Russ, our regular Sci-Fi Saturday columnist is taking the week off, but the big genre news this weekend is that The Dark Knight had the biggest opening day of all time, taking in $66.4 Mil Friday. Today TrekMovie takes a look at some of the connections between the Batman and Star Trek franchises.
The Star Trek and Batman franchises have a lot common. Both are decades old franchise with multi-generational fan bases and incarnations across multiple media (film, TV, animation, comics, games, etc). Both have generated spin-offs (Batman spawning Nightwing, Catwoman, etc and Star Trek spawning TNG, Voyager, etc). Both had high profile (and some would say ‘campy’) TV shows in the 60 that continued in syndication for decades after. Star Trek and Batman were both big at the box office in the 80s and mid 90s (with both going into declines in the late 90s).
In 2005 the Batman franchise came back in a big way with a new look and new origin story with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. The film was a critical and financial success, making over $370 Million worldwide. Nolan, along with screenwriter David Goyer, retold the story of Batman, but made it work in the 21st century with a much realer and less kitschy approach (where else have we heard that lately?). When talking to people working on the new Star Trek film, Batman Begins is often held up as a model of a film that successfully reinvigorated a franchise. This weekend proves that Warner Bros. has shown that they have successfully brought in new fans by eclipsing the first ‘new’ Batman film. This makes me thing of something a new Star Trek insider once said to me, noting that the film they think will be even bigger than the new Star Trek is the film that follows it…something that Dark Knight proves is possible. Let’s hope that JJ Abrams (and Orci, Kurtzman, Lindelof, and Burk) can do to Trek what Nolan and Goyer have done for the Bat.
Batman Begins showed Bruce Wayne grow to become Batman,
just like JJ Abrams Star Trek will show the origin story of the TOS crew
Trek connections to Dark Knight
There are actually a few direct connections between the Star Trek franchise and the new Dark Knight. Four former Trek guest actors have roles in the film: Keith Szarabajka (Detective Stevens), Andrew Bicknell (Prison Ferry Pilot), Danny Goldring (Grumpy), and Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr. (Tattooed Prisoner). There are also a number of stuntmen and behinds the scenes people, including Nathan Crowley who helped designs the sets for Star Trek Deep Space Nine and is the production designer for both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Resident ‘six degrees of Trek’ expert Chuck Trotter has put together a full list at Memory Alpha.
The reverse is also true as there are a couple of Batman vets working on JJ Abrams new Star Trek film, including supervising art director Keith Cunningham and set designer Dawn Brown, who were both set designers on Batman & Robin.
Past Batman and Trek connections
Of course when looking at all the past Batman films there are many Trek connections. DS9 series regular Rene Auberjonois appeared in Batman Forever and many Trek guest stars appeared in the past Batman movies, including John Glover, Ed Begley Jr., Tracey Walter, Vincent Schiavelli, Branscombe Richmond, Anthony De Longis and Biff Yeager. Star Trek Nemesis costume designer Bob Ringwood did the costumes for Batman, Batman Returns, and Batman Forever.
There are a ton of Trek connections with the Batman animated series. A bunch of Trek stars, including series regulars, voiced villains, including Kate Mulgrew (Red Claw), Ron Perlman (Clayface), John Glover (Riddler), Michael Ansara (Mr. Freeze), Adrienne Barbeau (Catwoman), David Warner (Ra’s al Ghul), and Paul Williams (Penguin). DS9 guest star Loren Lester voiced Robin; Clive Revill was the original voice of Alfred; Diana Muldaur and Brock Peters had recurring roles; John de Lancie, Robert Picardo, LeVar Burton, Paul Winfield, and even Nichelle Nichols lent their voices to episodes.
When looking at just the 60s Batman and Star Trek shows, there were some noteworthy crossovers. Frank Gorshin played The Riddler on Batman and Bele in “Let That be Your Last Battlefield.” And two of Batman’s Catwomen dropped by the final frontier: Lee Meriwether (Losira in “That Which Survives”) and Julie Newmar (Eleen “Friday’s Child”). Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd) played Colonel Gumm on Batman and Yvonne Craig (Marta “Whom Gods Destroy”) played Batgirl (aka Barbara Gordon).
(L-R) Gorshin, Carmel, Meriwether, Newmar & Craig in Star Trek (top) and Batman
Did you see The Dark Knight?
So did you see the new Batman movie? Tell us what you thought below? Do you want to see Star Trek reinvigorated in a ‘realer’ way like Batman?
Special thanks to Chuck and John Tenuto for helping put together this article