Created by Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek is about a space-faring future where humanity has united to explore the universe. Rather than warring over patches of land and squabbling about celebs in internet talkbacks, humanity has devoted ourselves to exploring strange worlds and seeking out new life and civilizations.
Because of that optimism, Star Trek has risen above its cheesier qualities (like alien races distinguished only by their forehead ridges, or Captain Kirk battling a Gorn lizard man) and become a pop-cultural touchstone for people who believe that humanity should aspire to more -- and can achieve amazing things through teamwork.
On Wednesday, director J.J. Abrams's highly anticipated Star Trek: Into Darkness beamed into theaters (in 3-D, the film opens nationwide this Friday), after an ad campaign that highlighted its edgy action and moody color palette. It also disguised its villain's true identity (what a CON!).
As a pre-show Star Trek primer, we've reviewed the new flick's cinematic forebears for you. Classic characters only. Sorry, Picard.