'Star Trek Into Darkness' Should Be The Re-Hash Of Khan

Star Trek Into Darkness Robert April

I'm an outlier among other insufferable snobs on the Internet: I actually want Khan to be the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness.

This isn't because I desperately want the films to touch every base that the original series did. After nearly 30 years on television and 10 movies of highly uneven quality, the Star Trek universe prior to JJ Abrams' Star Trek was suffering horribly from internal rot, not to mention a growing reliance on awful time travel plots and constant nods to series continuity. A fresh start was desperately needed if it was going to remain relevant, even if it came at — sniff — the expense of Captains Picard and Sisko*.

But if Star Trek was a successful fresh start (and it was), it also brought with it some terrible baggage from the previous continuity, specifically the fact that its plot was motivated by the same time-travel bullshit that caused the TV universe to finally collapse under the weight of its own pretentions. Thank the founders that Abrams movie focused squarely on the Holy Trinity of Kirk, Spock, and Bones, or we would have noticed how awful Nero really was.

But as we've already learned with Iron Man 2, a successful sequel needs to do more than coast on the chemistry of its leads. With Kirk and co. firmly established, STID needs a strong conflict with high stakes, and a memorable villain (or at least a prime mover) connected to that conflict.

To pull that off, you can't force the audience to consult a Trek lore guide. Superturbonerd Trek Fans like me might want to see Harcourt Mudd, Cyrano Jones, Gary Mitchell, The Horta, or that horrible psychic kid played by Ron Howard's brother but frankly, that's inside baseball. Ask the legions of moviegoers for whom  for whom Star Trek is essentially Kirk bangs space hotties-Spock lectures him about the logic of using a condom-Bones grumpily administers penicillin, the only villain they'll recite from memory is Ricardo Montalban's Khan Noonien Singh.

Is that a problem? Only if you think that the Joker's appearing in The Dark Knight was a problem. Iconic characters linger in the public memory for a reason, and that makes it easy for a skilled storyteller to take them and make them over into something later audiences can appreciate anew. Do it right and you can get away with anything, even making a horribly lame villain like Bane look bad-ass.  And for better or for worse, Khan is Kirk's Joker. So milk that shit, I say. Use him well and firmly ground STID in its own past, and save less exploited territory for future sequels, when you've solidified the audience's loyalty.

But is Khan the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness? Who the hell can tell? The new trailer certainly doesn't want us to know for sure. But damned if it isn't teasing the hell out of us. It's already been confirmed that the villain will be canon. And now we know that whatever character is blessed with Benedict Cumberbatch's crisp, Public School tones, he's really angry and looking to exact some revenge - sorry, vengeance, which is way classier than mere revenge - on the people of Earth. That sounds like Khan to me! Unless Cyrano Jones is angry that the Klingons wiped out the Tribbles.

There's also the fact that the American trailer lacks one crucial scene present in the Japanese trailer (see it right before the end): a deliberate homage to the moment of Spock's Death in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. Even if it's just a dodge (something Abrams does very well,) the reference can't be a coincidence. And if this means we get to see Cumberbatch doing is best Ricardo Montalban impression, that's fine by me. Just so long as it doesn't mean we have to endure another go at The Search For Spock.

Some additional thoughts:

-If you think it's ridiculous that a lily-white Briton like Benedict Cumberbatch could even pretend to play an Indian, it's worth noting that Gabrielle Anwar and Ben Kingsley both have Indian fathers.

-Notice the ship rising out of the water? If it isn't the SS botany Bay, I wonder if it's the same starship we see crashing into the San Francisco Bay later in the trailer.

-The interesting thing about the trailer is just how much of Earth we're seeing in it. Star Trek was originally pitched as Wagon Train to the stars, but of course, the wagon train had to start somewhere. The original series and subsequent iterations barely feature earth as anything other than a reference. For all we know, the only thing people do back home is build more Enterprises. Also, whenever I watch a western, I always want a scene of what people are up to back in Boston or London. It's interesting that in the new Star Trek, we're getting exactly that.

*Truth: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is inarguably the best series. YEAHISAIDIT.

Read More: 

'Star Trek Into Darkness' Explodes An Early Tease

Star Trek 2 Gets A Title: Where Does It Rank In The Franchise?

Ross Lincoln is a LA-based freelance writer from Oklahoma with an unhealthy obsession with comics, movies, video games, ancient history, Gore Vidal, and wine.

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  • lilmsdean says:

    Deep Space Nine is perfect in all ways. Thank you for acknowledging this truth.

  • redcarol57 says:

    Okay, Ron Howard's brother did NOT play the psychic kid. He played an alien Balok in "The Corbomite Manuever". The psychic kid was "Charlie X" played by Robert Walker, Jr. I know, I know I'm a nerd, but if you're going to commit these things to the internet - get it right.

  • Bo says:

    I was thinking the bad guy was going to be Gary Mitchell, but after the trailer I believe it is Khan. My reasons, he specifically says he has returned for "vengeance," which would line up with a bitter man exiled into space and the Japanese trailer shows Kirk and Spock's hand touching through glass like at the end of Star Trek 2. Doesn't mean they are going to kill Spock this time, but it is an obvious throwback to the end of that movie.

    • Anne Hande says:

      Bo ~ if you remember "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Gary Mitchell was not only exiled into space, but "killed" by his best friend - James T. Kirk.

    • GP says:

      You forget that when Khan was found by Kirk, he wasn't bitter because of his exile, but he did wanted to rule again, more than just get "vengeance" against Earth.

  • Ross Lincoln says:

    Derp, thanks Redcarol57, now I need to beam down to the away team mission in shame.

  • Zoe says:

    I'm still going with Gary Mitchell. There was a blonde woman that had a couple of key beauty shots, and she looks a lot like Mitchell's female counterpart whose name I can't remember. If it is Khan, I'm not going to be upset. I love love LOVE this new Star Trek franchise, and I think Abrams, Kurtzman and Orci could do very, very well by that arc. The 2009 film was a perfect balance of acknowledging and appreciating the old Star Trek canon, and voyaging forward into a newer, more exciting Star Trek.

    That being said, this trailer needed more Spock. (I'm kind of in love with Zachary Quinto's version of Spock don't judge me.) But that was the only problem. (Although the extra footage in the Japanese version has me TERRIFIED that we're going to lose Spock.)

    This trailer- I was a sputtering, squee-filled mess by the end of it. The movie looks AMAZING. I didn't think anything could top the 2009 movie, but I may be proven wrong.

  • Anne Hande says:

    As a "superturbonerd"Trekkie from waaaay back before it was a bad word, in regards to your "additional comment": You can clearly see the "NCC" designation on the ship rising from the water; your own comment discounts it being the "SS" Botany Bay, which never had an NCC designation since it was launched well before the formation of Starfleet.

    Paramount's own description of the movie refers to "force of terror from within their own organization" ~ Khan was never in Starfleet; " With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk..." ~ Gary Mitchell was a close friend of Kirk's; "a one man weapon of mass destruction" ~ Mitchell became omnipotent; Khan, albeit superhuman, still required equipment to wreak his havoc.

    Plus - the shots of Alice Eve in the teaser are dead ringers for Dr. Elizabeth Dehner.

    On the other hand, the final shot does resemble the scene from TWOK, so why not a mash-up of Mitchell AND Khan?

  • Zel Gret says:

    God I hope he isn't supposed to be Khan. Sorry but he looks like a total puss.

  • John says:

    I feel like this could be Khan, besides the scene with Spock's hand against the glass. First, Khan had superhuman abilities such as strength and agility, which Cumberbatch's character clearly does here. Second, theres the fact that he says "for I have returned to have my vengeance" which could be referencing being left on a distant planet. Although this isn't in the same universe as the original series there could be a different back story than Kirk leaving him on a distant planet, another captain in starfleet perhaps? It doesn't seem that Cumberbatch has a personal vendetta against Kirk, but more so against starfleet so Khan's backstory could be different. Third, the trailer shows Spock landing on some kind of volcanic planet, and I doubt he's going there as a tourist. Could this be the alternate universe's version of the Genesis project which was also in the Wrath of Khan storyline? It would make sense considering Vulcan was destroyed in the last film, the Vulcans could have came up with Genesis as a way to build themselves a new homeworld. Khan or not this looks like its gonna be awesome.

    • joe says:

      i'm pretty sure the hand is just a throw off - It's prob. alice eve. Kirk's first real love dying to save the ship.

  • Shannon says:

    That little bit at the end does make me re-think the Gary Mitchell aspect. Though, I'm curious as to how they would be able to effectively grow the animosity between Kirk and Khan without having ~2 decades between meetings. Unless they just go from the angle that Khan is pissed that he and his people were forgotten for centuries and Kirk and crew just happen to be the first line of defense against an angry super human.

    The Khan story line would also be 'more' likely because the setup happened pre-reboot. However we look at it, the events leading up to the TOS ep Space Seed happened. Whereas, the background that Kirk had with Gary Mitchell in the TOS were potentially destroyed with altering of the timeline.

    Whatever it is, I'll be going to see it.

    Also, yes, DS9 is by far the best and no one is going to convince me otherwise.

  • Doc Right says:

    It's CHARLIE X. Look at the old shot of Charlie X and his glowing blue eyes; then look at the promo for the movie.

  • ety3 says:

    My three choices: Gary Mitchell, Garth of Izar or a non-Khan Augment.

    Yes. I'm saying the Batch might be a different genetic superman from the Botany Bay. Maybe in the nine-minute preview, we'll see Kirk kill Khan, thus enraging the Batch to seek revenge.

  • Scott Poindexter says:

    Uhh.. Did some other ship in this timeline maroon khan and then he managed to be the sole survivor and then get away a lot sooner than 15 years?????

    This reboot picks up where the TV series started..

  • aimee says:

    Couldn't the blonde also be a young Dr. Carol Marcus? Could the rising ship be the Reliant?

  • Eric Tan says:

    I think that the sequel's story is inspired or adapted from an earlier story from the original series, but I bet it's been changed so much it will not be recognizable to fans, because there is NO reason to redo something already done, even if it was in the mid-sixties. I think the fans are trying to find parallels and want to see a new, updated version of an existing story. I bet J.J. Abrams is not doing that, so no Khan, no Reliant, but yes, Carol Marcus (Alice Eve).

  • JDB says:

    Wow, won't all of you Khan groupies be heartbroken when Abrams kills off Khan before Kirk ever finds him. Have you forgotten what Abrams did in the first movie already?

  • Wes says:

    Looks good to me.

  • jade says:

    The best ever star trek story of all time was the doomsday machine. A modern day remake would be incredible