Ever since that fateful day on May 25 1977 when George Lucas unleashed his box office juggernaut, Star Wars, a deep schism opened in geekdom: on one side Trekkies, fans of scifi that provides food for thought, tribbles, Vulcans and Klingons, and on the other side Star Wars fanatics, fans of operatic whizz-bang action, lightsabers and the Force.
Both camps claim their franchise king of scifi. Trekkies trumpet their property’s use of scifi tropes to explore contentious questions of morality, ethics, and progress while lambasting Star Wars for being the stuff of Saturday morning cartoons. On the other side, Star Wars fans champion their property’s ability to tap into a mythic quality that speaks to deep archetypes in western culture while providing escapist popcorn fair of the highest calibre and criticized Star Trek for delivering ham-fisted social commentary in trite scifi morality tales. The battle lines had been drawn and it seemed that nothing could unify the warring factions until one man entered the battlefield: J. J. Abrams.
In 2009 J.J. Abrams shot a much needed dose of adrenaline into the flatlining Star Trek franchise with his mega-hit reboot. Abrams infused Star Trek with a populist filmmaking sensibility that appealed to a mass audience and reintroduced Trek to a public that had cooled on the series. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise, once the prequel trilogy had run its course, seemed dead in the water. George Lucas completed his saga (for better or worse) and appeared to finally lay Star Wars to rest. And then the unexpected happened: George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney. Shortly after, Disney announced its plans to continue the series with a brand new trilogy.
The internet exploded with speculation and rumours about which director would receive the daunting task of taking the reigns of one of the highest grossing franchise ever. When the dust settled, one man picked up the gauntlet: J. J. Abrams. With Abrams at the helm of both franchises it appears that the strife between Trekkies and Star Wars fans may finally come to an end. Will Abrams inspire an unprecedented fanbase crossover, bringing the fans he’s won over from Star Trek to his new rendition of Star Wars?
Before this can happen I hope to answer the question that gave rise to the conflict to begin with: which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars? Being a fan of both series I can relate to both sides of the argument so I’ll try to keep it as unbiased as possible. We’ll make the franchises go head to head in four categories, winner takes all.
Who will emerge victorious? Read on to find out.
One of the best measures of success is the accolades of your peers. No matter how little credibility awards ceremonies like the Emmys or Oscars may have in the eyes of the fans, these awards signify the respect of the professionals working in the mediums that Star Wars and Star Trek traffic in. So lets break down the numbers:
Star Wars was born in cinemas while Star Trek only made the leap to feature films two years after Star Wars forever changed blockbuster filmmaking. After Return of the Jedi, the Star Wars franchise took a 16 year hiatus but Star Trek kept steadily churning out film after film. Now the count stands at 11 Star Trek Films to 6 Star Wars films. Despite Star Trek’s strength in numbers it appears the academy favours the consistently top tier FX and production values of Star Wars: the Skywalker saga has earned 25 Academy Award Nominations and won 10. Comparatively, Star Trek has 14 nominations and 1 win.
Advantage: Star Wars.
Star Wars may dominate the movies but Star Trek trounces it on the small screen. Star Trek boasts five live action television and one animated series while Star Wars has produced only three animated series and one of the worst television specials of all-time, the universally reviled Star Wars Holiday Special. The Emmys paid tribute to Star Trek on numerous occasions awarding the series 31 statues. Compare that to the Star Wars franchises’ 0 Emmys and we have a clear winner.
Advantage: Star Trek
No one can call either property a slouch in the awards department but Star Trek’s award advantage comes from a medium Star Wars hasn’t saturated to nearly the same extent. When comparing awards in the same medium, movies, Star Wars has won more statues with less films.
Winner: Star Wars
This article was first posted on April 24, 2013