Clash of the Titans LXIV: Star Wars v. Star Trek

January 19, 2008, 12:00 am; posted by
Filed under Debate, Josh J, Tom  | 6 Comments

In this corner, claiming that Star Wars is best, is Josh!

And in this corner, arguing for the supremacy of Star Trek, is Tom!

To the uneducated eye — otherwise known as people who think fans of any “Star” franchise are just a bunch of dorks — there’s not a lot of difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. But I’m here to tell you, despite the Trek’s mountainous advantage in total number of TV shows and movies, I’ll take quality over quantity. Allow me to take you to a galaxy far, far away…

I guess I should start by admitting that I am far from an expert in Trek matters. But as near as I can tell, Star Trek’s contributions to our world consist of little more than “Beam me up, Scotty,” and the worst fight scene ever.

Star Wars has so much more to offer. They have better characters and better actors (not that it’s that hard to overcome the ongoing intentionally unintentional joke that is William Shatner). There’s the charisma of Han Solo, ably played by Harrison Ford, easily the most successful actor from either franchise. There’s the mystery and wisdom of Obi Wan Kenobi, originally thanks to the legendary Sir Alec Guinness. There’s spunky old Yoda and his beloved verbal patterns, part of a genius partnership with Jim Henson. And of course, there’s the terrifying Darth Vader, with the booming voice of James Earl Jones — consensus choice for the greatest screen villain of all time.

And there’s more to love. Light sabers, for instance. If you try to tell me you’ve never wanted a light saber, you’re lying through your teeth. That goes double for Jedi powers. The entire Star Wars universe is just a more intriguing place to be, which accounts for the massive popularity of the entire line of Star Wars video games that put you right there (Incidentally, I highly recommend Lego Star Wars, Battlefront II, or Knights of the Old Republic, depending on your genre of choice).

The creative genius of George Lucas brings all this to life, with an attention to detail that makes everything more authentic and a superior sound track that makes everything seem more important. So if you’re ready to vote for Star Wars, may the force be with you.

And if you’re not, then this isn’t the clash you’re looking for. Move along.

Space. The final frontier.

If you’re anything like me, when you read those words, you began to hear the haunting strains of a string orchestra begin to swell. In your mind’s ear, each phrase was delivered with the firm, yet understanding tones of a Royal Shakespearean Company-trained actor. And in your heart was awakened a yearning — a yearning to be entertained.

Those four words (for those of you who may not know) are the opening to Star Trek: The Next Generation, the second well-known television series in a series that to date has numbered seven incarnations. Ten films have been spun from the original concept, with an eleventh currently in production. Compare that with a measly three good Star Wars movies, with another few that even die-hard fans loathed. But commercial success can’t be our only basis for comparison. With that in mind, how do Wars and Trek really compare in a number of key areas?

Star Wars gets points for sheer numbers, but let’s face it: their robots are annoying. Neurotic gold-plated three-dollar C3PO flutters around uselessly, his talents for “interpreting” rendered useless by a voice that engenders a burning hatred in the end-user. Data, on the other hand, is a positronic-brained android of the classic Asimov model, neither annoying nor metallic-looking. Sure, he may not look human, but he wants to be, which is more than you can say for the whirring, beeping R2D2.

Chewbacca may be hundreds of years old, but it’s pretty obvious he didn’t spend any of them at the speech therapist. His voice is even worse than C3PO’s, and can only be understood by his “partner” Han Solo. Klingon Worf, son of Mogh, on the other hand, has any number of memorable lines. From “Sir I protest! I am not a merry man!” to “If you were any other man, I would kill you where you stand!,” Worf worked hard, played hard, and enjoyed nothing more than a tall, frosty glass of prune juice. And I’ll wager his conditioner bills were much lower as well.

Character With Big Ears
Leonard Nimoy brought his quiet dignity so obvious in his recording of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” to the role of the ever-logical half-Vulcan Mr. Spock. Who does Star Wars have? Oh, only those three little words every Star Wars fan loves to hear:

Jar Jar Binks.



6 Comments to “Clash of the Titans LXIV: Star Wars v. Star Trek”

  1. Djere on January 19th, 2008 12:10 pm

    I was just standing on the sidelines, hoping to jump in, so… further evidence in the superiority of Trek over Wars:

    Star Trek is more grounded in actual science. Though just about any problem in Star Trek can be fixed with an Inverse Tachyon Pulse or by recalibrating the sensor array, it’s scientificish.

    Unlike the magical “force” of the Wars-universe. Mind-control, lightning, superjumps… just doesn’t happen.

    In the Star Trek universe, there’s political intrigue. Romulans, Cardassians, Klingons, Borg, Dominion, Breen, Federation… All vying for political dominance in the Alpha quadrant.

    In Star Wars, you have a guy in a hat chasing around a woman with mis-placed Bear Claws, and, oh yeah lets add in some backstory and some thinly veiled racism and make it mirror what the libs think might happen to America.

    Josh, keep your lightsabers, I’ll take a Type III Phaser Rifle any day of the week.

  2. David on January 21st, 2008 9:22 am

    Make it so.

  3. Hank Smithson on January 21st, 2008 12:09 pm

    “Captain Kirk went to the planet,
    and there he fought the man-lizard.
    He saved the ship, invented the gunpowder.
    But that’s just not good enough for you, is it?


    Nerf Herders – “Mr. Spock”

  4. aaron.guest on January 25th, 2008 1:32 pm

    A glaring oversight in the debate is the actual intelligence of the storylines of the respective shows. For instance, Star Trek: TNG dealt largely with varying philosophical and theological issues. From Plato’s tri-fold view of the heart, to Mill’s utilitarianism, to philological/philosophical/theological matter involving speaking in metaphors (probably the best Trek of all time: Darmak at Tanagra! or whatever it was), to identity/self issues with the Borg (and communism, collective-self stuff as well). TNG was unequivocally challenging above the “phasers on stun” “open hailing frequencies””make it so” environment. It used space like a good western, to discuss issues at depth by using something we are not at all familiar with, being space, something we have no associations or experiences with, to act as a arena for thoughtful discussions on deeper human subjects.

    Take your lightsabers and telekinesis and “force” and midtricks — inarguably better than the best Klingon High Council and Sex and the City mindmeld — I’ll keep my warp speed philosophy/theology. And Shakespearen trained actors.

  5. Steve on January 25th, 2008 1:46 pm

    Shaka — when the walls fell.

  6. David on January 25th, 2008 3:24 pm

    Aaron–his eyes open

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