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How The Skywalker Saga Marathon Changed My Star Wars Experience As A Lifelong Fan



  • The Skywalker Saga Marathon showcases the growth and love for the prequels.
  • Fans now appreciate Jar Jar Binks and his humor, shifting views over the years.
  • The collective experience of watching Star Wars in theaters remains magical, irreplaceable.


As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I was one of the viewers who got to experience the Skywalker Saga Marathon – watching every single chapter of the saga in a single theater, back-to-back, over the course of 24 hours. As part of Star Wars Day 2024, Lucasfilm re-released all nine movies chapters in the main Star Wars story – the so-called Skywalker Saga Marathon. It was an unforgettable experience, but how would it change my own views? What new insights would I see, what would I learn, what would I be surprised by?

Across the United States, only a few theaters were showing the Skywalker Saga Marathon. That meant everybody tere was a hardcore Star Wars fan – which made the experience so much better, and revealed so much more. I was able to experience how fans in 2024 view every Star Wars episode. I heard their cheers, laughter, and even awkward silences. I even cheered myself quite a bit. Here’s every way seeing the Skywalker Saga marathon changed my view on Star Wars.

12 Everyone Laughed With Jar Jar

A Big Change Of Pace For The Gungan Comic Relief

Jar Jar Binks was originally one of the most maligned aspects of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Back in 1999, Jar Jar Binks was disliked by many viewers, mainly older fans, who really hated this comic-relief character created by groundbreaking motion-capture. Hatred towards this character was so intense that it even affected Ahmed Best, the actor behind Jar Jar’s jokes. But at my screening, I quickly learned people loved Jar Jar.

Prequel Kids Have Grown Up

Hearing the raucous laughter in the theater really brought a lot of thoughts and feelings to the forefront for me. Ahmed Best struggled so much because of the poor reception to his character, which people hated so much. But now, 25 years later, it seems a lot of the kids who had always liked Jar Jar have grown up. Jar Jar was treated as a beloved character during the marathon, and I found that really beautiful.Star Wars fans have grown to love the prequels.


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11 And Everyone Laughed At Anakin’s Chat-Up Lines

Lots Of Laughs About The Goofy Romance

But not everything from the prequels is now appreciated for its intended merits; Anakin and Padmé’s romance in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones being the case in point. So many fans in the theater were immediately laughing as Anakin began to nervously flirt with Padmé in the beginning of the film, and the laughter only got more intense as the relationship grew. Even in moments that were supposed to be more serious, fans laughed at the obvious stilted melodrama of the love scenes.

The Geonosian Arena Finally Brought It Together

Anakin and Padme looking at each other before entering the Geonosian arena in Attack of the Clones

It wasn’t until Attack of the Clones‘ arena battle that Anakin and Padmé’s romance stopped getting laughs. The initial reaction seemed to show that fans are willing to accept the goofy writing for what it is, but in the arena – perhaps in part because of John Williams’ incredible score – the attitude changed from laughter to reverence. This was, in retrospect, a very important moment leading into Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, where their romance is so important to the plot.

10 The Star Wars Special Edition Changes Stood Out Even More

CGI Is More Obvious On The Big Screen

The Star Wars original trilogy films we watch today are not the same as the ones that were released in theaters, largely thanks to George Lucas’ Special Editions. These were updated versions of the films which include CGI, reworked scenes, and new footage to fix what Lucas saw as issues with the original films. The marathon included the Special Editions, and the CGI really stood out in a lot of scenes, especially on such a big screen.

A Few Special Edition Changes Work

Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, Leia Organa in her red robe, and Han Solo walk through a hallway in Cloud City on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back

But seeing the films on the big screen also revealed that some of the Special Edition changes actually work really well. Most of these are in The Empire Strikes Back, like the changes to Cloud City’s backgrounds. While the CGI can look a bit dated at times, it was interesting seeing these anachronistic filmmaking techniques all together on the big screen, and made me think about them a whole lot more.

9 The Star Wars Original Trilogy Was Funnier Than I Remembered

A New Hope Got Some Serious Laughs


When we moved on to what is now known as A New Hope, all the fans were excited; this is probably the most iconic movie is the entire saga, after all. I was prepared for its epic moments, beautiful score, and wonderful visuals, but was met with something else. A New Hope surprised me with its humor. I always knew it was pretty funny and entertaining, but being in a theater full of people laughing made me realize just how witty this first film is.

Han Solo Is One Of The Funniest Characters In Star Wars


A lot of the laughs in A New Hope, and most of them in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi come from Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. Han really is the main comic relief of the original trilogy, other than maybe C-3PO. From his goofy security call in the cell block in A New Hope, to his hilarious line to Luke as they approach the sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi, Han is a real comedic powerhouse.

8 The Force Awakens’ Beginning Felt Jarring After Return Of The Jedi

The First Order’s Appearance Is Instant


One of the most surprising things to me was how the beginning of The Force Awakens feels a bit jarring after watching Return of the Jedi. Though we know the Empire wasn’t defeated at the Battle of Endor, it still feels like a victory for the Rebels and for good. So, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens begins with the First Order already established, attacking a village, it makes the Rebel victory feel a little short-lived.

Luke Skywalker Is Missing After His Victory

In the same way, it’s a bit odd to spend a whole trilogy of films with Luke Skywalker becoming a fully-fledged Jedi, only for The Force Awakens to begin with “Luke Skywalker has vanished.” I understand why he left and what that means for his character and the galaxy, but it sticks out particularly when watching these movies back-to-back. If anything, this highlights his absence more, and emphasizes why the galaxy needs the Jedi.

7 The Last Jedi Got The Most Applause In The Skywalker Saga

The Second Half Of The Movie Is Made For Theaters

While there may have been a few other factors in play like time-of-day and other fans leaving the theater, it was clear to me that Star Wars: The Last Jedi got the most applause out of all the Skywalker Saga movies. It has so many cheer-worthy moments, and this was proven by the volume of the audience. There was an incredible amount of clapping and cheering, especially in the electrifying second half of the film, with the Praetorian Guard battle onboard the Supremacy and the Battle of Crait.

The Last Jedi Is A Controversial Film, But It’s Still Loved

Rey Skywalker wielding her lightsaber next to the poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The controversy surrounding The Last Jedi cannot be overstated – especially in online spaces. It’s a film that causes so much discourse, with many unafraid to call it the worst Star Wars film ever made. But seeing The Last Jedi in a theater full of fans who do happen to love it was magical. Though this movie is often surrounded with so much negativity, it was lauded with clear laughter and love, making this a surreal experience overall.

6 The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi Feel Like A Real Two-Parter

Sequel Films That Line Up Back-To-Back


The end of The Force Awakens and the beginning of The Last Jedi is unlike any other moment in the Skywalker Saga – simply because they literally run into one another. Watching these two movies in the theater back-to-back, you absolutely feel it. It feels like a two-part movie, with so much happening with the same characters in such a short period of time. The Last Jedi follows up on The Force Awakens in a lot of interesting ways, too, that aren’t as obvious unless you see them in this way.

Rey’s Journey Continues

Daisy Ridley as Rey from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi
Custom image by Sam MacLennan

This becomes particularly apparent with Rey, who is going through an intense period in her life. She is our escort as an audience to the planet Ahch-To, and we see Luke through her eyes. She then leads us to the Supremacy and to Crait, making these two films really feel like Rey’s journey. Rey is looking for a place to belong in both of them, and finds it in the Resistance by the end of The Last Jedi, making the two feel even more like one big movie.

5 The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy Felt Like One Long Movie

George Lucas’s Singular Vision Of The Clone Wars

The prequel trilogy was divisive when it was released, but now it’s gained a lot of fans, as I mentioned earlier with Jar Jar’s appreciation. But something that isn’t as talked about as much is just how cohesive the prequels really are. They absolutely feel like one big movie with two time-skips in the middle, and a lot of this comes from George Lucas’s complete creative control. You can really feel it when watching them in a row.

One Single Story Of Palpatine’s Rise And The Jedi’s Fall

Emperor Palpatine and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars.
Custom Image by Debanjana Chowdhury

But what watching all three prequels in a row really showed me, is that it really is a single, consistent story of Palpatine’s rise to power. I’ve always known this, but seeing them all play out at once was just amazing. It really shows how George Lucas laid out every single chess piece that the Supreme Chancellor needed to establish his Empire out of a warring Republic. Ian McDiarmid’s performance absolutely shines, really helping this cohere.

4 The Rise Of Skywalker Felt Too Fast-Paced… But Its Ending Worked

The Fastest Paced Star Wars Movie

After sitting in the theater for eight full movies, everyone was feeling a bit tired, myself included. But when the opening crawl for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker began, we were all shocked with a jolt of energy. This film is fast – very fast. The pacing is breakneck, and it doesn’t really slow down at all, which was particularly shocking following the oftentimes rather contemplative The Last Jedi. It seemed like The Rise of Skywalker was going faster than the lightspeed-skipping featured in the movie.

Despite Having A Disorienting Beginning And Middle, Rise Sticks The Landing

While I was shocked by The Rise of Skywalker‘s speed and somewhat sloppy structure in the beginning and middle, once Ben Solo arrives on Exegol, it all changes. From then on, the pacing feels more natural or deserved in the context of the story. It’s full of amazing moments, too, as the citizens’ fleet arrives at Exegol, Ben Solo fights the Knights of Ren, and later, Rey ignites her new yellow lightsaber. This too feels earned, deserved by the end of the Skywalker saga.

3 The Original Trilogy Returns Felt Bigger Right After Watching Return Of The Jedi

The Audience Went Wild Over The Heroes’ Appearances

Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo in the Star Wars sequels.

The Star Wars sequel trilogy featured the return of Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill, and their appearances felt even more exciting in the Skywalker Saga Marathon. These Star Wars original trilogy characters garnered immense cheers from the crowd during the marathon, which I expected. What I didn’t expect, though, was how much more they would mean to me after just watching all three of their original films. Sadly, given the context of the sequels, this proved rather bittersweet.

The Original And Sequel Trilogies Pair Well Together

Harrison Ford In A New Hope, Return of The Jedi, And The Force Awakens

Seeing the original and sequel trilogies back to back, and celebrating the heroes’ returns, also helped me see how well the two pair together. They share so much more of a visual and narrative style than either do with the prequel trilogy. This was intentional, of course, as the sequels were purposefully designed to pay off nostalgia for the original trilogy. But it definitely does affect how watching them feels – and it makes the prequels feel like the odd ones out energy-wise.

2 Star Wars Movies Felt Like Big Events Again

Let’s Face It: Star Wars Belongs On The Big Screen

Watching movies at home is fun, and it’s wonderful to see new animated and live-action TV shows. But one of the best things I learned from the Skywalker Saga Marathon is that this is where Star Wars belongs. Up there, on the silver screen, a Star Wars film truly becomes magical. The crowd, the atmosphere, the volume of the sound – it’s really irreplaceable when it comes to Star Wars.

Streaming Works, But Movies Will Always Be The Core Of Star Wars

Since 2019, Star Wars stories have mainly been told through a steady stream of live-action Disney+ TV show. These have ranged in quality (depending on who you ask), but after seeing all the films in a row, I am confident the movies will never be replaced by these shows. No matter how good a streaming series can be, it will never top the collective experience of being in a theater and seeing Star Wars unfold in front of you and other fans.

1 Hayden Christensen’s Force Ghost Got A Huge Round Of Applause

A Once Controversial Change Is Now Celebrated

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda as Force Ghosts in Star Wars

In a 2004 re-release of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas made the controversial choice to replace Sebastian Shaw’s Anakin Skywalker with Hayden Christensen in the famous Force Ghost scene. This angered many who’d grown up with the original trilogy, and contributed to their dislike of Christensen’s performance. But at my marathon viewing, fans raised a hearty round of applause for Hayden’s appearance during the celebration on Endor.

Hayden Christensen’s Resurgence Is Complete

This put a real tear in my eye, as I realized just how far Star Wars has come. Hayden Christensen was once seemingly universally maligned by fans, especially in this particular scene, and he’s now receiving applause. Star Wars is generational, and the children who fell in love with Star Wars during the prequels have welcomed him back in Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka. The Skywalker Saga Marathon really helped me understand this, and it was a delight to see.

All Star Wars movies and TV shows can be streamed on Disney+.

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