Movies

15 Best Space Westerns And How To Watch Them

There are a lot of genres for Hollywood movies, but some are notably more niche and awesome than the rest. To write a list about the best space westerns is redundant, because any movie that mixes the elements of sci-fi with the classic western stories of old is an immediate classic in my book. With that said, it is niche, but there are quite a few quality ones worth noting that have released over the past few decades. 

There’s a lot to love about space westerns, and we’ll explore that more as we go over the best this genre has to offer. My only regret is that we can’t have fifty movies on this list to run through, so maybe some Hollywood creatives will see this and get to work on creating the next space adventure for us to enjoy. 

The Serenity cast

(Image credit: Universal)

Serenity

Serenity is the follow-up to the short-lived but much-beloved Firefly series from Joss Whedon. The crew’s usual antics are halted when they welcome aboard a psychic passenger. The movie has all the space western fun fans would want, and will certainly lead people to question why Firefly was canceled in the first place. 

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Chris Pratt in footage from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

(Image credit: Marvel)

Guardians Of The Galaxy

While I’m hesitant to list the entirety of any space franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy fits the bill for a space western across the board the most of any popular science fiction franchise. They’re not exactly the law-abiding sheriffs of the galaxy, but the gang largely stands for what’s right and has more firepower at their disposal than a vast majority of other heroes in the MCU. They certainly roll into locations with a dangerous cowboy style, so I don’t think this one is a hard sell. 

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Alden Ehrenreich in Solo: A star wars story

(Image credit: Disney)

Solo: A Star Wars Story

If you were to ask me what the most western-themed Star Wars project is, I’d say The Mandalorian. If we’re just talking about movies, however, I’d have to say Solo: A Star Wars Story is far and away the most on-brand when speaking about the themes of the genre. I mean, come on, it has a train heist sequence, as well as a showdown between the hero and his friend-turned-villain. It’s good enough for some to still be calling for a sequel in 2024, and widely available with a Disney+ subscription

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Daniel Craig in Cowboys & Aliens

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Cowboys & Aliens

This is probably the only movie on the list that is a space western in a way that no other entry is. Jon Favreau‘s Cowboys & Aliens takes the story to Earth, but the circumstances are far from normal. A man in New Mexico territory in the Old West awakens with a mysterious alien device on his arm. It ultimately brings about an alien invasion, and as the title suggests, cowboys taking on aliens. It’s a fun movie that boasts a solid cast of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, which makes for a fun adventure from start to finish. 

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Aliens in Battle Beyond The Stars

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Battle Beyond The Stars

Battle Beyond The Stars may be a film lovers of the genre know well, but one that other audiences may be in the dark about. This 1980 space western follows a ragtag group of mercenaries attempting to protect a farming planet from an evil overlord. Let me just add that this movie literally has a character named “Cowboy,” which really drives home just how much this movie falls into the genre. 

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taylor kitsch in john carter

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

John Carter

Disney doesn’t like highlighting its failed attempts to launch a franchise, and it’s safe to say John Carter stands apart as one of its most costly. The sci-fi adaptation of the book series that ultimately inspired Superman seemed primed to stand alongside the superhero craze at the box office but bombed hard in addition to being very costly to make. While there will almost certainly never be a sequel, John Carter is a pretty solid movie, though maybe a tad long. Stream it now with a Disney+ subscription

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Pedro Pascal in Prospect

(Image credit: Bron Studios)

Prospect

A prospector arrives with his daughter on a treacherous planet in search of fortune in the form of rare gems. Much like the gold rush in the Old West, they’re not the only ones there seeking fortune, and must contend with rivals, mercenaries and the various dangers of the planet in order to get what they want. Pedro Pascal is red-hot in Hollywood at the moment, so be sure to check this movie from 2018 out. 

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Vin Diesel in Pitch Black

(Image credit: USA Films)

Pitch Black

Pitch Black has some real space western vibes, as Vin Diesel’s breakout sci-fi movie has the classic feel of a wagon train western adventure. Those who saw the movie ultimately were big fans of Diesel’s Riddick character, and a franchise was spawned from it. We’re still waiting on the arrival of Riddick 4: Furya, which has been teased by the actor for years. Luckily, we still have this cult classic to look back on, as well as the movies that came after. 

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Flash Gordon in a ship

(Image credit: Columbia)

Flash Gordon

I don’t think there’s a hero on this list that looks more like the archetypical true blue hero than Flash Gordon. The movie itself also follows the trope of him rescuing a damsel in distress from an evil villain, though the stakes in Flash Gordon are higher than the average western. With that said, if the average Wild West cowboy had to save the universe, I’m sure he could pull it off, as well. 

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Sean Connery in Outland

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Outland

As Federal Marshal William O’Niel, Sean Connery‘s character in Outland is about as close as one can get to a cowboy. He’s investigating a string of drug-induced psychosis happening in a mining colony. As is often the case in these western mysteries, the more the good Marshal digs, the more he becomes privy to a secret the higher-ups of the mining company would rather he not prod at. Of all the Sean Connery movies out there, this one isn’t as hyped, but it’s a great watch for fans of the space western genre. 

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Ice Cube in Ghosts of Mars

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Ghosts Of Mars

A lieutenant is called in front of a Martian council to answer for why a mission to retrieve an escaped criminal went south. John Carpenter‘s Ghost Of Mars jumps between the present and past in telling its story, which is ripe with the typical space western tropes fans of the genre love. It also has Ice Cube and Jason Statham in it, and you can never go wrong with a movie by either actor. 

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Molly Ringwald and Peter Strauss

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone

It’s not uncommon for space westerns to have bounty hunters, but I would say it’s far less common to see random citizens spontaneously become bounty hunters. That happens in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, when a salvage operator intercepts a bounty to rescue three women from a hostile planet. Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald, and Ernie Hudson are just a few of the heavy hitters in this ’80s movie, which is certainly deserving of readers’ attention. 

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Bravestarr

(Image credit: Taurus Entertainment)

Bravestarr: The Movie

BraveStarr might not be a household name in this day and age, and I’m unsure if the Mattel toy that received a TV series and movie was super well-known when it was on, either. Regardless, BraveStarr: The Movie was made and was meant to serve as an origin story to tell the tale of the space cowboy that the series was based off of. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t do well at the box office, despite praise from critics. 

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Spike in Cowboy Bebop.

(Image credit: TXN/Wowow)

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Not only is Cowboy Bebop one of the best space western shows out there, it also has a movie that makes for a great entry on this list. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is set between Episodes 22 and 23 of the original series, and follows Spike and the crew as they pursue a terrorist on Mars trying to unleash a deadly virus on its people. Be warned, some knowledge of the show might be handy ahead of watching, though there’s no shortage of places to watch it and other iconic ’80s and ’90s anime

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Moon Zero Two

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Moon Zero Two

When salvagers learn about an asteroid in low-orbit loaded with “ceramic sapphire,” they make a move to try and obtain riches beyond their belief. The plot thickens when a woman named Clementine shows up to ask for help finding her brother. As space westerns do, the story becomes about something much bigger than expected, and surprise, there’s a betrayal on the horizon. Still, this 1969 British movie is worth a watch. 

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Be sure to check these movies out, but also be sure to keep an eye on the wide variety of best movies available in the sci-fi genre as well. I know that I can’t wait to dive in and check some of these out, and I am eager for Hollywood to get back to making more space westerns on a consistent basis. 

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