Galloping Around the Cosmos

Wow, I can still hardly believe it. Star Trek has a new cast.

I know, it may not seem like such a novel concept anymore to announce a new Star Trek cast. In the last twenty years, we’ve had four new casts prior to this one.

This is different, though. This cast simply isn’t playing previously unknown characters in the Star Trek universe. We’re not talking inventing roles like Picard, Sisko, Janeway, or Archer here.

We’re talking about reinventing true legends now. After 41 years, we have a new James T. Kirk.

A new Spock. A new McCoy.

And new faces for Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu as well.

Now that director JJ Abrams has found his Kirk, Star Trek XI is finally real. After twenty years of occasionally entertaining but more often nauseating sequels and prequels featuring other characters, Star Trek is going back to its foundation.

Not everyone is happy about this, of course. TNG fans are understandably disappointed that their franchise has been put on hold. To them, I say, be patient. I still do not think we have seen the final TNG adventure. Let us TOS fans take the ol’ Enterprise out for a few spins around the block first, though.

In the comment sections of Star Trek mega-sites, some extremely vocal William Shatner fans are disappointed that he apparently will not be in the new movie alongside Leonard Nimoy–who will appear in an integral role as an older Spock. Some have so narrowed their stance on this issue that it won’t even be enough for Shatner to be in the movie, but his appearance also has to somehow undo Kirk’s 24th century death in Star Trek Generations.

Anyone who spends any time on The Film Frontier knows that I am a William Shatner fan. Kirk is my favorite character, and Shatner is, of course, a huge part of that. Though Gene Roddenberry may have created the character, William Shatner is the man whose talents breathed life into Kirk and gave him a soul.

That’s why it’s hard for many of my fellow fans to let go. They want Shatner’s Kirk to live forever, and I understand that feeling.

Here’s the thing, though. For the first time in twenty years, we have an entirely new creative team working on Star Trek XI. Abrams and writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have a story to tell.

As fans, rather than thrusting pointless ultimatums in their faces, let’s give them room to tell their story. It is not up to Abrams, Kurtzman, and Orci to fix what some perceive as the mistakes of the past. They did not, after all, kill Kirk in Star Trek Generations.

Unless undoing Kirk’s death is the story they intend to tell, and I doubt it, I am against wedging this sort of fan-demanded subplot into the movie. If this recasting of legends is to work, the Star Trek XI creative team has to tell the very best story possible. It has to be one that they believe in. Let’s give them a chance to do that. Sit back and allow their movie to entertain you (or not) based on its own merits.

The original Star Trek series and movies take place in the 23rd century. Star Trek: The Next Generation, its movies, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager all take place in the 24th century. The more recent Star Trek: Enterprise takes place in the 22nd century.

Though official plot details are few, it is probably safe to assume, based on the characters and ages of the cast, that Star Trek XI will shift the focus of the Star Trek timeline back to the 23rd century. Will we be in the same universe or an alternate one? Only time will tell.

The point is, though, what does it matter anymore if Kirk is alive at the end of the 24th century? He is very much alive in the 23rd century, his most interesting adventures take place in the 23rd century, and that’s where Star Trek is once again focused.

Those who have fought for so long for the return of Kirk have won, and they don’t even realize it.

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The legacy of Shatner’s Kirk is firmly established in 100 live-action and animated episodes, seven movies, and hundreds of novel, comic book, and other tales. In less than a month, Star Trek: The Menagerie will even hit theaters for a limited engagement–though tripled due to higher than expected ticket demand.

No matter what happens in Star Trek XI or any other movie, Shatner’s Kirk will live forever.