by Mariel Keeran
News hit this past Thursday that J.J. Abrams was tapped to helm Star Wars VII. Although the reports were unconfirmed at the time (Lucasfilm confirmed that the rumors were indeed true on Friday), that didn’t stop fans of both franchises from voicing their views far and wide on the internet.
Most Star Trek fans expressed feelings of betrayal, wondering if this means Abrams will now put Star Trek on a back burner, if not abandon the franchise completely. Other Trek fans who haven’t been as pleased with Abrams’ influence on the franchise bordered on gleeful as they made their own suggestions for who should take over from him (Joss Whedon’s name was tossed around a number of times in these conversations.)
When I heard the news, my first reaction was that of cautious excitement. I’m a fan of both franchises, and I was pleased with the way Abrams executed the 2009 Star Trek reboot. If anyone can be trusted to continue the Star Wars franchise in a way that’s respectful to the original trilogy, it’s Abrams. But, nagged that little voice in my head, what about Star Trek?
Paramount insists that Abrams will still be involved in some capacity, at least as producer, if not director, for the next Star Trek installment. But, you know, it still feels a bit like a betrayal. As this article clearly expresses, fans of Star Trek feel like their franchise gets the rug yanked out from under them far too often, while Star Wars comes across as the proverbial golden child. As hopeful as we can be that Abrams will somehow manage to coordinate his schedule, the fact of the matter remains that producing and directing movies is time-consuming and, if he does end up as director, it’s likely that Star Trek will be the one to get pushed back.
Considering we’ve already waited four years for the second Star Trek movie, would having to wait as long for a third installment be so bad? Honestly, probably not. There’s something to be said for the kind of anticipation that thrums through a fandom when we know we’ve got a bit of a wait for our next fix. We wait, we talk, we vent, we sink our teeth into any bit of speculation we can find…we absolutely thrive on it. As long as we know the next piece is forthcoming, we can be patient.
Unfortunately, with this turn of events, things have been thrown up in the air and a guarantee is tenuous, as best. Abrams stated countless times that, although it had been suggested that he sign on for the next Star Wars film, he had no plans of doing so. When it’s only mere months later that he actually does sign on to head up the new Star Wars film, it makes it hard to believe that anything he says about Star Trek going forward will be set in stone. Of course, so far he hasn’t said anything himself about how his involvement in Star Wars will affect his involvement with Star Trek, apparently not even to those he works with. Bob Orci tweeted Thursday night that even he had no clue how Abrams’ new Star Wars commitment will affect Star Trek.
Finally, my last concern with this situation is this: if Abrams will now be contributing to the Star Wars franchise while simultaneously contributing to the Star Trek franchise, how much will this homogenize the sci-fi/sci-fantasy realm? In a genre where forward-thinking and innovation are key, one person is going to helm the two biggest factions? Will we see a crossover of any concepts? As much as I love both Star Wars and Star Trek, they’re completely different beasts that should not be at all portrayed the same, even stylistically (and we all know Abrams has a distinctive style…lens flares, anyone?) Basically, I don’t want to walk into the next Star Wars movie and say, “Oh, yeah, that looks like something out of the Star Trek movie.”
In the end, the only thing we can do is wait and see what happens. Perhaps Abrams will eventually elaborate on what spurred him to finally say yes to Star Wars, and how he plans to proceed with Star Trek. In the meantime, I’ll just continue counting the days to Star Trek Into Darkness.