First things first: I’m neither a hardcore Star Wars fan nor a hardcore Star Trek fan. But I’ve watched and read enough of both to understand what pisses off fans of each camp - and there are many. Instead of elementary jokes you can make to your Star Wars-loving friends like “My favorite Star Wars movie is ‘Attack of the Clowns’”, let me level you up with a couple of more intellectual ones that I usually use, along with their background context.
Undoubtedly the most famous quote in Star Wars, “May the Force be with you” is often misattributed to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars movie (Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope) in 1977.
While Obi-Wan did talk about the Force in A New Hope, he only uttered this exact phrase to Anakin Skywalker in two of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. To set the record straight, in A New Hope, “May the Force be with you” was actually said by General Dodonna after he detailed the attack plan to the Rebel pilots before the Death Star battle. Having found its way into popular culture, “May the Force be with you” is now often used to wish one good luck, especially when it’s known that the task at hand has a certain degree of difficulty.
On the other hand, “Live long and prosper” (or “Dif tor heh smusma”, if you speak Vulcan) was also often used in Star Trek when two parties met or parted. Unlike “May the Force be with you”, this greeting or blessing was usually accompanied by the Vulcan salute. Both the salute and phrase first appeared in Amok Time (in the first episode of the second season of the Star Trek TV series in 1967); with the salute coming from T’Pau and the phrase from Spock.
Between the two, there’s perhaps no argument that “May the Force be with you” is the more recognizable one, in large part due to Star Wars’ successful entry into mainstream culture (Lightsabers! Jedi! Darth Vadar! Disney!); and that’s despite Star Trek being the older franchise.
For some fun, I suggest that if you happened to bump into a Star Wars-loving friend on the street or at the theater this week, instead of hi, greet him with “May the force help you live long and prosper”. Or just make the Vulcan salute with a straight face.
For Star Wars, the first weapon that comes to most people’s mind has to be the lightsaber, which can be used by both the Jedi and the Sith. While there can be different styles of lightsabers (single-blade, double-blade, spinning, non-spinning, etc.), the makeup of the ‘blade’ is consistent: a concentrated plasma beam that can cut through nearly anything.
Star Trek also has a wide variety of weapons, but for personal directed-energy weapons, my pick has to be the phaser, a very common weapon used by Starfleet personnel. (Yes, yes, it’s not as glam, but so what?) A ‘particle’ weapon (mostly), it can come in different sizes, and the particle beam can be adjusted in both width and output. Like a Swiss Army knife, a phaser gun’s multipurposeness also appeals to me: besides disintegrating or stunning the enemy, one can use it as a cutting tool or heat source.
Of course, the eternal question here is whether a lightsaber can deflect a beam fired from a phaser. It’ll never be answered, but my personal take is that a lightsaber can block a phaser beam but not deflect it. So to increase the change of hitting a lightsaber-wielding Jedi or Sith is to engage the wide-beam setting to make the wider dispersion harder to block.
Starting December 17, I won’t be surprised to see Star Wars fans dressed up as their favorite characters at the cinemas. Lightsaber appearances are also a given. If you happened to see a guy with a phaser gun in a ‘friendly’ debate (or duel) with a Star Wars fan, feel free to walk over and lend me your support.
Pranks aside, suffice to say, there’s a lot more to compare between the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. More than 500 words in, I’ve merely scratched the surface of two. Other debates that have existed since 1977 include “Boba Fett’s Slave 1 vs. Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s Enterprise D”, “Death Star vs. whatever weapon is used during General Order 24”, and “Which has the bigger universe?”. And the list goes on.
Sure, for most of us, such comparisons are inherently pointless. And indeed, storytelling questions can never be addressed with technical and logical answers. But I kind of enjoy them because they make for fun debates, and I do love seeing the passion from fans of both camps. Piece of advice: if you decided to go into a Star Wars vs. Star Trek banter with a friend, make sure you don’t go overboard and sour the relationship.
To borrow and rejig a quote from Star Trek: both ain’t real, both are fantasy.
So, enjoy The Force Awakens, and may it take you to where no man has gone before.
Updated on Dec 21: Added video of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog visiting the Attack of The Clones premier years ago. Don't watch if you can't take jokes.
I write. I also fix things.