Star Trek Canon Is Suddenly Going In Several Different Directions

The venerable sci-fi franchise has to pick a future.

Paramount Pictures
Star Trek
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Star Trek has few equals when it comes to longevity. In 1966, The Original Series brought hardcore sci-fi concepts to network television, and in 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture became the most successful feature film based on a TV show. In the ‘90s, with Star Wars movies on hiatus and Marvel mostly limited to comics, Trek maintained several TV shows, a feature film empire, and countless tie-in novels.

“We [Star Trek] were actually a harbinger of things to come, just look at the universe of entertainment we currently live in,” LeVar Burton told Inverse in 2021. Indeed, from the MCU to the Monsterverse, every genre franchise is trying to be a sprawling empire of TV and film. And while Star Trek is arguably the foundation for this reality, it still feels like an underdog constantly struggling to stay relevant. As Discovery and Lower Decks end in 2024, the franchise is poised to revamp its canon and make yet another comeback. Here are all the latest Trek developments, and what they mean for fans.

A New Trek Movie and a New Timeline?

What happened before this version of the Enterprise?

Paramount Pictures

The next Trek movie is thought to be an “Untitled Star Trek Origin Story,” which will take place before the J.J. Abrams-directed 2009 reboot film. Directed by Toby Haynes (Andor) with a script from Seth Grahame-Smith (The Lego Batman Movie), the movie (and the entire Trek film franchise) has gained a producer in Simon Kinberg, best known for helming the X-Men film franchise from 2006 to 2019.

Notably, the Star Trek films have been completely separate from the current TV shows ever since Abrams’ 2009 Trek. While there are perpetual rumors about bringing TV and film back under the same umbrella, Alex Kurtzman remains in charge of TV Trek for now, so don’t hold your breath for, say, a Strange New Worlds film. But buried in these behind-the-scenes developments is a rumor that the prequel’s storyline will be set, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “...likely around modern times. It is said to involve the creation of the Starfleet and humankind’s first contact with alien life.”

As depicted in First Contact, humanity met the Vulcans in 2063. So if this rumor is true, it’s possible a third Trek timeline could emerge, one that contradicts the events of the Abrams movies (the Kelvin Timeline) and the ongoing TV shows (the Prime Timeline).

Star Trek has changed its history many times before, and Strange New Worlds recently altered the Prime Timeline to accommodate real 21st-century developments that the Trek of 1966 couldn’t anticipate. This could be a similar change, not a whole new timeline. Either way, the next Trek film appears poised to rewrite fictional history again.

Star Power For Starfleet Academy

Holly Hunter will lead the next Star Trek series.

Bruce Glikas/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Simultaneously, a major casting announcement dropped for the next live-action Star Trek TV series, Starfleet Academy. The lead will be acclaimed actress Holly Hunter, who, according to Variety, “will serve as the captain and chancellor of the Academy, presiding over both the faculty and a new class of Starfleet cadets as they learn to navigate the galaxy in the 32nd century.”

Casting a heavyweight like Hunter feels similar to what Trek did in 2016 when it was revealed that Michelle Yeoh would (initially) lead Discovery. Once again, a big name is brought in to give a new Trek series a fresh start. While Starfleet Academy is technically set within the Discovery timeframe, rumors suggest it will be young adult and even somewhat comedy-oriented, which means it has to win over a new demographic. So while Star Trek films are going back to the beginning, TV is heading into a risky future.

Picard Spinoff Legacy Is On Ice... For Now

Terry Matalas and Jeri Ryan, who’s the current captain of the USS Enterprise-G.

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After the ending (and post-credits scene) of Picard Season 3, showrunner Terry Matalas made it clear he was ready to make a spinoff series, tentatively titled Star Trek: Legacy, which would explore the further adventures of Captain Seven, Raffi, and Jack Crusher on the newly christened Enterprise-G. But with Paramount and CBS in financial limbo amid rumored mergers, Legacy has yet to be greenlit.

Now, it appears Legacy won’t likely be happening anytime soon. Terry Matalas has signed with Marvel to run Vision, a Disney+ series set after WandaVision. While Marvel fans should welcome Matalas’ talents, it suggests the balance of nostalgia and forward thinking that Matalas perfected on Picard won’t continue in future Terk shows.

Still, the future is uncertain. The next Trek film has already undergone several permutations, leaving fans with no idea what the final product will be. Starfleet Academy could shake up the idea of what Trek can be. As Spock tells us,there are always possibilities.” And whatever happens next to Trek canon, there will be no shortage of adventures to watch.

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