Yes, it seems that the creation of a new timeline for the “Star Trek” feature film released in 2009 was wrought more from legal necessity than creative impulse. The makers of the 2009 “Star Trek” were allowed to use the names and the iconography of old-world “Star Trek,” but — rumor had it — that it had to be at least 20% different. Recasting old characters, dressing them in altered uniforms, and changing the look of the U.S.S. Enterprise, then, were done to mark that percentage. Director J.J. Abrams, openly not a Trekkie, made a raucous and action-packed sci-fi adventure picture that was very, very far from the cerebral, diplomatic spirit of “Star Trek” at its height.
Because “Star Trek” was so broadly appealing in a “space battle” sort of way — and because we hadn’t had a “Star Wars” picture since 2005 — it became a massive hit, and Abrams returned in 2012 with “Star Trek Into Darkness,” an updated, violent retread of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” That, too, was a hit, although didn’t quite rattle the zeitgeist in the same way. By the time “Star Trek Beyond” came out in 2016, “Star Wars” had returned, and audiences no longer needed “Star Trek” to serve as their light-beer substitute.