Fans of J.J. Abrams’ filmography know that the director loves to pay tribute to his grandfather Henry Kelvin by mentioning him in his movies. Last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens included “Kelvin ridge,” and Star Trek Into Darkness featured an image of the Kelvin Memorial Archive. In the 2009 Star Trek reboot, the Kelvin Easter egg came in the very beginning; the ship George Kirk commanded as he heroically saved lives was the U.S.S. Kelvin.
Since it was the Kelvin that encountered Nero and the Romulans, it played an integral part in the modern iteration of Star Trek, essentially launching the alternate timeline in which the new movies take place. Now, the name Kelvin has a far greater distinction than being just one of the Federation’s vehicles. It is the official title of this part of Star Trek history.
In a new post from Star Trek Online, this current era of the franchise has been dubbed the Kelvin Timeline, an obvious reference to the U.S.S. Kelvin and the attack that kickstarted the whole series. Previously, the terms “Abramsverse,” and “Alternate Original Series” (among others) were used to describe Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and this summer’s Star Trek Beyond. Kelvin Timeline was conceived by Michael and Denise Okuda, who are known for penning several Star Trek reference guides.
CBS Consumer Products’ Holly Amos tweeted that this was a necessary development in order to provide an in-universe term to distinguish the new films from previous incarnations for an encyclopedia:
This will also be useful given that there will be a new Star Trek TV series airing in 2017. Paramount is already making plans for a big screen Star Trek 4, so it’s conceivable that there will be two separate versions of the franchise attempting to coexist. Casual audiences could appreciate the clear line of separation, especially since the upcoming show will be part of the original timeline – not the alternate universe that began in 2009. Through its 50 years of history, Star Trek has gone through many forms, and giving each era its own unique name helps fans keep track of it all to determine where in the canon everything fits.
In addition, this has to be somewhat surreal for Abrams, who probably never intended for Kelvin to become such a huge part of Star Trek lore. As a youngster, Henry Kelvin was very influential in his life, which is why Abrams always makes sure to incorporate the name in each of his projects (even Lost). What was a personal touch is now what Trekkies will forever use to describe this part of the brand’s storied legacy. No matter how much longer the Kelvin Timeline lasts, that’s something nobody will ever be able to take away. Abrams is largely credited with reinvigorating Star Trek and introducing it to a whole new audience, increasing its appeal. It’s only fitting that an aspect so deeply connected to him has now taken on a much larger meaning and defines a complete section of the franchise.
Star Trek Beyond hits theaters July 22, 2016.