I’m fully aware that writing an article about how “Star Wars” is better than “Star Trek” is flame bait. Especially with “Star Trek Into Darkness” hitting theatres this week. You understand this as well as I do.
But damn it, it’s true. Last night, I caught a 9:45 p.m. IMAX 3D showing of “Star Trek Into Darkness” and it just reminded me how much more I enjoy watching the “Star Wars” movies. It kills me that I have to include Episodes I through III. Those aren’t “Star Wars” movies, they’re abominations. But in the spirit of fairness, I’ll count them.
Even counting the newer “Star Wars” installments, the franchise is still better than the “Star Trek” universe. Fightin’ words.
The irony here is that new Trek-helmer J.J. Abrams will be taking the reigns for the new “Star Wars,” so this fight might dwindle in the next few years as “Star Wars” gets Abramified and lens-flared into the next decade.
So let’s just enjoy the discussion for now because really, I know you get as much of a kick out of this “debate” as I do.
Here are 19 reasons why “Star Wars” is better than “Star Trek.” There are more, but I have some actual work to attend to, so please feel free to sound off in the comments below.
This could conceivably be higher up on the list, but the choice is obviously driven by my male brain, and the fact that my male brain was influenced by this scene when I was but a wee lad of 6 years old.
While we may not be getting 'Star Wars 1313' (RIP LucasArts), 'Star Wars' has given us one of the best role-playing games ever in 'Knights of the Old Republic' and more than double the game titles of any 'Star Trek' adaptations.
'Playing Star Trek: The Game felt like playing an unfinished version of a game that, even when finished, still wouldn't be very good.'
Who doesn't love the way William Shatner talks? 'Bones ... Spock! BonesSpock! I ... can't ... believe we just got shot. I ... hope ... that this is ... over.' But come on, seriously? This guy is trusted to command a star ship?
Sure, Han Solo takes some serious risks with his crew and Millenium Falcon, but Kirk is kind of a moron, new Kirk included. Leading away-crews himself with his most important staffers? Right, this is dramatic. They are the main characters, understood. But for a series that gets touted for it's realism based on science, this just takes me way out of it.
Sure, if you placed the Falcon side by side with the Enterprise, it's a tough choice as to which ship is the more iconic of the two. But think about the impact that one ship has had in popular culture from only appearing in three movies compared to the Enterprise appearing in every single 'Star Trek.'
The Millenium Falcon is cool because it just is. The Enterprise is cool because it is recognisable and we've seen it in movies and on TV for the last 30-some years.
Plus, you can build the Falcon -- along with the Death Star -- in LEGO sets.
With the exception of the score to 'Wrath of Khan,' 'Star Wars' has the better score. It is iconic. You're humming the title credits theme for 'Star Wars' right now as you read this and as soon as you read about Darth Vader the 'Imperial March' will start playing in your head. John Williams is a master and he crafted an unforgettable theme that defined just how memorable and iconic film music can be in popular culture.
Not to take anything away from Jerry Goldsmith ('Star Trek: The Motion Picture') and James Horner ('Wrath Of Khan' and 'Search For Spock'), who both crafted master scores for the 'Star Trek' franchise.
And why should the accuracy of the physics matter? These are movies. Anybody who argues that the universe is more realistically modelled in 'Star Trek' than 'Star Wars' and says that matters, is wrong. Sorry Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Look, light sabers are awesome, but they're about as realistic as warp drives or an engineer who can fix any problem with a star ship simply by 'Giving it a li'itle mer time cap'in!' Just because 'Star Trek' inspired a generation of NASA engineers, that doesn't mean we're any more likely to happen upon a race of Klingon aliens flying ships equipped with invisibility cloaks any time soon.
Pair up the two iconic weapons from each franchise -- the light saber and the phaser -- and which one wins? A pulsating beam of light that is a sword that slices through metal like butter and Skywalker like ham and is used by Jedi Knights like Obi Wan Kenobi? Or a tiny and un-intimidating handheld gun that can be 'set to stun'?
Both weapons are iconic, but the light saber is a truly unique idea to come from Star Wars. Hand-held phaser-type guns have been portrayed in science fiction film and books since people started writing science fiction. And how many memes have come from phasers? Think about all of the squirrel light saber fights and how they'd look with phasers.
A bumpy forehead does not an alien make. Yes, 'Star Wars' characters do tend to lean towards the humanoid shape, but look at Jabba! Or Yoda. Or Chewbacca, for that matter. 'Star Wars' aliens tend to go a more fantastical route than 'Star Trek' aliens. In 'Star Trek,' Vulcans have funny ears, Klingons have ridged foreheads, and Romulans have big arse ears and bad teeth. Where's the variety? Yes, yes there are the big, terrifying creatures that chase Kirk and crew about, but the height of interesting aliens in the 'Trek' universe are easily the Borg, that pesky human-mechanical cyborg collective.
But look at Yoda. Look at him! He's tiny, green and 800-something years old he is.
Ewoks don't count. They never happened.
As far as cool secondary or supporting characters go, Boba Fett is about as good as it gets. Mysterious, tough, and wears awesome armour. A mercenary. His counterpart on 'Star Trek'? Jordy with his visor. Point to 'Star Wars.'
The Spock of the 'Star Wars' universe. Yoda is more Spock-like, but Solo held more screen time as Luke's #2 guy. No emotion vs. all emotion. The scruffy nerf-herder is easily as iconic of a character as Spock, if not more so. This is also the role that set off Harrison Ford's career. What else is Leonard Nimoy known for? Solo was such an impactful character, played so well by Harrison Ford, that he went on to be Indiana Jones.
This opening sequence set to the 'Star Wars' theme is unmistakable. Compare with any 'Star Trek' title sequence and 'Star Wars' will win every time when it comes to inspiring awe and setting the stage for the viewer to be taken away into a fantasy universe of adventure. It could be considered the greatest opening title sequence of all time.
These two robots set the bar for personality for non-human characters in film. They looked real, they had major roles, and they were believable even though they were two guys in tin suits. The Borg in 'Star Trek' don't compare. Data is 'Star Trek's' attempt at sentience and personality in a robot, and like with 'Star Trek's' aliens, Data was distinguished from humans only by his pale skin and funny manner of talking.
At least historically. The original 'Star Trek' television show did break ground when it was released, and it did help pave the way for 'Star Wars: A New Hope' by proving that adventurous science fiction can reach a wide audience. But 'Star Trek's' special effects in the television series were blown away even by older movies such as the original 'War Of The Worlds' or 'The Day The Earth Stood Still.' When it was released in 1977, 'A New Hope' was on the cutting edge of special effects and helped pave the way for films like 'Alien' (1979) and 'Blade Runner' (1982).
Unfortunately, Episode's I through III haven't stood the test of time all that well, and those movie's computer graphics now look dated and fake, even more so than the originals. But that doesn't change the fact they were groundbreaking at the time, and pushed digital film to where it is today. Set phasers to ouch.
Even with all of the mismanagement and poor planning, (WTF, putting a direct open line of fire to destroy the Death Star?) The Empire had real Galactic domination in mind. They weren't after a star system or two, they wanted it all and woe be to any 'Star Trek' Federation, Klingon, Romulan or even Borg that should have the misfortune to go up against Empire hardware. They wouldn't stand a chance.
The scrappy 'Star Wars' Rebels were barely able to put up a fight and they still had better firepower than anything in the 'Star Trek' universe. They did have Luke Skywalker though ...
Yes, 'Star Wars' had Jar Jar Binks (shudder) as an annoying character. Possibly one of the worst characters ever. But did you have to sit through multiple seasons of enduring Jar Jar Binks? No. It was only for a movie and a half.
'Star Trek's' Tasha Yar and Wesley Crusher on the other hand ... As a fan of TNG, these two characters would routinely ruin episodes for me with their stupidity and uselessness. It was a glorious day when Tasha Yar died on TNG. The torture was finally over.
'Star Wars' has space fighters, 'Star Trek' has shuttles that ferry people back and forth and have no firepower. Plus, Tie Fighters and X-Wings are, in a word, pure awesome.
The ship design in 'Star Wars' is varied and creative. Most all of the 'Star Trek' Federation ships look the same, and there isn't much variety in the rest of the universe, as there are typically only a few alien species and they all have very similar ship designs. Borg ships are giant cubes, for example. Menacing cubes yes, but still giant cubes.
Step back for a moment and pretend Lucas didn't go completely off his rocker and explain the force as being 'Midi-chlorians.'
The idea behind The Force is a powerful one. That all things are connected, and the good side of The Force can be harnessed to improve the universe and fight evil. The Force is essentially a religion, and one that plays off the eternal fight between good and evil.
As a relatable plot device, it works well as an overarching reason for why everything is the way it is in the 'Star Wars' universe. It is a powerful underlying theme. 'Star Trek' deals with morality by placing the Enterprise in situations where they must make the right moral choice and damn to hell the consequences! Over and over again. The crew of the Enterprise have saved whales to save the universe. They have plugged volcanoes to protect the natives. They follow the Prime Directive because that's the right thing to do (unless you're Captain Kirk). There is no overarching theme aside from 'do the right thing because its just the right thing to do.' In 'Star Wars,' The Force is behind everything and offers characters a cohesive and compelling reason as to why they do the things they do.
The greatest cinematic villain of all time, bar none. 'Star Trek's' Khan was, in all fairness, one of the best as well. But a plastic-chested, Shakespeare-quoting Ricardo Montalban or venom-spewing Benedict Cumberbatch can't hold a light saber to Vader. Darth Vader is a badass, and he's a great example of a villain having a troubled past and being transformed into what he is. 'Star Trek,' and any other film with a villainous protagonist who has a complicated past since 1977 has taken inspiration from Vader.