Hold up. Go back and read the title. Do you understand what it’s saying? Okay, good, just wanted to make sure.
It’s the same debate that has raged on for decades now. People go back and forth in heated exchanges, trying to prove their point.
Both franchises provide us with great television and film. But when it comes down to it, Star Trek rises above and is definitely superior to Star Wars.
To The Reader
I’d like to ask something of you now. I think the majority of Star Wars fans would like to pretend the prequel trilogy doesn’t exist. Am I right? The same goes for Star Trek, some of the films and even one of the television series are quite forgettable.
So, to cater to both fan bases, let’s all pretend those unfortunate parts of the franchises don’t exist.
I will now continue in this mindset.
Actual Issues vs. Escaping Reality
Costume Designer Michael Kaplan, who worked with J.J. Abrams on Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens said of the two franchises: “Star Wars is a fantasy and Star Trek is science fiction”.
This directly supports the point that Star Trek deals with actual issues rather than providing an escape from them. The original series dealt with topics such as racial issues, socialism, and the unchecked arms race of the time.
Despite many, even Trekkies, viewing Star Trek Into Darkness as one of the worst Star Trek films, it still deals with a very real issue: Terrorism. It also deals with the conspiracy of a government working with a terrorist.
Or how about in the television show Star Trek Voyager, when throughout the entire seven seasons it grapples with the question should the ship’s doctor, a medical hologram, have the same rights as a flesh and blood human?
When does Star Wars give us this? Star Wars continuously gives us the same conflict: evil bad guy wants to take over the galaxy, ragtag group of good guys have to stop him.
While this doesn’t make Star Wars bad, it only gives us an escape from the real issues of reality. Whereas Star Trek provides the world-ending melodrama we all love but blends it with something that humanity is struggling with.
This blend makes Star Trek much more interesting than Star Wars and tells superior stories.
Hard Work vs. The Force
Who in Star Wars aside from Force-users save the day or become the hero? Han Solo, yes. Anyone else?
What about in Star Trek? Every single hero solves the problem or saves the day with hard work, intellect, and diplomacy.
An example of this would be Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He continuously uses these three characteristics to outwit his opponents and protect the lives of his crew.
But wait, Star Trek has ships and warp drive. That’s their substitute for The Force right? No, because the villains in Star Trek have ships as well and many of the alien races they come into contact with have superior technology.
But that doesn’t diminish the fact that hard work is so much more real to us than The Force and therefore gives us more of an emotional connection to our heroes and the overall story.
The villains in Star Trek are so much more interesting and complex.
Let’s look at Darth Vader for a moment. Yes, he’s menacing and looks awesome and all that, but he’s also incredibly one-dimensional. We are never given a reason to why Darth Vader is the way he is. (Remember we’re still pretending the prequels do not exist). His only goal is to take over the galaxy, which while it’s a scary thought; it’s also not much of a goal.
Kylo Ren also falls into this category. While his obsession with Darth Vader manifests into an interesting internal conflict, Ren’s external goal is pretty much the same as Vader’s was. Ren wants to take over the galaxy and crush the Resistance.
Now let’s look at a villain from Star Trek, specifically the 2009 reboot film. The film’s villain, Nero, wants what? He wants to destroy the Federation and for Spock to suffer in the same way he did.
At first these goals appear very much the same thematically as Star Wars, but yet Nero is both complex and interesting and his reasoning is explained.
Nero’s planet was destroyed, despite the Federation and Spock promising to prevent it. Without going into too much detail, we can see this has already given Nero an interesting starting point for the story and therefore his action make sense to us as an audience.
Story To Story
Star Trek can also lay claim to being more original when it comes to the different stories. Star Wars falls into the same overall story each and every time.
The original Star Wars trilogy gives us the story of young boy living on a desert planet who dreams of doing something more, specifically fighting the Empire. Years later when the story of Star Wars picks back up, we are introduced to Rey, a young girl living on a desert planet who dreams of doing something more.
I know that Hollywood likes reboots and sequels, but beginning a new trilogy with the same story as the first one doesn’t make any sense.
Star Trek on the other hand, steers clear of this. The original films each possessed a singular story and the only ties between the different films were the characters, locations, and events.
Then, in 2009, when the franchise was rebooted, the story went in a completely different direction. A new villain was introduced, the timeline was changed, and the characters we know and love were back, but with a twist.
So instead of taking what worked and making it bigger as Star Wars did, Star Trek took everything great about the franchise and put a new, exciting spin on it. This allows us to enjoy what we love about Star Trek, but still bask in the unknown of where these iconic characters are headed.
So if I may say, Star Trek continues to go boldly where no one has gone before.
Star Trek (1) – Star Wars (0)
Story is all around us and the best films and television series are the ones that portray realistic stories, issues, and characters.
It is very clear that Star Trek brings all these cards to the table, whereas Star Wars does not.
So there you have it everyone. Star Trek one. Star Wars zero.