William Shatner is no stranger to making strange, controversial remarks and opinions in the Star Trek world, but during his recent panel at this weekend’s Star Trek 50th Anniversary Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, the original Captain Kirk came out with one of his most head-scratching statements yet, which even spurred some fans in the audience to audibly shout out, “What?” at the actor on stage.
When asked how he felt about the ongoing, fan rivalry between Star Trek and Star Wars, Shatner, much to the surprise of the thousands of fans sitting in attendance, said the following statement:
“First of all, Star Wars created Star Trek. You know that?”
Obviously, this was one of those moments where even the biggest of Shatner fans in the audience were confused, since factually anyways and out of context, Shatner is straight up wrong considering the original Star Trek series premiere on television over a decade before Star Wars hit theatres in 1977.
Luckily, the Captain went on to elaborate on his thoughts, and he’s not wrong by any means, though I do think the above statement could have been reworded a little better, if I’m being completely honest here. You see, Shatner was referring to the revival of Star Trek in the movies, which came as a direct response to Paramount following Star Wars‘ success, when the studio was looking for any sci-fi property they had that they thought could rival Twentieth Century Fox’s box office behemoth.
Talking at first about how the original series was cancelled after just three seasons on television, Shatner said:
“Every year there was the threat to be canceled. The third year, we were canceled, and everybody accepted it.”
But then of course, Star Wars came out, and Paramount saw a revival of Star Trek as possibly their answer to George Lucas’ new property at the time:
“At Paramount Studios they were running around bumping into each other: ‘What do we got?! What do we got to equal Star Wars? This is a big thing! There was this thing that we canceled, under another management, it was called Star…Trek? Let’s resurrect that”
While Star Trek: The Motion Picture wasn’t nearly the massive box office success that Star Wars was, it did bring the property back into the social consciousness again and we have the films to likely thank not only for the current movies, but also for all of the original, cinematic sequels onscreen and the numerous television series that followed as well.
Going back to the debate between the two properties though, Trek fans will be happy to know that Captain Kirk is still very much, on the side of the U.S.S. Enterprise:
“Star Trek at its best tells human stories. It’s philosophical. There’s humanity. There’s a principle involved. And it’s well done. It’s about people. Star Wars was grand, like opera. It was huge with great special effects. It was a marvelously entertaining film, but it wasn’t specifically about people the way those Star Treks were.”
We’ll be honest and say that Shatner had us a bit concerned when he first started talking about the two series, but managed to make a very solid and insightful point about how both series managed to help each other in a way, with Star Wars‘ popularity bringing Trek back to life, and Trek‘s original existence being a milestone for the sci-fi genre as a whole.
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