Here are our top ten choices for the coolest spaceships in cinematic history.
Spaceships, of course, are real things but the ones that tend to capture our imagination the most are the fantastic imagined vessels conceived by people like Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, and those working with the filmmakers. We thought we’d go through what we picked for the top 10 coolest spaceships in film history. Strap in, and take a trip with us through the void.
N-1 Starfighter (Star Wars)
While there are plenty of valid criticisms leveled against 1999’s The Phantom Menace, design-wise Naboo’s N-1 Starfighter was one of the best things to come out of the film. With a sleek, classic look, these spaceships appear in the film’s final battle when both Naboo’s freedom fighters and Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) himself pilot the single-person fighters to successfully destroy the Trade Federation’s Droid Control Ship.
Maybe our choice is because of recency bias. While it’s been a while since we’ve seen the N-1 on the big screen, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) replaces the Razor Crest with a refurbished N-1 in The Book of Boba Fett, and still has it as of the most recent season of The Mandalorian.
H.M.S. Bounty (Star Trek)
It’s easy to forget that for an entire film — one of the franchise’s best — rather than the Enterprise, the heroes of Star Trek have at their command the captured Klingon Bird of Prey they christen the H.M.S. Bounty. It’s the same spaceship Commader Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) commands in 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock which marks the destruction of the original Enterprise. By the end of that film the heroes have taken it over, and it’s the same ship they fly into the past in 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
First appearing in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy while it was still under the rule of the Collector (Benicio del Toro), Knowhere has since reappeared in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, 2022’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Said to be made from the severed head of a Celestial, it remains a mystery exactly who or what decapitated the powerful being.
If you’re thinking Knowhere isn’t one of Marvel’s spaceships, then we can only assume you have yet to see Guardians 3, in which the heroes use it as precisely that.
Eagle 5 (Spaceballs)
Sure there are spaceships with more flash and a lot more firepower, but who would say “no” to cruising through space in a Winnebago? That’s exactly what the heroes do in 1987’s Spaceballs, Mel Brooks‘ spoof of Star Wars.
The Eagle 5 is what Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and Barf (John Candy) are flying through space when they agree to rescue Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) in hopes of getting Pizza the Hutt (Dom DeLuise) off their backs. It may not look like much, but without it Lone Starr could never have mastered the Schwartz or discovered his royal heritage.
U.S.S. Sulaco (Alien Franchise)
The U.S.S. Sulaco is most bad-ass looking of all the spaceships in the Alien franchise, but sadly short of bringing the heroes to LV-426 in 1986’s Aliens, it doesn’t prove much help to them in the fight against the planet’s xenomorphs. It provides temporary sanctuary to the few survivors before and after Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) fight with the Queen, but then ejects them in Alien 3 and traps them on another planet.
No one knows what happened to the Sulaco after the opening of Alien 3. Regardless, it proved to be the Alien franchise version of Boba Fett — it looked really cool, but just didn’t wind up doing very much.
Discovery One (2001: A Space Odyssey)
The year 2001 has long since come and gone without any spaceships like Discovery One, but that doesn’t take away from the ship’s simple but brilliant design in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Along with bringing the mostly doomed heroes on their journey to Jupiter, Discovery One is home to the infamous HAL 9000. The manner in which the chilling, warm-voice AI eliminates its human passengers one-by-one would become something of a standard in science fiction, against which all portrayals of AI gone rogue would be judged against.
The Milano (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy have piloted a number of ships including the Benatar and, more recently, the Bowie. But for our money nothing could truly beat the Milano. Starting off as purely Star-Lord’s ride in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s destroyed by the end of the film but rebuilt by the Nova Corp. It suffers severe damage from a battle with the Sovereign in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and is abandoned on the planet Berhert.
While it premiered on the short-lived TV series Firefly, the titular ship would make its final screen appearance in the 2005 film Serenity. It couldn’t go as fast as a lot of other spaceships, it almost never has weapons and so is usually completely useless in a fight, but it nevertheless has more character than just about any spaceship you’ll find on TV or in film.
Serenity is a home and its interior feels more like a home than just about any spaceship you’ve ever seen on the screen. You can learn volumes about its captain and its passengers just with a few shots of the kitchen.
U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek)
Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise is one of the most iconic spaceships in film or television, and with good reason. Not even counting its television appearances, six different versions of the vessel have appeared in a total of 13 films over the course of 37 years — between 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture and 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. Since the original’s destruction in Star Trek III, we’ve since had big screen versions of the A, B, D, E, and the Kelvin Timeline version of the ship starting with 2009’s Star Trek.
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)
Even if you’re a Star Trek fan first, how could you argue against the notion that the Millennium Falcon is the coolest of all spaceships? Regardless of Han Solo’s kind of weird claim about parsec records, the Star Wars ship that everyone seems to call a hunk of junk nevertheless gets its heroes out of more scrapes than we can remember. Shaped partly like a disc, the Millennium Falcon proves maneuverable in ways the smaller TIE Fighters can never manage, weaving through Death Star’s innards, asteroid fields, and the throats of massive space monsters.