Space, the final frontier, or maybe far, far away depending on which side you choose. While the world has been getting itself worked up over Trump, Brexit, people on social media using your instead of you’re (please know you’re the worst), geeks have been arguing ever since mankind looked to the stars and wondered, ‘if I were to meet an alien, would I punch it or sleep with it?’
Fans of different franchises have taken opposing sides, and neither are willing to give ground to the other. Some love Marvel, others DC, some love Apple, others Android, some love Xbox, others are wrong. However, there is no argument more decisive than which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars. These are the monsters of science fiction. They both have massive fan bases and decades of mythology to draw on, and fans that can educate you about the Picard Manoeuvre, the Kessel Run, how a lightsaber works, or that, thanks to Commander Riker and his clone, Thomas Riker, we know that a full beard is good, a goatee is bad.
I am a fan of both franchises, or as I call it, Sci Fi Sexual, which is not the late night version of the Sci Fi channel, with some girl dressed up Princess Leia in that gold bikini with her phasers set to stunning. Nor do I have some weird sexual kink involving heavy prosthetics and forced dialogue. What it means is that from a young age I knew the difference between a blaster and a phaser, warp speed and light speed, lightsabers and bat’leths. I love them both dearly but, if I’m honest with myself, there can only be one.
And that one cannot be Babylon 5.
So how can I break down which franchise is better? Let’s look at the facts.
The first episode of Star Trek, The Man Trap was aired in the US on September 8th, 1966. Incidentally, it was aired two days earlier in Canada, which shows that Canada gets all the best things before America; Star Trek, free healthcare, the metric system.
The first Star Wars movie, originally just called Star Wars, was released in 1977. It was then re-released in 1981 with the additional sub title, Episode IV: A New Hope. It was then re-rereleased again in 2015 under the name ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.
Winner: Star Trek by 11 years
World wide box office for 13 Star Trek Movies – $2,266,723,196
World wide box office for just Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $2,058,662,225
Winner: Star Wars by the contents of Scrooge McDucks vaults
Trekkies or Trekkers depending who you talk to. Star Trek fans are even responsible for saving the show itself from cancellation before the internet was but a glint in the alt rights eye. As a thank you, when filming Star Trek: The Motion Picture, fan groups were used as extras.
Have no nickname. They’re just people.
Winner: Star Trek just for the dedication alone.
Everything from games to t-shirts, bags to phone cases, DVDs to posters, all the standards are there. In fact, Gene Roddenberry was first in the shameless merchandising of his original content when he created the IDIC pendant. While the meaning assigned to it was well meaning (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), it was shameless inserted into the Original Series episode, “Is There No Truth, No Beauty” with little bearing on the story and Spock being used as the equivalent of a QVC sales person. Fans could then buy the pendant for $7.50 in 1968. Adjusted for inflation, in 2017 the IDIC pendant would now be worth more than the British economy. Or $55.
Fox made a major mistake when negotiating with George Lucas. Rather than take a fee of $500,000 for directing Star Wars, he asked for $150,000, his fee for directing American Graffiti, and the merchandising rights. In 35 years, George Lucas made over $31 billion. As a result, we got such amazing merchandise as the BB-8 branded Oranges (because BB-8 is orange coloured and round like an, you know an orange). Or the Jar Jar Binks Lollipop, where the lollipop bit, was Jar Jar Binks tongue. Of course my favourite, The Lando Calrissian Disguise kit, literally a fake moustache in a packet. Taking the Superman approach to disguises where hopefully a fake moustache and a debonair smile will convince people that, yes, you are in fact legendary ladies man Billy Dee Williams and not some creepy white guy with a fake moustache on, shouting, ‘use the force’ at random strangers.
Winner: Star Wars. For sheer quantity and taking the attitude of let’s throw it all against the wall and see what sticks. Even if what sticks is shit.
So it’s 2-2. Can you separate Star Trek and Star Wars with facts? Apparently not. Maybe it has to come down to emotion and passion. Even better, seeing two geeky comedians battle for laughs and your votes to decide once and for all which is better, a galaxy far, far away or beyond the final frontier?