I was watching Serenity the other because, well, I always watch Serenity. One of the best movies ever made. It's on my shelf right next to Star Trek II and Heat: Special Edition.
That should tell you everything you need to know about my reverence for the movie.
Now, of course the Captain of Serenity, Mal, is a take on Han Solo. And to acknowledge that legacy, while also making a funny statement on the whole "Han shot first" fiasco, Joss has Mal kill not ONE man in cold blood, but THREE (this was done as a conscious statement, Joss mentions it in the DVD commentary).
A nice touch.
But there's another legacy Mal shares. While Mal is a take on Han solo, he's also the opposite
of the idealistic Kirk. Joss mentions this obliquely in spots, usually talking about the ship itself, stating on numerous occasions that "Serenity is the ship getting tossed around in the Enterprise's wake, and the Enterprise doesn't even notice her as she blows past".
And there's an anti-Kirk moment in Serenity. For those who watch the Original Trek on a loop, like, well, again, me, there are numerous moments in Trek where Kirk goes bravely into danger, giving a final order to Spock or Scotty (whoever he's leaving behind) that 'if I'm not back in 30 minutes, you take the ship and get her out of harm's way".
In Serenity, Mal has a moment exactly like this, where he goes in, alone, to rescue Inara from the Operative. And his last command to Zoe is "if I'm not back in 30 minutes, you take the ship, and you come and rescue me".
It's an awesome "Mal is not a Federation Captain" moment.
PS I freaking LOVE Wikipedia. Why is this statement here? Because there was not only an article there titled "Han Shot First", but in writing this post, I went to Wikipedia and typed into the search field "Han Shot First" in TOTAL confidence that I would get an article explaining that phrase to anyone reading this who wanted a little more info on that issue.