Star Trek Should Learn One Important Lesson From Disney’s Star Wars
Star Trek should adopt Star Wars' strategy of cross-pollination of its media.
I was going back to the theater for repeat views of Star Wars flicks long before I even knew what Star Trek was. Years later, though, if for some dumb reason you put a blaster or a phaser to my head and made me choose (and why choose, when we can all have both), I’d choose Trek. Regardless, there is at least one area in which I think Star Trek has a lot to learn from Disney‘s Star Wars in how the latter chose to make Marvel‘s most recent licensed comics part of the overall franchise canon.
Star Trek, like Star Wars, not only has its comics but it has some really impressive ones. The current flagship title Star Trek from IDW brings together the unlikely crew of Deep Space Nine‘s Benjamin and Jake Sisko, TNG‘s Data and Beverly Crusher, Voyager‘s Tom Paris, and Scotty from the original series (who was time displaced in TNG‘s “Relics”). It crosses over with the new mini-series Star Trek: Defiant which has the equally interesting crew of Worf as Captain of the titular ship, Voyager‘s B’Elanna Torres, the older Spock of the original series, and both Ro Laren and Lore from TNG.
The Defiant team was at least in part no doubt chosen to remind fans of the currently streaming third and final season of Star Trek: Picard which we’ve known for a while would see Brent Spiner reprise the long dormant role of Lore, while last week fans were surprised to see Michelle Forbes once more play Ro Laren in the series. While that may help to sell copies of the comics, to many it ultimately won’t matter because Star Trek comics, unlike Marvel‘s Star Wars series, aren’t canon.
A lot of Star Wars fans were disappointed with Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett, but one almost universally hailed bright spot was the live-action debut of the bounty hunter Black Krrsantan (Carey Jones). Before the mini-series, the Wookiee had chiefly appeared in Marvel’s comics along with some appearances in games and audiobooks. Having him appear in Boba Fett not only got cheers from Krrsantan fans, but it made fans of other characters who have yet to appear in live-action hopeful that their favorites could be coming soon.
This is what Star Trek is missing: the media cross-pollination that Star Wars has been working expertly ever since Disney took over. Sure, Trek has animated projects like Lower Decks and Prodigy which share a larger narrative with the live-action shows and movies, but the same can’t be said of its comics, prose novels, or video games like Star Trek Online. So if you’re a player of the aforementioned MMORPG or a reader of Star Trek’s comics — unlike the Star Wars fans who have good reason to think they could soon see comic book characters like Doctor Aphra in The Mandalorian or Ahsoka, you know characters from outside the main shows and series have no chance of showing up in live-action.
For example, in Star Trek Online it’s been established that none other than Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher is the Terran Emperor in the Mirror Universe. Likewise, while the TNG crew never got to visit the Mirror Universe in their series or movies, the comics introduced some popular Terran versions of the Enterprise-D crew. Even Janeway and her crew got the treatment with Mulgrew’s iconic captain becoming the “Pirate Queen of the Delta Quadrant” in the 2019 one-shot IDW comic Star Trek: Voyager — Smoke and Mirrors.
But as things stand Star Trek fans will never get the same thrill Star Wars devotees experienced, for example, when Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka said “Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?” in Season 2 of The Mandalorian. In contrast, as soon as Spiner’s Lore shows up in Season 3 of Picard, his dialogue is likely to undo any chance of his appearances in Star Trek: Defiant could be considered canon. And it’s far too late to expect we could possibly see the Mirror versions of the TNG crew.
Would making the Star Trek comics canon increase the potential for continuity blunders? Sure.
Trek has experienced numerous continuity blunders since the very beginning of Star Trek: The Original Series; literally between episodes and seasons of the inaugural show. If getting continuity wrong, or even just outright ignoring it, was going to cause Trek to crash and burn, it would’ve done so decades ago.