The New Star Trek “Origin” Movie Is Taking the Franchise in the Wrong Direction

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As Star Trek fans, we may quibble about certain aspects of the franchise. We all have our opinions about the best captain or the general ethos of the show. But we can all agree on one thing: Star Trek is about boldly going where no one has gone before. It’s right there at the start of the show!

And yet, for whatever reason, Trek producers seem obsessed with going backwards, excavating the years before the adventures of Kirk and Spock on The Original Series. First we got Star Trek: Enterprise in 2001, then the J.J. Abrams reboot in 2009, then Discovery in 2017, and again with the spin-off Strange New Worlds. In fact, until Discovery jumped ahead 900 years at the end of the second season, the franchise had not moved the timeline past 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis.

Unfortunately, it seems like Paramount is ready to look to the past once again. The Hollywood Reporter reported yesterday that the studio has given the greenlight to a new Star Trek movie directed by Toby Haynes of the Star Wars show Andor (as well as the great Black Mirror riff on Star Trek, “USS Callister”) and written by Seth Grahame-Smith. According to the announcement, this film will “take place decades before the events of 2009’s Star Trek” and will be produced by Abrams’ Bad Robot production company. Deadline goes further in its report, calling the film “an origin story.”

Of course, that raises a few major questions. Origin of what, exactly? The news makes it sound like the movie takes place in the Kelvin Universe, the spinoff reality created in Star Trek 2009 when the Romulan Nero went back in time and destroyed the USS Kelvin on the day of James Kirk’s birth. Up until that point, both the Kelvin and Prime timelines shared the same history. If that’s true, then Enterprise should technically be canon to the Kelvin movies as much as it is the Prime material.

In fact, when Kirk meets Scotty at the arctic outpost in Star Trek 2009, the engineer posits that he was relocated to that awful place as retaliation for killing Admiral Archer’s prized beagle. While we all hope that he’s talking about another Archer or at least another beagle, it sure sounds like Scotty’s referencing Jonathan Archer, Captain of the NX-01 on Enterprise, and his cheese-loving good boy Porthos.

All of these continuity questions aside, there’s a bigger one: why is Trek obsessed with moving backwards? And specifically, backwards to the TOS era and before? I doubt anyone would disagree that Strange New Worlds is a wonderful show, and the Next Generation nods in Lower Decks and Picard (obviously), as well as the Voyager nods in Prodigy, have a special ring of recognition for those of us who grew up watching ’90s Trek.

But why must Trek have this much familiarity at all? Part of what made TNG, and especially Deep Space Nine, so special is the way that they moved beyond their predecessors. When the bald, patrician Jean-Luc Picard took command of the Enterprise, fans saw that Star Trek wasn’t just about the adventures of a swashbuckling captain and his crew. When Benjamin Sisko made moral compromises during the Dominion War, fans saw that Starfleet wasn’t just a paragon of good.

Yes, Trek fans can be resistant to change (case in point: the comments section whenever I say something nice about Discovery), but we also love getting to know a new crew and seeing new places. Heck, one of the biggest knocks against Discovery is that, after four seasons, we still know next to nothing about the bridge crew.

As the hit podcast Greatest Trek so often says, “Star Trek is a place.” It’s not a specific set of characters, but rather a universe in which to tell a variety of stories. Yes, nostalgia has its place, and it’s been fun seeing SNW update beloved characters, seeing Lower Decks poke fun at embarrassing parts of past series, and seeing the Enterprise-D crew reunite on Picard.

But at the end of the day, that’s not why we love Star Trek. We love Star Trek because of its ability to explore complex ideas and themes through the lens of space adventure. We love Star Trek because it posits a future in which humanity has overcome its worst tendencies and is taking on new challenges. We love Star Trek because it boldly goes where no one has gone before. It’s time for new entries, movies or TV shows, to do the same.

The post The New Star Trek “Origin” Movie Is Taking the Franchise in the Wrong Direction appeared first on Den of Geek.

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