A rag-tag group of Earthlings and aliens, consisting of a handsome leader who enjoys romantic encounters with multi-colored aliens, a strong Zoe Saldana-type, and a guy that takes everything literally, learn to work together despite their differences. They encounter an evil alien on a quest for vengeance, wielding a colorful weapon with the power to destroy entire planets. Now that they've learned to work as a team, the crew must embark on an epic quest to save the galaxy.
Sound familiar? I just summarized not one, but two critically-acclaimed sci-fi epics that have been released within the past decade. Guardians of the Galaxy and the 2009 reboot of Star Trek have a lot of similarities that most people don't recognize. The real question is, which movie did it better?
The Confident Leader
As diverse as science fiction movies can be, they generally have a few trademark archetypes. Badass warrior women, check. Alien sidekicks with communication problems, check. Rogue-ish heroes with a penchant for womanizing and breaking the rules, double check. In this case, both are played by guys named Chris.
Let's look at the back-stories for both Star-Lord and James T. Kirk. Both were raised on Earth without a father, and they both grew up to find new father-figures that shaped the rest of their lives. Star-Lord grew up around Yondu, who taught him how to shoot, steal, and run when he needed to. Kirk looked up to Captain Pike, who showed him how to lead a ship.
Both Peter Quill and James Kirk worked their way up to being the leader of a team, and their life experiences helped them think outside the box when it came to defeating ultimate evil. Overall, Kirk has Quill beat when it comes to the sheer size of his crew. While Quill has constant problems leading a handful of colorful characters, Kirk has managed to lead an entire ship full of people against insurmountable odds. Plus, Yondu isn't that great of a role model when compared to Pike.
Star Trek - 1 / Guardians of the Galaxy - 0
The Strong Zoe Saldana Type
Remember when I brought up the badass warrior women? That category has been stocked with an all-star cast, including Ellen Ripley, Princess Leia and River Tam. Now, we have two more entries, both played by the same actress.
When we meet Uhura and Gamora, they are both fierce and independent. They repel the advances of any potential romantic mate, focused only on the task at hand. However, that changes once they meet a new crewmate, and they have to balance their feelings with their sense of duty.
Even though Uhura is smart, strong, and skilled all around, Gamora edges her out when it comes to being a warrior. Uhura excelled at Starfleet Academy and became a great communications officer, but Gamora was raised and trained by the Titan Thanos. They can both shoot and fly just fine, but Gamora is the only one with enhanced strength and a sword.
Star Trek - 1 / Guardians of the Galaxy - 1
The Tattooed Bad Guy
Ronan vs. Nero. I can't honestly say that either of these bald baddies is particularly memorable. Both wear dark clothing, sit in a big, dark ship and send out waves of faceless goons to fight their battles. Both command an ultra-powerful weapon that ends up being their downfall. Not a whole lot of differences, right?
Let's take a look at their motivations. They were both fueled by vengeance, but one was executed remarkably better. Ronan wanted revenge on Xandar after his Kree kin were killed over many years of war. Nero wanted revenge after his home planet was destroyed. Ronan was too distracted by a dance-off to do much damage, but Nero succeeded in destroying Vulcan, making him the clear victor between the two.
Star Trek - 2 / Guardians of the Galaxy - 1
The Planet-Breaking Weapon
What's round, brightly-colored and capable of blowing up an entire world? Well, there are two answers of course. There's the Red Matter from Star Trek, which creates black holes, and then there's Marvel's Infinity Stone, which is a stone so strong that no ordinary being can hold it with their bare hand.
The essential difference between the two (other than color) is in their origin. Red Matter is a product of science, and chaotic products of science are all too common in science-fiction. The Infinity Stone is something much more grandiose: it is a remnant of creation itself, and the legends that have been told over years of lore gives a more unique story to the weapon.
Star Trek - 2 / Guardians of the Galaxy - 2
The Crew Of Misfits
A ship is only as strong as its crew, and with these two crews, this match is going to have to come down to quality vs. quantity. Both crews are stocked with a host of different alien races with their own personalities, as well as specialties that add to the overall skill-set of the ship. There's also plenty of drama in both crews, as many characters bicker back and forth before ultimately banding together.
Knowing this, the main difference between the two is the size of the crew. The USS Enterprise is packed full of crew members, most of whom we don't even get to meet. Even though that adds to the manpower of the Enterprise, it ultimately serves as a hinderance. Members of the crew could be picked off left and right, but we as an audience only care about five or six of them.
There are only five members aboard the Milano in the first Guardians movie, but we learn to love each and every one of them. Every time one of the crew comes close to death, we can't help but hold back a tear or two. Without the extra clutter that the Enterprise has, we get to spend more time with the Guardians. Not to mention, five people saving the galaxy is more impressive than a whole Enterprise full of people doing the same thing.
Star Trek - 2 / Guardians of the Galaxy - 3
So there you have it, folks. Even though the Star Trek reboot did it first, Guardians of the Galaxy did it just a little bit better. That being said, both movies have one final similarity: they are both great movies! Just because one movie might be better than the other, doesn't mean that you can't enjoy them both.