If you watch Star Trek, then you are aware of the entertainment of the Star Fleet Captain. There have been many over the years, including Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer. These larger than life people hold the life and death of their ships and sometimes the galaxy in their hands. Each has something about them that makes them special. Kirk has a swagger and is always getting the girl; Picard is restrained and diplomatic with a good heart. Sisko is passionate with a bit of a temper; Janeway is able to adapt and overcome overwhelming odds and Archer… well I bet he has nice qualities too.
When people actually debate the best captain (and yes that happens a lot) people will tend to boil down to only two captains and Archer is never one of them. People like to compare Kirk and Picard and the reason I think is because they are almost the exact opposite of each other.
An interesting side note, Chris Pine who played young Kirk and Tom Harvey who played a young Picard (although he was a clone) faced off in a movie called “this means war” and it might be the only way we see Kirk and Picard actually fight. Spoiler alert Kirk gets the girl; he always does.
As I said people debate this subject a lot and there are many blog posts and lists of why one is better than the other, so I will try to just stick to my opinions. I am going to do this in categories and whoever wins more categories wins overall, again this is just my opinion in the matter.
I know this first category is a big one, but I think it’s one of the most important. The personality of the character is what will make your like you like personality but when he does let down his guard, you see that he does care but just can’t let himself show it too much. I actually have to give this point to Picard because I think his personality is richer and more enjoyable once you get to know him better.
Both men have a different way of commanding and using their crew. Like in personality they are very different. Kirk is a front line’s person and will almost always be one of the first boots on the ground. Kirk does use his crew but only when he needs too. The only person Kirk really uses and sometimes too much is Spock. Picard is more of the command type, he commands his crew and uses their knowledge and skills to get the job done. So when it comes to command style, I would say again it’s Picard for the win. He commands his crew and lets them do their job where Kirk does all the work and only really relies on Spock.
Kirk’s renown began by becoming the youngest captain in Starfleet to date at 34 and the first captain to bring his starship back relatively intact after a five-year mission, having also gained a reputation as an independent whose success couldn’t be argued even though he often bucked the system. He also has the distinction of being involved in 17 different temporal violations, a career record which still stands. Picard’s back story is more personal and honestly a little more boring, from his relationship with his brother to his many romantic but lukewarm romances he is not what I would call exciting. So on back story I think Kirk wins this one just because he is so much more exciting.
I know this is more about the actors then the actual characters themselves, but I think it’s a big part of the overall picture. So instead of Kirk vs Picard we are looking at William Shatner vs Patrick Stewart. And we are looking at them when they played the role and not afterwards. The acting that went In to Kirk was many times over the top but also full of emotion and passion. The acting that went into Picard was much more refined coming from a classically trained actor. When Picard needed to show emotion he did but I think it was made all the more powerful when these windows of emotion were only seen rarely. When you overuse yelling, anger and tears they lose their power and I think that failure lies with William Shatner. I think it’s easy to say that Patrick Stewart is the better actor and brought his character to life better.
Finally the last category is the exploits of each of these fine men, what did they do and how did it affect the world. As I said above Kirk was the youngest Captain in Starfleet history and there is no doubt he was a legend. Picard was captain in some of the more dangerous times for the galaxy; he saw wars and fought to keep peace on more fronts than any other captain. Kirk broke just about every rule that could be broken but he did it for what he thought was right. Picard was bound by those same rules and it was rare that he broke them. Honestly I would say Kirk was the more powerful figure because his ship had far less advanced technology and yet he made the most of it and it’s because of him that the Federation still exists.
Let’s tally up our points shall we? Kirk wins in Back Story and Exploits and Picard wins in Personality, Command Style and Acting. The points stand at 3 to 2 making the winner Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Again this is just my views on the subject and I know many people will say I am dead wrong but these are my views only and you are all free to choose who you think is best.
If you would like to make any counter points I always welcome comments, please keep It clean.
I hope you enjoyed this look at one of the biggest Nerd wars there is. Thanks for reading!
The Fedora Nerd – Ben Crawford