Starship Enterprise from the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot Kelvin timeline.
(Paramount Pictures)

The Best ‘Star Trek’ Franchise Just Turned 15

There are few reboots that actually work. Most of the time, it is a rinse and repeat of the same old things time and time again. Then came 2009’s Star Trek, and I was forever changed as a fan of the USS Enterprise.

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The J.J. Abrams film created the Kelvin universe, an alternate timeline in the Star Trek franchise that put James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) in a different life—one without George Kirk’s (Chris Hemsworth) guidance and where he wasn’t instantly friends with Spock (Zachary Quinto). Fans were given the chance to look at these characters that we’ve loved since the ’60s in a completely fresh way.

The story put us back on the bridge of the Enterprise with just slightly different versions of the characters we know and love. Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldaña) end up in a relationship, you have Sulu (John Cho) in his same role next to Chekov (Anton Yelchin), but Cho and Yelchin give them fresh portrayals. And this version of Scotty (Simon Pegg) even has a little friend in Keenser (Deep Roy).

As with any reimagining, you have the naysayers and those who do not want their originals changed, but the 2009 Star Trek showed audiences that not everything has to be sacred, and we can reinvent something for the better of the franchise. Because, quite frankly, without this Star Trek movie, I do not think we’d have the new boom in Trek stories that we’re having on Paramount+.

Now, on the film’s fifteenth anniversary, I want to talk about why it worked and why I am someone who longs for that rumored Star Trek 4 to happen.

Why Star Trek (2009) is still the best

Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) advises Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin) in a scene from Star Trek Into Darkness.
(Paramount Pictures)

Changing little things to make this the Kelvin-verse was the smartest thing that Abrams did. It meant that this Kirk wasn’t going to make the same decisions that William Shatner’s Kirk would. Pine didn’t have to worry about doing an impression of Shatner because he was taking bits and pieces of his performance to inspire his own take on Kirk. And yes, part of that is because of Kirk’s relationship to Spock and how it’s different than Shatner’s with Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of the Vulcan.

Sure, the first two movies in Pine’s franchise do not hold a candle to Star Trek: Beyond, but there is still something to love in them. The reason they work can simply be boiled down to this: We like to see Kirk and Spock work together as a team, but what happens if that dynamic first needed to be built and they had to find trust in each other? It’s what makes 2009’s Star Trek stand apart.


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Author
Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.