'Star Wars' history you need to know before seeing 'The Last Jedi'

Quick recaps from the 8 other "Star Wars" films.

ByABC News
December 14, 2017, 9:13 AM

— -- "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" opens nationwide this weekend and if you are not one of the faithful fans of Luke, Darth, Leia & company, we've got you covered.

"The Last Jedi" marks the ninth film in the canon saga if you count "Rogue One" in the timeline, even though it's a standalone film. That's a lot of history to absorb, but we've shortened it here in case you don't feel like binging movies all day before seeing the latest flick from a galaxy far, far away!

Here are eight short recaps of the other films in the "Star Wars" universe.

The order of the films can also be a little confusing since episodes IV, V and VI came out decades ago, with episodes I, II, and III coming out more recently. But all that will be explained in detail.

"Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" (1999)

This movie came out before the turn of the millennium, but is the very first "Star Wars" movie, where we meet a young boy, who will eventually become one of the scariest villains in history.

A young Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn are caught up in a battle between the Trade Federation and the world of Naboo, led by Queen Amidala. The two Jedi fight to keep the Queen safe from harm and in the process end up on the planet of Tatooine, where they meet a talented boy, Anakin Skywalker, who was born under mysterious circumstances and the Force seems to be strong in him.

They free the boy, who leaves his mother Shmi behind. At the climax of the film, Obi-Wan must watch as a Sith Lord Darth Maul kills his master, but he eventually takes out the Sith. On a promise to his master, Obi-Wan vows to train the young boy Anakin, though the Jedi Council oppose this choice because there's a lot of fear and anger inside him. Boy, do they have it right.

Also, during a vote of no confidence for the current Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, Naboo's Senator Palpatine is elected the new ruler. This will become important in future films.

"Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002)

Set 10 years after "Phantom Menace," Count Dooku is now leading the charge against the Republic. Padmé Amidala is no longer a queen but now a senator and there has been an attempt on her life. Obi-Wan and his apprentice Anakin are told to watch over her. While protecting her, Anakin reveals his love for Amidala, even referring to a kiss she gave him in the first movie.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan searches for who tried to kill Amidala and discovers a clone army has been built for the Republic by copying bounty hunter Jango Fett. Jango has kept one of the clones for himself, which he calls his son Boba.

Anakin starts to have premonitions about his mother, whom he left behind on Tatooine in the first movie. He sees her in pain, even dying, so he travels back to Tatooine to save her. He ends up slaughtering Tusken Raiders who kidnapped her. she eventually dies, but his outburst is the first sign of the dark side and not becoming of a Jedi.

Later, Obi-Wan tracks down Dooku, who is behind the assassination attempt on Amidala and is leading a droid army. Obi-Wan transmits a message to Anakin, who tries to save his master, but is captured as well. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is given greater power over the Republic and a team of Jedi are sent to rescue Anakin, Obi-Wan and Amidala. Master Yoda eventually joins the Jedi with the clones and they destroy the droids. Jango is also killed.

Toward the end of the movie, Dooku battles Obi-Wan and Anakin, cutting off Skywalker's arm. Yoda steps in and saves the duo and Dooku leaves with the Death Star plans for his Sith master Darth Sidious, who is hooded and hidden. The movie ends with Anakin marrying his love Padme in secret. This illicit affair will come into play in the next film.

"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" (2005)

The movie opens with Anakin and Obi-Wan saving Palpatine from General Grievous and Dooku. In the process, Anakin, at the prompting of Palpatine, kills an unarmed Dooku. His turn to the Dark Side is moving further along.

We then find out Padme is pregnant and Anakin starts to have dreams that she dies in child birth. Palpatine then tells the young Jedi that he knows ways to save people, starting to reveal he knows ways of the Dark Side. Anakin later figures out Palpatine is the Sith lord and he reports this to Mace Windu and other Jedi.

Windu takes down Palpatine, but Anakin stops him, even cuts off his arm and allows Windu to be killed by Palpatine. He then realizes what he's done and there's no turning back. Anakin pledges his allegiance to Palpatine and becomes Darth Vader.

The emperor orders the killing of all the Jedi left, even the young ones. Vader helps, but Obi-Wan and Yoda survive. The Republic becomes the Galactic Empire and Palpatine, who is now disfigured from his battle with Windu, is the emperor.

Padme tracks down her husband and when he thinks she has turned against him, Vader uses his death choke, but she doesn't die, she is only knocked out. Obi-Wan and Vader duel until the new Sith lord overestimates his powers. Obi-Wan defeats Vader, cutting off his legs and arm, then watches him burn as Vader gets too close to lava.

Padme gives birth to Luke and Leia, then dies. Vader is discovered alive but badly disfigured and is outfitted with the robotic armor you see later, but is told by Palpatine that he killed Padme when he attacked her. But this isn't true. Luke goes to live with his uncle Owen and Leia with Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan.

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (2016)

The film opens with Galen Erson hiding out on a remote planet, trying to keep his family and his talents away from the newly-formed Empire. He is eventually found and taken, but not before his wife is killed and his daughter Jyn escapes.

Years later, an adult Jyn meets the likes of Mon Mothma and Rebel officer Cassian Andor, who are trying to find out more about this secret weapon the Empire is building that can destroy planets.

Jyn and company eventually lead a mission to get those Death Star plans, so they can pass them along to the Rebels, who in turn can destroy the weapon. The movie ends with the team all sacrificing themselves for the greater good, but not before the plans are handed off to Leia, who then sends that fateful message to Obi-Wan Kenobi, asking for his help.

"Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" (1977)

The Empire and the Rebel Alliance are in all-out war and the movie opens with Leia sending a message to Obi-Wan before she is captured by Darth Vader. The two don't know they are father and daughter.

Leia has stolen plans for the Death Star, so that Obi-Wan can alert the rebels on how to destroy it. As explained by trailers and official descriptions, it is in the events of "Rogue One" that the plans were stolen and relayed to Leia.

Leia hides the plans in R2-D2, a droid that she knows once belonged to Obi-Wan. R2-D2 and C3PO head to Tatooine, where Obi-Wan is hiding under the name Ben Kenobi.

Owen and his nephew Luke Skywalker buy the droids after they are captured and Luke brings them to Obi-Wan. Luke eventually runs into Ben, who tells him about his Jedi past and asks him to come along with him and gives him his father's lightsaber. Obi-Wan tells him that his father was killed by Vader and that it is his destiny to come along for this journey. But Luke refuses, only to go home and find his family murdered. He decides to go with Obi-Wan.

Looking for a ride to Alderaan, where Leia told them to go, Luke and Obi-Wan run into Han Solo and Chewbacca in a cantina. They leave only to find Alderaan has been destroyed by the Death Star. The Millennium Falcon, Han's ship, is captured the Death Star, and Luke looks to save Leia, while Obi-Wan battles his old apprentice Darth Vader. Vader strikes down Obi-Wan, but he let him do it to become part of the Force.

Vader and the Empire chase down the rebels, but Luke pilots a plane that destroys the Death Star, using the guidance of Obi-Wan, who can talk to him via the Force. Vader notices that the Force is strong in Luke, but he still doesn't realize it's his son.

"Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" (1980)

The Rebels are still fighting the Empire and Obi-Wan instructs Luke to find Yoda to train him in the way of the Jedi arts. During an attack on the Rebel base, Han and Leia escape, and the two begin to start a romance. Darth Vader and bounty hunter Boba Fett are looking for the Falcon and its crew.

Han and Leia land on Cloud City to meet with Han's old friend Lando Calrissian, but it's a trap and Vader takes Leia, while giving a carbon frozen Han to Fett to sell to Jabba the Hutt. Before he is frozen, Leia yells that she loves him. Lando frees Leia and Chewbacca.

While this is happening, Vader confronts Luke, who has come to save his friends after training for some time with Yoda. They fight and Vader wins, cutting off Luke's hand. In a surprise twist, Vader reveals that he is Luke's father, not the man who supposedly killed his father.

Luke escapes even after Vader asked his son to join him.

6 - "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" (1983)

PHOTO: A photo of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, 1983.
A photo of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, 1983.

Luke and Leia attempt to rescue Han, but are captured, or so you think. Luke gives Jabba one chance to free him and his friends or die at the hand of a Jedi.

After refusing, Leia strangles Jabba, while Boba Fett gets eaten by a monster. After freeing his friends, Luke returns to Yoda and before the Jedi master dies, he tells Luke there is "another." He knows it's Leia, his sister.

Meanwhile, a new Death Star is being built, so Han leads a plot to shut down the power of the Star's energy shield, so fighters can destroy the new weapon. Luke surrenders to Vader to try and convince him to betray the Emperor.

Han and his team are captured because the Emperor knew of their plan. But new friends, the Ewoks, help out and they eventually shut down the shield.

Luke battles Vader again, this time defeating his father, but refuses to join the Emperor. The Emperor shoots bolts of the Force at young Luke and Vader needs to step in to save his son, and kill his former master. Vader has Luke take off his mask before he dies as well, so he can see his son with his own eyes for once.

The new Death Star is destroyed and there is a large party to celebrate the new freedom in the galaxy. At the end, Luke sees Yoda, Obi-Wan and even Anakin, who are now all part of the Force.

7 - "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" (2015)

It's been 30 years since the Empire was defeated, but a new foe has emerged, The First Order.

Luke Skywalker had been training a new wave of Jedi, but was betrayed by an apprentice, Kylo Ren, and many were killed. Luke then disappeared and the First Order are looking for him to finish what they started.

The First Order are led by Supreme Leader Snoke, Ren and their new weapon, Starkiller Base, which is very similar to a Death Star.

The Resistance is led by the now General Leia, ace pilot Poe Dameron and others. Dameron is captured early on by Ren, but Dameron's driod BB-8 is able to escape with a map to Skywalker.

A stormtrooper FN-2187 has an awakening during a battle and decides to leave the First Order, freeing Dameron in the process. They end of crashing on the planet of Jakku, with "Finn," his nickname given to him from Poe, believing Dameron died in the crash.

Finn then meets a local scavenger, Rey, and ends up escaping the First Order on a ship they stole, which just happens to be the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon gets caught in a beam, to which we see two figures board -- it's Han and Chewie! Han explains to his new friends that the Jedi are real, while we later find out that Solo is Kylo Ren's father and Ren, real name Ben Solo, has turned to the Dark Side.

Later on, we also find out Rey is Force sensitive as she touches a lightsaber once owned by Luke and his father Anakin, where she gets a Force flashback of Ren betraying Luke and the others. Rey is eventually captured by Ren, but he doesn't know much about her. He tries to use the Force to get information from her, BUT she gets information from him instead. He's amazed at how powerful she is. She uses these powers to escape, mind tricking a stormtrooper to let her go.

Later Han tries to get Kylo to return home to him and Leia, but he kills his father instead, fully committing to the Dark Side. A battle ensues, which eventually involves Ren, Finn and Rey, while Chewie and company work to destroy Starkiller Base.

Finn shows some lightsaber skills, but is bested by Ren. Rey, on the other hand, is able to draw Luke's old lightsaber to her and even defeats Ren using the Force. Ren escapes as Starkiller Base begins to implode and separates the two from each other.

We end with Snoke announcing he will finish training Ren, and Rey using the now-completed map to find Luke and return his lightsaber he hasn't seen since first battling his father all those years ago.

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