So since I’m not really sure that I’ve got anything to say about the new ‘Star Wars’ movie beyond, “Gee, that was pretty cool,” let’s talk trailers! Obviously, the trailer everyone is talking about is ‘Captain America: Civil War’, because I could watch a constant loop of Cap and Bucky beating the living shit out of Iron Man for hours and still not get bored. (Um, yeah. Team Cap here.) But the trailer everyone is inexplicably angry about is ‘Star Trek Beyond’.
Which, look. I will be honest. Wil Wheaton’s memoirs about the making of Next Generation really drove home the fact that the first two seasons of that series killed my enthusiasm for the entire franchise so hard that it never came back. (It was actually kind of a revelation–I didn’t even realize I was a “classic Trek” fan until I read about the fan backlash against NextGen and went, “Omigod, that was me!”) And I will also be honest–I think the new Trek movies are basically what the old Trek series would have done if they could have afforded it. An action-heavy sci-fi story with high stakes, lots of punching and shooting, and the crew of the Enterprise coming through at the last moment to save the day. The 2009 movie was entirely in keeping with Trek as I knew it, and I loved the extra energy it brought.
(Full disclosure: I didn’t see ‘…Into Darkness’, because I suspected that they were lying through their teeth about Cumberbatch not being Khan and it left a seriously bad taste in my mouth that they were dodging questions about whitewashing a role originally played by a Mexican-American actor by saying, “No, they’re not the same dude at all!” when they knew that was bullshit. Nothing I heard about the film suggested I was mistaken there.)
So basically, I have no problems with the fact that this “looks like an action movie!” Well, yes. That was always Roddenberry’s goal, to make something that looked like a two-fisted space Western but that snuck in some stuff that made you think underneath it all. And there’s a line in the trailer that gives me some hope for that–Idris Elba’s villain saying, “This is where the frontier pushes back.” It’s a great line that makes me forgive the fact that he looks like the love child of a Narn and a Cardassian.
Because while I’m confronting uncomfortable truths about my relationship with ‘Star Trek’, the fact is the original series hasn’t aged well in terms of the “stuff that makes you think”. It was progressive for its time, and I don’t want to minimize that, but it held a lot of unexamined assumptions about what space exploration would mean to humanity. The Federation was theoretically egalitarian and democratic, but the franchise has always had a hard time putting that into practice. Starfleet is headquartered on Earth, the captain has always been human, the Prime Directive is only ever invoked in situations where breaking it is the right course of action, and there’s an unspoken truth to the idea that the universe of ‘Star Trek’ is “humanity and whoever is willing to agree with us against those who don’t.” If the villain is someone who straight up has a beef with the Federation’s well-meaning imperialism, I’m actually kind of stoked about it. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I can at least see something to get excited about there.
Oh, and we also got a ‘Zootopia’ trailer. If anyone can make a gif of Captain America and Bucky beating up those goddamn sloths, I’d be happy to see it.