Undoubtedly, “Star Trek” is a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. Even outside of the guarded walls of Paramount+, fans of the franchise can spot Trek references and nods in hundreds of other shows, movies, comic books, video games, and more.
In a way, Trek “spotting” or understanding small “Star Trek” references in other media can be fun. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films might have trouble keeping track of all the Trek references in those movies over the years. A recent Trek reference in MCU films was in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” where Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and the other heroes listed ways that time travel works in movies and TV. One of those cited was “Star Trek.” The animation at the film’s end, which featured the main actor signature’s, was also borrowed from “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.”
Marvel boss Kevin Feige is a big “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fan, so having small nods to Trek in Marvel movies makes sense. In a roundtable discussion with some of the stars of the “Avengers” films, Feige described the ending of “All Good Things…” from memory. Fans can watch that clip on YouTube.
‘Star Trek’ in ‘The Croods’
Another fun reference to Trek was in the animated film, “The Croods: A New Age,” which debuted in 2020. For this quick reference, the Stone Age-era grandmother (voiced by the late Cloris Leachman) prepared for battle against an unknown opponent. As she did, the character yelled, “Today is a good day to die!” As any Trek fan knows, that is a line made famous by Mr. Worf (Michael Dorn) from his years on TNG, “Deep Space Nine,” and the five movies he appeared in.
The connection between “The Croods” and “Star Trek” is not hard to understand. On the team of writers for “The Croods: A New Age” are the Hageman Brothers, who are also the minds behind “Star Trek: Prodigy.”
If fans want to watch a show with multiple Trek references per episode, they can try “For All Mankind,” which streams on Apple TV+. The show, whose executive producer is Ronald D. Moore — the person who was behind many of the most significant Klingon episodes — is packed with talk about Trek. In Season 2, the characters even wondered if Spock would return after watching “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”
Read more about “For All Mankind” as Heavy spoke with technical advisors Mike and Denise Okuda about the new show and how it all leads to “Star Trek.”
The “ELVIS” movie also had a few guest appearances by Trek actors, including William Shatner. Check out our round-up of “Star Trek” in “ELVIS.”
‘NOPE’ and ‘Star Trek’
This summer, fans have a bunch of great movies to watch in the theaters. As of this publication, “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” have made more than $400 million, and a few other films have made more than $300 million in the United States. The new movie, “NOPE,” by writer and director Jordan Peele, came out on July 22, 2022, and made an impressive $58 million in its first week.
There is a lot of talk about this film, as Peele has merged the cowboy / western, science fiction, and horror genres into one movie. The Ringer asked what the film was actually about, while Collider speculated that the story was a parable about animals forced to entertain.
“First and foremost, I wanted to make a UFO horror film,” Peele said in an interview on CBS. “And then, of course, it’s like, where is the iconic Black UFO film? And whenever I feel that my favorite movie out there hasn’t been made, that’s the void I’m trying to fill with my films. It’s like trying to make the film that I wish someone would make for me.”
GQ noted that “NOPE” is influenced by Gene Roddenberry and “Star Trek,” which is true. Diehard Trek fans who saw “NOPE” might recognize a plot device that allows them to figure out the movie’s twist before anyone else in the theater.
ATTENTION READER: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNIVERSAL MOVIE “NOPE.”
“NOPE” starts with a brother and sister team running a company that provides horses for Hollywood movies. The duo, O.J. Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), are struggling with the business after the death of their father. O.J. deals with a local entertainer, Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (Steven Yeun), to supply horses for Park’s theme park.
Meanwhile, the Haywoods realize that a UFO is stalking their property and may have been responsible for the death of their father. They enlist the help of a local electronics big box employee Angel Torres (Brandon Perea), to film the UFO. When that doesn’t work, they turn to filmmaker Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott), who has alternate photographic methods for help.
Park used the horses to lure the UFO onto his theme park as a way to entertain his patrons. The ruse worked, but the UFO “consumed” Park and 40 of his theme park guests. O.J., Emerald, Angel, and Antlers set a trap for the UFO to get the object on film. That also worked, but the UFO revealed itself as a living creature, not a ship with aliens inside.
The Space Jellyfish
This twist might shock audiences who are used to classic horror movies, where a group of scaly aliens will eventually disembark from the saucer to kill humans in all directions. However, in “NOPE,” Peel chose to make the ship a life form. Peele’s movie took an essential element of the first “Next Generation” to create a horror film.
In the pilot for TNG, which aired in 1987, Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his new crew needed to solve the riddle of Farpoint Station. Throughout the space station, objects would appear if thought of. To anyone who didn’t know better, the space station was magic. But soon, the Enterprise crew realized that the station was harnessing the abilities of a gigantic space being, which was held against its will. Known to many fans as the “space jellyfish,” the creature was freed by the Enterprise and rejoined its mate in space.
While the “NOPE” creature looked like a kite crossed with a jellyfish, it was also an enormous, living creature the humans perceived as a ship. The big difference between Roddenberry’s story and Peele’s was that the “NOPE” creature was wild, and the creature on TNG was tame or held captive. The twist at the end of the story remains the same.
NOTE: Writer D.C. Fontana wrote the majority of “Encounter at Farpoint,” but Roddenberry created the beginning and end of the episode, which contained the space jellyfish.