Podcast Unlimited · Versus

Better Captain: James T. Kirk vs. Han Solo


[Editor’s Note: The following was written by Keith Feltenstein]

In our next “Versus” round up, we have a little power struggle event! Who would be the better captain in commanding troops and a ship: Kirk from Star Trek, or Han Solo from Star Wars? We will let you decide! Here is a little something about each captain:

James T. Kirk

Captain-Kirk James Tiberius “Jim” Kirk is a character in the Star Trek media franchise, appearing in numerous television episodes, films, books, comics, and video games. As the captain of the starship USS Enterprise, Kirk leads his crew as they explore “where no man has gone before”. Often, the characters of Mr. Spock and Leonard McCoy act as his logical, and emotional sounding boards, respectively.

Kirk, played by William Shatner, first appears in the broadcast pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, “The Man Trap”, originally broadcast on September 8, 1966. Shatner continued in the role for the show’s three seasons, and later provided the voice of the animated version of Kirk in Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–74). Shatner returned to the role for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and in six subsequent films. Chris Pine portrays a young version of the character in the 2009 reboot Star Trek film, with Jimmy Bennett playing Kirk as a child. Other actors have played the character in fan-created media, and the character has been the subject of multiple spoofs and satires. The character has been praised for his leadership traits, and also criticized for his relationships with women.

James Tiberius Kirk was born on March 22, 2233, in Riverside, Iowa. He was raised there by his parents, George and Winona Kirk. Although born on Earth, Kirk for a time lived on Tarsus IV, where he was one of nine surviving witnesses to the massacre of 4,000 colonists by Kodos the Executioner. James Kirk’s brother, George Samuel Kirk, is first mentioned in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and introduced and killed in “Operation: Annihilate!”, leaving behind three children.

At Starfleet Academy, Kirk became the only student to defeat the Kobayashi Maru test, garnering a commendation for original thinking by reprogramming the computer to make the “no-win scenario” winnable. Kirk was granted a field commission as an ensign and posted to advanced training aboard the USS Republic. He then was promoted to lieutenant junior grade and returned to Starfleet Academy as a student instructor. Students could either “think or sink” in his class, and Kirk himself was “a stack of books with legs”. Upon graduating in the top five percent, Kirk was promoted to lieutenant and served aboard the USS Farragut While assigned to the Farragut, Kirk commanded his first planetary survey and survived a deadly attack that killed a large portion of the Farragut‍ ’ s crew, including his commanding officer, Captain Garrovick. He received his first command, a spaceship roughly equivalent to a destroyer, while still quite young.

Kirk became Starfleet’s youngest captain when he received command of the USS Enterprise for a five-year mission, three years of which are depicted in the original Star Trek series. Kirk’s most significant relationships in the television series are with first officer Spock and chief medical officer Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. McCoy is someone to whom Kirk unburdens himself, and is a foil to Spock. Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence’s, “The Myth of the American Superhero,” describes Kirk as “a hard-driving leader who pushes himself and his crew beyond human limits”. Terry J. Erdman and Paula M. Block, in their “Star Trek 101” primer, note that while “cunning, courageous and confident”, Kirk also has a “tendency to ignore Starfleet regulations when he feels the end justifies the means”; he is “the quintessential officer, a man among men and a hero for the ages”. Although Kirk throughout the series becomes romantically involved with various women, when confronted with a choice between a woman and the Enterprise, “his ship always won”. Roddenberry wrote in a production memo that Kirk is not afraid of being fallible, but rather is afraid of the consequences to his ship and crew should he make an error in judgment. Roddenberry also wrote that Kirk has any normal man’s insecurities and doubts, but he knows he cannot ever show them — except occasionally in private with ship’s surgeon McCoy or in subsequent moments with Mr. Spock whose opinions Kirk has learned to value so highly.

J. M. Dillard’s novel, “The Lost Years,” describes Kirk’s promotion to Rear Admiral and fulfilling duties as a diplomatic troubleshooter after the Enterprise‍ ’ s five-year mission. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Kirk is chief of Starfleet operations, and he takes command of the Enterprise from Captain Willard Decker. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of The Motion Picture depicts Kirk married to a Starfleet officer killed during a transporter accident. At the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Kirk takes command of the Enterprise from Captain Spock to pursue his enemy from “Space Seed”, Khan Noonien Singh. The movie introduces Kirk’s son, David Marcus. Spock, who notes that “commanding a starship is [Kirk’s] first, best destiny”, dies at the end of Star Trek II. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Kirk leads his surviving officers in a successful mission to rescue Spock from a planet on which he is reborn. Although Kirk is demoted to captain in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home for disobeying Starfleet orders, he also receives command of a new USS Enterprise. The ship is ordered decommissioned at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

In Star Trek Generations, Captain Picard finds Kirk alive in the timeless Nexus, despite the fact that history recorded his death during the Enterprise-B’s maiden voyage, Kirk having fallen into the Nexus in the incident that caused his “death”. Picard convinces Kirk to return to Picard’s present to help stop the villain Soran from destroying Veridian III’s sun. Although Kirk initially refuses the offer, he agrees when he realizes that the Nexus cannot give him the one thing he has always sought: the ability to make a difference. The two leave the Nexus and stop Soran. However, Kirk is mortally wounded; as he dies, Picard assures him that he helped to “make a difference”. Picard buries Kirk on the planet. Shatner and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens wrote a series of novels that depict Kirk’s resurrection by the Borg and his ongoing adventures after the events of Generations.

Han Solo

solo Han Solo is a character in the original trilogy and sequel trilogy of the Star Wars universe. He is portrayed by Harrison Ford. He and his co-pilot, Chewbacca, become involved in the Rebel Alliance which opposes the Galactic Empire. During the course of the Star Wars story, he becomes a chief figure in the Alliance and succeeding galactic governments. Star Wars creator George Lucas described the character as “a loner who realizes the importance of being part of a group and helping for the common good”.

Introduced in Star Wars (1977), Han Solo and Chewbacca are indebted to Jabba the Hutt after the loss of valuable cargo. On Tatooine, Solo accepts a charter to transport Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, C-3PO and R2-D2 to Alderaan in his Millennium Falcon spaceship for a payment which will help him clear debt. But when the crew and passengers arrive at the planet’s coordinates, they discover that Alderaan has been destroyed by the Death Star. The Falcon is then captured and held within the battle station, however Han Solo, Chewbacca and his passengers evade capture by hiding in the ship smuggling compartments. While trying to find a way to escape Luke Skywalker discovers that Princess Leia Organa is being held captive aboard the station. Enticed by the likelihood of a large reward, Solo and Chewbacca help Skywalker rescue the princess and escape from the Death Star.

After delivering Skywalker, Leia and the droids to the Rebel Alliance, Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot receive payment for their services. Unfortunately the Millennium Falcon has been tracked to the Rebel Alliance moon base by the Death Star. The rebels plan to attack the space station and exploit a weakness in the space station’s defenses. Solo initially does not want to get involved in the planned attack because,’What good’s a reward if you ain’t around to use it?’. Solo leaves with his reward and the rebels attack the Death Star. However, Solo has a change of heart and returns to save Luke’s life during the film’s climactic battle scene, ultimately enabling Luke to destroy the Death Star. For his heroics, Solo is presented with a medal of honor.

In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Han Solo continues to assist the Rebels against the Empire. Han once again risks his life to save Luke Skywalker by braving a snowstorm on the ice planet Hoth to rescue his wounded friend. When the Empire attacks the Rebel base, Solo transports Chewbacca, Leia Organa and C-3PO to Cloud City where his old friend Lando Calrissian (Cloud City’s administrator) operates to hide from Imperial agents. When bounty hunter Boba Fett tracks the Falcon to Cloud City, Darth Vader forces Calrissian to help capture Solo who is then sealed in carbonite for delivery to Jabba the Hutt. Lando is able to free Vader’s other captives but their rescue attempt of Solo fails and Fett is able to escape with Solo’s frozen body.

During Return of the Jedi (1983), Han Solo is still frozen until Leia Organa and Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, and Lando infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace and free him but they’re caught by Jabba before they can escape. When Jabba orders them to be executed, Solo helps Luke, Leia, and Lando in defeating Jabba and his henchmen before escaping and defeating Boba Fett.

Reunited with the Rebels, Solo is commissioned as a General. Along with Leia and Chewbacca, he goes to the forest moon of Endor and leads a team deactivating the force fields protecting the Empire’s second Death Star, in which they are aided by the Ewoks, while Luke fights the Emperor on the Death Star. When the Death Star is destroyed, Solo sees Leia’s concern for Luke and offers to step aside for the young Jedi to court her. However, Leia reveals to Han’s surprise that Luke is her brother, and thus will obviously have no objection to his friend’s relationship with her. At the end of the film, Solo joins the Rebels in celebrating the destruction of the second Death Star and the Empire. At the end, he and Leia declare their love for each other while reuniting with Luke and Lando as well.


With all that said, who do you vote for to be the better captain: Solo or Kirk? Vote now! Your opinion matters!

Next Podcast Unlimited Poll: Grimlock vs. Mechagodzilla


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