Is Star Trek better than Star Wars?
Nida (Star Trek)
Though Star Wars is Fantasy Fiction, a “space opera,” in George Lucas’ words, set in the distant past, in a different galaxy, and depicts a larger-than-life battle between good and evil, there’s no nuance, no shades of grey.
Star Trek, however, started out as a series. Exploring the future of our universe, it thrives in shades of grey. There are moral ambiguities and emotional conflict. Most episodes leave audiences with food for thought.
In “The Measure of a Man” from The Next Generation, Lieutenant Commander Data is being sued for his refusal to allow his body to be dismembered so it can be studied and similar androids can be created, all in the name of science. This leads to a very interesting dialogue on what it means to be sentient.
“To boldly go where no one has gone before,” speaks of adventure, optimism, discovery, to face novel and precarious situations with dignity, courage and a steadfast moral compass. The Vulcan greeting, “live long and prosper,” wishes peace and good tidings. The Prime Directive - the promise all Starfleet members live by - is their promise they will never interfere in the cultures of any world they visit.
Unlike Star Wars, battles aren’t a way of life for them. In fact, they go out of their way to avoid needless clashes. If these properties were people, Star Wars would be boisterous and arrogant, ready to fight for perceived slights and dazzle you with special effects; Star Trek would be respectful and polite, taking you along on an adventure, so you can both learn together. Who would you rather hang out with?
Samantha (Star Wars)
A hero’s journey at its core, Star Wars is a story of discovering your purpose and the popular never-ending battle of good versus evil. Harnessing those iconic and timeless traits of great Hollywood films, the setting stretched beyond and into space. While it’s not based on factual science, Star Wars enthralled its audience and changed film forever.
The first film alone (Episode IV: A New Hope) was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won six . Even a special achievement award was given to Ben Burtt for his work in the film’s sound design where he gave voice to R2D2, created the sound of the lightsabers, guns, and the breathing of Darth Vader. Every part of the production was game-changing. Creator George Lucas and his team had to use practical effects such as making models of spaceships and smart camera operation to give the sense that the ships were much larger.
And it’s no surprise that the characters have become just as famous as any celebrity. In 2018, Rolling Stone ranked the top 50 best Star Wars characters of all time. Han Solo was number one, Darth Vader at two, and Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker were five and six. While Luke may have been a more familiar hero to audiences, Leia was the one who challenged the norms of princess behavior. She may have needed saving occasionally but the second she could, she’d fight.
In the end, Star Wars changed the film industry and massively became part of our culture. But most importantly, Star Wars continuously entertains us.
- Which cultural icon came first? Star Trek! Created by Gene Roddenberry and airing in 1966, Star Trek: The Original Series has spawned 9 additional series and 13 feature films to date.
- Writer/director/producer, George Lucas, is responsible for not one, but two major franchises: Star Wars and Indiana Jones, which he co-created alongside Steven Spielberg.
- Star Wars is ranked the 5th highest-grossing media franchise, garnering an estimated $70 billion in revenue since it’s 1977 inception; Star Trek has grossed an estimated $10.8 billion in revenue since 1966.
- If Lucille Ball (of I Love Lucy), through her production company, Desilu studios, hadn’t greenlit, produced, and defended the project against skeptical NBC executives who didn’t understand the “space western,” Star Trek never would have launched.
- Lightsabers, Star Wars’ famous Jedi weapon, achieved the glowing effect through rotoscoping animation - a painstaking process executed by special effect artists where they would manually paint mattes over every shot with a lightsaber in use, one frame at a time.
- Captain Kathryn Janeway debuted in the Star Trek: Voyager series (airing 1995-2001) and was the first female captain in the Star Trek universe.
- George Lucas sold his production company, Lucasfilm, which he founded in 1971 and used to produce Star Wars episodes I-IV, along with Star Wars merchandising rights to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion. Talk about an empire!