5. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

AT-ATs on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back

Sequel to: Star Wars (1977)

The Star Wars franchise is one of the most beloved and successful of all time, so its inclusion on this list may not be altogether surprising. The first ever Star Wars movie, simply titled Star Wars (the subtitle A New Hope was added later to avoid confusion), remains a sci-fi classic that established the characters and world that audiences have come to know and love. However, the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, is objectively a far better film. This becomes particularly clear when the two are weighed against their place in and significance to the franchise as a whole.

Star Wars introduced iconic characters and the vague idea of the Force and the Jedi. However, it wasn’t until The Empire Strikes Back that these ideas came to become more defined, taking on the shape of what we now understand them to be. The sequel also established familial connections between numerous characters, which came to serve as the backbone for the entire Skywalker Saga, which makes The Empire Strikes Back perhaps the most important Star Wars movie to date.

It’s also important to note that The Empire Strikes Back is a better film than the original thanks to the success of the first movie. Star Wars established the box office potential of big-budget sci-fi, and that allowed for Empire to be a far more grandiose affair. However, no matter which way you look at it, The Empire Strikes Back is far better than the original Star Wars for a number of key reasons, and it’s still regarded by many as the best Star Wars film ever made.