Friday, January 25, 2013

Starships in the night: 5 times Trek and Wars have crossed paths

I'm still stunned and amazed at the news. Not that I was a big fan of JJ Abrams' interpretation of Star Trek, but I have to admit that I was beginning to think of him as 'ours,' so to speak, for better or for worse. He revitalized the franchise, something it needed for quite awhile, and I give him credit for that. But to think that anyone would want the mighty responsibility of overseeing the two biggest sci-fi franchises OF ALL TIME... Sure, it sounds like the ultimate fanboy fantasy on the surface, but if you think about all the people you'd have to please, all the unrealistic expectations that can never be met, all the headaches...

Well, to coin a phrase, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din.

Not to mention braver.

Still, in observance of this monumentally historic announcement, I'd thought it'd be worth taking a look back at five occasions (among others) in which these two titanic make-believe universes, and their creators and stars, have rubbed shoulders against each other.

- 1976: George Lucas was considered for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. As I've written about before, A New Hope (and to a lesser degree, Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind) proved that there was a market for big-budget, high adventure science fiction movies that Paramount would take advantage of two years later with the release of the first Trek film. As reported in The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, co-authored by Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, in 1976, Jon Povill, who worked on an early Trek screenplay with Roddenberry, was assigned by Paramount to find other writers for a draft. Among those considered was none other than Lucas himself, fresh off of American Graffiti and THX-1138, his debut sci-fi film. (Francis Ford Coppola, Lucas' mentor and friend, was also on the short list.) Later that year, Chris Bryant and Allan Scott put together a treatment called "Planet of the Titans" which studio executives Barry Diller and Michael Eisner liked, and again, Lucas was on Povill's short list as a possible director, but Lucas, of course, was busy making a sci-fi film of his own.

- 1982: Star Trek uses Industrial Light and Magic for the first time, for the movie The Wrath of Khan. The Motion Picture went over budget partially because of the visual effects. For the sequel, The Wrath of Khan, Paramount and director Nicholas Meyer turned to Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, the VFX house founded by Lucas in 1975 responsible for the groundbreaking visuals seen in the Star Wars movies. The "Genesis" sequence in Khan was the first completely computer-generated sequence. ILM would go on to be used for every subsequent Trek film except Insurrection (ILM was busy with The Phantom Menace at the time), and, regrettably, The Final Frontier, and will be used for the forthcoming Star Trek Into Darkness. ILM has also provided visual effects for the Trek TV shows.

- 1987: Roddenberry and Lucas share a stage for the first time. The occasion was the Star Wars tenth anniversary convention in Los Angeles in May, 1987. Roddenberry was a surprise guest. This post goes into more detail about the event.

- 2012: William Shatner and Carrie Fisher's "feud." Last year, the two iconic stars of their respective franchises exchanged a friendly little back and forth series of videos "arguing" which franchise is better, ending with George Takei's entreaty for "Star Peace":

- 2013: JJ Abrams becomes the first director to tackle both Trek and Wars on the big screen. I've talked before about the rivalry between the fandoms of the Big Two, but for all that, there's been just as many fanfics, fan-made videos, artwork, and other things that imagine Trek and Wars interacting within the same universe. Still, this has the potential to truly unite both sets of fandoms like never before. Now we both have a director we can complain about! Seriously, though, many people, myself included, thought Star Trek '09 looked and felt more like a Star Wars movie, so one wonders whether or not Abrams' experiences making two Trek movies will have any influence on Episode 7

Personally, I've always felt that Wars could use a good dose of the more cerebral nature of Trek. I recently re-read the Timothy Zahn trilogy of Star Wars books, and it seems like the characters take more things for granted in their universe than the Trek characters do in theirs, like artificial intelligence. It would be nice if Abrams and Episode 7 screenwriter Michael Arndt injected a bit more of the sense of wonder at the universe and the variety of life to be found.


Return of the Jedi
Does Lucas have the right to alter Star Wars?
The Disney/Lucas deal from a Trekkie's POV
5 hopes I have for Star Wars Episode VII


  1. I'm neither a SW fan nor a Trekkie, but that said I enjoyed Abram's Star Trek movie and so I'm hopeful he'd do a good job here. Of course the first thing I thought of was, 'more lens flares!!' :D

  2. I'm sure that's what we all thought. :-0


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