Whether you’re a fan of tribbles or ewoks, there’s one thing we can agree on … we’ve been blessed with some pretty awesome sci-fi shows and movies. And yet, one of the biggest debates amongst the genre has, for as long as I can remember, been between Star Wars and Star Trek. Trekkies vs. Star Wars fans. Lightsabers vs. phasers. And yes, even tribbles vs. ewoks.
Being a fan of both, I wanted to dive in a little deeper into this debate. Star Trek has always felt nostalgic to me due to watching them with my grandpa so much as a kid. But, I have always more identified as a Star Wars fan over a trekkie. I never really took the time to listen to both sides and try to figure out if either really had much merit. Because I view them as two very different things. Would you compare Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones? Yet, here we are, debating these two great science fiction franchises.
So, is one really superior? Let’s discuss some key elements between the two.
Technology and Its Advancement
One very common argument that is pro Star Trek, it that the technology and weapons actually evolve over the course of Star Trek, leaving Star Wars feeling a bit stale. Many try to argue that far more time has passed in the Star Trek timelines than in the Star Wars universe, but this really doesn’t explain away the fact that Star Wars technology hasn’t really advanced at the same speed as the technology in Star Trek. In just the last 30 years of my life, I have personally experienced going from vinyls to tapes to cd’s to mp3, and so forth. Technology in my life has boomed. I could only expect that in the year 2364, technology would be ever evolving and at an alarming pace. But, don’t give up quite yet, Star Wars fans. If we are to compare the “Earth dates” of both fandoms, Star Wars is actually quite advanced. For us mere earthlings, io9 worked out a little of the math for us. They (the authors of the article) figure that Han Solo and Chewbacca would have landed on Earth in the 1800’s. The article is a little far-fetched. But could this possibly explain away some of the technology debate? No, probably not, but it might be fun to try.
Diversity of Characters and Their Roles
While both universes provide ample amount of diversity among species and races, one argument is that Star Wars offers more non-human diversity as main characters. Does it really, though? Though Chewbacca is not a human, when you think of Star Wars’ main characters you get Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, R2D2, Obi-Wan, Yoda … are you seeing a trend? Though we do have the joy of fantastic droids, the main screen time is taken up by human characters-the main characters. I’d like to argue that Star Trek is better, but it honestly isn’t. With its episodic nature, it would seem much easier for Star Trek to have a decent alien character story arc, but alas, both are quite human-washed … but with Star Trek we at least see a better diversity in the relationships throughout the worlds we encounter. When posting the lifelong “Star Battle” question on my facebook, Joshua B. put it perfectly:
The relations between species changes as treaties are signed and more planets join the Federation. Medically, doctors have difficulty treating people of other races and cross breeding between species is difficult at the least in Spock’s case, impossible in most others.
Star Trek does a far better job of showing the “real life struggle” of dealing with vast differences between the races and species of its worlds.
Both Star Wars and Star Trek are great about being pretty family friendly, at least the original shows and movies. The one thing that Star Trek was better at was dealing with moral issues during the show. Not only did we get to see what Josh mentioned above, but we also got to see how different beings were treated throughout the show. We get many unique storylines with multiple examples of real human life choices. This can easily be chalked up to the fact that any tv show has the time to actually build unique storylines due to its episodic nature. I’ve talked about this in reference to superhero movies vs. shows. A full season of a show will typically give you more screen time with your favorite characters than any full length movie. Formulas will need to be different and I think that comes into play the most in this debate. Star Trek spanned over a far greater time period, both on screen and in real life. This realization gave me a greater appreciation for the true trekkies in my life. Some have been in love with these characters for almost their whole lives. But, thanks to the sudden boom in both franchises, many more are being able to say the same thing about both Star Wars and Star Trek alike. With Star Wars being under the Disney “umbrella,” we’re seeing more and more merchandising to children, therefore more content is being made for these younger generations. And we all know, Disney has done an excellent job of trying to keep a moral image to their kids shows and movies.
Action and “Pew Pew”
My favorite Facebook comment was from Jenny M., in which she picks Star Trek outright and then goes on to say:
Way less pew pew pew too.
I’ve heard from many trekkies that Star Trek is a much more cerebral experience. They don’t have to jam pack an episode full of starship battles and phaser fights because there is an intellect behind each one. I’ll admit that Star Wars movies are more action-packed for sure. They are in fact, action movies. You have to give them credit for not being “adrenaline junkie” type action movies though. Lightsaber battles are incredible and were so unbelievably unique and ahead of their time when they debuted in 1977. With Star Trek you get those unique easy-to-digest episodes with new storylines and dilemmas. With Star Wars, you still get the unique storylines (thank you science fiction), but you also get to see the amazing special effects and get the same limitless feel. The space, and even just air vehicles/battle sequences, in Star Wars blew my mind as a kid, just as much as seeing some of the crazy worlds you’d get to visit in Star Trek. This is exactly why I have never been able to pick one over the other. They are both meant to be different experiences.
When something is loved too much, you find people jumping on the bandwagon. The problem with this is, high level execs feel the pressure to continually put out new content to deal with a growing fan base and you know what that causes …
I don’t care what you say, trekkies will always be able to throw out the Jar Jar Binks card. As much as I love that we are getting Disney merchandising for so many great Star Wars things, I often wonder at what point does it become just about the money? If someone came up to you and offered you a large sum of money to make something already incredibly loved and the only prerequisite was to not screw it up too horribly, would you take it? I would … and then I’d go anxiety panic in my car while hyperventilating in my latte. But in all seriousness, with over-franchising you run the risk of losing the integrity of the original idea and/or story.
There’s many ways we could pick apart both franchises. Star Wars is more than just the movies at this point, and Star Trek is more than just the old shows and movies. Both are getting fresh new hands on the project and it’s definitely exciting. In all my research though, and even debating these topics here in this article, I still can’t tell you which is better. They are both truly different worlds altogether. As much as we use genres as labels, sub-genres were created for a reason. And even within those sub-genres, these are both in their own right, amazing science fiction worlds/universes.
It’s totally understandable to have your favorite. Even with my article sounding more pro Star Trek, I still love Star Wars. I think the greatest disservice we could do to ourselves is to limit ourselves by being stuck in our fandoms. Venture out and find your people, but give some of those others a chance.
What are your thoughts? Are you for Star Trek or Star Wars in our Star Battle?