“Beware the Romulans, my son!
The jaws that bite, the
claws that catch!
Beware the Red Matter, and shun
The Frumious Nero!”
Okay, so most people who have seen Alice in Wonderland know that this is not how Lewis Carroll wrote the poem “Jabberwocky”, anymore than the Star Trek fans believe that J.J. Abbrams intended Captain James Tiberius Kirk to say, “Beam me up, Hatter.” At first glance, viewers may automatically assume these revamped classics are as polar opposite as two movies can get, with one being an old-time fantastical fairytale favorite, while the other, the inspiration of many role-playing games amongst the Trekies (Star Trek fans). However, despite the obvious differences between time periods and genres, both Star Trek, and Alice in Wonderland present the similar escape from reality viewers on both sides crave.
Whether it’s Star date 2258.42 on the U.S.S. Enterprise, or Earth before they had proper trade routes, both Lewis Carroll and J.J. Abbrams created realistic characters to emphasize the otherworldliness of their stories. Captain Kirk, the main hero in Star Trek, is strikingly similar to the blonde heroine, Alice, from Alice in Wonderland. Kirk—thanks to a time warp that brought the villain, Nero, to the past—loses his father on the day of his birth. Left to raise the soon-to-be-captain, Kirk’s mother marries a disdainful man who treats James like dirt when his mother is off planet. In an effort to defy his stepfather, Kirk breaks countless laws and gets into random bar fights as he grows up, especially when it seems he is clearly unmatched. Alice also has difficulties at home. Her father—the only person who truly understood her way of thinking—passed away. She was left with a scornful mother who wanted to marry her off to a snobby red-headed man name Shamus. To her mother, Alice was a mistake of a child, unladylike, and had to be tamed before she should turn out like her Aunt Imogene, who was the family nut. In both circumstances, these characters run from their lives—Kirk to the Star fleet academy, and Alice into the woods and down a rabbit hole—and are thrust away from what they know as reality.
At Star Fleet, Kirk is nonchalant with his studies, opting for sexual encounters with a voluptuous green-skinned classmate rather than studying for his exams. He was irresponsible, and arrogant. On a test meant to be failed in order to teach the ability to handle fear, Kirk encrypts a subprogram into the test, and cheats his way to victory. Spock, the programmer of the test accuses Kirk of cheating, and both are brought in front of the board of education. When questioned, Kirk denies responsibility for his actions. He believes that he has done no wrong. James argues vehemently that one cannot cheat on a test meant to be failed, despite the fact that he faces academic expulsion that could end his Star Fleet career before it begins.
In Underland, Alice faces a parallel experience. The creatures of Underland have been anxiously awaiting the return of Alice, because it was foretold that on the Frabtousday, Alice would slay the mighty Jabberwocky and restore peace to the land by ending the red queen’s rule. However, thinking that Underland was a dream, Alice stumbles into trouble and soon discovers how painful dreams can be. She reacquaints herself with many different people like the mad hatter, and Absalom, the caterpillar, all of whom question her true identity. By the end of the movie, when they all need her to be Alice, Alice denies that she is their savior and runs from her responsibilities to save her own skin.
The saying “Justice never rests” must also apply to villains, because despite both heroes’ trying times of discovering themselves, the forces of evil were at work, destroying lives with their sinister devices. While Kirk was in a petty power struggle with Spock, Nero moved in and destroyed Vulcan, and set his sights for Earth and the other Federation Planets. His device was a crude drilling mechanism connected to his ship that lowered down on unsuspecting planets. When in range, the drill shot a fiery beam that chipped away the planet’s surface all the way to the core. After the hole was complete, he sent a tiny drop of a highly deadly substance called “Red Matter” into the core of the planet, causing a black hole that consumed the planet from the inside out. Perhaps a little more archaic than Nero’s “Red Matter”, the red queen had her own devices, mainly the sinister Jabberwocky. Towering over twenty feet, this ugly dragon-like creature was the source of fear throughout all of Underland, and it killed just as effectively as Nero’s red matter.
These devices lead both Captain Kirk and Alice from their careless, selfish personalities, and made them true heroes. Kirk fought bravely along side his new found friend, Spock, and defeated Nero, saving billions of lives, including that of the captured captain who had originally named Kirk as first mate, under his former rival, Spock. In Underland, Alice defeated the mighty Jabberwocky with the Vocaliod sword and fulfilled the prophecy, saving countless creatures from the red queen’s army, and restored peace before she returned to reality.
Despite how they may appear at face value, Alice in Wonderland, and Star Trek share a secret bond between movies; one that takes their viewers to places as far as the reaches of their imagination, away from reality. The question I’ve come to wonder is that, if this parallelism is shared between a fairytale and a space adventure, what other similarities are out there for other movies? “Live long and Futterwackin’ vigorously!”