Science Fiction has seen an epic resurge in pop culture popularity in recent years. From the expansion of gaming culture, to new Star Wars films, and to the trendiness of nerdy conventions, it’s truly a golden age for stories dreaming of scientific possibilities.
One of the most classic outlets of this futuristic, scientific, space wanderlust has always been Star Trek. The franchise has been a vital part of the science fiction consciousness since Captain Kirk took helm of the USS Enterprise in 1966. Like many sci-fi classics, it’s been a strong component of this resurge and its return has spawned a new slew of films and series.
In 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled prematurely from mixed reviews. Its, at times, lackluster run seemed like the end of an era. Between Enterprise and the low ratings of Star Trek: Nemesis, few Hollywood executives were begging for more adventures with the Federation. While nothing could kill Trekkies’ adoration of the Star Trek universe, it seemed any new adaptations were out of the picture for a very, very long time.
However, in 2009, that notion was debunked. The Star Trek film, starring Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, and Zachary Quinto, turned the ship around. With a new Captain Kirk, a new crew of the Enterprise, and a new timeline, the possibilities were endless. Also it gave fans the chance to enjoy Kirk and crew all over again.
The original series was a prime target for new reboot. Unlike most Star Trek series, lasting five – seven seasons, the original series only lasted three, two years less than the five year mission that Gene Roddenberry had planned. Eventually, a lot of that lost time was made up through the Star Trek films the cast partook in, however they were hit or miss at times.
Through the 2009 Star Trek flick, fans could see a different, beautifully filmed version of Kirk-era Star Trek.
The movie was enough of a hit to spawn two more more films, a new series in Star Trek: Discovery, an upcoming Picard-centric series, and an upcoming fourth film. Chris Pine captured the essence of Kirk while still giving him a modern spin, Zachary Quinto was a perfectly cast young Spock, and Zoe Saldana gives Uhura the strength the character was never allowed to show in the original.
Amidst all this excitement and regrowth, though, trouble brews. Recently, its been announced that Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth, playing Kirk and his father, respectively, have walked out on the fourth Star Trek film. Paramount was working on budget cuts, but their lower offers were unacceptable to both Chrises.
Without Kirk, and the rest of the cast’s contract negotiations still unfinished, this progress has left Star Trek 4 on pause. Its possible they could recast a new captain Kirk, however it’s unlikely fans would be too pleased with a sudden change-up in casting.
Star Trek has come back to the forefront of popularity, with a film franchise and two different tv series on the rise. While Chris Pine walking away from Star Trek isn’t final, it’s a big blow to the Trek fandom. After all, they’re a picky group. If they’ve accepted Pine as Kirk, it’ll be hard to get them to accept anyone else.
But beyond the fans and Pine himself, the original series’ charm relied on the holy triad of Spock, McCoy, and Kirk. Pine as Kirk has already created a bond, a chemistry, with both men. Recasting the role would give a significant blow to the most important aspect of Kirk-era Star Trek. Any series in the franchise excites people because of its theories, its possibilities, its races, its stories. But the reason they stay a fan of any show or film is because of the characters and how they interact.
In the new Star Trek golden age, Trekkies can only hope that Paramount finds a way to get its Kirk to return. Otherwise, the fate of Star Trek as a film franchise hang in the balance. And without Pine, it may not survive the turbulence.