Tons of sci-fi and science-based franchises have targeted the nerd crowd over the years. Most came and went with very little fanfare. Among the survivors are a few key players: Star Trek, Star Wars, and the DC and Marvel universes. In the struggle for nerd dominance, however, the main battle seems to be between Star Trek and Star Wars.
This is no small battle over T-shirts and comic book sales. No, the creators of both franchises are locked in a multi-million-dollar conflict of epic proportions covering a full range of media that includes print, television, on-demand video, and mainstream film.
Who are you rooting for? Head on over to NerdKungFu.com and pick up your favorite nerd T-shirts to show your support. In the meantime, let us discuss what is going on with the two franchises.
The Star Wars Franchise
Star Wars has been in overdrive since the release of Episode II. Between adding nine more films and pursuing several animated series along with comic books and kids’ novels, the people behind Star Wars have had plenty to keep them busy. They have never rested on their laurels.
Disney’s acquisition of the franchise only served to fuel the fire. Since acquiring Star Wars, Disney has put out several more films and added major attractions at their California and Florida theme parks. Then they branched into series television with the launch of The Mandalorian in 2019.
While season two of The Mandalorian has been delayed, it should arrive within the next few months. Early in 2020, Disney+ is expected to introduce another spinoff series based around the life and times of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatoine. And of course, a new story line is being developed now that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Episode IX) has brought the original story line to a conclusion.
The Star Trek Franchise
The Star Trek people haven’t been as busy as their Star Wars counterparts in past years. Their cause hasn’t been helped by the lackluster performances of two of the more recent TV series: Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Short Treks. However, the franchise took a big swing at Star Wars when it answered The Mandalorian with Star Trek: Picard.
Now on the horizon is the adult animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks. Its story line centers around the support crew that keeps one of Starfleet’s least important ships operating. It is an interesting premise when you consider that the vast majority of crew members on any ship go largely unnoticed.
Also on the horizon is Star Trek: New Worlds. The Discovery spinoff will more deeply explore the relationships between Captain Pike, Spock, and Number One. Skeptics aren’t so sure the series will work as well as its creators hope. They see the epic fail that was the Battlestar Galactica reboot and worry that the nerd crowd isn’t so interested in relationship exploration.
The Fight for Nerd Dominance
It is clear that both franchises are competing as aggressively as possible to win over their fair share of the nerd community. And in a year during which most comic con conventions will not take place, they have to do something to keep the attention of their respective fan bases. There is no better way to do that right now than to launch new streaming series on their respective outlets.
For the Star Wars franchise, this means getting back to basics. Rather than attempting to produce one epic film after another, its creators have decided to tell more back stories. The stories will hopefully answer some of the questions still left hanging by official canon while paving the way for the new stories that will eventually become the basis for feature films.
The Mandalorian explains how a mysterious cult known as ‘Death Watch’ became the bounty hunters they are known to be. It is rumored that Boba Fett will make an appearance in season 2, giving rise to a separate story line about his life. The same rumor is swirling about Padawan Ahsoka Tano.
As for Star Trek, it’s not clear where they are hoping to go. Discovery and Star Trek: Picard are both slated for new seasons to begin later this year. Discovery has also created its first spinoff titled Star Trek: Section 31 to tell the story of Terran Emperor Philippa Georgiou. And yes, there are even a couple of feature films in the works.
Star Trek fans will undoubtedly line up to see the new material. However, the one big difference between the two franchises appears to be cohesiveness. Star Trek seems to be developing new stories as current stories progress while Star Wars seeks to tell those stories that answer many of the questions created by their films. Star Wars seems more organic where Star Trek is more manufactured.
May the Best One Win
Who will win this epic battle? No one knows. And in fact, it may turn out like the main event in the first Rocky film, a fight in which the combatants beat one another to a bloodied pulp and have to settle for a split decision to determine the winner.
A long, drawn out battle wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. The two franchises going head-to-head for the next 20 years would only mean more TV shows, films, and great stories. Sci-fi fans would never be left wanting for something to sink their teeth into.
The one thing that makes all of this possible is the nature of the sci-fi genre itself. There are few limits here. In sci-fi, fantasy and reality are intertwined like the ink and fabric of the cheap T-shirt. It is all good fun that lets us run with our imaginations. So maybe Star Trek goes in one direction and Star Wars another. That only means more galaxies to explore.
Whether you are a fan of one, the other or both, the next 6 to 12 months should be highly entertaining. Keep your video streaming subscription going.