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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

J.J. Abrams

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#1 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:56 PM

Links to our threads on the original TV series (1966-1969), the original movie series (1979-2002), Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) and J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (2009).

Paramount Pictures has announced that the next Star Trek movie will come out June 29, 2012 (more than three years after the previous film came out; in the original movie series, the only comparable gaps were the slightly-less-than-three-years between ST6:TUC and ST:G and the four years between ST:I and ST:N; all of the other movies came out at intervals of two or two-and-a-half years).

John Cho, who plays Sulu in the rebooted movies, recently added his name to the rather long list of those who think the next Star Trek movie should bring back Khan Noonian Singh, claiming that Khan would be "badass". And I think this would be a bad, bad idea.

Incidentally, it does not seem that all that many actual Trekkies want Khan to come back in the next movie. It appears that Khan is simply so well-known among the population at large that it is just generally assumed that the next movie HAS to have Khan for its villain, the same way it was generally assumed that, e.g., the follow-up to Batman Begins just HAD to have the Joker for its primary villain. (Of course, no one has stopped to ask whether the next Star Trek movie even needs a villain, period. The biggest box-office hit of the original series, ST4:TVH, didn't have a villain.) So, if the new Star Trek movies are being made with an eye towards non-Trekkies, the fact that Trekkies DON'T want Khan to come back may be neither here nor there as far as the filmmakers' plans are concerned.

Anyway. Here's one reason why bringing back Khan would be a bad idea: The new movies are taking place on an alternate timeline that branches off from shortly before the birth of James T. Kirk. And when Khan was first introduced in the original series, he was in suspended animation and had been so for over two centuries. So that means Khan, in this new timeline, is currently in suspended animation RIGHT NOW, and Kirk-Pine would have to find Khan in pretty much the exact same condition that Kirk-Shatner found him in. Among other things, this means that Khan will NOT be the vengeful Captain Ahab that he was in ST2:TWOK; he simply doesn't have any of that history yet, i.e. the history of being resuscitated by Kirk, seducing one of Kirk's crewmembers, trying to take over the Enterprise, being left on Ceti Alpha V by Kirk, witnessing the death of his wife and many other followers when Ceti Alpha VI explodes, and nursing his hatred of Kirk for years afterwards. The Khan of the original series was a rather different character, who may have been somewhat "badass" on some level or other, but he wasn't what most people think of now when they think of "KHAAAAAAAN!"

Here's another reason: Spock-Nimoy actually DIED because of Khan. (And then he was resurrected by the Genesis Wave.) Spock-Nimoy has now come back in time and knows where all these future threats lie (and not just Khan, but V'Ger, the Whale Probe, etc., etc., etc.). If Spock-Nimoy DOESN'T warn Starfleet or Spock-Quinto about all these various threats, then that, in a nutshell, would be lame. Very, very lame. At any rate, there is no reason why anybody should be "surprised" when they come across Khan on this new timeline, the way they were when they came across him on the original timeline.

Here's another reason: The whole point of Khan, originally, was that he came from the 20th century. I repeat: He came from the 20th century. Not the 21st century, which is where we are now, but the 20th century. Back in the 1960s, when the character was invented, it was established that Khan had been a genetically-engineered super-human who ruled a vast swath of the Earth's population for several years in the 1990s ... and then, when he and his followers were deposed, they fled our planet in one of those large "sleeper" ships that we use to get from planet to planet within our solar system. ...Oh, wait, what's that? We DIDN'T use sleeper ships in the 1990s, and we didn't use them in the 2000s either, and now that we're in the 2010s we STILL don't have any plans to use them in the immediate future? Oops. Now, of course, no one expected the Star Trek franchise to last this long, and to keep on churning out new stories nearly 50 years after the series first began. And back in the 1960s, the 1990s must have sounded pretty futuristic (but without being TOO futuristic; like I say, the whole point of Khan, originally, was that he came from the 20th century, i.e. OUR century). So I don't hold any of this against the original episode. But details like these HAVE created anomalies that the other Star Trek shows have had to steer around (e.g., when the cast of Star Trek: Voyager was sent back in time to North America in 1996, they never mentioned that Khan is supposed to be ruling a huge section of Asia at that time). Do the makers of the new movie actually want to open this can of worms, either by acknowledging the continuity problems OR by ignoring the existing continuity altogether?

Here's another reason: Does the new movie series want to be its own thing, or is it forever going to be aping the original series? Granted, this is a problem that has plagued other branches of this franchise; when Star Trek: The Next Generation made the jump to the big screen, its first two movies were tied to the original series and used time-travel to make this connection (ST:G featured Kirk, Scotty and Chekov, as played by the original actors; while ST:FC featured Zefram Cochrane, as played by a brand-new actor), but its next two movies were NOT connected to the original series, and they are generally regarded as two of the weakest and least successful Star Trek movies ever made. So keeping the new movies tethered to the original series makes a certain sense, on that level; it keeps things within a certain "safety zone". But then, if all Abrams and company are doing is a sort of karaoke version of the original series, can we really say the series is boldly going anywhere any more?

Anyway. There are probably other reasons I could mention, but these are the first that come to mind. Anyone else have any others? Or, conversely, does anyone have any reasons why adding Khan to the mix would be a GOOD thing?



#2 NBooth

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:50 PM

Yes, yes, yes. Even if Javier Bardem were to come on as Khan, it would be a trebly-bad idea. Abrams et al initially made noises like they were wanting to go a more exploratory/philosophical route with the next movie, and I think this would be ideal. Going to Khan for the second movie in the "new" timeline gives the lie to all the noise about Star Trek rejuvenating itself and shaking off the baggage left by thirty-plus years of continuity. Going to Khan would ride cheaply on earlier success without bringing anything new to the table. It's just not a good idea at all.

That said, working out why 1996 came and went without Khan would be problematic, but not impossible. The legwork's already been done (I have no idea how well).

Really, though, if they have to bring in an adversary from the original series, I would prefer Mudd. Naturally, it couldn't be a straight-out actioner in that case, but that's not a bad thing.

[Incidentally, Peter, your comment about Spock warning the "new" timeline about the threats out there has inspired visions of Starfleet running around and preemptively taking out the Planet Eater and making sure no-one will ever mourn for Adonis. It's an amusing thought.]

#3 Nathan Douglas

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:04 AM

Despite the heavy use of Romulans in the last two movies, I'm still aching for a true showdown with the Empire itself, not just renegades. I guess the Federation/Romulan war is too far in the past at this point, but that sort of epic scale conflict might give Abrams everything that some "great" sequels have had in the past: bigger and darker. I wouldn't be surprised if fans expect an Empire Strikes Back/ Dark Knight sort of continuation (especially after all of the Star Wars comparisons to Abram's ST), but I'm all for trying something new and more philosophical. Has Abrams really demonstrated a knack for exploring deeper things, though? Any Lost fans care to chime in?

Or something like Spider-Man 2, that keeps the fun and humour while going deeper and somewhat darker with the characters.

But no Khan. Please, please, please, no Khan.

#4 phlox

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 06:42 AM

Wow, another Trek film in the works-- thanks for making my day! I hardly belong with all the professional critics on this board, but FWIW I’d say no on bringing back Khan, the entertainment value there has been pretty much milked. Maybe the producers are trying to make up for Nero being a rather lame villain in the latest film. If they want to include a familiar adversary, a single character, what about Q? At least he’s timeless, so that aspect wouldn’t be a problem. Of course the Borg were around then too, to me the most threatening enemies visually, of any series. For a humorous villain I like the Harry Mudd idea.



#5 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:33 PM

Arrrgh, I started a reply to at least one of these posts last night, but then my browser crashed, so I decided to put this aside for a while. But now that the kids are napping...

Here's another reason why basing the next movie on Khan would be a bad idea: The J.J. Abrams movie has ALREADY borrowed several elements from ST2:TWOK, from the Centaurian slugs (which look and function a lot like Ceti eels) to the vengeful-widower villain to the Kobayashi Maru subplot to the closing Leonard Nimoy voice-over. The next movie should probably find a new well to drink from.

NBooth wrote:
: Yes, yes, yes. Even if Javier Bardem were to come on as Khan, it would be a trebly-bad idea.

And, see, I don't get why everybody has been talking about Javier Bardem for the role. So he speaks Spanish -- so what? Khan is a Sikh, and even though the character was originally played by a Mexican, it doesn't necessarily follow that anyone who speaks Spanish should have a first crack at the role.

: That said, working out why 1996 came and went without Khan would be problematic, but not impossible. The legwork's already been done (I have no idea how well).

Yeah, I gave up on the first book in that series after a few chapters, but for reasons of writing style, not because I didn't like the plotting. The writing style just wasn't fun to read, and if it isn't fun, why bother? (Whereas I get a kick out of William Shatner's novels because I can almost hear him in the prose. And yes, yes, I know he's got ghost-writers -- more like co-writers, really, since they do get credit -- but if you've read the OTHER Star Trek novels by those co-writers, then you know how good they are at capturing the voices of their characters! So I like to think that they've made a point of capturing Shatner's "style" with the prose that they've written for him, in these books.)

: Really, though, if they have to bring in an adversary from the original series, I would prefer Mudd. Naturally, it couldn't be a straight-out actioner in that case, but that's not a bad thing.

Oh, brilliant idea! (Can I nominate Paul Giamati for the role?)

And I agree, it would not be a bad thing to make the next movie something OTHER than an action movie. Like I said above, the most popular movie in the original series was ST4:TVH, aka "the one with the whales", and there's no real "action" there. For that matter, arguably the two most popular original-series episodes by far are 'The Trouble with Tribbles' (a comedy) and 'City on the Edge of Forever' (a tragic romance) -- so it's not like Star Trek has ever really been all about the "action". The problem is, everybody is so invested now in the idea that J.J. Abrams has turned Star Trek into a Star Wars clone -- and this is seen as a good thing -- that it's very likely we'll end up with nothing but "action" movies from here on in.

N.W. Douglas wrote:
: Despite the heavy use of Romulans in the last two movies, I'm still aching for a true showdown with the Empire itself, not just renegades. I guess the Federation/Romulan war is too far in the past at this point, but that sort of epic scale conflict might give Abrams everything that some "great" sequels have had in the past: bigger and darker.

An interesting thought. Was the Federation/Romulan war depicted in Star Trek: Enterprise? Or was that series too early to depict the war? All I know is that nobody in the Federation was supposed to know what the Romulans even LOOKED like until Kirk encountered them in the original series -- but the arrival of Nero some 30-plus years before that point has obviously changed all that on the new timeline. (I'm curious to know HOW everyone figured out that Nero was a Romulan, though, as opposed to assuming that he was some sort of renegade Vulcan or something. Yes, yes, the Klingons interrogated Nero in one of the deleted scenes, but was the Federation privy to any of that information?)

phlox wrote:
: If they want to include a familiar adversary, a single character, what about Q? At least he’s timeless, so that aspect wouldn’t be a problem.

He's timeless, yes (though, hmmm, what sort of relationship does he have with all these branching timelines? does Q himself branch off into multiple Q's? does Q transcend all these branches on the timeline, in which case there would be a single Q who interacts with multiple Picards, etc.?). But I think he's generally seen as more of a Picard-era character. (Though novelists and fans have certainly had fun speculating that some of the godlike-aliens-of-the-week on the original series might have been members of the Q Continuum somehow!)

: Of course the Borg were around then too, to me the most threatening enemies visually, of any series.

Not quite. The Borg that Captain Archer encountered sent their signal to the Delta Quadrant in the 22nd century, and the Borg are expected to arrive in response to that signal in the 24th century, but they're not really a factor in Kirk's era. They are, however, another one of those things that Spock-Nimoy needs to warn Spock-Quinto about!

#6 NBooth

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 11:51 PM

Here's another reason why basing the next movie on Khan would be a bad idea: The J.J. Abrams movie has ALREADY borrowed several elements from ST2:TWOK, from the Centaurian slugs (which look and function a lot like Ceti eels) to the vengeful-widower villain to the Kobayashi Maru subplot to the closing Leonard Nimoy voice-over. The next movie should probably find a new well to drink from.


Funnily enough, I thought the debts to TWOK were also among the weakest (for me) parts of the most recent movie--they seemed slipped in simply to be mythology gags. Thus, the slugs had none of the actual horror that the Ceti eels possessed, and the purported solution to the Kobayashi Maru is laughable--hardly the sort of thing that would earn anyone a commendation for original thinking.

With that track record, I can't help thinking that moving the borrowings into the center of the movie, through the inclusion of Khan, would be a very bad idea indeed.

#7 Nathan Douglas

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 12:15 AM

Was the Federation/Romulan war depicted in Star Trek: Enterprise? Or was that series too early to depict the war?


I'm not sure. Save for the first few dismal episodes, I didn't really watch Enterprise until the last half of its final season. Wiki says there was some sort of non-visual contact in one episode, but I believe the war itself was never depicted (now that I think about it, I'd rather see that as the basis for a new show in the vein of Babylon 5, and DS9's finer moments).

#8 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 12:58 PM

NBooth wrote:
: . . . the purported solution to the Kobayashi Maru is laughable--hardly the sort of thing that would earn anyone a commendation for original thinking.

Well, we can always say that it happened differently on the other timeline. :)

In fact, I'm not sure that Kirk ever does get that commendation in the new film. He does get A commendation at the end of the film, but by that point, he has saved the Earth and defeated Nero ... so it's not really about the Kobayashi Maru any more, is it? At any rate, given the way Tyler Perry was looking at Kirk when his trial was interrupted (by the distress call from Vulcan), I would be very surprised if Kirk would have gotten a commendation for original thinking on THIS timeline.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 15 January 2010 - 01:03 PM.


#9 MrZoom

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:55 PM


Was the Federation/Romulan war depicted in Star Trek: Enterprise? Or was that series too early to depict the war?


I'm not sure. Save for the first few dismal episodes, I didn't really watch Enterprise until the last half of its final season. Wiki says there was some sort of non-visual contact in one episode, but I believe the war itself was never depicted (now that I think about it, I'd rather see that as the basis for a new show in the vein of Babylon 5, and DS9's finer moments).


The Romulan War was not depicted on-screen, but it is being covered in the follow-up books. The novel Kobayashi Maru (which I have read) sets the stage, and The Romulan War: Beneath The Raptor's Wing (which I have not read) is the first book about the war proper.

#10 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 06:26 PM

FWIW, I just remembered something: The war in question can't be called the "Federation/Romulan war" because the Federation didn't exist yet when the war took place. In the original series, it was described as a war between the Romulans and EARTH, specifically. I remember there was an episode of ST:TNG in which Troi, during a poker game, mentions the date of the Federation's founding (okay, I'll look it up: it was 2161), and I remember reading a book on Star Trek chronology some time afterwards in which one of the writers says they picked this date precisely because it had to be late enough for the Romulans to fight a war against Earth without fighting the entire Federation.

How that all fits into ST:ENT's chronology, I'm not entirely sure. But there it is.

#11 NBooth

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 04:46 PM

Didn't Enterprise end just as the Federation was being founded? (I'm not sure--I never watched more than a couple of episodes).

Meanwhile, the villain for STII is: The Gorn!

Not really--just Abrams having some fun. But I'll admit--I like the title "Children of the Gorn."

#12 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 11:24 PM

MTV Movie News has an interesting item on one story angle that this film will probably have to deal with in some way: namely, can Spock continue his romance with Uhura when the very survival of the Vulcan species is now at stake?

#13 Clint M

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 04:30 PM

Leonard Nimoy is retiring from acting. His last on-screen role will be on the Abrams' produced "Fringe" TV show.

How that all fits into ST:ENT's chronology, I'm not entirely sure. But there it is.


Enterprise ends before the Romulan-Earth war, but an early version of Starfleet exists at that point.

Romulans also stir up trouble midway through [Season 4]. While a diplomatic conference is hosted by Earth on the planet Babel, Romulans, using drone ships with holographic emitters (mimicking any ship) stir up trouble with the Andorians and Tellarites. This places the two races at each other's throats, and when they're revealed to be Romulan, Archer devises an alliance, similar to the Federation, with the Vulcans. This three-part arc, which presaged the inevitable Romulan-Earth War of 2156, received the lowest Nielsen ratings of the entire series, leading UPN to cancel it on February 2, 2005.


http://en.wikipedia....rek:_Enterprise

The episode where this story arc begins ("Demons") occurs in the ST timeline on January 19th, 2155, or a year before the Romulan-Earth War. I'm sure that if Enterprise had gotten a season 5, that war would have been depicted on-screen.

I wonder if the events of Enterprise are still intact in the (is there an official name for it?) current/alternate Trek universe, seeing as how the timeline doesn't split until 2233.

Edited by Clint M, 22 April 2010 - 05:15 PM.


#14 Overstreet

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:38 AM

FWIW, filming begins in January.

#15 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 01:06 AM

Sigh. The writers are talking about the importance of finding the right villain. But, um, why have a villain at all?

Let us not forget that at least two, and maybe three, of the original Star Trek movies had no villains. Nemeses or antagonists, maybe, but the possibility of reconciliation or finding common ground was certainly there. I am thinking primarily of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (i.e. "the one with the whales"), of course -- and let us not forget that that was the biggest hit of the franchise, even before adjusting for inflation, until the J.J. Abrams film came along -- but I am also thinking of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (in which Kirk and crew need to understand V'Ger, rather than defeat him) and even, to a degree, of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (in which the chief antagonist, Spock's half-brother Sybok, is rather misguided but never evil; and note, too, how the Klingons in that film ultimately come to Kirk's aid; yes, yes, the "God alien" is definitely a baddie, but we don't even MEET him until the very end of the film, so I'm not sure he counts).

It is certainly possible to have villains in a Star Trek movie. But it is not NECESSARY to have villains in a Star Trek movie. Unless, I guess, you want each Star Trek movie to feel like a Star Wars movie.

#16 morgan1098

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:04 AM

I agree that a formal "villain" isn't necessary in a Star Trek movie...

...at the same time, I'd rather the next film be populated with tons of arbitrary, one-dimensional villains than sit through a movie as bad as Star Trek V again.

#17 Persona

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:10 AM

The sequel is due next summer. Somebody needs to make it their priority to watch all eleven before seeing the new one on the big screen.

#18 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 11:42 AM

Persona wrote:
: Somebody needs to make it their priority to watch all eleven before seeing the new one on the big screen.

Does the fact that I watched/listened to the Blu-Ray commentaries on all eleven films last year count?

#19 Persona

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 01:32 PM

Persona wrote:
: Somebody needs to make it their priority to watch all eleven before seeing the new one on the big screen.

Does the fact that I watched/listened to the Blu-Ray commentaries on all eleven films last year count?

I actually believe you deserve a medal for that! ::1st::

Was this over the process over the whole year or in a matter of weeks, or (gulp!) days?

I really would like to watch all of them in a row. I may attempt it sometime next year.

#20 Ryan H.

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 01:44 PM

I really would like to watch all of them in a row. I may attempt it sometime next year.

Yikes. I wouldn't recommend it.

I tried to watch my way through the TREK franchise and stalled out pretty early on. The TREK films are mostly awful.





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