Mon
May 13 2013 2:00pm

How to Root For Captain Kirk

Let’s face it: Captain James Tiberius Kirk has a reputation as a guy who will sleep with anything female—making him, in the pantheon of Star Trek, one of the least likable characters. In one of the trailers for Star Trek Into Darkness, Kirk confusedly says, “I have a reputation?” Yes you do, Kirk. And it isn’t a good one! And whether he’s in his Shatner or Pine guises, he is a difficult character to nail down in terms of cultural appeal. Does his “sluttiness” make him a creep? Do we even like this guy? And if we don’t, how do our brains find ways of continuing to root for him?

 

Growing up, my mom never liked Captain Kirk, dismissing his relevance on Star Trek as being “jerky.” Like me, her favorite character on the old show was Spock, while my father contended Kirk was “the best.” This is because, to me, James T. Kirk comes off a lot like someone’s awkward-joke-making dad. My dad was the sort of person who subscribed to Playboy and urged me to watch Barbarella at a young age. He wasn’t creepy per se, but he did identify with the skirt-chasing aspect of old-school Captain Kirk.

Now, putting overcompensating-for-his-attraction-to-Spock theories aside for a second, let’s think about what makes Kirk a difficult scoundrel as opposed to say, an acceptable, sexy scoundrel like Han Solo. Sure, both Han and Kirk are masters at “negging” women to get what they want, but if we think about which guy seems more romantic, it’s Han Solo every time. The easy explanation for this is: Kirk is a total jerk. But what do we mean by “jerk?”

A lot of folks complained that in 2009, Chris Pine played Captain Kirk like “a frat boy,” which although a little harsh, is probably accurate. What this criticism misses is how Pine’s fratty portrayal of Kirk is fairly accurate to what the character is all about. While a stereotypical frat boy draws a sense of entitlement from a club he’s part of, James Kirk draws a sense of entitlement for seemingly no reason. This is why he comes across as a jerk. No one understands why this guy is talking and/or getting laid.

Taking the near-universal approval of Han Solo as a rubric a little further, another reason Kirk’s character isn’t as immediately charming as Han’s is because he’s a player. Han Solo, as far was we know, is a one-woman man. He’s in love with Princess Leia, so any of his borderline-sexist flirting gets a little bit of a pass. We say he’s more charming but that’s mostly because we don’t see Han being openly sleazy to get what he wants.

In the original series, Kirk frequently uses sex to ensure a more favorable outcome for him and/or his crew. This isn’t to say he doesn’t enjoy it, it’s simply that it’s depicted more often. In order to get information or get out of a bad situation, Captain Kirk seduces women in “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” “A Wink of an Eye,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “By Any Other Name,” and on and on. In a deleted scene from Star Trek 2009, it was to be revealed that the green Orion lady Kirk was sleeping with helped him reprogram the Kobayashi Maru simulator. Does this mean that in regards to Kirk we should adopt a “don’t hate the playa’, hate the game,” attitude?

Well, that’s probably one way we figure out how to root for Captain Kirk. In The Undiscovered Country, an exasperated Bones asks “What is it with you?” after Iman’s female shapeshifter character latches onto Kirk. It’s not that Kirk ASKS to be in these situations, it’s just that once he is, he’ll respond with the skill set he has...which is often using his sexuality to get what he wants.

This is where the paradox of Kirk’s likability is most evident. In a supposedly evolved future, where poverty is gone, class warfare doesn’t exist, and people aren’t racist and sexist anymore, Kirk still gets what he wants by being really, really pushy. He’s not a great manager of people. From Picard to Sisko to Janeway to Archer, all the Trek captains are nicer to their staff. Kirk is more of a tyrant. Kirk isn’t just a jerk because we’re slut-shaming him, but also because that sort of attitude comes across in his managerial style. There’s little nuance for Kirk. He’s getting what he wants as quickly and as dirty as possible.

The classic Star Trek films were aware of this, because as Kirk gets older he’s confronted with the knowledge that this sort of behavior isn’t “cute” anymore. One of the reasons we all love The Wrath of Khan so much is because it’s truly the first time James Kirk admits what an asshole he’s been his whole life. All of his arrogant mistakes come to bite him in the ass in this story; culminating in a scene in which Kirk sits around having a drink with his estranged son, lamenting how screwed up his life is. Wrath also finds Kirk saying “I did nothing!” in response to Sulu’s praise of everyone narrowly avoiding death. Here, we realize Kirk has adopted a fake-it-until-you-make-it philosophy his entire life, and once he is no longer a young man, this freaks him out big time.

And it’s here where the bizarre key to understanding how to root for Captain Kirk really emerges. If we like Kirk, it’s because Kirk fights the system over and over and over again, and he usually wins. He cheats the rules of society, the military, governments, and randomly tells entire cultures that their whole way of life is screwed up. Kirk wants everyone to be just as screwed up and internally confused as he is, and as a result is a very realistic person. Everyone projects their own worldview onto everyone else to an extent, and Kirk is no different. In “A Taste of Armageddon,” Kirk defines enlightenment as simply saying “I won’t kill…today!” He flippantly boils down civilization and peace to weird utilitarian choice. Kirk doesn’t have time for too much anthropological meditation on where we’ve come from and where we’re going. He wants solutions and he wants them now.

In Star Trek 2009, Kirk gets into an awesome screaming match with Spock which leads Spock to eject him from the ship. In a conservative move, Spock wants to the Enterprise to high-tail it away from Nero and rendezvous with the rest of the fleet, while Kirk objects to this “confab,” and freaks the fuck out on Spock. And here is why we can figure out how to root for Kirk: he’s brave enough to be an asshole when he thinks he’s right. And, because of a weird intuition that Kirk possesses, he frequently is right and is the only person willing to say it.

Being right and being pushy about it is often not a popular position for anyone. But James Tiberius Kirk doesn’t care about being popular. He’s not political, he has very little restraint, and he’s willing to piss people off to get his point across. He’s a humanist barbarian, but despite what we might think about him, he generally does it because he cares. The passion of James Kirk is how we sift through his troublesome personality and find a thing to root for. And when that passion expresses itself sexually, we might percieve Kirk as a little slutty, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero. 

Kirk’s jerkiness and promiscuity might not make him the most likeable character in Star Trek, but they do make him fairly realistic. Ego-driven people who essentially mean well actually exist in real life. In a universe full of warp drives, pointy ears, and endless gizmos, it’s important to have something real. And it doesn’t get more real than Kirk.


Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com and doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario. 

34 comments
rob mcCathy
1. roblewmac
Come now he's a leader of a small group in space for five years. He's not going to sleep with women under his comand. Surely he's allowed loneliness.
Mark Mercer
2. Mark Mercer
I have only one word to refute your hypothesis that Kirk does the sexy purely because he's a playa: Miramanee. Or perhaps better written as Miramaaaannnneeeeeee!!

Foreshadowing his more-famous scream of another type of passion about 1o years of in-story time later.

The three times we've seen JTK truly fall in love, "truly madly deeply" obsessed give up the world, love, it has Not Ended Well.

Edith Keeler - he had to actively permit her death.

Rayna - Spock had to mind-wipe him (nicely remembered in the recent ST/LSH crossover comic BTW).

And Miramanee. No beaches to walk on.

If you admit as canon the novelization of ST:TMP (it was written by the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, so if not canon, what is?), the one time he actually tries getting married while in possession of his full memory, his wife (or ex, or whatever you call your former very recent wife in a term-limited-contract of marriage), Lori Ciani, dies in front of him in a mass of writhing warped flesh in a horrid transporter accident.

When you realize retroactively that all during TOS, he was in emotional pain from being told to walk away from his son, to the extent that he didn't even let anybody know he had a child, it's clear that Kirk is an emotional wreck who still deep down believes in true love, but keeps getting trashed by the universe he nonetheless keeps saving.

It's not that Kirk always gets the girl. Kirk never gets to keep the girl he really wants. He rarely even gets to keep her alive.
Sky Thibedeau
3. SkylarkThibedeau
Humanist Barbarian? Probably the best description of Kirk and his Alter Ego Gene Rodenberry I've ever heard.
rob mcCathy
4. roblewmac
Besides on the show. I mean what's really on screen were only sure he had sex what twice?
Mark Mercer
6. Mark Mercer
As I recall, both Deanna Troi and Jadzia Dax got it on a lot, without being "slut-shamed". Unknown if ever with each other. Fanfic alert!
rob mcCathy
7. roblewmac
If kirk ran voyger he would bed Q and get them home quick
Mark Mercer
9. thatwolfguy
I could not stand to be in the same room with Chris Pine's Kirk for more than two minutes. He is a brash, overbearing barggart with little to be so narssisitic about.

Shatner's rendition was a lot more tolerable on the screen, but he still isn't the sort of person I would associate with in real life.
Mark Mercer
10. AwesomeAud
"No one understands why this guy is talking and/or getting laid."

He's getting laid because he's a gen-u-wine 'hero'. And in charge of a massive weapon of mass destruction. Many people are attracted to power.

He's a lot like James Bond, if you think about it....
Mark Mercer
11. seth e.
And, because of a weird intuition that Kirk possesses, he frequently is right

Well, it's the intuition that says "I'm pretty sure I'm the protagonist of this story, so it's not like they're going to let me die at the end." That kind of intuition works a whole lot better if you really are fictional.
Boquaz
12. boquaz
I think you're on to this "realistic character" thing...


I think we'd all love to work for a guy like Picard, but I know my bosses more often turn out like Kirk. I'm a scientist and tend to work for other scientists. A humanistic, merit-based society is very fertile ground for Kirk-style managers.

Guys like that don't even need to be right all the time. They just need to have highly dedicated (check), highly skilled (check) underlings who won't let catastrophic failure happen and who lack the means to break off on their own in the immediate future (check). Such a situation does a great job of simulating infallability.
Mark Mercer
13. NotImpressed
Scifi slut-shaming? That's a heavy load of judgment you're slinging there...
Shelly wb
14. shellywb
Huh, I never had any trouble liking Kirk. To tell you the truth, I'm kind of shocked that his having had many partners is seen to be something terrible. That's kind of a puritanical notion to my mind. But then to me Heinlein's multi-sexual group contract relationships are what I expect in sf. I think (and hope) that in the future men and women can express themselves sexually in whatever manner they wish without fear of judgment, with the usual consenting adult caveats.

Now sure, Kirk used his sexuality a few times to get information etc, and that was crappy because he was being dishonest with his partners. But if he was honest with the rest, why should anyone care how many of them he had?
Mark Mercer
15. Dianthus
Spock's my favorite character too, but I never had trouble liking Kirk. He plays to win/save the Universe, and if that means playing dirty, well, so be it. I got no problem with that, in context. Kirk is A Hero who plays dirty, a man who strikes the balance btwn Logic and Emotion, and a lonely guy (The Enterprise his One True Love). Plus, he's as hard on himself as anyone else.
Making fun of him as a man-slut was/is a popular past-time. I dunno. Less important to me than his better qualities.
Mark Mercer
16. Brian Mac
I was always more comfortable with Spock than (Shatner's) Kirk; never really understood why people seemed to like him so much. But Pine's Kirk -- I've rarely seen a fictional character I wanted to punch in the mouth more than him. When Spock ejected him from the ship, I was hoping against hope that we'd never see him again, even while knowing the story wouldn't allow it. He's such an ass that I can't justify the famous Kirk/Spock friendship that's supposed to be the heart of the story, which is why I dislike the new films so much. I was talking myself into giving "Into Darkness" a shot, based on the good reviews, but now that I've been reminded how much I can't stand Pine's Kirk, I've reinforced my opinion not to see it.
Mordicai Knode
17. mordicai
"Humanist Barbarian" is almost certainly what it says on that guy's character sheet.

For me, it is that Kirk doesn't seem to be a jerk to the women he sleeps with. Well I mean, okay, he IS a jerk, but I mean, him sleeping with a woman tends to lead to him being NICE to the woman, not slut shaming her or devaluing her as a "conquest." Yeah, Kirk is going to try to sleep with you, but not like, to rack up a notch or in a misogynistic context (other than, you know, the fact that as a historical show the explicit context is more misogynistic than we'd like). Kirk LIKES the women he pursues, he doesn't have contempt for them. That counts for something; he's a Don Juan, not a Lothario.
Jenny Thrash
18. Sihaya
Kirk keeps a descending list of preferable problem-solving options. Firstly, he can happily use diplomacy or science to fix a problem, and that's often what he's assigned to do and enjoys. If things go pear-shaped, though, he could sleep and lie his way to a solution, he could shoot his way to one, levelling a planet as he goes, or he could give up. He will not go for option number three, ever. He does his best to avoid option number two, and so he's often adroitly enacting option number one. It frustrates his colleagues that Kirk A) will lie and B) will not give up. Kirk's a politician when he's not an officer.

Picard usually manages to make the first, best option - dilopamacy or science - work as both a first and last solution. He will not give up, but he lies to his enemies only when he can't make the truth work ("There are four lights!), and I don't recall if he lies to Starfleet. This is why some people prefer him to Kirk, and it's why he manages to navigate his colleagues better. Picard's a diplomat when he's not an officer.

But me? I see no reason to have to justify liking a fictional character who has a likeable personality (or disliking one who doesn't). Heck, I see no reason to have to justify liking a real person who has a likeable personality. If you read enough true crime stories, you'll start to find a recurring theme. Officers often find the criminals who are the subjects of those stories to be likeable. Prison wardens find many, many of the prisoners they watch are likeable. They make no bones about it, though - there's a difference between likeability and morality, and they're aware of that fact as they watch these men. Likeability is not a metric that is subject to moral logic.
Alan Brown
19. AlanBrown
Kirk (and especially movie Kirk) is a realistic character as a hot running LT, or perhaps even a LCDR in charge of the smallest of combatants. But enthusiasm, ego and hunches will only get you so far. He is much less realistic as a CAPT in charge of a capital ship. Picard and Janeway are far more realistic portrayals of what senior officers are like.
Mark Mercer
20. Stephen Ingram
I myself have always enjoyed the original Captain Kirk or “Kirk Prime”. Drawing parallels to “Kirk-Pine” is a mistake. They are two completely different takes on the same character. One has a lot more screen time than the other.

K-Prime earned command of a starship at an early age, having ascended through the ranks with some high degree of skill. (If you want details go to Memory Alpha). In TOS that meant something.
K-Pine, well, he followed the Harry Potter route of being “destined” to command a starship. Maybe that was necessary to shoe him into the role of Captain to get him up and running in one movie, but I felt it was a move that cheapened the character and made Starfleet look incredibly incompetent. How many ships and planets were lost in the first movie?

Culturally, well, the original series was, in my opinion, probably the most faithful to the idea that life “out there” is dangerous and you’re probably going to die. Body counts were high and the ship was in danger every week.

When the blank hit the fan, Kirk didn’t blank around. There was a military edge to the show and a strict chain of command. Calling him a tyrant doesn’t really have much merit, and calling him pushy, well, he is a captain by rank. The Enterprise wasn’t a cruise ship but a military vessel. No time for tea.

Wrath of Khan was about the characters reconciling with age, but, for the first time, Kirk gets his blank handed to him in such a way that had never happened in the original series. He is vulnerable and flawed, which makes the movie and character appealing, but, he follows the same pattern of dogged determination, and does lie, cheat and steal to victory. The stakes are high. Kirk plays to win. Sure, Spock took the hit in the film, but Kirk’s character would have taken the hit as well.

Better things have been written about Kirk’s experiences with woman than I can write so I will just say that when he loved, he loved deeply, and when he needed an advantage in a life or death situation he played to win.

Kirk-Prime had only one love, the Enterprise, something that no other Star Trek series ever grew close to capturing and emphasized the loneliness and sacrifice of command. That’s what I thought was great about the character and elevates him above the idea of being a “jerk”.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
21. EllenMCM
I like both Kirks. I love Kirk's speech about the Enterprise in "The Naked Time" and I think it says a lot of important things about him. I wasn't sure I would like the new Kirk until I saw him sidle up to Uhura in the bar scene, and then I was hooked. I'm a sucker for a starship captain with tampons up his nose. I haven't done a lot of in-depth analysis about why I like him, but I'm pretty sure it's because he's a gambler. He takes a lot of risks. This is not actually an admirable quality in a military commander, but it makes him fun to watch.
Lee VanDyke
22. Cloric
To be fair, Spock was not exempt from using his... erm... masculine wiles to get what he wanted. See the episode "The Enterprise Incident." Kirk just had more opportunity.
Mark Mercer
23. a1ay
Huh, I never had any trouble liking Kirk. To tell you the truth, I'm
kind of shocked that his having had many partners is seen to be
something terrible.

And are there, really, that many? Over the course of that five-year mission? This seems like exactly the kind of question that the Internet was invented to answer, and indeed someone has counted them up: making the most generous assumptions, it's 10. Might even be as low as three.
Ten times in five years.

That's... not a huge number. Given his circumstances, as noted above, he's hardly in a position to settle down in a long-term relationship. If a friend of yours had been single for a year and slept with two people in that time, would that be seen as some sort of sluttery?
Kirk isn't Flashman, for god's sake. He's not even doing as well as Ross from Friends.
Mark Mercer
24. Erik Dercf
I agree the two Kirks are different takes on the same character. Abrams Kirk loses a lot of character by having him advance from cadet to captain in the course of one movie and just a few years at the academy. I prefer the more seasoned Kirk of TOS who refers to things he did when he was at a lower rank. It is certain to me that without Shatner's many years developing the character I would never have believed how Pine/Kirk becomes captain. I'm not sure I'd call Kirk a jerk. I'd call him a lucky man to find companionship in so many ports. I would not describe his conduct on the job as being unprofessional. I see him as firm but not fatherly toward his crew. They are his men and they're critical to the mission getting done as well as good friends. His crew trusts him why shouldn't I? Times have changed but Kirk is leader that saves us from our doubts therefore liking him means separating my doubts about how he does some things from the results that he gets or comes to.
Mark Mercer
25. glorbes
How many heroes would be likable as real people?

I love Batman, but Batman is a total jerk and behaves like an authoritarian monster. Indiana Jones is another character that I love that is a complete and total bastard. You could pretty much list every major superhero here, and probably most sci-fi and action heroes as being total jerks as well.

In this company, I'd say that Jim Kirk looks like a sweetheart.

The main points that spring to mind about Kirk is that he is dedicated to his ship and crew, values his friendships deeply, is courageous in the face of terrifying situations and odds, has a sense of humor, and holds strong convictions that trump adhering to the rules when they threaten his own moral code. He also ignores impossible odds, and knows how and when to bluff when there is no other option. He's a leading man of the most pulp-ish variety, but is actually pretty warm and fuzzy when you look at what really makes him tick. The Wrath of Kahn is so brilliant because it shows what toll his life and his choices have taken on him, and I love The Search For Spock because it shows just how human he is and what he would do for his friends (and in turn what they would do for him). Those two films express the two sides of Kirk so well...the wreckage of his life catching up to him, and finding redemption by embracing the love of his friends and doing anything for them.

You kind of have to look at that overall arch of his character to appreciate him, but if you dissect what every writer has done to him throughout the run of the series, there are some questionable elements. Overall though, Kirk is a great but flawed man, a brilliant fictional character that has been lucky to have such talented people craft him into what he is.
Mark Mercer
26. Kevin Lindgren
Captain Kirk is a compliation of the work of many writers. It's really not that helpful to think of him as having a life story or even a story arc. He's just been passed between too many hands. In the stories by Gene Coon, Kirk is a soldier groping towards being a more Picard-like humanist. There's not much indication of the '6o playboy. In stories that seem to have a lot of writing by Roddenberry, like Bread and Circuses, this aspect does of course crop up. In some stories heavily written by DC Fontana, ironically, Kirk seems at his most sexist. By Any Other Name, for example. Kirk's uncomfortable cad-like behavior in some of these stories is simply a product of the era. Later on, people had their consciousnesses raised. Post '70s Women's Liberation Star Trek changed. If Kirk had been written by the original writers back then, say in the Phase II series, we might have a very different opinion of him. Sadly, he was taken into the hands of Bennett and Meyers, who were ignorant of science fiction, contemptuous of Star Trek and hated Roddenberry. The "rebel" Kirk they wrote is a typical television character, the psuedo-right-wing patriarch who "breaks all the rules" -because the rules are written by liberals and pinkos! The real Captain Kirk wasn't interested in breaking rules because he believed in the values of the Federation. His problem was living up to those high ideals in the face of various challenges. The Wrath of Khan Kirk has so overshadowed the earlier, more interesting Kirk -- especially in the guise of the current movie caricature -- that the original conception of the character is getting hard to see. Yeah, he had a past, but he was basically a lonely guy whose family was his ship. His most interesting female companions are women who have it together, for example Dr Helen Noel in Dagger of the Mind, who is tough and resourceful, or to a lesser extent, Areel Shaw the conflicted lawyer prosecuting him in Court Martial. It's in some of these early episodes, not Khan and certainly not the current movies, where Kirk is really most Kirk.
Nick Hlavacek
27. Nick31
@20 -
"K-Pine, well, he followed the Harry Potter route of being “destined” to command a starship. Maybe that was necessary to shoe him into the role of Captain to get him up and running in one movie, but I felt it was a move that cheapened the character and made Starfleet look incredibly incompetent. How many ships and planets were lost in the first movie?"

Yes, yes, and yes. That right there is the biggest reason I disliked the reboot. The original Kirk may be arrogant and have an ego the size of Jupiter, but you know on some level he earned it. He wasn't just handed the Enterprise right out of the Academy because the previous commander just felt like it.

As for why people like Kirk (in addition to all the other great reasons already stated here)...

First, he wins. People like a winner. And he's generally a gracious winner which helps a lot. Second, you can tell that for all his cad-like behavior on the surface, at his core he has a set of solid principles that he won't betray. He's loyal to his friends and to the Federation, and you can count on him in a pinch.
rob mcCathy
28. roblewmac
I think there's an understanding in this article that we all agree Kirk is a jerk. I don't
Mark Mercer
29. N. Mamatas
Jeeeeaaaalloooooous?


Yeah, Ryan, you're jealous.
Mark Mercer
30. Tanaka
You really are just trying to slut-shame, the rest are excuses.
You seem to view a slut as something horrible and can't seem to understand that to many other people, Kirk's sluttiness is utterly entertaining and even charming. He's far more charming than Han Solo, not only in the Shatner version but also in the Pine version.

You need to accept that your opinion and dislike is just that, yours, and not The Norm or the majority or whatever. You're just crapping on a very popular character.
Mark Mercer
31. Chad W
I agree with Nick31. I could not get past the "failed cadet to Captain of the Flagship of Starfleet in one day just because I'm brash" plotline.

How many skills, training and general knowledge of Starfleet and his ship is he missing since he has zero experience?

I remember as a former military officer being extremely offended at this in the theater. "Your job is so simple I don't even have to train...umm which way to the bridge?"
Mark Mercer
32. SueQ
I liked Kirk, but he would probably get you killed eventually (especially if you were his girlfriend or liked to wear red shirts.
Spock would probably find me illogical.
Checkov & I could have argued about whether Canadian or Russian hockey players were better.
Sulu had WAY to much energy for me: I would have died of exhaustion.
Uhura is a girl (a kickass girl for sure, but...) so we could have been just friends.
I would have spent my free time hanging around with Scotty and Bones. One could fix a rainy day & the other could keep you alive and well. So pour me a Romulan Ale and let's hear the cool stories told in the Georgian drawl & the Aberdeen brogue.
rob mcCathy
33. roblewmac
bones would'nt have time to hang out! He's a doctor always running into new races. God the paperwork!
Mark Mercer
34. Goldenboy62
The major difference for me in rooting for the old Shatner Kirk as opposed to the new incarnation is that original Kirk while a bit of a jerk was still pretty crafty and smart, and he could be serious when required and keep it in his pants. The new Kirk seems like a frat boy that somehow got to his position through some kind of futuristic affirmative action program. You never get the idea (in fact since we saw how it happens we know he didn't) that he earned his position as Captain of the Enterprise.
Mark Mercer
35. DHMCarver
I never really took to any captain post-Kirk, I will confess (though I did kinda like Sisko). Kirk was brash, confident, but I never saw him as a jerk. He seems to me to be exactlythe kind of person one would want to lead a five-year mission through deep space facing unkown hazards. Additionally, while earlier commentors noted that Kirk's true love was the Enterprise, it was not his only love. He was fiercely devoted to and loyal to his crew, as they were to him. One of the things that made the Original Series work so well was the great chemistry between the characters (something I find absent in TNG, one of the reason that is perhaps my least favorite series). Kirk's crew would not have been as loyal to him as they were if they did not feel that he had his best interest at heart. I found him incredibly likeable (pace Ryan's :least likeable") largely because his crew did.

For those who were critical of how the "new" Kirk was played in the 2009 reboot, I can only agree wholeheartedly. I thought that Abrams did not at all understand Kirk's character (in fact, I have a sneaking suspicion Abrams did not watch many, if he watched any, of the Original Series episodes). But I am glad to say that the new film redeems Abrams (somewhat), and this Pine-Kirk is much more believeable as the young version of the Kirk we originally knew than he was in the 2009 film. Someone must have told Abrams he got Kirk wrong in 2009, and he fixed his interpretive errors.
Mark Mercer
36. Jonellin Stonebreaker
Count me as one who thinks that the retcon of Kirk in the current re-boot really diminishes the character.The reboot also diminishes all of the other main characters as well, with the exception of Spock(though TOS Spock would never do something as unethical as getting involved with one of his students , no matter how hot!).

TOS Kirk was the youngest ever Starship Captain (surpassed in TNG days by Tryla Scott);an outstanding cadet at the Academy; serving in increasingly important positions on increasingly important ships and missions, culminating in being given command of the Federation's flagship.
He was assured, cocky, even, but it's not arrogance if you could back it up.
His crew was equally proficient, with the best ratings and officers throughout the Fleet at every MOS vying for a berth on Enterprise.

McCoy a noted Starfleet Medical officer, with awards to his credit and procedures he pioneered, not some paranoid divorced MD joining Starfleet like a criminal joining the French Foreign Legion;

Montgomery Scott held the same grade of Lieutenant Commander, but was made Chief Engineer of Enterprise on his merits, and wasn't squirreled away in some backwater outpost.

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