Alex Kurtzman Compares Expansion Of Star Trek To Marvel, Discusses Becoming ‘Discovery’ Showrunner

The man in charge of Star Trek on TV is talking more about the expanding Trek universe and how he is managing all the current and upcoming shows.

Is there such a thing as too much Star Trek?

Over the last few months we have seen a number of new Star Trek shows announced, all under the guidance of producer Alex Kurtzman, who has been charged with overseeing the Trek TV universe for CBS. A series with Patrick Stewart returning to the role of Picard starts production in April with a planned release later this year, and Rick and Morty’s Mike McMahan has been tapped to create an animated Trek comedy. A new Hollywood Reporter interview with Alex Kurtzman confirms previous reports that there are two additional live-action shows under consideration, stating there are “deals for a Michelle Yeoh-led offshoot, [first reported in November] and a youth-focused entry (Starfleet Academy) among other series in the works.”

Kurtzman talked to THR about what he sees as his mandate when it comes to this expanding universe of Star Trek, saying:

I came to CBS and said, “Let’s open this world up and see what else there is — and make sure that each show has its own identity.” My job is to run Discovery and, in the case of other shows, remain at 30,000 feet so I can weigh in meaningfully and significantly at all the critical junctures of the development.

With so many shows being talked about, Kurtzman was also asked if their was any limit on too many Star Trek shows, to which he said:

There has to be. At a certain point people are going to say, “It all feels so familiar.” The only thing I’d throw back is that nobody seems to have said that about Marvel. Between film and TV, no one is tired of them. That means that in a world of a global audience, there is always room for more, but the more has to be meaningful.

A Trek show centered around Michelle Yeoh is one of a number of Trek series in consideration or development

How Kurtzman is managing Discovery and other shows

Last June, Alex Kurtzman stepped in to take over as showrunner for Star Trek: Discovery after Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts were let go. Kurtzman also talked to THR about taking on Discovery and how it differs from his approach with the other Trek series in development:

Gretchen and Aaron were put in a tough spot because we were inches from production when we lost a showrunner [Bryan Fuller]. They were there to pick up the pieces. When the writers weren’t happy, I couldn’t hand the show off to someone else again. I couldn’t stay at 30,000 feet. It was my responsibility to get into that room and make sure the show was working. I created it, and I didn’t want to stand back and be removed from that process. I wasn’t planning on showrunning Discovery. It was difficult.

Short Treks will tie into Discovery season two

Alex Kurtzman was also at CES yesterday where he spoke with CNet mostly about entertainment and emerging technologies, but he also talked a bit about Star Trek. While discussing how they are approaching the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, Kurtzman noted how they are taking a broader approach:

We think of it like a continuum. It’s not just one season of television, but how does this season of television speak to the season before and the season that is coming afterward. And then, are there characters that we can set up in this season that we can break off into little side-stories.

For example, we did these Short Treks, which are 15-minute shorts, we did four of them. You will watch the Short Treks, you will have a standalone experience which will hopefully be a satisfying individual story. And then when you watch season two of Discovery, you’ll realize that those stories are setting you up for specific episodes and now have a whole new dimension to them.

Doug Jones in Short Treks “The Brightest Star”

 


Star Trek: Discovery is available in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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Jordan

I love this idea, but don’t have a lot of faith in Kurtzman. Just take a look at his Monster Universe for Universal…

MattR

Hopefully he’s learned from that. The problem there was that they tried to launch a franchise by cramming it into a mediocre movie instead of taking the time to let things develop.

The difference with what he’s doing with Trek, at least how it seems, is that they’re trying to do different things with each show, which is probably the smart move.

DataMat

I was looking forward to that movie too as it looked to have potential. Alas it was not good at all. Terrible shame really.

Kevin Bleasdale

The mirror universes was announced before Kurtsman took over as the main guy.

ML31

And in a larger sense with season one Kurtzman took over a sinking ship. It’s like becoming captain of the Titanic AFTER it hit the berg.

HubcapDave

So, you think it’s impossible for people to learn from their mistakes, I take it?

The full THR interview talks with Kurtzman about The Mummy. It’s worth a read. He says he learned from it:

I look back on it now [and] what felt painful at the time ended up being an incredible blessing for me. I learned that I need to follow my own instincts, and when I can’t fully do that, I don’t think I can succeed.

PEB

To be fair, he wasn’t the problem with the Dark Universe. Universal pushed the idea that “Hey we’re doing a thing, look at this!” instead of letting it form organically. They only released one film and Kurtzman brainstormed it and begun the follow-through but the studio got in the middle of that. I don’t know if this will work or if it won’t but to be fair, what he wants to see is kind of the infant stage that we saw during the Trek heyday of the 90s. It just never came to life like it should have.

Soren

A mirror Georgiou show. Kill me now.

Danpaine

Yeah, that jumped out at me, too. Count me out of that one. No thanks.

Marja

Jeez guys, just don’t watch it!
LOL.

DeanH

Agreed! I too am skeptical of a mirror Georgiou show but like Michelle Yeoh so much, I am willing to give it a chance.

Soren

I like the actress too and if it was a regular Georgiou show that’d be fine. Everything I’ve heard up to now seems based around this ridiculous contrived mirror character though.

Did you get The Marvel reference? You don’t have to match *every* *single* *iteration* of Marvel content, and I bet almost no one even tries to do that. And Marvel is doing great, thanks for asking! :-)

GarySeven

Kurtzman said :”That means that in a world of a global audience, there is always room for more, but the more has to be meaningful.”
So far Mr. Kurtzman has done the Kelvin Universe and STD. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many fans, these both have “dumbed” down Star Trek into more action and less meaning and thoughfulness. Now we are also getting from this man an animated comedy Star Trek show and another cartoon for children.
In my view, I have every reason to doubt that this man will create meaningful Star Trek shows. He says all the right things but actions speak louder than words, and his work so far speaks for itself.
Star Trek is not Marvel- it is not based on a comic book. Did this guy actually watch TNG? Or was he like JJ, who said never liked Star Trek because he couldn’t understand it, but his smarter friends liked it?
I know many people love STD and the Kelvinverse, and there’s IDIC and we are all allowed our opinions. But as far as my opinion, what is happening with Star Trek mirrors what is happening in our politics, and our society. There is more coarseness, more impulsivity, less thoughtfulness, and a shorter attention span that results in the need for constant action, whether it means anything substantial or not.
What Kurtzman is doing is not all right with all fans, I just wanted to say.

Trek in a Cafe

Discovery is different and whether you like it or not, respect the experiment. It’s not out-of-the-gate dumb or dumbed down. Think of Season 1 as wood cut furniture that had a few too many craftspeople. It’ll go down as unique, and imperfect. Not dumb. I say this after rewatching this past week and seriously not getting shocked at all, but simply appreciating the craft of the arc the producers struggled to show.

Michael Hall

Perfect reply, thanks. DSC committed its fair share of sins, but (unlike the Kelvin ‘verse) being dumbed-down largely wasn’t one of them.

Marja

Gary,
Based on a lot of subtexts and touches in Disco, I think he has watched a lot of TOS. Many fans seem to feel “Star Trek” is all about TNG, wherein, admittedly, Picard found many diplomatic and scientific solutions to things. But look at “The Butcher’s Knife…” DSC S1 Ep 4, and see scientific curiosity and compassion overcome violence AND resolve an urgent problem.

I agree with you on society, impulsivity, and short attention spans, but I submit that Disco had a season-long arc. Yes, it had more violence [fewer Kirk-style fistfights, but torture, ugh], and some of the violence was meaningless, but some of it directly related to the story [Landry’s death was a lesson, “violence doesn’t help much of anything”].

Things are more action-packed these days, and quick cuts are also a modern thing. You will not see many long camera shots of one person speaking dialogue and then the other person responding. It is simply out of fashion, and some of us miss that. I know I do miss the occasional “slow shot.” But I don’t demand it in every show.

macman48

In my opinion, and in the opinion of many fans, people who call it STD are trolls whose thoughts are best disregarded.

Olaf

Well, but what would you call it? After all, it’s only one word instead of three, so abbreviating Star Trek Discovery to STD seems reasonable. Yes, I know about the other meaning of that abbreviation by now, but so what? And yes, you could argue that Enterprise had the same problem, but somehow ENT has become popular, where it could’ve easily been STE as well. But with Discovery, the analogy would be DIS or DISC (or even DISCO, but all other shows have three letters in their short form), but never DSC…

Afterburn

This is the first comment he’s made that makes me nervous. How’d copying Marvel go for Ghostbusters? How’d it go for your own Dark Universe, Alex? Yeesh.

Phil

Another good comparison is Lucasfilm specifically creating content for kids twenty years ago. It made Star Wars the franchise juggernaut that it is. The only downside for me is likely that I’ll be dead in twenty years and not able to see this marketing campaign come to fruition….

PEB

And very much what they’re doing right now. Clone Wars coming back, Rebels, a new animated show on the horizon and a very kid-friendly show on right now PLUS an actual star wars kids youtube with very cool animated shorts on top of the live action content that’s on the way and the feature films. If they can tweak it and make fans more satisfied with the films, they’ll be on a roll.

ML31

” “It all feels so familiar.” The only thing I’d throw back is that nobody seems to have said that about Marvel.”

I’ve been saying that for the last 4 films at least. Marvel films are becoming lazy and tired and looking like everything that has come before. Yes, I know the films continue to generate huge BO. But I’m seeing a lot of flaws. If things don’t change I think the heady days of automatic $$$ will diminish.

Marja

I, too, if only because so many Marvel look-a-likes are out there now, and Marvel movies are getting awfully formulaic. The first one in a long time that interested me was “Black Panther.”

ML31

Black Panther was part of the problem. It was probably the most dreadful and formulaic of the recent Marvel outings. They checked off every hero movie trope box by box. Ugh. What a waste. Marvel’s last decent film was Civil War.

DeanH

I haven’t seen it but EVERY single friend and relative who has say that Black Panther was excellent. Just goes to show you, Marvel provides the audience with so many choices, there is bound to be something that appeals to almost everyone.

kmart

PANTHER had a few moments, but overall was a disappointment for me. Outside of the ANTMAN movies and the last THOR, I don’t think I’ve been blown away by any of them since DR STRANGE and the second CapAm.

I think they just pack too much into them so the movies just seem to go on too long, especially during the third act. It’s not just a Marvel thing. I thought the Harrison Ford FUGITIVE was a good movie, but the ending (I seem to remember a room with a lot of towels in it) just dragged, it needed to be trimmed heavily or rethought. When you hit act 3, it should be speeding up, not dragging out.

DeanH

Yeah I forgot about Dr Strange which was quite good.

Phil

More Marvel formula. I turned off Dr. Strange after about twenty minutes when I realized I was correctly anticipating the dialogue.

ML31

“when I realized I was correctly anticipating the dialogue.”

I was doing that in Black Panther.

ML31

“but EVERY single friend and relative who has say that Black Panther was excellent. ”

And that just floors me. for the life of me I cannot see why anyone would say that about that movie. Black Panther was at best a typical by the numbers super hero movie. The most positive thing I can say about it was there was a teeny tiny bit of family drama there that raised an eyebrow. But the rest… Had a total ‘been there done that many times’ feel to it. Aquaman was the same. It was just Black Panther underwater. It felt like the exact same movie. They are getting tired.

I did enjoy the first Ant-Man but the 2nd was not as fresh or entertaining. It was pretty much a bore. For me it feels like Marvel hit their zenith with Civil War. They had a few mediocres before that but every film that came out since (with the exception of the 3rd Thor film) has been tired.

Scott Gammans

This, exactly. I watched the first two hours of “Infinity War” on a domestic Christmas plane ride on a small 10” screen because I couldn’t even be bothered to watch it on my big screen at home. I still haven’t seen the ending yet.

alphantrion

To be honest, I wasn’t at all impressed with the Captain Marvel trailers. I personally think Emily Blunt should have been Captain America.

Danpaine

I don’t know how much I agree with what he said about no one being tired of all the Marvel offerings out there, but that’s neither here nor there. I foresee myself handpicking what I want to see out of these upcoming shows based on their subject, format and merit, and leaving the rest behind. I’m a Trek fan, but I’m not going to watch just anything with the ‘Trek” name on it because of that. For instance, a Mirror Georgiou show? Not for me. But hey, best of luck to him. Hopefully at least a couple of the proposed shows will prove memorable.

DIGINON

I’m sure he didn’t literally mean “nobody”. But people have been predicting the end of comic book movies due to over-saturation for years now but they still go strong.
I completely support you for taking a show-by-show look and deciding which one you want to watch and which ones are not for you. I hope you will be able to accept that others may enjoy a Trek show even if you don’t like it. I will probably also check out all the new shows but then decide which one I actually want to continue to watch. The problem I have is with people who are like “I don’t like it therefore it must stop”.

Marja

Exactly! “Watch what you like, and ignore what you don’t.” I don’t get why so many people can’t seem to understand this.

Valid criticism is one thing, but hate hate hate gets old. Of course with “valid,” YMMV.

DeanH

Yeah when it comes to Marvel, I choose to watch some of movies like Guardians as well as other properties like Xmen but ignore others. If Kurtzman wants to create a plethora of Trek shows in a number of formats, great that means more choice for everyone and how can that possibly be a negative – especially since there was nothing available except for a few fan productions since the end of Enterprise.

Phil

Spider Verse is the first superhero movie I paid to go see in the theater since Avengers 2. Wasn’t disappointed, but it wasn’t high brow, either. Can’t think of any live action superhero move I’ll see in theaters this year, and probably won’t see Episode 9, either.

ML31

I have that in my Netflix cue. I’d like to see it as it has gotten good word of mouth from people I know.

HiWay

“The only thing I’d throw back is that nobody seems to have said that about Marvel. Between film and TV, no one is tired of them.”

I dunno, sure I’m in the minority, but I got burnt out on superhero movies several years ago. And I remember even as a diehard Trekkie, the same happening to me in the late 90s.

Denny C

“The only thing I’d throw back is that nobody seems to have said that about Marvel. Between film and TV, no one is tired of them. That means that in a world of a global audience, there is always room for more, but the more has to be meaningful.”

OK, but a little perspective here. Marvel in film and television are two entirely different beasts and Marvel methodically rolled out the MCU over a number of years, allowing it to grow and pull in more fans who had never picked up a comic book. Iron Man hit screens in 2008 but Agents of SHIELD, the first Marvel television series spun off from the feature films, didn’t debut until 2013 and on a broadcast network available to 100% of U.S. households. Daredevil didn’t debut until 2015 and that was on Netflix which reaches 54% of all U.S. households (not counting people who *ahem* share accounts).

With Star Trek limited to exposure on CBS All Access in the U.S. it’s ability to break out with a broader audience is limited as well and adding additional flavors of Star Trek will not change that dynamic.

Duncan MacLeod

but the rest of the world sans Canada get it on Netflix. it is certainly growing new audience.

Marja

And, sans the US, hence why so many US fans bitch about having to sign up for CBSAA streaming service. I wish I COULD get it on Netflix.

And it really sucks that the rest of the world can’t see “Short Treks.” I mean that is just ridiculous. I know it’s contractual, but they really need to fix this.

Brian

I don’t believe every show is going to be exclusive to All-Access. I believe at the very least that the animated “kids” show will be on a network.

Denny C

They’re trying to build All Access so that’s where all Star Trek from CBS will ultimately reside.

DIGINON

The article about the kid-friendly animated show mentioned that it might be released elsewhere.

Marja

It looks to me like the Trek rollout is going to be somewhat gradual; maybe not as slow as Marvel’s, but it isn’t a multi-billion-dollar franchise either.

I really hope they are vetting a “Pike’s Enterprise” series.

Denny C

That’s the show I really want. Ya’ never know.

Tiger2

A Pike show may happen, but I’m guessing that would be years away if they have FIVE shows already in pre-production now (wow saying that out loud is intense lol).

My guess is if Pike and Spock is really popular they will still be around in season 3. Maybe not in charge of Discovery, but hey at this point anything is possible.

Marja

Boy, I bet Mr Orci is about to chew his own tail off right about now. That’s not very nice to say, but after being slated to direct Trek3 and having that snatched away, I reckon his temper got pretty hot.

I hope he’s getting satisfying projects, but I imagine the kick in the teeth from Trek didn’t help his general feelings about Trek or Paramount in particular.

The Collector

Kurtzman strikes me as a man of very limited intelligence, who was in the right place at the right time. How has Trek ended up in his charlatan hands?! I just hope he gets lucky again and the Picard show turns out to be good. I’m watching TNG at this very moment and would be heartbroken to my geeky core if the Picard show is another STD.

GarySeven

The Collector:
This is my impression of him as well. I don’t want to feel this way, and it would delight me to be proven wrong. But what you said is consistent with the evidence.

“The only thing I’d throw back is that nobody seems to have said that about Marvel.” I guess this guy is a nobody: https://blog.solidsignal.com/news/fun-and-games/death-to-the-marvel-cinematic-universe/

Who cares

Pretty much

DeanH

There are a few unsavory posts from SOME of the naysayers, but this long-time Star Trek fan is very happy that someone (who actually is in the business) has stepped up to take charge of the franchise and make things happen – especially since we haven’t had anything on the small screen except a few fan productions since the end of Enterprise 14 years ago. While Paramount pauses to try and figure out what it wants to do with its Star Trek motion picture property, I for one am happy that CBS has committed to season 2 of Discovery, Lower Decks, the new Picard Show, Short Treks, and appears ready for even more projects. That means in the foreseeable future there should be something Star Trek for almost everyone. No Disco is not perfect, but all I have to say to Mr. Kurtzman is – thank you!

Denny C

This somewhat mirrors where Star Trek was in the 90s and then they dipped into the well one too many times. There is the potential for having three separate Star Trek series running in a single year. That could be too much of a good thing.

DeanH

I totally understand – funny that when DS9 was being run, I chose not to watch it because there was just too much Trek on TV. I watched it in syndication years after is was done and was impressed with the quality of the stories and it is now one of my favorites. Each of the shows may turn out to be great but as you said, let’s hope the audience doesn’t get burned out on too much of a good thing.

ML31

The difference here, I think, is the streaming service. That makes many Trek shows at once more feasible than it was in the days of syndication or the early days of UPN.

DIGINON

I think the fear of “too much” is why they want the shows to be so different. If you just get three crews, each on a different ship, but each going around the galaxy doing the same thing, you might feel fatigued after some time. But if they have Discovery (hopefully doing some space exploration), Picard maybe working as an ambassador (just guessing here) and Lower Decks being an animated comedy, the shows won’t just feel all the same.

DeanH

Also, shout out to JJ for keeping the movie franchise going while there was nothing on TV. Once again, not perfect but the Kelvin Universe movies kept Star Trek in front of the entertainment industry and global audiences and I have no doubt that despite mixed fan reviews, those movies helped CBS and Netflix make the decision to fund Star Trek Discovery and all the new productions.

Tiger2

Wow more news keeps coming! Most of this sounds fine to me and I’m not shocked over the Marvel reference at all. This was pretty obvious once we were told we were getting Star Trek all year. What did people expect? You’re going to get a ton of shows and they are going to connect to each other in some way as they always done for the last 30 years.

Star Trek was already doing that and ironically the entire reason why I fell in love with the MCU is because of Star Trek. I had missed interconnected stories the way it was done with the the 24th century shows. I realize in Star Trek’s case it wasn’t intentional as MCU was nor did they build up the stories like the Avengers. The Dominion war was a big deal for Trek canon but it still was mostly a DS9 story that the TNG films and Voyager referenced but never really took part in. But I really loved how they did it in the Berman era and rewatching so much Trek lately it’s fun to catch all the character crossovers and story arcs that has happened with them like the Maquis story line for instance.

And maybe I’m wrong but I don’t imagine all these shows being anymore interconnected then what we seen in Star Trek previously. They sound like they will be their own thing and so far the only two shows that we know will take place in the same time period will be Discovery and the new Section 31 show. I can imagine a lot of cross over between those. But the Academy show we don’t know when that will take place and we know the Picard show is post Nemesis.

DeanH

Yeah with only 8 days left until the season premiere, they are going full force on the promotions and news. I finally got to see the Anson Mount promo interview on Youtube tonight and based on Mount’s passion for playing Pike, the show looks and feels right. We shall see what they’ve come up with on January 17th.

Tiger2

Isn’t it crazy how much news we are getting now??? I said in another article a week ago that we were going to be inundated with Trek news all year because there is so much happening and coming out. I didn’t really expect to get THIS much this soon outside of promoting the new season of DIS. I thought we wouldn’t hear much about Picard until after season 2 started. But not complaining. ;)

DIGINON

Well, most of the news seems to be coming from one or two sources. The Hollywood Reporter probably did one big interview with Kurtzman. But now they are spreading it out across many individual articles to get more clicks.

Tiger2

I just mean the content in general. I didn’t expect we would even get things like another animated show until they announced one. They clearly have big plans for Trek in the next two years.

alphantrion

Yeah, I didn’t like the way that Kurtzman insinuated that this was new for Trek, when in reality Star Trek has always been like the MCU with all its inter-connected stories. It was also taking place in the same universe.

Luke Montgomery

Awesome. I’m very excited. I’m not thrilled about Trek animation as I think it diminishes the canon and stature of the storytelling. I fell the same about Star Wars animation. I’m cool with it if we can treat it like comics or novels, meaning it’s just fun and not part of the actual story cannon. I hope the Michelle Yeoh series is set before disco as the mirror character is not my preference.

It’s being pitched as a Section 31 show (basically a spy genre show), so sadly it will be with the Mirror version of the character.
https://trekmovie.com/2018/11/09/report-michelle-yeoh-in-talks-for-star-trek-section-31-series/

UthertheGreenShirt

Looking forward to seeing the enterprise b c or f and captain pike/April.

Tay Dervis

So he wants to be the Kevin Feige of Star Trek?

No thanks.

Chuck Abernathy

Star Trek has been the Rodney Dangerfield of IPs from inception, but nothing has done better in the long game and best overall….its made about the same amount of movies as Batman and Superman combined, and more than Star Wars, but only a handful banked well at the box office, and nowhere the receipts of The Dark Knight.

There have been lots of toys from multiple companies for Trek, but again, Trek generslly doesn’t aim at kids, so the ones fans covet don’t have a lot of the sort of play value other properties so. The exception that proves the rule? The wonderful Star Trek toys Mego made that followed TAS in the mid-70s. Sadly, the line wasn’t a deep one, there were no vehicle tie ins, and once you got past the figured the best playsets were almost prohibitively expensive, and aimed at kids of an age who were less into that sort of play back in the 70s.

But damn if it hasn’t held on, right? Consider…it had had TV shows on in each of its 5+ decades of existence. Again, you have to go to Superman, Batman, and Spiderman, and a lot of that is Saturday Morning stuff.

The biggest strategic mistake in the running of the Star Trek franchise has been that it has failed to create reliable, relatable points of entry for the youngest TV, film, and electronic mixed media and gaming.

My point is this: If Trek doesn’t create product for the youngest viewers, it will always do what it does…regenerate, prosuce, and die off as interest wanes in the sad hiccup cycles I have watched happen since 1969.

Trek needs an Children’s Outreach Tzar. A lot of people will pooh-pooh this, but as we discovered this week, CBS All-Access is creating a program specifically for kids.

Star Wars does this beautifully since the prequel trilogy on all fronts. Marvel and DC have as well. The Lego brand has done wonders the last few years with Potterverse, DC, Star Wars and its other partners.

Typically, Trek is shacked up with Megablox.

No respect, I gotta tell ya…

slider

What is it with Kurtzman and his need for cinematic universes? Take it slow and don’t rush into making plans for ten shows at once!

ML31

It’s what Kurtzman was hired to do. It was what CBS wanted.

slider

Yeah but Kurtzman probably got them to do that.