Damon Lindelof: Star Trek Sequel Will Go ‘One Step Beyond’

Damon Lindelof is currently writing the Star Trek sequel with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Over the weekend he was nabbed on the red carpet at the Creative Arts Emmys where he talked about the team’s goals for the Trek follow-up and again drew comparison’s to that other big recent franchise follow-up, The Dark Knight.


Lindelof: Getting Highfalutin for Star Trek sequel

E Online caught up with Star Trek producer and Star Trek sequel producer/co-writer Damon Lindelof at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards over the weekend. They asked him what we can expect in the Star Trek sequel, where Lindelof didn’t get specific, but did say they were going to try to take it another step:

The bar is very very high for the sequel. We are looking at a movie like The Dark Knight which actually went one step beyond Batman Begins. It was really about something and at the same time was a superhero movie. We don’t want to abandon all the things that made the first movie work — have it be fun and emotional, but we also want the movie to thematically resonate, so we are putting on our highfalutin hats.

E’s reporter followed up asking if that means they will be trying to save the rainforest and Lindelof quipped back "I think Avatar did a pretty good job of getting the save the rainforest message across, maybe we will put a bumper sticker on the Enterprise."

Here is the video (via EOnline):

Dark Knight comparison – deeper, not darker Trek

Some Trek fans may be concerned that a comparison to The Dark Knight indicates a much darker Trek sequel, possibly abandoning the classic Roddenberry Trek optimism aspirations of the 2009 Star Trek. However, comparisons to the renwed Batman franchise are nothing new for this team. In the run up to the 2009 Star Trek, the film makers would often cite Christopher Nolan’s 2005 film Batman Begins as a benchmark. However the Star Trek movie was clearly a very different kind of origin story than Batman Begins in terms of tone and style. Over the Summer Star Trek producer Bryan Burk talked to TrekMovie about the Trek/Batman comparison:

…our aspirations are for the [Star Trek sequel] to be even bigger and better than the first one. I don’t mean that just in scope, I mean content and characters and emotionally. We had a lot of conversations about Batman Begins and how that movie kind of re-invented that franchise, and we looked at what The Dark Knight did and how that really ramped it up and they went to a different place with that film, and how those two films keep re-inventing themselves and are not the same thing every time.

So the team look to the work Nolan has done as a benchmark in terms of quality and in terms of success. It is worth noting that both Star Trek and Batman Begins had similar global grosses at the box office ($372M for Batman vs. $385M for Trek). Last Fall when TrekMovie asked JJ Abrams if they are thinking of ways of improving performance overseas, again the director pointed to The Dark Knight as a model of a sequel that brought in more moviegoers overseas (as it did domestically). Abrams did also note that he didn’t think Trek would be able to match The Dark Knight’s $1 Billion total, but it is a nice goal to set. Even more important than money, Abrams also told TrekMovie last November that the plan for the Star Trek sequel (again like what was done in The Dark Knight), was to "go a little bit deeper", and that too is a good goal.

Trek and Batman franchises – different tones, but same goals

The Star Trek sequel is due June 29th, 2012, and in a twist of fate, Christopher Nolan’s next Batman film will hit theaters three weeks later.


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4 8 15 16 23 42
August 23, 2010 8:46 pm

Now we’re talking — deeper nor darker — this is what I want hear!

August 23, 2010 8:47 pm

He gets it. Then again, they all do. I’m so not worried about the next picture. I simply anticipate it.

4 8 15 16 23 42
August 23, 2010 8:48 pm

(not that I mind dark, but the last one was sufficiently dark to my tastes)

Marvin the Martian
August 23, 2010 8:48 pm

I can handle deeper. I can handle darker. I can’t handle dorkier.

(Insurrection was pretty dorky, so if we never revisit that kind of Trek film, I’ll be very happy.)

Khan was Framed!
August 23, 2010 8:51 pm

I think we could stand to go a little darker; the best Trek is always a bit edgier; Wrath of Khan. First Contact, any of the ‘Mirror’ episodes.

Harry Ballz
August 23, 2010 8:54 pm

Deep is good, boring is bad. Bringing in Khan or the Klingons would effectively accomplish the latter.

August 23, 2010 8:58 pm

And now I have that song stuck in my head.

Anthony Pascale
August 23, 2010 9:13 pm

now i have that song in my head
here it is for everyone else

hard to imagine, but that album came out in 1979!

Time for ppl to feel old

August 23, 2010 9:30 pm

Falut as high ya’ll want. Just make it good too.

Dunsel Report
August 23, 2010 9:33 pm

Harry is right. Human bad guys please.

August 23, 2010 9:37 pm

It must be really hard for these guys, always being interveiwed, if seen in public, and being asked about a project they cant talk about while trying to answer their questions in a way that they say ,,,”nothing”.


I feel for you guys!!

August 23, 2010 9:39 pm

Wow! My two favorite franchises – Batman and Star Trek – in the same story!! If we could BSG in here somewhere I might just go into overload!

Harry Ballz
August 23, 2010 9:45 pm


Thanks, Dunsel!

Michael Hall
August 23, 2010 9:46 pm

“We had a lot of conversations about Batman Begins and how that movie kind of re-invented that franchise, and we looked at what The Dark Knight did and how that really ramped it up and they went to a different place with that film, and how those two films keep re-inventing themselves and are not the same thing every time.”

And yet. . . the one thing we do know about Trek 2012, because Bob Orci has told us so, is that the film will feature a villain of some type. And whether that character is a Khan reboot, or a Klingon, or some species previous unseen in the Trek universe, the film will still be following a well-worn template for the film franchise: the crew of the Big E vs. a Bad Guy. A template that TOS didn’t need to spawn a worldwide phenomenon, and one that The Voyage Home didn’t have to follow to become, until last year, the most successful entry in the film series.

For whatever reason, the filmmakers apparently just can’t get themselves to look past The Wrath of Khan for inspiration. Given that they have the whole galaxy to play in it’s a shame they feel compelled to stick with what’s tried and true and comfortable and familiar. Under the circumstances, claims to daring and originality ultimately just add insult to injury.

August 23, 2010 10:04 pm

11. Martman – August 23, 2010

Thanks! It’s a pain!

August 23, 2010 10:05 pm

Well what’s wrong with using Khan

August 23, 2010 10:12 pm

Don’t want a dark noir Trek sorry, but Batman Dark Knight is the wrong template for Trek as it is for Superman.

August 23, 2010 10:18 pm



Even Star Trek V, despite being a jumbled mess of a film, was trying for something besides the standard villain in a spaceship—Klaa being the standard Klingon bad guy who ends up (in a roundabout way—through Spock’s intervention) saving Kirk from the evil god entity. Though it still mystifies me how Klingon disruptors are able to destroy an entity but a photon torpedo can’t quite do the job… :)

Anyway, there is a bit of ironic foreshadowing in Klaa being able to overcome his hatred for Kirk in the end—whereas Kirk has to overcome his hatred for the Klingons in the next film. I’m not sure if the different filmmakers (Shatner & Myer) intended for it to end that way, but it is a nice conclusion for the TOS film series.

August 23, 2010 10:22 pm

Glad I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of the Madness song.

Harry Ballz
August 23, 2010 10:44 pm

Here’s why the next film shouldn’t involve Klingons. Remember the blooper reel from the last movie included some scenes of a Klingon torturing Nero? Never mind that it was a flawed take, but rather observe the tone of the scene before they flubbed it. It was the same one-dimensional simplistic crap we’ve suffered through with the Klingons for the past twenty years! Enough! I implore the writers to come up with something more imaginative AND original. “I dare you to do better!”

August 23, 2010 10:55 pm

Hee! :D

Good thinking. Though, I will say….There were flaws a’plenty in The Dark Knight, once the hype died down.

Gyllenhaal’s character was fridged. The boat scene was some heavy-handed morality.

I really thought Aaron Eckhart did a dynamic job, but was sadly overshadowed by Heath’s performance, death, and the fact that he was the other villain in a film that only needed one.

So, what I’m saying is yes! Aiming for the success, but *not* the method is the right way to go.

Harry Ballz
August 23, 2010 11:00 pm


So, if I understand you, they should aim for “intent”, not “content”.

August 23, 2010 11:01 pm

Hasn’t Bob Orci said he didn’t like The Dark Knight? Uh oh… I hope we don’t see a split vote in the Supreme Court! ;)

August 23, 2010 11:01 pm

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, don’t let this mean that Scotty’s going to soup up the Shatmobile!

…err…I mean Shutmobile…although…a Shuttle that collapses to a Mono-nacelle could be kind of cool. ;-)

Red Dead Ryan
August 23, 2010 11:08 pm


I quite enjoyed that scene myself. But to each his own. I still think it is possible to do something original while featuring something familiar.
Afterall, we still need to have something to hook the mainstream audience in. Khan or the Klingons would do the trick. The writers have to balance entertainment with business.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Khan and/or the Klingons. But I also wouldn’t mind seeing some Gorn or Tholians. As long as the story is at least partly original, as well as thoughtful and entertaining, I’ll be happy.


Do you by any chance go to work wearing a red shirt?

Harry Ballz
August 23, 2010 11:16 pm


(my Frankenstein’s monster impression)

Red Dead Ryan
August 23, 2010 11:26 pm

Its Gorn to be good….if the writers choose to boldly Gorn….but they’d better act fast before it’s Gorn forever. Its Gorn to be a long two years to know for sure! In the meantime, I think I will enjoy a bowl of Gorn Flakes while I watch “Gorn On The Fourth Of July”.

August 23, 2010 11:28 pm

You know what movie should be your inspiration?

Galaxy Quest.

Yes. I know it is a parody, but every single character in it is defined, flawed, lovable, relate-able, and awesome at some point.

They evolved during their space-adventure, but remained true to their characters.

The Thermians are an alien race that inspired genuine empathy from me. That’s something Insurrection’s Ba’Ku didn’t do.

…And it aged well. Something The Dark Knight (at least for me) hasn’t done.

You guys should shoot for an awesomely re-watchable movie, something that holds up and even gets better with viewings.

Heck, before Star Trek 2009, Galaxy Quest was as close as I thought we could get to the perfect Trek movie, that never was.

And I hate to admit, but I still love it better than Trek 2009.

The secret (besides being funny)?

Those characters. :) Get the characters down first, then place them in a challenging, awe-inspiring, adventure with aliens we get to feel strongly about, love or hate.

…And it’s fun!

August 23, 2010 11:33 pm

One last thing!

If you really want to know what to avoid? Check redlettermedia’s Trek reviews on youtube.

Anthony Pascale, I hope the above isn’t too spammalicious. If not, check them and maybe even do a separate post for them, here!

Yes, they are that good.

August 23, 2010 11:35 pm

“It was really about something”

Thank you damon. Thats all i wanted to hear from you guys. Unlike the first Trek 09′ where it wasn’t talking too much in the allegory-sense. I think what makes Trek work very well is when its talking about something, like a general-issue that affects us. Trek 09′ didn’t feel like it was speaking to me a lot. I really enjoyed my favorite characters coming together as a family and defeating Nero. It was fine and emotional. But lets talk about something important in the second !!!!!!! Hopefully this second will up the ante and speak on different levels.

August 23, 2010 11:46 pm

I vote for the Gorn or Tholians.

August 23, 2010 11:53 pm

I definitely hope that the next Trek movie brings out the soul of some of the characters like The Dark Knight did. Really make it a battle of convictions and realizing the sacrifices that must be made. “The Needs of the Many” phrase could really be a source of inspiration.

August 23, 2010 11:58 pm
Yes, thank you Damon Lindelof. Before I heap praise on the approach for the next Star Trek movie, let me be honest and say I hated season six of “Lost.” Sorry Damon. Rabid Losties, this post is about Star Trek so cut me some slack. Even though I liked Star Trek “09, I’ve criticized it. The announcement that they are going to go deeper in the next film brings joy to this Trekker. If I can paraphrase Leonard Nimoy, the best Trek worked on multiple levels. There was adventure. There was fun. There was intelligent science fiction. Take a look at “The City On The Edge of Forever.” There was adventrue. Trying to figure out what the Guardian was and the fact you could take journeys through time was intriguing. There was humor. Explaining Spock’s ears to a 1930’s policeman was funny. There was intelligent science fiction. McCoy changes the timeline and KIrk must sacrifice his love for the greater good. And check out Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. (1986) Adventure. Time travel. Humor. The fish out of water story for our heroes. Smart science fiction. Save the whales, save the world. Going deeper does not mean it won’t be successful. See “Dark Knight.” See “Inception.” Thank you Damon, you’re gaining my confidence. Now, let’s find a way to keep the interest up till 2012. How about a direct to DVD story with the voice of William Shatner and his CGI image deaged to be released in late 2011?… Read more »
Harry Ballz
August 24, 2010 12:06 am


Don’t forget, if they make them flatulent lizards they can call it Gorn With The Wind!

August 24, 2010 12:08 am

The producers (the moneybags) won’t let “deeper” happen. What we will see is more romance, probably a dumb love triangle or two. They’ll also throw in a few Jar-Jar Binks-type “ethnic” characters for yuks.

Remington Steele
August 24, 2010 12:23 am

Sometimes I just ask myself, “Why do i even bother reading the comments???”

Phaser Guy
August 24, 2010 12:25 am

yeah me too.

Kelly Valletta
August 24, 2010 12:43 am

J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman need to surpass the last film and rectify the mistakes that they made because as much as it was a tremendous film, I was still privately disappointed because it could have easily have been so much better. Larger all-star cast as well as many cameos including by William Shatner, larger space battles with more starships, James Kirk having better fighting skills and several (human love interests) and the Jerry Goldsmith theme music from the Star Trek Insurrection end credits used at the end.

Four stunningly beautiful and talented actresses were wasted in the last movie and should have had more screentime. Jennifer Morrison only appeared at the beginning and we don’t find out what happened to her, Rachel Nichols was only in it for three minutes and we don’t find out what happened to her, Winona Ryder was in it for nearly ten minutes and was needlessly killed off and Diora Baird’s only scene was cut.

The Jerry Goldsmith theme music from the Star Trek Insurrection end credits should have been used at the end. The Original Series theme music and new theme music in the movie was unnecessary. The soundtrack was disappointing overall. ‘Labour of Love’ was the best part of it.

Malin Calcagno
August 24, 2010 12:44 am

The Orion Syndicate who should be the villains of the sequel as they are essentially the Mafia of the Star Trek universe, involved in piracy, smuggling, and extortion.

I hope that Lady Gaga has a cameo. With her futuristic music and style, she would fit right in. Midway through Star Trek 12, I’d like to see Kirk, Spock and McCoy go undercover to a concert of hers on a distant planet like with Diva Plavalaguna in The Fifth Element (1997). Her character (the most famous and successful singer in the Alpha Quadrant) could have dark connections to the Orion Syndicate. An explosively intense, thunderous phaser fight could erupt interrupting the show when she sings Bad Romance, Paparazzi, Poker Face or Just Dance between Kirk, Spock and McCoy and some Orion Syndicate henchmen.

Shantel Vergara
August 24, 2010 12:45 am

I hope that there are no cut scenes in the sequel. All of the cut scenes should have been included in the last film. J.J. Abrams made a bad call removing the Rura Penthe scenes. He said that the test audiences were confused by those scenes in particular. I am at a loss as to what was so confusing about the inclusion of the Klingons in the film. It was absolutely shocking to leave such a huge plot hole regarding where the villains were for 25 years. It makes them look lazy and stupid on top of the fact that they were superficial. Nero and Ayel would have had more depth at least as well.

August 24, 2010 1:27 am

I didn’t have any problems with Trek 09 some are just overly critical

August 24, 2010 2:17 am


Entirely agreed.

It was gratifying to watch both the interviewer and Lindelof pretty much immediately acknowledge that the “highfalutin hat” was a response to Avatar, even if that’s a bit sad/ironic, given hat Avatar was treading territory that Star Trek used to be known for. Avatar’s success seems to have morphed the tone of the party-line from “an obvious message would doom our movie to niche status and only a fanboy lacking our Big-Time Movie Wisdom would think otherwise” to “oh, right … that movie that wailed our butts at the box office had an obvious message. Hm. Oh.”

And that song is STILL stuck in my head.

August 24, 2010 2:19 am

Looks like they are on then right track! (crossed fingers)

Holo J
August 24, 2010 2:25 am

40. Shantel Vergara – August 24, 2010

I agree those cut scenes should have stayed in the movie.

August 24, 2010 2:44 am

We will boldly “go one step beyond” by copying The Dark Knight.


It’s easy enough to say that you are going to something like another film. There are a lot of bad films that are advertised as being “In the tradition of ‘X'”.

Almost seems to indicate a lack of creative confidence.

August 24, 2010 2:45 am

if their “message” beats the audience over the head with its simplicity as much as Avatar did, it will be a disaster.

Glad to see they’re looking to Nolan and not Cameron.

August 24, 2010 2:46 am

I love ST but I am a realist. ST II will get nowhere near Dark Knight’s 1 billion$. I expect it to be 400 to 450 million worldwide.

The writers are going to overthink it.
The writers have already slacked off (took on too many distracting projects). I suspect they are overconfident (a classic mistake).
Abrams’ is aiming too high.
Paramount is expecting too much money.
Fans are setting expectations too high.

August 24, 2010 2:51 am

And Kirk should be in it for one final goodbye.

August 24, 2010 3:19 am

38/39 – are you the same guy?

every sequel thread i seem to end up reading about how the four beautiful actresses were wasted, how they shouldve used the Star Trek Insurrection end theme (why specifically the Insurrection one? – dont FC, INS, NEM and even TMP and TFF all have the same end theme?!) and how Lady Gaga should appear as a Fifth Element style character singing Poker Face

August 24, 2010 3:29 am

I would think Mr. Lindelof’s “DK” references are coming straight from Paramount. They’re getting huge numbers out of Transformers, Iron Man and Indiana Jones, and expecting Trek to deliver on that level as well.

This means either dumb it down for the kids, or keep it for adults and re-sophisticate it by adding Lindelof himself, of LOST, to the writers’ team., while maintaining the quality character work done by Orci/Kurzmann.

While I was not a fan of LOST, I am not a detractor, and I enjoyed the twists and turns of the 50-or-so eps I saw. And keeping a good mystery going for years is not easy. What will be harder is finding an appropriate allegory and not whacking us over the head with it.