Star Trek has seen several eras of films, but what are they?
We are on the verge of finding out, hopefully, what the future of the Star Trek film franchise is. We’re not sure if the franchise will pick up the fourth film featuring the same cast as the previous three, helmed by Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana, or if we’re going to get a fourth era of Trek films.
The Trek films, unlike something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are less focused on “phases” and more about the eras. The core of the franchise is change, and the film franchise has seen three different captains take the reigns of a variety of different ships, with each film being one part of a greater whole, both standing with one another in its continuity but standing out in its originality.
Yet, what are those three eras? New fans may not know, so we’re breaking it down for you.
What are the three eras of Star Trek films?
The first era of Star Trek films is the original six films. This is known as The Original Series era of films or just the TOS era. It features William Shatner as the prime timeline’s James Kirk, and it continues the adventures started on the original Trek program, which debuted in 1966. The era stretches across the first six films, from Star Trek The Motion Picture to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
The second era follows the first, in that it’s tied to a show. This era is The Next Generation Era, dubbed as such because the films follow the television series, The Next Generation. So when you see people mention the TNG era of Trek films, this is the reference. As with the TOS, the TNG era picks up shortly after the show ends and features four films in their catalog. They weren’t originally numbered, but they encompassed Star Trek Generations (Star Trek VII), all the way to Star Trek Nemesis (Star Trek X). The TNG era features Jean-Luc Picard and his crew, as they not only meet the original Kirk but deal with some long-standing issues.
The last three films are the most recent, this era is dubbed the Kelvin Era, and the films are referred to be taking place in the Kelvin Timeline. The films stretch from Star Trek 2009 (XI) to Star Trek: Beyond (XIII), and take place in an alternate timeline where the Spock from the TOS era, travels back in time and accidentally creates a new timeline. Thus connecting the films all together, yet keeping them separate in the process. And while these new films follow Kirk, it’s not the same Kirkr as William Shatner’s Kirk in the TOS era. Instead, this is Chris Pine’s Kirk, who is not based on a show and whose history is a bit different than the original Kirk.
It’s very possible that the fourth era of films is coming soon, especially if Paramount can’t figure out what to do with the current cast and stories moving forward.