When it comes to sci-fi franchise rivalries, it really doesn’t get much bigger than Star Trek vs. Star Wars. Though both sci-fi juggernauts have found success across various mediums, Hollywood seems to have a clear favorite. No matter how many Star Trek blockbusters are made, they never quite seem to compete with the success of Star Wars.
The Star Trek franchise dates all the way back to the 1960s. When Star Trek (now known as Star Trek: The Original Series) first aired, it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. TOS‘s success made sci-fi one of the most popular genres in the world, creating wider demand for more space-bound stories.
This popularity undoubtedly informed the culture that led to the conception of Star Wars. 1977 saw the introduction of the Skywalker family in Star Wars, a film which itself spawned one of the most beloved franchises of all time. Star Wars creator George Lucas took inspiration from Akira Kuwosawa’s 1958 film The Hidden Fortress, but it was Star Wars‘ sci-fi spin that really helped to cement its success.
Why Star Wars Movies Have Always Been Better Than Star Trek’s
Generally, even the worst Star Wars movies are considered better than Star Trek‘s own feature-length outings. (Even the broadly reviled Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace has undergone a more favorable reappraisal.) Star Trek movies, on the other hand, are often dismissed as inferior to those of its rival franchise. As unfair as it may seem, there’s actually a valid reason why this happens.
As Star Trek started life as a TV show, its early (and arguably most iconic) stories were shorter episodic affairs. When early Star Trek movies followed a similar design, a pattern formed that still plagues the franchise today. Star Trek is still languishing in its TV roots, which is a problem for its modern movies.
Star Wars, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same issue. The franchise has largely weaved its narrative through movies, with spin-off stories occurring in its limited number of TV shows. Starting with movies means that Star Wars always has a blockbuster feel: something that Star Trek just can’t quite capture.
Ultimately, Star Trek‘s stories have always been smaller-scale than those of Star Wars. With so many of its stories told in episodic formats, it’s harder for Star Trek to match the epic Hollywood tone of Star Wars. Though Star Trek has told countless iconic sci-fi stories over the years, it seems to belong on TV rather than on the big screen. Unfortunately for Star Trek, Star Wars‘ movies have simply always been better.