(picture found at comicvine.com)
Live long and prosper. May the force be with you. These are two phrases that have found their way into the mainstream thanks to two of the most successful space franchises ever. In case you have been in hiding for the last 47 years or so, then of course the first one is from Star Trek, the second one from Star Wars. Before I go further, I should say that I like them both and see no reason why I can’t. However, I should also point out that I find Star Wars slightly more enjoyable, but don’t hold that against me. I realise that there are some people out there for whom it can only be one or the other and that’s OK for them, but I see no need for this kind of thinking, hence the ‘coexist’ picture at the top of this post.
Unlike Star Wars, which had its start on the big screen, Star Trek made its début on the small screen. It was first shown in 1966, the year I was born, so I was introduced to it through childhood reruns. It can be easiest described as a science fiction entertainment franchise, but for many it is much deeper than that. Since 1966 there have been six different TV series (if you include the animated series), twelve movies, and almost uncountable books, games, toys, video games, and comics.
For some people it is only Star Trek: The Original Series that counts, with everything that follows being inferior. Some are able to embrace everything that has come along and just enjoy the ride. Others pick and chose what they like, whilst there are some who just can accept everything apart from the two newest movies. Some younger people, whilst enjoying the newer stuff, can’t see what the fuss is about the earlier stuff. What can be said about the whole thing is that there is something for everyone in there.
At the centre of all the different versions there is one constant – the Starship USS Enterprise. Although different versions of it have appeared in the different adaptations, it is where the main action happens. The first crew members, Captain James T. Kirk, Commander Spock, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, and Ensign Pavel Chekov, have been followed by many others, but the franchise has now gone full circle, with the reintroduction of these characters in the two latest movies. For some this is sacrilege, but I like the way that the movies have gone into an alternative version of the universe, leaving the integrity of the originals intact.
Star Wars, which could be best described as an American epic space opera franchise centred on a film series created by George Lucas, doesn’t have anything like the number of versions that Star Trek has, but it is still at least as popular. It first hit the big screen in 1977, with Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which I remember seeing when it first came out and liking it immensely from the start. Being there when it started might be the reason why I like it more, but that doesn’t really matter. For the uninformed, or even uninterested, the numbering system of the six main movies so far may be a little confusing, but it’s just the way the movies came out. At the last count there have been seven movies (one animated), eleven (mainly animated) TV series, and, just like Star Trek, almost uncountable numbers of books, comics, toys, games, and video games. There are also lots of Lego Star Wars models from the various Star Wars movies and TV series. Many of these Lego models have found their way into our household, with probably many more to follow.
Having grown up more with Star Wars than Star Trek, there are moments in its history that I tend to remember more. The biggest of these is remembering the shock when, as a young teenager, I first heard Darth Vader sharing the truth of who he was with Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. I think that you had to be there at the time to understand the depth of that revelation. When I first watched the movies with my son, I insisted we watch them in the order they were released, so that he too could experience the shock of the truth revealed there.
Recently the rights to future Star Wars project was sold to Disney. I have to admit that this initially made me a little fearful and apprehensive, but I’ll have to wait and see what happens, and hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The debate over which one is better will probably rage on in some circles, but I’ll continue to happily enjoy both in their own way, as more instalments of each franchise are released. In the meantime, here is a mash-up video for you to enjoy, following which you can read Star Wars vs. Star Trek in Five Minutes: