With 2009’s Star Trek, J.J. Abrams took the idea of a shared cinematic multiverse and applied it to Star Trek, but does it need further exploring?
You may have noticed that there seems to be a fashion at the moment for shared or cinematic universes. Personally, it’s something I rather like, having been spoon-fed this method of storytelling for far longer than the current trend would suggest.
(Blatant plug coming up.) I’ve even developed one myself in my prose writing career, linking a medieval horror novel into a follow-up volume of short stories (coming next year) and (also coming next year) a World War I novel. The process of creating a fictional shared universe is quite rewarding for a writer, adding subtle hints, nods and throwaway lines or scenes to build a bigger picture for the reader (and technically, we here at Redshirts are also very much part of a shared universe: we are all contributing to, supporting, appreciating and expanding the Fansided community).
There is a downside to this kind of story structuring: weaving such complex, criss-crossing story arcs on a large canvas with huge casts of characters can possibly lose the reader/viewer on the way. But when it’s done well, it works perfectly. It’s not vital that you need to watch/read every movie/story but if you do, the reward will be… will be what? Well, more wealth than you can imagine. I dunno… I can imagine quite a bit.
Sorry, I went all Star Wars, there. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, then, the template that many studios and aspiring filmmakers could do no worse than emulate. DC sort of tried but got too much ahead of themselves and Lucasfilm have just made sequels and prequels and not so-much of a open-to-all sandbox. The MCU had struck gold and have potentially done it again with the acquisition of Fox into the Disney stable.
The latest post-Endgame trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home has implied that there is a cinematic multiverse, which neatly allows the arrival of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and any other property from another studio into the MCU. I had the variances of the Marvel comics universe explained me to me by a friend recently and she is very knowledgable in such matters so I often seek her counsel to iron out the creases. But basically, she made me realize that the comics, the animated movies, the animated series and the MCU itself are all part of this Multiverse and have the potential to leak into and move back and forth into themselves.
So what about our beloved Star Trek?
We’ve had virtually 55 years of storytelling that is perfect for such shared adventures and we’ve already been witness to such crossovers, even before ‘shared universes’ or ‘canon’ were fashionable.
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- Watch: All I Want for Christmas by the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Kirk met Pike from a rejected pilot, McCoy met Data in a broadcast pilot, Sisko met Picard in another, Quark met Kim in yet another, Picard met Kirk in the movies, Archer met Cochrane from both the original series and the movies, Spock met his alternative self also in the movies, Burnham met the same Pike from the same rejected pilot… there are probably a handful more… and everyone of these meetings flawlessly (apart from the occasional and necessary change of actor) continued the long-running arc of Starfleet and the Federation. Section 31, an underground organization from Deep Space Nine was given prominence in Enterprise and Discovery and even the upcoming Picard-centric series uses the Kelvin Timeline as a springboard.
So the notion of a shared Star Trek Universe (a Trekverse?) already exists and has been ably demonstrated more clearly by J.J. Abrams introducing the aforementioned Kelvin arc. Love or loath the three Kelvin movies, you can’t argue that they haven’t affected the original Prime timeline too badly and these multiple crossovers we have already been witness to are the icing on the cake: that we are investing our time and our imaginations into something we all already love anyway and such weaving of stories is our reward.
Taking the Marvel idea of a multiverse, it could also work across all the varying Star Trek platforms: there’s absolutely nothing against saying that the IDW comics, the old Marvel comics, the Bantam and Pocket Books novels, the Power Records releases, the various series and movies et cetera are all actually one big Multiverse itself (Multitrekverse?) meaning everything is as valid and correct as the other.
With the recent announcement of the Star Trek Global Franchise Group, it sounds as though that perhaps this is where CBS is headed.
And therefore canon is now completely irrelevant.
Oh but here’s another thought…if all of Marvel exists in the Multiverse and Star Trek at one point was part of Marvel, does that mean…? No. Surely not. Kirk in the MCU? Picard in the Spider-Verse? Don’t even think it.