No longtime Trek fan will ever admit this, but J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot was exactly what the franchise needed at that time.
The 2009 Star Trek reboot was pretty much a lesson on how to piss off a large segment of the Star Trek fanbase with a single feature film.
First, recast all the iconic roles with younger, fresh faced actors who weren’t even alive with the original Star Trek aired. Second, hire a director in J.J. Abrams who has openly admitted he was always more of a Star Wars fan than Star Trek fan. Third, change the visuals, the backstory and just about everything else about the franchise that the fans know by heart. And lastly, go for a slightly less cerebral story and focus more on action and great CGI visuals.
And piss off a large portion of Trek Nation the film did. The only saving grace seemed to be that it was established in the movie that this was an alternate timeline, which meant that the original was still safely there, untouched by Abrams.
If it wasn’t for that, you can be sure that the uproar over Star Trek would have made the misplaced hatred of Star Trek: Discovery look like nothing in comparison.
However, what many fans will never admit is that Star Trek was exactly what the franchise needed at that time.
Star Trek has been off the airwaves and the pop culture radar since Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled in 2005. There hadn’t been a new feature film since Star Trek: Nemesis had crashed and burned in spectacular fashion at the box office in 2002.
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In other words, no one except the diehard fans cared about Star Trek anymore.
So when Paramount decided to reboot the franchise with a new movie that would recast all the roles with younger actors and bring on board J.J. Abrams, a director known more for visual spectacle than deep, relevant storytelling, no one was all that surprised or happy.
Trek fans everywhere predicated the film would bomb. That it wasn’t “real” Star Trek. That it was an affront to everything Star Trek stood for.
Of course, as everyone knows, they were very wrong. Star Trek would go on to gross $257 million in the United States and $385 worldwide. It was a critical success as well as a commercial one and still has a 94 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But more importantly, Star Trek brought a whole new generation of fans into the franchise, fans who never watched any of the Star Trek television shows or saw the previous movies. Fans who had no preconceived notions about what Star Trek could or couldn’t be.
They just saw a great movie that they really enjoyed. And that was more than enough for them.
It’s safe to say that without the success of Star Trek, we wouldn’t be seeing the rebirth of the franchise today with Discovery and the flood of new shows on the horizon. Star Trek showed that there was life in the series beyond just the hardcore fans which, while most may not want to admit it, was becoming a real issue.
Star Trek may not have been the Star Trek the fans thought they wanted, but it sure as hell was the Star Trek the franchise needed.