Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

Well, sort of. It's a statistically rigorous poll at least.

The answer come to us (as an increasingly large number of statistical trivia does) from Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, which conducted the survey through SurveyMonkey, querying 1,186 Americans on what Star Wars films they liked best... and which they liked least.


The answers are mostly predictable (The Empire Strikes Back leads the pack, followed by A New Hope), although things do get a little interesting when one considers respondents' opinion of the Prequels. As has sometimes been pointed out, the Prequels didn't actually receive that bad of a shellacking from reviewers upon their initial release. A lot of fans were disappointed, but most critics thought the films were okay, if a bit uninspired. Indeed, according to RottenTomatoes, critics liked Revenge of the Sith better than Return of the Jedi.

That impression does not hold with general audiences, however, who consistently rated the Prequels significantly below the Original Trilogy in terms of quality. When asked which Star Wars film they liked best, only 20% of respondents selected one of the Prequels, while 80% selected a movie from the Original Trilogy. Likewise, most respondents who'd seen all six films placed one or more of the Prequels in the "bottom third" of the series as a whole.

What's a bit surprising is how the Prequels compare with one another. When naming their favorite Star Wars movie, 10% of respondents selected The Phantom Menace, which is far behind any of the OT films but about twice as many as selected Revenge of the Sith (6%) or Attack of the Clones (4%). This question is mirrored when you look at which films people placed in the top, middle, or bottom thirds: of the prequels, The Phantom Menace was more likely to be placed in the top third and least likely to be placed in the bottom third.


That The Phantom Menace scores relatively well compared to Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith is a little surprising, considering it is probably one of the most infamously pilloried films of the generation. Its very name has become, in many was, a byword for a disappointing franchise continuation. And yet, it's consistently (according to this poll at least) the most favorably viewed of the three films (though Revenge of the Sith comes relatively close). I actually happen to agree with this opinion - I think, Jar Jar and poor direction for Jake Lloyd aside, its story is actually the most coherent and interesting of the three - but it certainly doesn't match my initial impression of the Star Wars fandom's opinion.

In addition to evaluating which films they liked best, FiveThirtyEight also asked respondents which characters they admired the most. Luke (barely) leads the pack with a 93%, followed by Han with 92%. Leia, Obi-Wan, and Yoda all tie for third at 91%. Few would be surprised to learn Jar Jar trails at the bottom with a recriminatory 29%, although I am a little surprised to see Palpatine rate so low at 31% (he's evil sure, but he's probably the best thing about the Prequels). Interestingly the poll rates Anakin and Darth Vader separately, who earn a 62% and 58% respectively.


The poll also asked who shot first. A plurality of respondents said Han did.

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