Looking back on it, in the series, we can see Kirk was his own man out on patrol, but that was part of the Hornblower idea, wasn't it? An interpid human making his best judgement calls away from the chain of command and permission. I never got the sense - in the 79 anyway - that Kirk was young rebel troubling the grown ups. The punky rebel trope. That's what I'm picking up now in these movie from our time. We're all ironic and psychodrama-y, so the punky rebel succeeding against the hidebound institution is "in." Okay. Not my thing, for whatever reason, but there it is.