Whether you’re boldly going where no man has gone before or you’re already in a galaxy far, far away – our next perspective is out of this world!
There’s an age-old debate about which of science fiction’s two biggest franchises is better. They both have spawned multiple spinoffs, merchandise lines, catch phrases, and even religions! Geeks, freaks and even scientists have long been arguing in every corner of the galaxy about Star Trek and Star Wars. Which is better and why? Following are three arguments why Star Trek is better and three arguments why Star Wars is better.
With all due respect to the last Jedi or the USS Discovery, our debate is all about the original installments of each franchise.
Why Star Trek is Better:
It’s grounded in reality
When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, he wanted to be as grounded as possible in reality, or “future reality.” Star Trek deals with dilemmas that could very well become reality in the coming centuries, when humanity will exhaust Earth’s resources and make its curious and necessary journey to outer space.
Star Trek debuted in 1966, just five years after Yuri Gagarin was the first man to journey into outer space and two years before the moon landing; at that time, the race to space was as real as it gets. The quest to explore strange new worlds, gapping the difference between mankind and other species, was the key theme in all of the show’s incarnations.
It’s not afraid to deal with burning issues
When it came out in the 60’s, Star Trek tried to tackle issues of gender, race, socioeconomic differences and war. As it first aired during the Vietnam War, the peak of the Civil Rights movement, and the Cold War, it tried and often succeeded in addressing these issues and educating its viewers for the better. Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in the series, was the first woman to have an interracial onscreen kiss on television. While protest quickly ensued, Nichols recalls being stopped one day on the street by a fan of the show who complimented the controversial kiss and encouraged her to keep taking chances. That fan was Martin Luther King.
It allows for complexity
Star Trek tries to educate its viewers about diplomacy and understanding the other side in a conflict instead of resorting to war. This is why every villain has a reason for his furious grudge and mischievous actions. The show weaves this reasoning through the conflict and outcome, even if the villain sometimes dies. The Enterprise crew will always prefer reasoning – even at the cost of losing – for the sake of goodwill and of spreading the kindness of the human species across the galaxy.
Why Star Wars is Better:
It’s the most successful franchise in the world
Star Wars’ massive span of galaxies, aliens, space ships, tactical maneuvers and plot points assure there is something to satisfy many types of fans. It became one of the biggest blockbusters ever, not just because so many people went to see it, but also because so many went to see it over and over again. According to IMDB, it’s the second most attended film of all time in North America, having sold an estimated 178 million tickets over its various theatrical runs. This would equate to a gross of approximately $1.48 billion at 2015 ticket prices. It was also the first movie that created merchandise mania, a craze to follow many summer movies in the years to come.
By the way, did you know that even George Lucas didn’t believe that the movie would be such a success? On the evening of the movie’s premiere, he didn’t even bother to attend it, and was in Hawaii with his best pal Steven Spielberg, brainstorming an idea for another movie. That movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark.
You’ve got to hand it to George Lucas, who was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, for creating a fable-like battle between darkness and light. The story is a very effective embodiment of good vs. evil. Darth Vader is the ultimate unstoppable force, and Luke Skywalker, with his naïve looks and belief in the goodness of mankind, triumphs against his father’s attempts to lure him to the Dark Side. Moreover, despite it being set far in the future and in a galaxy “far, far away”, the use of medieval symbols, such as knighthood, swords, princesses and wise magicians, gives the Star Wars franchise the sense of a legend.
It made sci-fi inspiring
From lightsabers to dogfights in space, from exotic planets to the cynical yet lovable characters – mainly the superb Han Solo – the franchise is visually striking and stimulating to the imagination. Star Wars made science fiction cool and approachable, and inspired countless movies to come. Can you imagine The Avengers’ gang dynamics without being inspired by that of Han, Luke and Leia? Or Guardians of the Galaxy?
Can you picture what The Matrix would look like without taking costume ideas from Darth Vader?
Furthermore, the spectacular special effects used in Star Wars spawned ILM (industrial lights and magic), created by George Lucas, which has forever changed movie special effects – both practical and computer-generated.
The Bottom Line: Star Trek aspires to use science fiction as a metaphor for our reality while Star Wars is a massive outwardly adventure. On a given night, who would you like to explore the universe with?