James T Kirk is a Star Trek Legend. Lets compare two particular versions of him. The Prime timeline Captain Kirk and the Kelvin timeline Kirk.
Which Captain Kirk is the better Kirk? This anaylsis will be based on TOS Kirk and the Kirk from the three feature films based in the alternate Kelvin timeline which takes place before and during the kelvin five year mission.
According to Memory Alpha, TOS Kirk credited his father as his inspiration for joining Starfleet. He began and completed a five year officer training program. A long story short, he went through the ranks and at 32 was made a captain. Kirk was given command of the USS Enterprise and lead it on its famous five year mission.
Kelvin Kirk however, never knew his father. His father was killed on the day of Kirks’s birth. Kirk was dared into Starfleet. During his time at the academy, he was suspended from the academy. Within what seems like a day, he was promoted to first officer, then became acting captain, then he and the Enterprise crew saved earth from destruction. His reward?
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Kirk was officially made a Captain and given command of the USS Enterprise. This is simply unacceptable. Kirk saved earth, that is a wonderful thing. However, rewarding a rebellious cadet with captainship is a little farfetched.(Touch on this later) The second Star Trek film “Star Trek Into Darkness” showed us more rebellious Kirk. He was stripped of command and made first officer to Admiral Pike. Five minutes later Pike is killed and Kirk is back in command. Kirk and crew eventually save the day by stopping Kahn. Kirk keeps his command and we move to “Star Trek Beyond”. In this movie Kirk and crew(during their five year mission) save the day again and Kirk is offered an Admiral Position. He declines and eventually commands the new USS Enterprise “A”.
The Winner and The Problem
TOS Kirk is hands down the better Kirk. He was a fine officer. He paid his dues, and was rewarded with a command and mission of his own. This really is a no brainer. The real issue is the writers of “JJtrek” did a terrible job of creating a new Kirk. There is no problem with creating a new version of Kirk. The problem is the writers lazily fast tracked Kirk into command. It doesn’t matter if its the Prime or Kelvin timeline, it is simply unrealistic to think Starfleet Command would promote a lowly cadet straight to the captains chair and give him the fleets flagship.
The realistic reward for him would have been to reinstate him into the academy, give him a medal, and promote him to ensign, maybe lieutenant. The ranting can go on but we will leave it at that.
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