Star Wars: The Last Jedi is often considered the worst movie in the entire franchise. Many fans passionately derided the film upon its release, and remains divisive to say the least. However, despite the backlash, The Last Jedi is actually the best of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

The backlash to The Last Jedi has been one of Star Wars‘ darkest moments. Even the vitriol inspired by Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace pales in comparison, especially considering the more favorable re-evaluation the prequel has undergone in recent years. Fans disliked many elements of The Last Jedi, specifically citing various plot points and developments. Criticisms were levelled at Luke Skywalker’s abrupt ending and the character of Rose in particular.

In spite of this, The Last Jedi really deserves to be held in higher esteem. It not only continued the story of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but resolved and developed various aspects. It also managed to strike a reasonable balance between nostalgia and originality – something which was crucially lacking in the other sequel movies.

The Last Jedi Maintains A Balance That Makes It The Best Star Wars Sequel

Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Force Awakens might have introduced new heroes, but The Last Jedi fully established them within the franchise. The first film in the sequel trilogy borrowed the broad strokes of its story from A New Hope, making its action and narrative largely predictable. This lack of originality meant that the sequels’ new characters were introduced, but they didn’t feel like a legitimate part of the continuity. However, The Last Jedi tried to fix that.

The Last Jedi did more than just bring back Luke Skywalker. It chronicled the start of Rey’s training, using a passing of the torch story that ended with Luke becoming one with the Force. It also offered a revelation about Rey’s parentage, addressing the long-standing rumors with a perfect anticlimax. Rey didn’t need to be related to existing Star Wars characters, and The Last Jedi legitimized her as a hero in her own right.

Then, along came The Rise of Skywalker. Not only did the final installment retcon The Last Jedi‘s best developments, but it quickly devolved into brainless fan service. Rise of Skywalker‘s key plot point – the resurrection of Emperor Palpatine – was utterly ridiculous. The film also undermined Kylo Ren’s villainous transformation by redeeming him. In many ways, The Rise of Skywalker discredited The Last Jedi, making the second film retroactively worse.

Comparing the three as individual films, The Last Jedi is clearly the best of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It’s more original than The Force Awakens and more intelligent than The RIse of Skywalker. Though fans take issue with various aspects of the film, it didn’t opt for the easy route. Narratively speaking, it’s the only film in the trilogy that didn’t condescend to fans, and that’s why it deserves a little more appreciation.