Heresy of the Week – J.J. Abrams didn’t reboot Star Trek

star trek kelvin

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

Despite what many viewers, fans and commentators think, J.J. Abrams two Star Trek films haven’t in fact rebooted the franchise; they are simply new instalments of the same story.

J.J. Abrams 2011 Star Trek film, and its 2013 sequel were reboots, you know. Everyone says so, even I have. They took an established franchise, hit the reset button, and started boldly going (I swear to God, the first person to say the words “split infinitive” gets a slap). As I said, even I have described it as a reboot.

But it isn’t. Not really.

You see, at the start of Star Trek XI (just go with the nomenclature, it makes things less confusing) we go back to a point before The Original Series. So far so good, it’s going back to the beginning — a fairly arbitrary beginning, but a beginning nonetheless.

Except, the very first event is the arrival of Eric Bana’s scenery-chewing baddie, Nero. From the 24th Century, which marks the “present day” for the Star Trek franchise we all knew and loved. In fact, it was from the in-show universe of that self-same franchise.

So what actually happens throughout Star Trek XI, and indeed its sequel, relies not only on the spirit and ideas of the original franchise, but on the very characters and history which it created. Older Spock is the living embodiment of it, the reminder that all which made up the old stories isn’t gone; it still exists, this is just an alternate series of events.

Which got me thinking. What defines a reboot, and what sets it apart from a continuation of a series? Or a remake, or even a reimagining (which is a hazier barrier, I’ll grant)? Well, I did what any sane person would do, and made a flow-chart.


remake_flow_chart (1)Sliding Star Trek XI down it works well enough. It’s definitely related to an established franchise. It doesn’t have the same plot as a previous film (though a case could be made for Into Darkness…). It does, however, exist within the established narrative history of previous films. So it’s a continuation!

RoboCop! Is it related to an established franchise? Yes! Does it share the plot of a previous film? Absolutely! It’s a remake!

Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica. Is it related to an established franchise? Undoubtedly! Does it share the plot of a previous TV series? Only in the most basic terms. Does it fit within the previous narrative history? Only within the wildest fan theories. Is it true to the original tone? Camp 70s SF vs gritty noughties realism — nope! Reimagining, ahoy!

At last, a solution to a problem you never knew you had! You areĀ welcome, internet!

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