of reference for. It stars Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard as teens who are about to go off to college, and it’s their last night of summer. It’s all supposed to wax nostalgic to a drag race culture that I only know of through movies about the 1950s and '60s, so I’m not its target audience.

But, guess what? It’s pretty good! Even though it came out in the ‘70s, it feels authentic to the movies of the ‘50s, like Blackboard Jungle or The Wild One. It just has that ‘50s/'60s feel to it. Sure, I’d probably appreciate it more if I actually lived through those decades, but as an outsider looking in, it’s a good one, and definitely worthy of your time if you’re a completist like me.  

Robert Duvall in THX 1138

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

3. THX 1138 

THX 1138 isn’t a great film on its own two feet, but it’s a fascinating debut sci-fi film from a man who would later create quite possibly the largest sci-fi franchise of all time. It concerns a man named THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) who one day stops taking his mind-numbing meds and starts to have sex with a woman named LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie), which is outlawed in this society. He then goes on the run and escapes his underground dystopia. 

That said, it’s impossible to watch THX 1138 without comparing it to the later Star Wars. Visually, it looks very much of its time, and there are some trippy effects throughout the film, but the movie moves at a pretty brisk pace at only 86 minutes, and it gets the job done. Is it a masterpiece? Not at all, but I’ve definitely seen worse debut pictures.  

Jedi fighting in Revenge of the Sith

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

2. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith  

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, is some people’s favorite Star Wars movie, and look, I get it. Anakin Skywalker is starting to make the kind of rash decisions that allow us to understand how he could turn to the Dark Side, and we get to see him all buddy-buddy with Chancellor Palpatine. We also get to see him turn on his master and friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and get that boss fight toward the end between them. 

In a lot of ways, Revenge of the Sith is what a lot of Star Wars fans were waiting for when it came to the Star Wars prequels. It felt a lot more mature than the other two films (Though, it’s nowhere near as mature as the Rated-R THX 1138), and it managed to feel like a natural progression of the story even after two extremely lackluster previous movies in the trilogy. Revenge of the Sith feels like a director finally getting serious after goofing off for the past two films, and it really works. I would say it’s Lucas’ best film if not for one other movie. And, come on, you knew it had to be this one.  

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as Leia and Luke in Star Wars 1977

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

1. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope 

The first true movie in the Star Wars saga, 1977’s Star Wars still holds up today as the foundation to the massive space opera Saga. It’s all here in this first movie — The Galactic Empire, the sci-fi knights, Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi pairing up with the space cowboys Han Solo and Chewbacca, the kickass Princess Leia, and the terrifying Darth Vader. Seriously, this one film right here launched the careers of so many people and left such a deeply felt impression upon the fabric of the world’s cinema, that it’s hard to think of a more important movie, period, let alone a more important George Lucas movie. 

Personally, Rogue One is my favorite Star Wars movie, but there wouldn’t even be a Rogue One, or The Last Jedi, or probably even a Firefly, The Expanse, or any other major sci-fi property outside of Star Trek, without the original Star Wars. For that reason, and many others, it is George Lucas’ best film. By far.   

Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.