It’s either Star Trek: First Contact or Wrath of Khan as the franchise’s best film.
You don’t have to like any specific Star Trek film more than any other. You don’t have to like any Star Trek film for that matter. This is all subjective. That said, it’s my subjective opinion that Star Trek: First Contact is truly the greatest film in the Trek franchise.
That said, there will be many who disagree, claiming the original franchise film, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan as the best. It’s two different plots, with two different casts, and two different crews. There is no objective way to prove which film is better. So I won’t. It’d an impossibility to make people change their minds on this debate.
Yet, what I can do, and will do, is argue that despite your own personal preference, only First Contact truly stands toe-to-toe with the legacy of Wrath of Khan.
First Contact and Wrath of Khan are the only two films worthy of the throne
When it comes down to it, there are only two films that regularly get talked about as the best film in the franchise. Wrath of Khan has the staunch support of the older fanbase, while First Contact’s place in the Trek community has largely exploded in recent years. It was a financially successful film but only recently, say the last decade or so, has the obvious brilliance of First Contact started to be widely accepted.
They’re often cited by many fans as numbers one and two in their rankings or, 1A and 1B if they can’t decide. There’s good reason for it, they’re universally beloved films that put two different generations’ favorite captains in the center of the conflict, in a highly emotional story.
For Kirk, it was a revenge story centering around Khan Noonien Singh, a man who hated Kirk despite Kirk attempting to find a peaceful solution to the former warlord’s demands. For Picard, it was about recovery and acceptance and learning to deal with his most hated nemesis, the Borg, in a way that didn’t lead to the self-destruction of him and his crew, literally.
Each man had a highly emotional response to their adversaries and each man eventually closed out their respective storylines with each.
They may have been sequels but both films also helped cement their respective film franchises going forward and helped introduce new fans to the franchise like never before.