Burk: Into Darkness Villain ‘Tailored’ For Cumberbatch + Film Fits With Roddenberry’s Vision | TrekMovie.com
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Burk: Into Darkness Villain ‘Tailored’ For Cumberbatch + Film Fits With Roddenberry’s Vision January 8, 2013

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: Star Trek Into Darkness , trackback

In a new interview Star Trek Into Darkness producer Bryan Burk talks about how the new movie progresses on from 2009′s Star Trek. He also explains how the role of the villain was tailored to actor Benedict Cumberbatch as well as saying that even though ‘darkness’ is in the name the film is still part of Roddenberry’s vision of a brighter future. See excerpts below.

 

Burk Talks on ‘progression’ since ST2009, Harrison villain and how dark is ‘Into Darkness’

Speaking to IGN at the Star Trek Into Darkness press event last week producer Bryan Burk covered a number of topics, the following are some of the highlights.

Bryan Burk on the time setting and character arcs for Star Trek Into Darkness…

If the last film was about the crew and family coming together, this film is about them learning who they are and starting to work together. We kind of left the last film with Kirk and Spock not hating each other, but they are by no means best of friends going into this film. So it feels like it’s a good progression in the series

Burk on John Harrison and what Benedict Cumberbatch Brought to the role

I think he’s a great villain because he’s ridiculously smart and calculating and a real adversary for Kirk…

[Benedict Cumberbatch] kind of made Harrison his own. Particularly when we cast him – the writers went back and specifically tailored it for Benedict.

Burk also addressed the ‘darkness’ of Into Darkness, saying…

The film is not a dark film per se. It’s not post-apocalyptic dark – it’s still within the realm of what Roddenberry had wanted, which is this positive view of the future. However the stakes are significantly greater, and personal. The characters – particularly Kirk – are going to a much darker place emotionally. I feel like the experience the audience has going through it will be a much deeper emotional experience. And on top of that the spectacle will be significantly bigger than the last film.

Visit IGN for the full interview and more from Burk.


Bryan Burk (R) with Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch at London Star Trek press event (December 14)

Comments

1. rogerachong - January 8, 2013

Same ol’ same ol’.

2. James Cannon - Runcorn Trekkie UK - January 8, 2013

Looking forward to Cumberbatches villain being more in depth than Nero.

3. Aurore - January 8, 2013

Bien..bien…

Please, proceed.

4. Al - January 8, 2013

Sounds a bit like Harrison was a rewrite when they failed to get their first pick actor

5. John Whorfin - January 8, 2013

Well there you go…

“Particularly when we cast him [after failing to cast Benicio del Toro for the role] – the writers went back and specifically tailored it for Benedict.”

…which is the closest confirmation I’ve heard that the character was indeed originally Khan (which we know was the plan since they talked about inserting a coda shot of the Botany Bay at the end of ST’09), but reworked into one of the other genetic supermen (maybe Joachim, maybe not).

And yes, those are clearly hibernation tubes (with frost-covered windows) in the trailer, not coffins.

6. Ensign Ricky - January 8, 2013

I like pie!

7. Aurore - January 8, 2013

I like candy.

:)

8. Ted C - January 8, 2013

I like when people don’t make nonsensical comments just to be funny!

9. Aurore - January 8, 2013

I like it when people take the time to comment on nonsensical comments.

THAT is funny!

:)

10. somejackball - January 8, 2013

i like Reeses!

11. Ciaran - January 8, 2013

yeah, nothing new here at all. come back when you have something more interesting to say, Bryan. Specifically, something we HAVEN’T heard before.

12. dmduncan - January 8, 2013

“[Benedict Cumberbatch] kind of made Harrison his own. Particularly when we cast him – the writers went back and specifically tailored it for Benedict.”

Uh, yes, of course they did. Because John’s original name was Joaquim (Joaquin…however you spell it), and the character was Latino, which is why they looked at Benicio Del Toro, Edgar Ramirez, and Jordi Molla to play him.

John Harrison was born after Cumberbatch was cast.

13. dmduncan - January 8, 2013

5: “…which is the closest confirmation I’ve heard that the character was indeed originally Khan”

Nope. He was NEVER Khan. He was Joaquim. And Joaquim and Khan are not the same characters. They are not interchangeable.

And the fact that they changed the role to make it fit Cumberbatch more, also proves what I’ve been saying about this team from the start: That believable casting MATTERS.

Khan is accepted as being Indian and a Sikh. They wouldn’t cast Cumberbatch as an Indian and a Sikh. They wouldn’t even cast Del Toro as one. They aren’t going to repeat the casting culture of the 1960′s in the second decade of the 21st century.

It’s just NOT who they are as filmmakers.

14. crazydaystrom - January 8, 2013

5. John Whorfin – January 8, 2013
“Well there you go…

“Particularly when we cast him [after failing to cast Benicio del Toro for the role] – the writers went back and specifically tailored it for Benedict.”

…which is the closest confirmation I’ve heard that the character was indeed originally Khan (which we know was the plan since they talked about inserting a coda shot of the Botany Bay at the end of ST’09), but reworked into one of the other genetic supermen (maybe Joachim, maybe not).

And yes, those are clearly hibernation tubes (with frost-covered windows) in the trailer, not coffins.”

OR-

The attempt to cast del Toro or another Hispanic actor was all along JJ’s plan to lead us into thinking Khan was the villain. Not a bad idea actually. But maybe a Bad Robot Idea (see what I did there). In any case ‘confirmation’ is not an applicable term here IMO.

As to the ‘hibernation tubes’, that shot could even be from an ‘after credits’ scene for all we know teasing, Khan for the third movie. I remember people on a Prometheus board, after seeing a trailer, saying certain shots were OBVIOUSLY from the end of the movie. Those shots turned out to be from the very first scene! Thing is, we don’t know. It’s all guess, conjecture and speculation for now. Albeit delicious speculation! I think there are a lot of surprises to come. Great ones hopefully.

15. crazydaystrom - January 8, 2013

@5
Also-
“John Whorfin is dead. He fell on his head!” ;-)

16. Emperor Mike of the Empire - January 8, 2013

Kirk in Trek 5. I want my Pain. I need my Pain.
I bet that is something Bob Orci used in helping write for Cumberbatch against Pine Kirk.

17. John Whorfin - January 8, 2013

13: Well, we don’t know that, do we? Maybe they wanted BdT for Khan, maybe Joachim – who knows – but I’ll concede your scenario is certainly plausible. Either way, the end result seems to be the same: that BC is playing a reworked genetic superman character that serves the same plot function.

14: You’re seriously postulating that the trailer includes a shot from a post-credits bonus scene from the movie? Seriously? Well, heck, by that logic maybe they’re putting shots in the trailer that aren’t even in the movie just to throw us all off. Yeah, that’s the ticket. ;-)

18. SPOCKBOY - January 8, 2013

Hmmm. Perhaps meeting Benicio (or Bardem for that matter) was to negotiate to have them play Khan in the NEXT film, as the last scene from Into Darkness may be Khan unfrozen and walking away from the Kryo-tubes room to get all us Trekkies in a frenzy of anticipation for the next film.

Could be pretty good.

:)

19. crazydaystrom - January 8, 2013

17-
“You’re seriously postulating that the trailer includes a shot from a post-credits bonus scene from the movie? Seriously? Well, heck, by that logic maybe they’re putting shots in the trailer that aren’t even in the movie just to throw us all off. Yeah, that’s the ticket. ;-)”

Hell, I’m seriously postulating that Cumberbatch’s Harrison might be SYBOK! I think waaaaay outside the box. Call me crazy…Call me maybe.

:-))

20. Aurore - January 8, 2013

On an interview available online, here is part of what Mr. Abrams had to say about John Harrison and James Tiberius Kirk:

“….There’s a kind of *shared story* between Chris Pine’s character and Benedict Cumberbatch’s character…and part of the fun of seeing this movie play out…is…you know…watching that tension between the two of them…”

“…The interactions between them are not just brutal…they are complicated…and they make you stop and question everything…”

Personally, I never thought the villain would be Khan or any of his followers.

Even less so after listening to that interview.

(*Emphasis mine.)

21. crazydaystrom - January 8, 2013

18. SPOCKBOY-
That’s what I said. Sorta.

22. BulletInTheFace - January 8, 2013

#12: “Uh, yes, of course they did. Because John’s original name was Joaquim (Joaquin…however you spell it), and the character was Latino, which is why they looked at Benicio Del Toro, Edgar Ramirez, and Jordi Molla to play him.”

All fine and dandy… except that Joaquim wasn’t Latino.

23. Gary S. - January 8, 2013

Aurore, just curious which statements ?
I agree with you, I just wanted to know which quotes in particular.
Also has Del Toro said anything about theSTID Negotiations?
Anything at all?

24. Curious Cadet - January 8, 2013

@20 Aurore,

Where can the interview be found?

That’s what I’ve been hoping to hear, that Harrison is connected to canon in some interesting way but not a direct character like Khan which carries too much baggage. A shared story is a perfect way to connect Harrison.

25. Aurore - January 8, 2013

@23. Gary S. – January 8, 2013

I should not have checked on the site before going to bed….

It’s getting late!

…Anyway, regarding the “statements” see my post @ 20. The site covered the story weeks ago.

About Benicio Del Toro, what I read amounted to rumours ; apparently he did not like the part .

Don’t quote me on this though; I have no links.

However, when asked what happened with regards to the sequel some time ago, he answered this:

“You can’t always get what you want…”

(Link if authorized here:)
http://www.empireonline.com/interviews/interview.asp?IID=1558

26. Gary S. - January 8, 2013

Rereading your last post Aurore, I think that I get where you are coming from
But I am also curious where this interview can be found.

27. Gary S. - January 8, 2013

Okay, got it .
Sleep well.

28. Aurore - January 8, 2013

Link if authorized here:

http://screen.yahoo.com/j-j-abrams-discusses-vision-163000026.html

Good night, gentlemen.

:)

29. Commodore Adams - January 8, 2013

I am excited to hear that it will be more emotional for the audience. There is nothing like a movie that can really make you feel. Feel for the characters, the innocent, hell even the villain, not to mention the poor ships :( The 2009 movie had laughter and joy but that aside I am curious how the new movie will top the emotions of the opening scene and the destruction of vulcan, both pivotal emotional scenes.

30. dmduncan - January 8, 2013

22: “All fine and dandy… except that Joaquim wasn’t Latino.”

Prove it.

31. Michael - January 8, 2013

Still Khan

32. BulletInTheFace - January 8, 2013

#30: Not necessary since it’s obviously true. I also don’t plan to prove that I breathe oxygen.

33. Shilliam Watner (Click for Trek Ships Poster) - January 8, 2013

What’s it matter? Even if it IS Khan, the previews have proven they’re doing something completely different with him. His name might as well be Bobo.

34. dmduncan - January 8, 2013

32: If it was “obvious” then it wouldn’t be so easy to make the Latino interpretation, and you wouldn’t now be arguing in a circle to someone who doesn’t accept your premise that he’s obviously not a Latino character.

35. BillyBoy - January 8, 2013

>>>
They aren’t going to repeat the casting culture of the 1960′s in the second decade of the 21st century.
It’s just NOT who they are as filmmakers.
<<<

Really? Explain why a 40 year old Korean actor from Harold and Kumar is playing a YOUNGER version of George Takei's 1960s Sulu? The only thing John Cho and George Takei have in common is that they're both Asian.

36. Curious Cadet - January 8, 2013

@28. Aurore,
“Link if authorized here: http://screen.yahoo.com/j-j-abrams-discusses-vision-163000026.html

Thanks for that link.

The fact that Abrams said: “There’s a kind of shared story between Chris Pine’s character and Benedict Cumberbatch’s character” CONFIRMS for me that Harrison will NOT be Khan or an augment. He will have some connection vis a vis canon with Kirk, something very unlikely to occur with a member of the Botany Bay crew, unless some form of Space Seed previously happened, which as far as we know hasn’t. On the other hand, the countdown comic could well be a re-telling of Space Seed to set up this movie.

The biggest problem with an augment story is that it runs the risk of a re-telling of TNG episode: “The Hunted”, which is kind of how it’s shaping up based on everything we know assuming Harrison’s an augment.

37. chrisfawkes.com - January 8, 2013

This has nothing to do with Khan or his family and there is no suggestion of any sort that it is.

This is about someone who is a member of starfleet who ends up being a villain.

38. L4YERCAKE - January 8, 2013

It’s still Khan!

39. L4YERCAKE - January 8, 2013

And I like the Wizard Of Oz. :)

40. Tomi_SI - January 9, 2013

Just the other day i rewatched ST09 and Nero had jus 5 lines of tekst!? And sat the whole time Looking grumpy in the backgroud. Its a shame they didn’t include the deleted scens on Rura pente. Good thet i read the IDW Comic so i knew the motivation of Nero.

41. Aurore - January 9, 2013

Mr. Abrams had concerns over the casting of John Cho for the role of Sulu.

However….

“Takei retold story about JJ Abrams was concerned about casting a Korean for Sulu in Star Trek (2009) and he re-assured Abrams by pointing out Roddenberry’s vision was for Sulu was to represent all of Asia, being named for the Sulu Sea instead of using a specific country-specific name.”

http://trekmovie.com/2010/07/25/video-george-takei-on-star-trek-vi-captain-sulu-to-the-rescue-john-cho-shatner-feud-more/

The story is also available on other sites.

42. Marja - January 9, 2013

Aurore thank you for that … Roddenberry called Sulu an “Asian” in “The Making of Star Trek”. It was only when ST novels were written that an author decided Sulu was Japanese, probably because Takei is.

I SAY LET HIM BE KODOS

: )

43. Marja - January 9, 2013

*red face*

John Harrison, I mean. Let HIM be Kodos.

44. razzo - January 9, 2013

Ok, some people are insanelly attached to this “joaquin” whatever concept.
Would anyone care to explain to me where the hell did they get this from?

I’ll do my own research now, to find out which was the fantasy name of this movie and its characters, while in pre-production. Because honestly there is too much misinformation around here, something must have a real origin.

(edited)

45. T'Cal - January 9, 2013

Can’t wait!!!

46. Sonak - January 9, 2013

Even if his performance is great, it’s still the second film in a row about someone feeling he’s been wronged and seeking revenge on a Federation planet.

I would not have thought they could run out of ideas so quickly.

47. T'Cal - January 9, 2013

33. Shilliam Watner (Click for Trek Ships Poster) – January 8, 2013
What’s it matter? Even if it IS Khan, the previews have proven they’re doing something completely different with him. His name might as well be Bobo.

If so, I’m just happy they didn’t call the movie “The Wrath of Bobo” or “The Search for Bobo” or “The Undiscovered Bobo” or …

48. BulletInTheFace - January 9, 2013

#40: “tekst?”

49. BulletInTheFace - January 9, 2013

#44: What are you asking? Your question, with all due respect, is difficult to follow.

50. msn1701 - January 9, 2013

So excited! I agree with the person who thinks this villain will be more “deep” than Nero. I think that’s really important to the success of the film. I’m happy to hear that they don’t start off with Kirk and Spock as best friends, that we get so see a lot of that progression :)

Also I think the Batch was perfectly cast.

51. Clinton - January 9, 2013

A friend put it best: Just release the film! LOL Can’t wait for May.

52. Iva - January 9, 2013

48. BulletInTheFace

Some languages write text as tekst. It appears Tomi is not a native English speaker.

53. Tomi-SI - January 9, 2013

@Iva yes your right, and thank’s for the logical conclusion. (are you Vulcan? ;)

But im lucky because i can learn languages preaty fast. I just haw problems whit the writen word. (just some bragging on my side ;) )

I think 48. knew that just didn’t resist the urge to spell check. ;) or he is Romulan :D

54. trekprincess - January 9, 2013

Looking forward to seeing this film :):)

55. Johnny - January 9, 2013

What if the writers “tailored” the role for Cumberbatch by writing in an explanation of why he doesn’t look like the Khan that we’d be expecting? Perhaps it’s Khan, but he’s disguised himself as “John Harrison” in order to infiltrate Starfleet?

56. CJS - January 9, 2013

So who is John Harrison? And why should anyone have ever cared enough for him to be kept such a secret in the 1st place?.

57. Curious Cadet - January 9, 2013

@56 CJS,

We’re all talking about it right? Best advertising they could ever hope for and it doesn’t cost them a dime.

As for who Harrison is … He is a canon character from TOS.

That’s why the guessing game.

58. dmduncan - January 9, 2013

They looked at 3 Latino actors to play Cumberbatch’s role AFTER the script was done. Then they CHANGED the script to accommodate the casting of Cumberbatch. So what does that tell you? If your life depended on you making the correct guess and you only got ONE guess to get it right, what guess would you make? That they are somehow trying to shoehorn Cumberbatch into the role of an Indian Sikh which they had formerly looked at three Latinos to play in the year 2012?

If that theory was a rope, you’d feel comfortable hanging from a sheer cliff on the strength of that?

(And don’t bother me with theories about Khan’s “real” ethnicity; for 40 + years fans have accepted the character as an Indian and a Sikh, and the SC is not going to overturn that perception. The ONLY reason some fans are bothering to question Khan’s identity now is because those with a preconceived notion of who Cumberbatch is playing are trying to forcefit him to that imaginary role they think he’s in).

59. James McFadden - January 9, 2013

I think that a new 4-Season Star Trek animated series called Star Trek Final Frontier OR Star Trek Columbia should be made. It should involve starship crews from the 24th, 25th and 26th centuries AND include characters such as Agent Daniels, Captain Nero, Captain Chakotay (later Commodore Chakotay), Commander Annika Hensen, Fleet Admiral Kathryn Janeway, Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard, Rear Admiral William T. Riker, Captain Tuvok, General Worf, Ambassador Neelix, Captain Tom Paris, Commander Harry Kim, Captain Morgan Bateson, Fleet Admiral Elizabeth Shelby, Captain Alexander Chase, Commander Barric Holden etc. The theme of this show should be preventing the creation of the Alternate Reality seen in Star Trek 11 and a second Romulan War that would change the Milky Way Galaxy forever.
There can be 2 Starfleets in this show: Starfleet Command and the Federation Defense Directorate. Starfleet Command handles the UFP’s exploratory and diplomatic affairs while it’s sister organisation, the F.D.D., handles the UFP’s military affairs. More new and current explorers, destroyers, and multi-mission vessels (including ships of newer designs) could be shown in this new Star Trek CGI. Newer ship classes and weapons systems mentioned in some novels could be illustrated as CGIs in action (USS Enterprise NCC-1701-J, USS Enterprise NAR-02870, Tactical Support Flyers, Dragonfly, Imperial Mining Ship Narada, USS Atlas, USS Aventine, nadion pulse cannons, Mark-12 Phaser Cannons, Transphasic Torpedoes, double phaser strips, transphasic shields, phased cloaking, omega particles, The Vault (Romulan), Red Matter etc).
This development could also see 2 more titles such as Dogs Of War and Romulan being added to the Star Trek Fan Collective series. As a matter of fact if Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek 13 prove to be a huge success, then CBS Paramount would be able to come up with ideas and plans for 7 more Star Trek films. I’m dying to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

60. NuFan - January 9, 2013

58

You know full well he’s been genetically altered to look like a caucasian called John Harrison.

61. Bob Mack - January 9, 2013

Some of us are talking like this whole villain identity issue needs to make sense or somehow be logical. Why do we feel that way? The role could have been written, re-written and re-written again over the last 12 months to suit any situation the writers could have conceived. There’s no logic to it. It just is.

So Khan or not, I don’t see how anyone can reasonably defend a logical argument for one villain or another. The writers are not bound by logic. It will end up being Khan, or not Khan, but any reasoning to such a conclusion seems pointless to me.

62. dmduncan - January 9, 2013

60. NuFan – January 9, 2013

Hahaha! I confess!

63. Jack - January 9, 2013

“…which is the closest confirmation I’ve heard that the character was indeed originally Khan (which we know was the plan since they talked about inserting a coda shot of the Botany Bay at the end of ST’09)”

Except, they didn’t insert that shot.

64. ug - January 9, 2013

They can’t make Into Darkness THAT dark or they would have lost too much of JJ’s beloved lens flare ;)

65. Curious Cadet - January 9, 2013

@61 Bob Mack,
“The writers are not bound by logic. It will end up being Khan, or not Khan, but any reasoning to such a conclusion seems pointless to me.”

It sounds like you are short-changing these writers.

Bob Orci has shown a high respect for the fans and the subject matter. To suggest he would simply throw logic to the wind, and do an autocorrect for Khan to Harrison throughout the script when DelTorro dropped out is simply offensive.

The idea that they would cast Cumberbatch and then retcon Khan to fit the actor is just not their style. Of course that assumes the character was ever Khan. So for the sake of argument let’s say he was, we’re now looking at a finished movie, for which they are rolling out clues. It doesn’t matter what was, only what is. I trust Orci to have adapted the role to Cumberbatch in a logical fashion. Harrison is a canon character from TOS, and he’s not Khan. I trust the writers stayed up all night for a few days looking for a new clever hook to tie Harrison into TOS canon to make his reveal as exciting as merely having Khan in the story would have been.

So there’s definitely a method to their madness, whatever else went on.

66. dmduncan - January 9, 2013

56. CJS – January 9, 2013

So who is John Harrison? And why should anyone have ever cared enough for him to be kept such a secret in the 1st place?.

***

Good question. Here’s my answer: Because the secrecy was a relic from the time when that character was named someone else, and a name that fans would recognize, making it impossible to reveal. He is STILL a character from canon, or implied by canon, but his name no longer reveals anything crucial.

Since he is no longer that character, they realized that secrecy on that issue was unimportant, but they also realized that after all the speculation, releasing the name John Harrison after strong opinions had already formed about the character’s identity was going to confound the fans even more, driving them into the Hinterlands of Hypothetica to maintain their preconceptions, ironically helping to obscure his identity after it had already been released!

67. Greg2600 - January 9, 2013

I must credit JJ Abrams and the writers Bob/Alex, who it seems have only teased canon cameo’s like Khan or Gary Mitchell, but are not going down that path. I really must say thank you for that aspect. I’ve said that for several years now, they would be unwise to start rebuilding their story on the back of something told already and fairly well known by fans. That said, I loathe what I think will be far too much CGI and action sequences, but that’s what the children want to see. I thought it was brilliant of Nolan to go to Bain in the last Batman film, not to mention start with Scarecrow and the Liam Neeson character, because they weren’t well known. The recycling of old ideas is not good. Khan I think would have been a disastrous inclusion, because we all know him far too well.

68. DeShonn Steinblatt - January 9, 2013

I seem to recall they had no problem with a surgically altered Klingon, not even Sybok with his ears bobbed for no apparent reason.

But the one villain in Star Trek lore that would actually need an altered appearance to move about on Earth? Oh no, out of the question. Impossible!

Moreover, they point to Cumberbatch’s race as some sort of obstacle. Yet they have no problem insisting Harrison is a canon character based on a clearly NOT caucasian bit player from TOS.

Double standard, much?

Twist the evidence, much?

69. Jack - January 9, 2013

Why keep the name a secret for so long? Well, look at all the (essentially free) publicity they got. They kept everything a secret until December. Heck, they released the name and it hasn’t made any difference — the Khan/Mitchell stuff continues.

68. “Yet they have no problem insisting Harrison is a canon character based on a clearly NOT caucasian bit player from TOS.”
True. But that ‘character’ was a lot less known, even to nearly all of us.

I agree: they *could* make JH into Khan if they wanted to. Even though it bucks internal logic. Fans might flip out, but they do that anyway (brewery! lens flares! guns!). Would the public flip out? Saying it was an insult to the Mexican/Sikh/genetic superman community? I doubt it.

I somehow think Bob wouldn’t want to, though. Not sure what I base that on.

70. Jack - January 9, 2013

And, of course, tailoring the character to fit Cumberbatch doesn’t necessarily mean the character was originally Khan. Maybe the character was meant to be Latino. But, again, that doesn’t mean Khan.

Heck, Bob Orci’s Latino. It’s not a stretch to think he might want to write a role for a Latino actor, especially a terrific actor like Del Toro. And, of course, Del Toro could have played a non-Latino character too.

71. Jack - January 9, 2013

And tailoring it for Benedict could have meant letting the guy use his own accent…

72. Curious Cadet - January 9, 2013

@66 dmduncan,
“but his name no longer reveals anything crucial”

His name no. But that doesn’t tell us WHO he is, and that is still very much a secret, one which I hope turns out to have as much impact as Khan does.

But the Harrison mystery is kind of played. The same tired old arguments keep circulating, the Khan folks aren’t budging, and there’s really nothing new to discuss. At least not until we get more, a lot more.

I’m much more interested in Weller at this point. Curious to see if we get a glimpse during the Super Bowl.

73. Jack - January 9, 2013

“But the Harrison mystery is kind of played. The same tired old arguments keep circulating, the Khan folks aren’t budging, and there’s really nothing new to discuss. At least not until we get more, a lot more.”

Agreed!

74. Jack - January 9, 2013

” I loathe what I think will be far too much CGI and action sequences”

That’s a little pessimistic. Do you think Trek ’09 had too many?

75. Aurore - January 10, 2013

“….Yet they have no problem insisting Harrison is a canon character based on a clearly NOT caucasian bit player from TOS.”

_________

Speaking for myself, had I not been told Ron Veto was of Hawaiian origin, I would have said he could be Hispanic.*

In fact, when I saw his picture, he reminded me of actor Daniel Valdez (seen in “Zoot suit “, as Henry Reyna ).

Moreover, When Mr. Cumberbatch dyed his hair black after joining the cast of Star Trek Into Darkness, I assumed, and, wrote that it was probably in order for him to look the part Benicio Del Toro, Jordi Mollá, and, Édgar Ramírez had been considered for, originally….

…That of a new villain to the canon ( this was my hope )….of Hispanic origin.

Although “John Harrison” is not exactly what I would call an Hispanic sounding name, I must admit that I have not ruled out the possibility that he might still be an Hispanic character.

Nor do I rule out the possibility that he might have no relation whatsoever with the character Mr. Veto once portrayed, for that matter….
__________

*I didn’t remember seeing him on the series.

76. razzo - January 10, 2013

@49: I just asked if someone could care to explain to me why are a few users so attached to and certain of a “Joaquin” character or whatever it is what they mean.
Some say Harrison “IS” Joaquin, and I have no idea where they got all that certainty from.

77. Jack - January 10, 2013

I know a Harrison who’s Ukrainian (Haresyn) — so anything’s possible.

76. Joachin was in Pace Seed and then, as a blonde, much younger version in the Wrath of Khan (where he was named Joachim the only other guy on Khan’s crew with lines, I think) . Are they the same guy? I’ve heard talk that the blinde version was Khan’s son, but i think that’s entirely speculation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_(Star_Trek)

II see no reason why he should be the villain.

Frankly, I think the idea that they wouldn’t give us Khan but they’d give us one of the other supermen, well, it seems a bit weak. Like a bargain basement superhero.

I’m hoping there’s no mention of Dr. Soon or the augments.

78. Jack - January 10, 2013

Memory Alpha lists them as two differrent characters (Joachim, Joaquim), which makes more sense…

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Joachim

79. Curious Cadet - January 10, 2013

@78 Jack,

Actually it makes more sense that somebody got the spelling wrong in TWOK and they were always intended to be the same character. Not that they couldn’t have had two genetically engineered Supermen named Joachim, and Joaquin on the same ship, but the odds are kind of stacked against it. Then again, Kirk was marooned on a planet that happened to contain both Scotty and Prime Spock so …

That said, one could argue TWOK Joachim was Khan’s son named for his pal Joaquin and got the spelling wrong himself, assuming the filmmakers ever intended that connection. Or go with the novels (Something Orci says they have taken into consideration) that say Joachim is actually Joaquin’s son … Though that seems like a confusing name selection to me.

Point is, the dark haired Joaquin looks the most like Cumberbatch, and it could be argued that Joachim’s hair was the result of sun bleaching on Seti Alpha, if assumed to be the same person.

As for being a bargain basement superhero compared to Khan, I would just say Khan is only a “superhero” to Trek fans because Nick Meyer made him one by repetition. Prior to Khan, the only recurring nemesis was Harry Mudd! Since Abrams is not making this movie for the fans, and forgetting what we know about Khan, new audiences as well as old are going to be mesmerized by Cumberbatch’s performance. There will be nothing bargain basement about it, whether he is called John Harrison or Joaquin. It only feels that way to some fans. I personally prefer this approach, because it still makes a clever connection to canon, but leaves the slate blank for them to create a new villain worthy of Trek. Would I prefer it be something other than Khan? Yes. But the reality is any minor character they bring forward is going to initially suffer the “superhero” comparison for the fans. It doesn’t mean, like Nick Meyer’s original discovery of Khan, that our socks won’t be nonetheless knocked-off! And maybe that’s the real reason for keeping us guessing.

80. Jack - January 10, 2013

@79 Curious Cadet. I can’t spell any of the versions of that name properly, alas.

“But the reality is any minor character they bring forward is going to initially suffer the “superhero” comparison for the fans. It doesn’t mean, like Nick Meyer’s original discovery of Khan, that our socks won’t be nonetheless knocked-off! And maybe that’s the real reason for keeping us guessing.”

agreed.

I gotta say, the casting in TWOK (eugenics = blondes!) bugged me a little. Space Seed made a point of having an international group of, er, augments (I hate that word, but it’s the easist way to describe them — easier than Khan’s followers).

The international cast of TOS (especially extras) still,to me, says far more about the future (and Gene’s ideas for the future) and had far more impact on me as a kid than any of the message episodes. Look at Court Martial. It was the 60s, and that panel of Starfleet bigwigs wasn’t all white (and, if I remember correctly, it had at least one woman on it — although this could be my idealized memory). TNG and the later movies did a terrible job of casting — nearly everybody was white (and bland). The admirals? Mostly white, mostly male.

I’m a little worried about STID — the people in those crowd scenes in those trailers are mostly white. You’d be hard-pressed to find a city in North America or Europe today where nearly everybody in a crowd would be white. In Trek ’09, the bulk of extras in the academy scene were white.

81. John from Cincinnati - January 10, 2013

So let’s see….the last three Trek movies (including Star Trek Into Darkness)

The villain is a terrorist with a vengeance…Shinzon, Nero and now John Harrison.

I feel cheated.

82. Curious Cadet - January 10, 2013

@80 Jack,
“I’m a little worried about STID — the people in those crowd scenes in those trailers are mostly white. You’d be hard-pressed to find a city in North America or Europe today where nearly everybody in a crowd would be white. In Trek ’09, the bulk of extras in the academy scene were white.”

Forget the extras … EVERY principal cast member is white except Uhura and Sulu. And there are only two principal women (including Uhura).

We don’t know how significant Clarke and Contractor’s roles are, but they seem little more than catalysts like Robau was in ST09 — hardly major roles for the only other featured non-whites in the movie.

And most of the minor featured roles appear to be white as well. This seems more or less true in ST09 as well. Aside from Green women, Vulcans and Romulans (all played by white actors), there were very little other people of color. Yes, the non-whites in the film had important positions, but in a movie, it doesn’t matter if you play the president of the United States, it matters how much screen time you get. And the screens appear decidedly white.

All things considered, not a glowing endorsement of the multi-cultural roots of this particular franchise.

83. Jack - January 10, 2013

82. Bingo. Yeah, one could argue that they were limited by the make-up of the original cast/characters…

Casting Tyler Perry gives them points, or does it?

As for the lack of women, even the characters who were just mentioned and didn’t appear on screen (Dr. Puri, Ensign McKenna) were male. The two women with more than one line both appeared in their underwear.

Oleson = white. Although, I can see sort of see the politics in making him white/Northern European or American (like nearly everyone else) because he dies — and he was played as a moron.

84. Jack - January 10, 2013

83. Oops, I forgot the mothers. They had lines too. Mothery/wifey lines.

85. Red Dead Ryan - January 10, 2013

I’m always tempted to laugh whenever I watch Olsen’s death scene. I don’t think the writers intended for his death to be comedic or slapstick, but the with the way they wrote him, and his fate, it all comes off that way.

I’ve always felt that Redshirts died as a result of bad fortune, i.e being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just plain old bad luck. Or self-sacrifice.

I mean, you got to wonder how Olsen got a job as an engineer in the first place.

I hope we see a more “proper” Redshirt death in the sequel. One where we feel kind of sorry for the poor guy (or girl, whatever the case may be).

86. Curious Cadet - January 10, 2013

@83. Jack,
“Casting Tyler Perry gives them points, or does it?”

No. Tyler Perry is the worst kind of pandering. Casting a minority in a role of an important character who is not actually important in the movie.

Plus, I suspect the decision was made in an effort to help boost the mainstream audience for a film nobody really knew how it would be received by wide Summer audiences.

Just log onto IMDB and scroll through the faces. The first dozen or so for both films are 90% white with less than 10% female. Once past the principles, the bit players and extras (without names) gain only slightly more diversity, but they are just that — minor roles, with very little screen time, much less memorable screen time. I’m hard pressed to recall any non-white speaking roles.

Abrams had an amazing opportunity here to expand the ethnic palette with this film building on the success of Robau, but instead made yet another typically Hollywood-centric movie. For a franchise that is doing so poorly outside the US, one would think they would have given more consideration to having a multi-national looking principal cast.

That’s really what was so offensive about the idea of casting Cumberbatch to play Khan. The one opportunity to cast a major non-white actor for a true ethnic character, and they don’t. Then again there’s an argument to be made, as you did for Olsen, for casting the only non-white actor as the bad guy.

It will be truly ironic if this film ends up actually being about eugenics with the cast they have chosen. Perhaps that’s the point then, Harrison holds a mirror up to Starfleet and the third ST film will get an “affirmative action” makeover. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

87. Jack - January 10, 2013

86. One could argue that we’ve moved past the need for affirmative action, in movie acting at least… except I don’t think we have.

It should just be casting to reflect reality.

And even in TOS, some less-than perfect characters were played by black actors (Boma and Richard Daystrom) and their flaws had nothing to do with their ethnic backgrounds. TOS also threw in other, less complicated characters — Commodore Stone, Dr. M’Benga – who could have easily been cast as standard-white-guys.

88. dmduncan - January 10, 2013

78. Jack – January 10, 2013

Memory Alpha lists them as two differrent characters (Joachim, Joaquim), which makes more sense…

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Joachim

***

What I think happened was Nick Meyer’s inattention to detail. I think they were SUPPOSED to be the same character, but visually, Nick Meyer is a sloppy filmmaker. I don’t think the fact that Scott was a much younger actor or looked completely differently from the Joaquim in Space Seed mattered to him at all.

What we do know is that in TWOK Khan tells Chekov that all those present are what remains of his crew, and Joaquim/Joachim in both Space Seed and TWOK are Khan’s right hand man, so it seems the intent was to continue that character from Space Seed, and I just don’t think how the name was spelled or how the character looked mattered much to Nick Meyer.

That man had some of the worst special effects I have ever seen in a movie in Time After Time. While the guy knows how to tell a good story, his visual sensibility can be awful, and as the director he’s the guy who okays stuff like Khan’s mullet hair, and the glove on one hand, and who plays who.

And it’s a tricky name to spell, and It DOES have variations, but they are all basically regarded as the same name. Khadafy was spelled differently by every damn newspaper that did a story on the guy. But that didn’t mean there were 25 different Moamar Qadaffi’s running around.

89. dmduncan - January 10, 2013

85: “I mean, you got to wonder how Olsen got a job as an engineer in the first place.”

The most important thing you need to know to be an engineer is “lefty loosey, righty tighty.”

90. LogicalLeopard - January 10, 2013

82. Curious Cadet – January 10, 2013

And most of the minor featured roles appear to be white as well. This seems more or less true in ST09 as well. Aside from Green women, Vulcans and Romulans (all played by white actors), there were very little other people of color. Yes, the non-whites in the film had important positions, but in a movie, it doesn’t matter if you play the president of the United States, it matters how much screen time you get. And the screens appear decidedly white.

All things considered, not a glowing endorsement of the multi-cultural roots of this particular franchise.

*********************

I can tell you the simple reason why this sort of thing occurs: Because there are more whites in America, and thus more white extras in Hollywood. As a black man, most of this pretty much escapes my notice, because I’ve been watching white people on television and movies forever. It’s definately a different perspective, and I think sometimes you notice the presence of black people more than the absense of white people. I remember flipping the channels as a young person, and having my mother or someone say, “Wait, go back to those black people.” Do an experiment. Take your remote and flip through the channels, pausing on each channel long enough to get a glimpse of the race of each person on the screen in that second. You might make it through at least fifty channels without seeing anyone, unless BET or TV One are lower numbered in your cable/satellite. *LOL*

But anyway, I personally like to see more nonwhite faces, but I’m not bent out of shape if there’s not an even distribution in every show. Sometimes it’s more uncomfortable when things are done deliberately, like your trio of one black, one white, and one hispanic mugger.

91. LogicalLeopard - January 10, 2013

notice the presence of black people more than the absense of white people = notice the presence of black people more than the absense of black people. IE: Noticing Aisha Tyler when she appears in Friends, but not noticing that black people were missing in the seasons before that.

92. LogicalLeopard - January 10, 2013

without seeing anyone, = without seeing anyone black. I shouldn’t type so fast. *L*

93. Red Dead Ryan - January 10, 2013

#89.

LOL!

94. Red Dead Ryan - January 10, 2013

I think the problem with casting is, the directors and producers in Hollywood tend to be mainly white men. Therefore, unless a particular role is specified to be other then a white man, the filmmakers will cast those who look like themselves, in terms of racial profile and gender.

I don’t necessarily think it comes down to (deliberate) racism (though in some cases, I’m sure its true), more like familiarity with those of a similar profile.

Not that this is an excuse mind you, just offering an explanation. I do agree that more people of color, and women as well, should fill out movie and tv casts whenever possible without resorting to political correctness ( i.e.,”we must have non-white male and females even if the part was written for a white actor so that we don’t offend anyone”).

95. Michael - January 10, 2013

The Joker, Hannibal Lecter and Jack Torrance rolled into one is not Joaquin.

96. LogicalLeopard - January 10, 2013

Speaking of M’Benga, I would LOVE to see them incorporate minor TOS characters in there. M’Benga, Kyle, Harrison, Kelso, Commodore Stone, maybe even Paul Winfield’s character from TWOK. At least some onscreen mentions. I would love to see Number One as well.

97. Curious Cadet - January 10, 2013

@95. Michael,
“The Joker, Hannibal Lecter and Jack Torrance rolled into one is not Joaquin.”

Not that I’m hoping for this particular twist, but I don’t think we can say this at all.

We have no idea how Joaquin would have turned out if his story had been different, I.e. tortured mercilessly by the Klingons, or Starfleet intelligence, or witnessing his “family” and leader tortured and killed.

98. dmduncan - January 10, 2013

95. Michael – January 10, 2013

The Joker, Hannibal Lecter and Jack Torrance rolled into one is not Joaquin.

***

Who said John Harrison is Joaquin? He’s NOT Joaquin. He’s John Harrison.

99. Jack - January 10, 2013

88. I kind of liked the glove on one hand… :)

100. Disinvited - January 10, 2013

#78. Jack

Memory Alpha can be useful but it has limitations. Its committee is biased against off the shelve only sources of information. Bjo Trimble, who almost single-handedly kept Trek alive for us to now discuss and had unprecedented access to ToS’ inner sanctum and offices, wrote the STAR TREK CONCORDANCE and says there that John Bellah played the character, Dr. Harrison, in THE NAKED TIME ep. That actor looks closer to BC than the one on which most focus.

101. Disinvited - January 10, 2013

FWIW

John Harrison means “God is gracious to the son of the home ruler.”

102. dmduncan - January 10, 2013

Harrison is also a common name. John Harrison may have NO relation to any other TOS character surnamed Harrison, and yet John Harrison can still legitimately be considered canon as one of the other Botany Bay survivors who, hitherto, has not been given a name.

There do appear to be cryo-tubes with people in them in this movie, Harrison has unsuspected Captain American-level powers, Bob said they did the story they always wanted to do, and through Damon Lindelof we know that the Botany Bay was in the forefront of their thinking since the end of ST.09, which seems to indicate which story they “always wanted to do.”

And since Cumberbatch isn’t playing Khan — who would have been more trouble to revive than he was worth, then Harrison is probably another Botany Bay superdude.

103. dmduncan - January 10, 2013

Captain American-level = Captain America-level

104. Classy M - January 10, 2013

I happened to catch part of an original Hawaii Five-O episode today. The guest star was Ricardo Montalban.

His character was Japanese.

105. Kenji - January 10, 2013

Roddenberry optimism? Hey, I thought Burk was the one keeping himself pure of Trekkiness so that he could serve as the voice of the “I have no idea what this Star Trek thing is” audience on the Supreme Court!

You have outed yourself Burk! You have joined the Treknerdverse! Gabba gabba we accept you.

106. Travis - January 10, 2013

I think we need to accept the word… ” REBOOT “! We knew what this was going to be…. The Original Series sails again! I do believe that based on evidence of Alex Krutzman and Robert Orci that they are die-hard fans of TOS…. They wrote a awesome story to Star Trek 2009 but let’s think about this tho…. They wanted the botany bay shown at the end of Trek 09, JJ Abrams said to MTV that Khan cannot ignore Kirk nor Kirk cant ignore Khan thus they will meet… its destined to happen!This new Alternate timeline really DOESN’T shake it from the Prime timeline or what is going to happen! For Example anything before Nero’s arrival completely stays the same… Botany Bay, Voyager 6, Enterprise NX-01, ETC… So these events will happen again without any change that Nero has brought. Into Darkness I still believe will have the Botany Bay being found, Khan is in this story one way or another, but I do firmly believe that it will be a DIFFERENT Space Seed because of minor tweaks to the timeline but I expect this Khan to be as bad as the prime timeline Khan!

Beware of V’Ger…. The death of Carbon-based units might be right around the corner lol

107. chrisfawkes.com - January 11, 2013

@ 60

BAM!

108. chrisfawkes.com - January 11, 2013

Some of you guys are going to need counseling when the film comes out and you find out it is not Khan.

109. chrisfawkes.com - January 11, 2013

Plus i want a carton of beer from every one of you who thinks it is Khan once you find out it is not.

110. Michael - January 11, 2013

Cryotubes

111. Curious Cadet - January 11, 2013

@110 Michael,

You keep posting this one word “Cryotubes” as if it proves something obvious.

You know what Cryotubes proves: that people are being kept in stasis. It might be the occupants of the Botany Bay, but it might be just as likely HOSPITAL PODS designed to place terminally I’ll patients in stasis until a cure for their illness has been discovered, or until treatment for a particular injury can be applied. Imagine if critically wounded soldiers on the battlefield (or civilians in a disaster) could be shoved into a stasis pod until such time they could be operated on. And all of those scenarios fittingly into what we know about this movie so far.

Just because it’s Cryotubes and not coffins doesn’t mean it’s Khan. The more interesting solution is the one relatable to and has meaning for modern audiences.

112. Jack - January 11, 2013

Am I the only one horrified by Alice Eve’s outfit? It’s like she lost her luggage and had to whip up a pantsuit using the curtains at an airport motel. Come on, you’re selling a movie here…

I’ve never felt this gay before.

113. Curious Cadet - January 11, 2013

@102 dmduncan,
“John Harrison can still legitimately be considered canon as one of the other Botany Bay survivors who, hitherto, has not been given a name.”

Here’s a link to the unnamed survivors aboard the Botany Bay.

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Unnamed_Augments#Khan.27s_followers_.282267.29

There’s at least three of them with black hair that could easily be Cumberbatch’s Harrison, giving the character an even a greater tie to canon than just an unseen survivor, especially when you consider there were other named characters as common as McPherson.

114. dmduncan - January 11, 2013

@113: True.

The Botany Bay had a total crew of 85. In Space Seed, 12 cryo-chambers had failed leaving 73 survivors. So there’s plenty of unnamed names and unidentified characters to play with in the new universe. I’d like to see some of the female ones given detail.

Kirk pitted against a female villain intrigues me.

115. Curious Cadet - January 11, 2013

@114 dmduncan,
“Kirk pitted against a female villain intrigues me.”

There were a few female villains in TOS as I recall. The Romulan Commander comes immediately to mind, Janice Lester, Sylvia from Catspaw … But you’re right … Probably no honest-to-goodness, moustache twirling ones …

But as far as Khan’s followers are concerned this one looks like she could give Kirk a run for his money …
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Kati

It’s interesting to note, that the scantily dressed female survivors are never seen again following Khan waking them up on the Botany Bay.

Here’s something to note: Spock applies the Vulcan neck pinch to one of the survivors and takes him out quickly and effectively. This gives me pause that Harrison is one of the survivors given that the leaked photos seem to show him shaking off Spock’s neck pinch. Of course anything is possible, but Orci clearly ignored canon if this is the case.

116. Disinvited - January 12, 2013

#114. dmduncan – January 11, 2013

Could you be enThralled by the idea?:

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Thrall

117. Aurore - January 12, 2013

“Speaking for myself, had I not been told Ron Veto was of Hawaiian origin, I would have said he could be Hispanic.*”
_______

Alright .
I confess.

It is due to the fact that “Veto” IS (also) a Spanish name…

118. Aurore - January 13, 2013

….Thus, on the thread where the villain’s name was revealed, after seeing Mr. Veto’s picture right after reading his last name, for a fraction of second…I personally thought the fellow fan giving information about the origins of the actor playing John Harrison in TOS, was probably mistaken …

:)

…Regarding what Damon Lindelof said on the DVD commentary….

He stated that they had considered a post-credits scene showing the Botany Bay, Khan’s sleeper ship, but decided against it; “I’m glad we didn’t, because it would have tied our hands for the sequel.”

I understand many fans think it is indicative of what the powers that be had in mind for the sequel. But, I tend to disagree with that view.

I realize that Damon Lindelof’s introduction to Trek was the movie the Wrath of Khan. He loved it.

Therefore, hearing him say that he/they thought it would be “cool” to include a shot of the Botany Bay at the end of the 2009 movie never led me to believe that they were actually interested in delivering a movie about the Botany Bay and/or the people aboard this sleeper ship.

Besides, assuming this was a clue to what they intended to do for the sequel, since, as far as their projects are concerned, they rightly value secrecy, why would he have talked about it so openly, at that particular point in time?

Granted.

Only a total of five people might have listened to that commentary.

However, given all the statements about their willingness to refrain from sharing too many details concerning the story before May 2013, I really have a hard time believing, Damon Lindelof, of all people, would have announced to the whole world ( five people) what to expect from their next Star Trek movie i.e., a tale of the Botany Bay ….

119. Aurore - January 13, 2013

Correction. 118.
….actor playing John Harrison = actor playing a character named Harrison

120. dmduncan - January 13, 2013

118. Aurore – January 13, 2013

Exactly. I thought he (Veto) was JOHN Harrison. He may still be, for all we know, and I honestly like the Colonel Green theory I came up with, but Joaquim Theory seems to fit with fewer wrinkles — not that Harrison is Joaquim, but that the character was originally written as Joaquim which explains why they were looking to a series of Latino actors to initially play him. I suppose you’ll always find exceptions, but Joaquim is generally not an Anglo name, and the actor originally playing Joaquim certainly passes for Italian or Latino. The character Mark Tobin played on McHale’s Navy? Marco. A name which you will generally find in Italian and Latino communities, not Irish-Scottish-British-German ones.

121. Rose (as in Keachick) - January 13, 2013

I still don’t see evidence of anything that would directly relate to Khan or the Botany Bay. Everything shown in the preview/trailers is just the result of 23rd century technology, which Starfleet/Federation and/or other alien races like the Klingons or the Romulans could have. There is no evidence that Benecio Del Toro or the other Latino actors were auditioned to play the part of Khan or any of his followers. In fact, I always thought that Del Toro looked like or could look like a TOS Klingon adversary.

The only thing we can be fairly certain about is that John Harrison speaks British English, London was partially destroyed and that he was responsible for London’s demise. The question becomes – why? I guess we’ll have to see the movie to find out…:)

“I need my pain” – James Kirk, Star Trek V
As far as I know, that is the only place you will hear Kirk ever say that, which means that Orci and co. must have watched that notorious movie (as in most Star Trek fans think the movie stunk) if they are basing Kirk’s attitude and experience on that…

Actually James Kirk was wrong there. His clinging to his pain, his anger, blinded him from being able to see early enough what could be really going with Klingon Chang and others in Star Trek VI. To not want to let go of pain (which is different from having a memory of someone) is a form of sado-masochism – a rather unhealthy excuse.

122. Curious Cadet - January 13, 2013

@118 Aurore,

The fact that Lindeloff said this: “I’m glad we didn’t, because it would have tied our hands for the sequel.” Tells me all I need to know. That all but says they had already decided not to do Khan by the time he did that commentary. And 5 people? No, every Trek fan in the world listened to that commentary track!

But if you think about their motivations behind Nero destroying Vulcan vis-a-vis the current story motivations we are hearing, I think Orci already had an overall story arc in mind. And Khan simply doesn’t fit with that. If the destruction of Vulcan was the Fedration’s 9/11 and government becomes the bad guy the way they perceive the US did, then Khan nor his followers give you much of story to explore in that context. And Khan creates yet more problems being a displaced 20th century character following on the heels of a time travel movie. And why do Khan if you’re not doing a story about the “supermen’s” quest for power. You can’t do a Khan/Kirk revenge story without giving Khan a reason for revenge and that’s a little much to do in one movie. But ultimately, why does Khan or any of his people care if the federation isn’t being true to it’s underlying principles? They wouldn’t. So none of the Botany Bay survivors fit with the character John Harrison has been described as being, beyond the superficial aspects. Moreover, what possible motivation could a genetically enhanced superman bent on world domination have that might elicit empathy from a modern audience, especially one that has not only been described as the ultimate psychopath, but is already guilty of untold war crimes? Seriously, the only motivation any of the Botany Bay Supermen would have is to conquer the Federation and rule it, because it’s there, not because its corrupt, or morally bankrupt, but because they are better than everybody else and destined to rule. And this idea that the Botany Bay survivors have somehow been subjugated by the Federation is just ludicrous. These guys would fight to the death before they did the bidding of Starfleet.

Frankly, the more I think about a Botany Bay-related story the more I think this is the least likely scenario.

123. dmduncan - January 13, 2013

@122:

I don’t agree.

These “supermen” went to sleep fleeing from a world they lost control of and awaken in a future where they do not belong. Things changed. And they are smart enough to see it. What do you do with people like that? You reorient and include them in society where possible. Or the dark side of Starfleet may see value in using the incorrigible ones.

They also came from a 20th century movement that practiced the wolf in sheep’s clothing modus operandi of the Fabians, so that if some element within Starfleet used them, the question would become who is really using whom?

There would be no instant coup by these survivors against the whole of the Federation. They ain’t THAT super. Star Trek’s 23rd century is not the future world of Idiocracy. And they would know that, just as Khan did upon awakening aboard the Enterprise. Whatever they do would have to work through patience and secret action.

And since Harrison appears to be part of a plan that has gradually worked its way toward fulfillment, I’d say that’s exactly what I’d expect to see out of a Botany Bay superdude movie that might be speaking about the military-industrial complex of the world we live in NOW.

124. Curious Cadet - January 13, 2013

@123 dmduncan,

I’m not sure I agree about the Fabians. Canon tells us the supermen seized control simultaneously. This suggests a brutal military assault, like 9/11 but on a larger scale. Hitler would have been more the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing type. And I’m not so sure Khan would have ever gone so far as to let Kirk put him to work on the Enterprise for any length of time as he formulated his plan. Indeed Khan acted as quickly as he could, too quickly to ensure his success. Khan’s smart but arrogant and brash. This is the same lesson we are taught in Enterprise. So it’s hard for me to imagine them doing a slow burn to achieve their goals.

Either way, let’s say you’re right, and Starfleet rescues them and generously gives them roles in Starfleet. Why do I care about them? Why do I care about a group of arrogant, psychotic war criminals who escaped justice in the 20th century, only to initiate a plan by subterfuge to infiltrate and decimate the Federation, for the sole purpose of subjugating its members to their totalitarian rule?

The only reason I think you allude to is because the military industrial complex within Starfleet attempts to use them for their own nefarious purposes. But since they are really using Starfleet to ultimately fulfill their plan to take over the federation, don’t they get what they deserve? Why would I have any empathy for them at all? At least in TWOK, I identified with Khan, even if I didn’t agree with his actions — Kirk SHOULD have followed up on Khan. Here, I’m not sure.

125. dmduncan - January 13, 2013

Well where was Khan and each of the supermen and women for the majority of their lives before they “seized” power? They had to grow up, be groomed for their roles perhaps. Seems there’s a lot of time there where they weren’t seizing much of anything; I, at least, have never thought of them as soldiers conducting coups. To govern you have to do a lot more than point a gun or have a handshake that drops your foes to their knees. In fact, I wouldn’t even be interested in such a scenario. That’s the kind of stuff that made me yawn my way out of the franchise. Too simple. To me, uninteresting. To lead for any length of time they would need the support of the people, just like Hitler and Stalin had, and that’s where you get the chance to do a story that reflects on our own political process.

They look like leaders to me, not soldiers, and Khan DID show patience and strategy in taking over the Enterprise. He didn’t fight his way to the bridge like a barbarian. He took his time learning how the ship operated, how he could use the systems to his advantage. He did exactly what I’m suggesting Harrison might be doing.

As far as sympathizing with Harrison as an ex-BB man, I don’t know where they went with this, except to say that family seems to be a central theme of the movie, and it mayhap that Harrison and Kirk will mirror each other in defense of their respective families though in radically different ways. I don’t think galactic domination is the goal of this/these survivor/s — and I think it would be a mistake to portray ‘em that way.

126. Disinvited - January 13, 2013

#124 Curious Cadet

You raise an unaswered question: How did Khan pass McCoy’s mental health exam? We know from Trimble’s CONCORDANCE timeline DAGGER OF THE MIND occurred prior to SPACE SEED so psych evals would seem routine?

127. Jackson Roykirk - January 14, 2013

So Cumberbatch is “not Khan,” but there’s (yet again) a revenge plot. One might guess that Into Darkness is an alternate timeline re-imagining of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In some ways. Especially if “not Khan” plans to use Carol Marcus’ (early prototype of the) Genesis device to recycle Earth or some part of it. And especially if, for example, one of the Enterprise’ senior officers dies at the end.

And, oh well, it looks like there aren’t any Klingons in this movie. So maybe JJ and company are saving them for the third movie. And that third movie could feature “not Gorkon,” who could be assassinated after the Klingon moon Praxis explodes and the Klingons are forced to become part of the Federation. Kind of like “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” but in an alternate timeline. Without the baggage of the semi-retiree Kirk and ex-Starfleet Spock.

It could work. Nero’s destruction of a large portion of the Klingon fleet would force the Klingons to rebuild the fleet as quickly as possible. Which would require energy, which would require overloading Praxis’ energy production facilities. Leading to the same massive explosion but much earlier in the alternate timeline.

The third movie (and the JJ Abrams-era Star Trek trilogy) would end with a historic event, and on a bittersweet optimistic note. There would be a space battle with “not Chang”‘s Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked, the foiled assassination attempt at the Khitomer Conference, and Spock would rescue Kirk from Rura Penthe. And the Klingons would take the first steps toward becoming part of the big happy Federation family. I think it could work. I’d argue that Trek VI had one of the better plot lines, if not execution.

128. Jackson Roykirk - January 14, 2013

@ dmduncan re: “… that’s where you get the chance to do a story that reflects on our own political process.”

Nicely stated. The best sci-fi is a commentary on current society. People get distracted by the space ships and special effects, but extrapolating current trends out a few hundred years is where it’s at.

@ dmduncan re: “I don’t know where they went with this, except to say that family seems to be a central theme of the movie…”

Yup. And judging by the title and the ominous imagery we’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a death in the family. But this time they won’t be re-animated because the Genesis device is still just Carol Marcus’ masters thesis project. Not a fully-funded Federation research project.

129. Jackson Roykirk - January 14, 2013

@ #126 Disinvited re: “DAGGER OF THE MIND occurred prior to SPACE SEED”

I’m kind of hoping that Cumberbatch’s character is really Finnegan from ST:TOS Season 1, Episode 15: “Shore Leave.” And that all this doom-and-gloom we’ve seen in the teasers is all just a hoax. And that Into Darkness will actually have a different title and will be the humorous film of the trilogy. A romantic comedy with Kirk and Carol falling in love, breaking up, trying other partners and species, then finally getting back together again. After Kirk has a 30 minute mixed martial arts fight scene with Finnegan.

But I’m not holding my breath.

130. Jai - January 14, 2013

Re: #122:

“Moreover, what possible motivation could a genetically enhanced superman bent on world domination have that might elicit empathy from a modern audience, especially one that has not only been described as the ultimate psychopath, but is already guilty of untold war crimes?”

Khan has never been “described as the ultimate psychopath” or as “guilty of untold war crimes”. In Star Trek canon, that’s Colonel Green.

Khan has been described in Star Trek canon as a firm-but-fair benevolent autocrat who didn’t commit any massacres during his rule over 1/4 of the world and who only engaged in warfare after he was attacked first. In “Space Seed”, Kirk is even open about his admiration for Khan.

Khan is Julius Caesar, not Hitler.

Actually, Khan is more benevolent than Caesar too, since Caesar *did* commit huge massacres during his military career before he rose to power in Rome itself (although not afterwards).

Re: #124:

“Why do I care about a group of arrogant, psychotic war criminals who escaped justice in the 20th century,”

Because while Khan definitely is arrogant, he’s not psychotic or a war criminal.

Re: #125:

“To lead for any length of time they would need the support of the people, just like Hitler and Stalin had,”

Caesar too, who was incredibly popular among the people before, during, and after his rule. And Caesar was eventually overthrown (actually killed) for becoming too powerful, just like Khan. Here’s the difference; unless I’m mistaken, Star Trek canon has never defined exactly *who* overthrew Khan: The ordinary people, other political figures within Khan’s empire (like the conspirators who killed Caesar), or external nations that had engaged in the war of aggression against Khan.

If “John Harrison” is actually Colonel Green in disguise, the arguments about psychopaths, war crimes etc would be accurate. But not if the guy really turns out to be Khan or one of his 20th century lieutenants.

131. Curious Cadet - January 14, 2013

@130 Jai,
“Because while Khan definitely is arrogant, he’s not psychotic or a war criminal.”

You’re not putting the pieces together. And I generally disagree.

First Abrams described Harrison as The Joker, Hannibal Lecter and Jack Torrance rolled into one. Sounds like the ultimate psychopath to me.

Second, we saw Khan on the edge of losing control more than once in Space Seed, and Wrath of Khan he was completely unhinged. Anyone capable of the methods of torture he employed in both stories is not likely completely sane — just like Hitler was not, despite how “peaceably” he invaded Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Third, khan “seized” power of 1/4 of the Earth’s population! How he ran his occupied territories once he had it is somewhat irrelevant with respect to your assertions. It is unlikely that someone capable of the torturous methods he employed in the brief time we saw him, took control peaceably, and did not use methods of terror to control his subjects (Stalin). Just because the “boys club” in the briefing room didn’t bring up the details doesn’t prevent us from comparing Khan to other dictators as you have done. There were no “massacres” under his rule, but they didn’t say anything about individual imprisonment, torture, or executions. Are there any dictators you can think of any that seized control in the last century who aren’t guilty of some sort of war crimes? The mere fact he was part of a conspiracy to overthrow 40 sovereign states makes him a criminal. On that basis alone, if Khan overthrew your government, and ran your life for 3 or 4 years severely curtailing your liberties and freedoms alone, and nothing else, would you have sympathy for anything that happened to him after he was overthrown and escaped justice? And finally he was described as the most dangerous of the supermen. So what exactly made him the most dangerous if he was not guilty of any crimes?

Dmduncan’s theory is that Harrison is one of the Botany Bay survivors anyway, not Khan. In that context, while Khan may or may not himself have been a psychotic war criminal, there is ample evidence he was an anomaly among the supermen, the rest of whom squabbled and warred amongst themselves as well as committed murders enough to define their rule. Enterprise also showed us how unstable the augments were. There was nothing redeemable about the Enterprise Agments. In this context, it is highly unlikely the rest of Khan’s crew were not just as volatile. They were merely controlled by Khan’s rule, and indeed were likely more hands-on in executing his totalitarian control than Khan ever was. Hitler just gave the orders, but it was up to the average foot-soldier to implement them.

Either way, Khan or another survivor, you have Abrams description and the character’s past history to reconcile. And between the two I find very little to garner sympathy.

132. Disinvited - January 14, 2013

#131. Curious Cadet

Excellent rebuttal. I could only add that the CONCORDANCE says Khan ruled over a quarter of the earth from South Asia to the Middle East. He couldn’t have ruled that without having control of media; his surviving history may have been written by himself. In fact, the original treatment for SPACE SEED had him doing his deeds in the 2090s, he may have infected the internet of 2090 with some date changing virus purposely to obscure his and the others’ war crimes (or at least make them harder to document in a future where time has removed all the living witnesses) as they escaped to the future on the other side of a WW III they may have anticipated?

133. dmduncan - January 14, 2013

130:

Jai, good to “see” you again.

“Caesar too, who was incredibly popular among the people before, during, and after his rule.”

Yes. Caesar got away with crossing the Rubicon.

134. Jai - January 14, 2013

Re: #131:

“Second, we saw Khan on the edge of losing control more than once in Space Seed, and Wrath of Khan he was completely unhinged.”

He was completely unhinged in TWOK because he’d been marooned on a planet that was later devastated, killing his wife and a large number of their companions, and Starfleet didn’t even bother checking up on them.

“Anyone capable of the methods of torture he employed in both stories is not likely completely sane”

Interesting claim, given the contemporary controversy about the use of torture as an interrogation technique. Are you claiming the perpetrators are “not likely completely sane” ?

“It is unlikely that someone capable of the torturous methods he employed in the brief time we saw him, took control peaceably, and did not use methods of terror to control his subjects (Stalin). ”

It’s Star Trek canon that Khan was “the best” of the supermen who seized control (ie. the most benevolent of them) and didn’t terrorise his subjects.

“Third, khan “seized” power of 1/4 of the Earth’s population!”

Julius Caesar seized power in Rome. But he took control peaceably, and did not use methods of terror to control his subjects. In fact, Caesar was extremely popular as a ruler – and is admired to this day.

“Just because the “boys club” in the briefing room didn’t bring up the details”

The “boys club” in the briefing room included Kirk, who was open about his admiration for Khan. Kirk is unlikely to admire someone who was like Stalin or Hitler.

However, Kirk *is* much more likely to admire someone who is like Julius Caesar, the closest match for Khan. Even Kirk’s magnanimous behaviour towards Khan at the end of Space Seed is a reflection of his admiration for him — and proof that Khan certainly isn’t “Stalin”.

“There were no “massacres” under his rule, but they didn’t say anything about individual imprisonment, torture, or executions.”

No, they didn’t…so you shouldn’t assume that such atrocities *did* occur, especially as the “boys club” admitted to admiring Khan as a historical ruler.

“Are there any dictators you can think of any that seized control in the last century who aren’t guilty of some sort of war crimes? ”

If you’re going to discuss autocrats seizing control, you need to think on a much bigger scale than merely “the last century”.

Plus, in Star Trek canon Khan is never described as being guilty of war crimes. Do you know who *is* ? Colonel Green. Do you know who *is* described as a genocidal psychopath and a malevolent dictator ? Yep, it’s Colonel Green again.

“The mere fact he was part of a conspiracy to overthrow 40 sovereign states makes him a criminal.”

Doesn’t it depend on what else had been happening in those 40 sovereign states at the time ? Doesn’t it also depend on Khan’s actual reasons for overthrowing those states ?

“On that basis alone, if Khan overthrew your government, and ran your life for 3 or 4 years severely curtailing your liberties and freedoms alone, and nothing else, would you have sympathy for anything that happened to him after he was overthrown and escaped justice?”

Firstly, it would depend on what kind of government it was and how that government had treated its country’s citizens.

Secondly, it would depend on whether Khan’s rule was an improvement over the previous regime.

Thirdly, it would depend on the specific “liberties and freedoms” that were curtailed by Khan.

Fourthly, Stalinesque dictatorships haven’t historically been the only form of autocratic rule in the world. I’ve obviously named “the most famous Roman” as one example, but monarchies have also been common for much of humanity (including Khan’s own country of origin). As a form of government they’re definitely not preferable to modern democracy, but there have been quite a few examples of largely benevolent monarchs who were hugely popular among their subjects and are still remembered fondly as popular historical figures. And of course, even our friend Khan described himself as a “prince”, albeit a self-appointed one; there are also many historical examples of such individuals who took power and established royal dynasties.

“And finally he was described as the most dangerous of the supermen. So what exactly made him the most dangerous if he was not guilty of any crimes?”

The fact that Khan was an extremely intelligent, ambitious, charismatic, and capable ruler who went down in history as someone who was still admired by humans in Kirk’s time. Wouldn’t such a person be regarded as “dangerous” by the existing powerbrokers, especially those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo, either in the 20th century or the 23rd century ?

“there is ample evidence he was an anomaly among the supermen, the rest of whom squabbled and warred amongst themselves as well as committed murders enough to define their rule. Enterprise also showed us how unstable the augments were.”

So you agree Khan wasn’t like the rest of them. This actually contradicts everything else you’ve been claiming about him ;)

“Hitler just gave the orders, but it was up to the average foot-soldier to implement them.”

Hitler was directly involved in overseeing aggressive wars of conquest. He was also directly involved in overseeing the persecution and eventual genocide of millions of people under his rule.

Star Trek canon describes Khan as only engaging in defensive warfare, after he was attacked first. Whilst autocratic, his rule is also described as largely benevolent.

There isn’t much similarity between Hitler and Khan. But Hitler and Colonel Green ? Sure.

With respect, your whole argument is based not on “putting the pieces together”, but ignoring major aspects of ST canon and simultaneously making a whole series of assumptions.

“Dmduncan’s theory is that Harrison is one of the Botany Bay survivors anyway, not Khan”.

At this point, I agree with DM’s theory. If anyone is more likely to be Khan, it’s probably the taller, more muscular figure momentarily seen in the teaser trailer, leaving the “cryo-tube” room alongside Harrison.

135. Jai - January 14, 2013

DMDuncan, re: #134:

Good to see you too ;) I actually left a short comment mentioning you on the Christmas thread a few weeks ago.

I’ve mostly been avoiding the discussions here because I’m trying to avoid major spoilers, beyond anything in the trailers and JJ’s new Empire interview ;) But I was pleased to see you were still posting your usual entertaining comments on Trekmovie on the few occasions I decided to sneak a peek.

136. Jai - January 14, 2013

^^That was in response to DM’s comment #133, of course (not “#134″).

137. dmduncan - January 14, 2013

131:

I think you’re contributing too much here. I mean, they certainly COULD be written that way, but they could just as certainly NOT be, and that would fit as well. One of the mistakes that writers make in creating characters or a whole slew of them from the same “team” is to take the cookie cutter approach where every individual comes out looking like every other individual, but where you make one of them the antagonist of your movie — as in this case, where we re getting descriptions of who Harrison is — he’s going to have his own unique personality and motivation. He’s an individual. Right? They don’t all have the same abilities. Some may be able to resist a Vulcan neck pinch and some may not be. Harrison, we are told, is an expert martial artist, so I would EXPECT him to be able to do that, but I wouldn’t expect that of all of them.

And regardless of what Spock said in Space Seed — which is the future’s view of the past — if they are all the same, then they are just cartoons. 85 of them escaped Earth; assuming that Harrison was one of them, the writers are free to make him whatever they want him to be. The more of an individual they make him, the more realistic he will seem.

Also, Khan himself took exception to Spock’s description of the era. He knew “something of those times,” which is one of the poignant lines of that episode, and if a writer was going to develop that further I’d say there are many points of history about which Khan could legitimately disagree, because he was there, while the future is piecing together an incomplete picture of what happened, and in the gaps between the pieces you can completely change the perspective of those times.

So I wouldn’t let myself get creatively trapped by a few sentences. There is room to dispute at least some of Spock’s views of those times if you come up with a story that requires you to do that.

138. dmduncan - January 14, 2013

135. Jai – January 14, 2013

Oh I must’ve missed your comment! But glad you were enjoying the posts. ;-)

139. dmduncan - January 14, 2013

Okay Jai, just read your comment on the Christmas thread! Thanks. :-) I was busy and neglected that thread entirely! ;-)

140. Disinvited - January 14, 2013

#134. Jai

For me, what condemns Khan as man who committed war crimes before wasn’t that he resorted to torture but that he did it in an orderly and consistent fashion. He slit their throats and hung each to drain in front of the others. There were pools of blood but otherwise it was done neat – too neat; his was a practiced hand that had done this before.

He left Regula I in perfect working order. In fact, I often wonder why Enterprise’s Engineers didn’t use it to better facilitate repairs? For example, Regula I’s transporters worked perfectly.

But I do give them credit for using the space station’s sensors via a subspace link to keep track of Khan on the other side of that dead planet.

141. Curious Cadet - January 14, 2013

@137 dmduncan,
“Harrison, we are told, is an expert martial artist, so I would EXPECT him to be able to do that, but I wouldn’t expect that of all of them.”

Well, in this case I would. I would expect they all had some similar training. At least Khan’s people would have. But I take your point. And don’t disagree. There could be something about Harrison that makes us have empathy for him. I just have a hard time imagining it when we know what he is and how Abrams chose to describe him. The possibility certainly remains on the table. As do many at this point.

@ 134 Jai,

I … Just … Couldn’t … Disagree more.

Abrams describes him as a combination of
Hannibal Lechter — no empathy whatsoever
The Joker — no empathy whatsoever
Jack Torrance — I do feel sorry for Jack, because its not his fault, as he’s possessed by demons or alcohol, or both.

So if it’s Khan or one of his followers, they are already insane by Abrams description, and that colors everything else we know about them. So yes the peices matter here.

Moreover, you are making as many assumptions as you accuse me of making. I’m putting Khan in the context of what I know about our world today, which is not just a hell of a lot more different than it was in 1967 in many respects. If a “terrorist” (and thats exactly what Cumberbatch calls him) superman “seized” power in the Middle East and Asia today, it would NOT happen any more peacefully than it would have in 1967. But since we don’t know exactly what happened, you are free to put on rose-colored glasses and believe what you want. Regardless, I can tell you that there are very few places I would want to live where my freedom was severely curtailed by a ruthless dictator. Spock’s mere use of that sentence suggests the countries Khan “seized” were worse off than before he took power, and Kirk, Bones and Scotty admit it by their laughter … They are putting Spock on. And for the record Khan’s rule was NEVER called “benevolent” — that is attributable to your rose-colored assumption only.

And Khan almost loses it several times during Space Seed, in some very telling “Lord Garth” sorts of ways. But are you telling me that in TWOK he only goes insane because he’s been marooned by Kirk? Then how is it Joachim manages to keep such a level head?

And yes, I’m happy to admit that I think anybody who is capable of sadistic torture of another human being, or animal has a screw loose somewhere. They may rationalize it as just a “job”, but then they took the job when they had other options.

Ultimately, I understand why Kirk had any empathy for Khan. The world that would wish to punish him is long since dead. So who would try him? He has no peers. And ultimately Khan is not responsible for who he is, anymore than a Shark is responsible for what it is. He’s Jack Torrance in that regard. And though I can understand that, it’s not enough for me to be empathetic towards him of his plight. Unlike the shark he has a highly developed brain. And unlike Jack Torrance, he has control of his actions. Perhaps Kirk’s solution was the best, let them attempt to survive in isolation. Then again, even with safeguards in place (which were non-existent), they may have well found a way out into the galaxy to cause trouble for the Federation. So perhaps the best bet is just to put them back in stasis — a kind of prison sentence for their crimes without a punishment about which they will be aware. But I don’t feel sorry for them, I feel sorry for Kirk and Starfleet who are saddled with this moral dilemma. By today’s standards, all of them would have been tried and executed, and that’s the audience Khan must elicit sympathy from? Not only is it a hard sell, but I just don’t see the point.

142. dmduncan - January 14, 2013

I think Montalban successfully portrayed Khan as a noble antagonist.

Throughout Space Seed I LIKE him regardless of what he is — and I am no fan of tyrants. I wouldn’t be able to say that if he was a beast.

Indeed, one of my complaints about TWOK has always been that turning Khan into a madman wasted the potential depth of that character. I thought he was more interesting than that.

If I were to compare him to an emperor, at least through the feeling I get, I regard him as an Augustus rather than as a Domitian. Some dictators are much worse than others. I don’t want to live under ANY, but it is still true that some are worse than others.

And Khan comes across as one of the better ones by his personality and his choice to build a world rather than to destroy one through narcissistic delusions of godhood. Thus, I would say “benevolent” is a good word choice to describe that kind of personality.

Just look at some of the worst Roman emperors if you want a contrast to “benevolent,” none of whom fits the description of Khan.

143. Curious Cadet - January 15, 2013

@142 dmduncan,

I don’t disagree with you about Montalban. His performance is riveting,

But here’s the problem, I am responding to the actor’s charisma. And in that light the rest of your description perfectly fits Hitler, at least until 1941 or so.

If nothing else, Hitler was amazingly charismatic. And he too wanted to build a better world, which like Khan, a better world as defined by him. Indeed the Germans would have overwhelmingly voted Hitler a “benevolent” dictator up to a certain point.

Khan was in power a mere three years before he was overthrown. Hitler was in absolute power for 6 years before commencing his quest for world domination. In this context, would we see Hitler any differently had he been disposed prior to invading Poland? Perhaps.

Part of what makes Khan appealing in Space Seed, is we don’t know who he is for the first half of the episode. Eventually he makes it clear of his goal — to battle for and win “a universe”, a world is no longer enough. And if the threat isn’t ominous enough, Khan demonstrates the methods he intends to use — with Kirk dying a painful and would be ultimately gruesome death in a decompression chamber as his horrified crew looks on, Khan telling them that if they don’t help him, “Each of you in turn will go in there! Die while the others watch!”

In light of this behavior within days of being revived after 200 years, and for whom his rule ended only yesterday, it’s hard to believe Khan ruled his 1/4 of the Earth’s population “benevolently”, both “seizing” power and maintaining it without a single death being contributed to him, especially considering his rule covered principally the “Middle East” and Asia. Those happy populations simply turned over the keys to their kingdoms to a self described superior race and accepted Khan’s authoritarian rule, which by all accounts appears to be decidedly secular? Hard to imagine this westernized Indian Sikh taking over not only any part of Communist China, but also fundamentalist Islamic nations, which comprise most of the rest of that region’s countries, without ever spilling a single drop of blood.

But I don’t disagree with you. Montalban played Khan perfectly and was delightfully engaging, as I suspect Hitler was. But I had little empathy for him once he revealed his true nature. I certainly did not agree with any of his stated goals. And unlike Space Seed, the audience goes in knowing Cumberbatch is the bad guy.

And I completely agree Khan’s potential was wasted in TWOK. Turning him into a frothing-mouthed, raging lunatic was a mistake. But, as I stated earlier, TWOK justified Khan as a sympathetic character — the Federation SHOULD have keep an eye on Ceti Alpha V (arguably the films greatest mcguffin) if only to make sure nobody rescued Khan, and Khan was justified in his anger. But Space Seed offered very little more than Montalban’s charisma to like Khan, and certainly not after he tipped his hand.

So that’s my take on Khan, whom you and I both agree Harrison won’t be. If he turns out to be Joaquin/Joachim, certainly he held it together much better than Khan did in TWOK, I am more inclined to believe you when they say they will find a way for us to be empathetic to him, the same applies to a survivor named John Harrison as well (reasoning where there’s one there may be more). As Jai pointed out about Hitler, he was ultimately responsible, as is Khan, making him less deserving of empathy. But even more than TWOK’s Khan, you really felt sorry for Joachim who was getting taken down simply for following his leader, realizing too late his mistake (something I’m sure the German people under Hitler felt as well). And given Joachim’s growing disagreement with Khan, you could see how such a different view might blossom into a different goal than Khan’s quest for universal domination in the absence of his leader as we may see here.

The only caveat I have to fully conceding your point is how Abrams described Harrison. Unless he’s mostly Jack Torrance in that triumvirate, he’s going in with a strike against him. fortunately Cumberbatch is as charismatic as they come.

144. Red Dead Ryan - January 15, 2013

Khan was an idea, an idea of a genetically-superior human being. The major flaw was that he (and his fellow augments) still maintained their primal human emotions and psyche just like regular humans. Their higher intellect and physical strength made them unstable and dangerous.

From Khan’s point of view, he obviously thought he and his fellow supermen were pyschologically and emotionally stable to be the “leaders” of all of humanity. His charisma was born out of this belief, but when he couldn’t understand why humanity rejected him, he became angry, as depicted during the scene at the dinner table with Kirk, Spock, and the others. To him, it was all in black and white. He and his men were superior, born to rule humanity.

That was their only goal. Because while their mental and physical abilities were greatly enhanced through genetics, their psyche and emotions pretty much remained similar to that of regular humans. As such, these guys didn’t have the “maturity” to properly control or use their heightened abilities in a more constructive manner.

They didn’t resort to mass murder or military invasions, as those tactics have historically proven to be the beginning of the downfall of tyrants. Genocide and invasions have generally proved counter-productive in the long term in the cases of Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Napoleon, etc. These guys were smarter than that. They may have used torture and executions to discipline those who dared to disobey them, but most likely used their charasmatic approach to propaganda as well as carefully planned subterfuge to gain power.

Khan and his followers believed themselves to be a step or two above the rest of humanity. A superior breed of humans. Real world tyrants such as Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao, Musselini, et al, believed themselves to be god-like figures, whose rise to power was, in the end, based on ego, bitterness, power, and a massive sense of entitlement and self-grandeur.

Khan may have been a dictator in the Trek universe, but his methods were far less barbaric. His thirst for power and control is a result of his nature. Superior abilities breed superior ambitions. And without superior pyscological balance and evolution, Khan and his men obviously couldn’t maintain their control of a large portion of Earth, and it brought about their eventual downfall and exile into space.

Hussein, Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, etc. were all narcissists of the highest order. Their images of strength and superiority manufactured by the state media they controlled. In the end, they were merely petty men, who achieved their goals through incredible violence and barbarism, and a false sense of entitlement and god-hood.

With Khan, it was about the nature of the beast. His creators constructed a physically, and mentally, superior human. But they neglected the pyscological aspect.

And that is how Kirk was able to defeat Khan twice. He had the superior pyschological profile as he was from the twenty-third century, when humans finally had the ability to control (the majority of the time, at least) their baser instincts and emotions.

A classic case of nature versus nurture, as opposed to the over-played trope of good versus evil.

145. Red Dead Ryan - January 15, 2013

Kirk’s pychological balance was the result of centuries of human nurture, while Khan’s was pure nature. On the flip side, Kirk’s physical skills and intellect were pure nature (unaltered), while Khan’s was the result of nurture (genetic engineering/modification).

An interesting dynamic contrast between the two characters. The one with the superior intellect and physical strength ends up losing (twice) to someone who obviously isn’t as physically capable but is more balanced emotionally and pyschologically.

146. dmduncan - January 15, 2013

143: “In light of this behavior within days of being revived after 200 years, and for whom his rule ended only yesterday, it’s hard to believe Khan ruled his 1/4 of the Earth’s population ‘benevolently’, both ‘seizing’ power and maintaining it without a single death being contributed to him,”

Khan was a dictator and I don’t think anyone is suggesting he was gun shy, but neither are all dictators the same.

I’m about as anti-authoritarian as a person can get, so I cannot defend any dictator, but I think we all liked Khan, and since his backstory hasn’t been written, that’s all I have to go on. He’s likable. Whatever we imagine his actions and the context of his time to have been, we can go in different directions with our ideas. In no direction do I think he turns out to be a misunderstood saint, but I think we can find ways to portray him as a man with nobility, and that would be consistent with the character we saw in Space Seed.

When you are talking about dictators, “benevolence” is a relative term, and benevolent is how I think of Khan as far as any dictator can be said to be that. Even Marcus Aurelius persecuted Christians, and he was perhaps the most reasonable and philosophical emperor Rome ever had.

Also, there were (and still are) two historical variants of eugenicism. The Aryan ideal of Hitler and the Nazis was a racist variant. The other variant was not, or at least not overtly so. Its supporters abhorred racism (or so they said), and believed in a eugenicism aiming for the perfecting of the human being rather than of a particular race imagined to be superior to the rest.

This is the variant that Khan and his multi-racial supermen and women would have come out of. Not the Nazi racist variant, but the George Bernard Shaw (respected playwright) and Margaret Sanger (progenitor of modern Planned Parenthood) variety.

And their development would have been hidden, not in the open, just as the eugenicist agenda is hidden today but is still operating.

These supermen and superwomen would have grown up in a cloud of obfuscation maintained by the people and organizations that helped to create and train them, because THIS — or, if you prefer, an alternate universe version of THIS world — is the world they come out of.

But regardless of how you reconcile the differences between that 1990′s and the one we got, Space Seed was meant as a morality play on eugenicism, and that has relevance to our world, to us here and now. WE are whom that episode is speaking to — not to anyone in an alternate universe. So the characters DO come out of OUR world, emerging from the eugenicist variants that we have.

Khan wouldn’t be part of the Nazi agenda. He would be part of the Fabianist George Bernard Shaw agenda — or of the agenda of another progressive, perfectibilist group who held similar views and used similar tactics as the Fabians did, which is to use cover and concealment to hide what they are doing until it is too late to respond.

147. dmduncan - January 15, 2013

In fact, what I would do if I was writing Khan’s story is to imagine a world where the Fabian plot at some point went wrong. They wanted to seize complete power peacefully, maintain the appearance of democracy, and were making good progress, but the plot got into the open and they decided to choose the nuclear option and had to use some force, because they were so close to their objective and refused to be thwarted.

Then they tried to govern benevolently, were successful for a while, but the squabbling that resulted between them from the fallout of their plans getting out into the open and people finally knowing who they were and what they were about generated an opposite reaction among the people that they could not fully control.

They escape Earth in the hopes of seeding a new world RATHER than staying behind and ruthlessly killing whole populations to hold on to their power, as revolt grew across the globe.

148. Disinvited - January 15, 2013

#147. dmduncan

Socrates’ philosopher king comes to mind when discussing benevolent rulers. My problem with Khan as he was written, is he cut-off any and all challenges to his precepts (often feigning alternately headache, fatigue, etc.) He came across more as someone indoctrinated in the belief of his superiority rather than one who naturally arrived at that conclusion on his own. He constantly came across as needing to prove his superiority as opposed to being comfortable with the fact that he was. To the point that in his first confrontation with Kirk-Fu when he exclaimed “You can’t win! I have the strength of 10 men!” that I doubted Kirk was the one he was trying to convince.

149. dmduncan - January 15, 2013

Yah, I’m not a canon fundamentalist. Just about every episode of TOS could have been improved in how it portrays things and when you are looking toward the future and how to interpret canon for new work, I think you can fall into a trap of being too deferential.

For example, if the Botany Bay shows up in this movie, even if just in flashback, do you expect that the interior would be an exact faithful reproduction of the interior of the 1960′s cheap set?

Or would you expect that with their obviously bigger budget and improved technology they ought to do a modern rendition of that ship’s interior even though to be consistent they are the same ship and should look EXACTLY the same way?

Because I would expect a modern rendition, not an exact replica.

And if it follows for production values, then why should it NOT follow for any other area where improvements can be made? Even in the writing or the portrayals of the characters?

I love Space Seed but it’s not Shakespeare; thus, if I was tasked with re-booting it (which I am NOT suggesting they are doing) I would improve on all the things that didn’t work so well. I wouldn’t be slavishly devoted to canon such that I forced myself to repeat all the old mistakes even though I saw them.

And one of the things I would change is Khan’s bloviating which to me seems like a not-so-good way of creating height for Khan to fall from when he gets beat by Kirk — in a series that didn’t have money and/or the time to equal the scope of its ideas, and had to make due.

I wouldn’t follow those things anymore than I would duplicate some of Shatner’s bizarre martial arts moves. I WOULD, however, follow the INTENT of TOS. For example, to show Kirk as an accomplished fighter, I would have him using REAL martial arts techniques that have existed for centuries and will exist by the 23rd century.

150. Jai - January 17, 2013

DMDuncan, re: #146 & #147:

I guess people who don’t have any empathy towards real-life autocrats in general – not even Julius Caesar, or historical emperors and kings who weren’t saints but are still regarded as generally benevolent rulers – couldn’t be expected to have a positive view of fictional autocrats/aristocrats in movies and books either.

It’s interesting how people have such different perceptions of Khan, depending on their idea of the word “autocrat” or “dictator” (Caesar was of course the original “Dictator” – literally, as it was his Latin title after he took power). I really like your Fabian theory, but I have quite a different viewpoint which can be related to this comment from #148:

“He came across more as someone indoctrinated in the belief of his superiority rather than one who naturally arrived at that conclusion on his own.”

That would make Khan no different to most aristocrats throughout history – which is what Khan basically was. An assumption of power and superiority based on genetic engineering in Khan’s case, but an aristocrat “born to rule” is still how he saw himself.

Ricardo Montalban actually did a great job of depicting a regal persona for Khan in Space Seed. In fact, those of us who are from an Indian background ourselves can recognise those characteristically royal traits and mannerisms (both good and bad) from India’s own aristocracy, including famous historical figures.

And some of those real-life guys really did grab power and went on to be popular, largely benevolent rulers who are still admired – just like similar historical leaders from other parts of the world, including Julius Caesar and his hero Alexander the Great, neither of whom would have behaved any differently than Khan if they were in his position.

151. dmduncan - January 17, 2013

150: “an aristocrat ‘born to rule’ is still how he saw himself.”

Agreed. That’s the attitude I get from him as well.

152. dmduncan - January 17, 2013

150. Jai – January 17, 2013

Also, the way I think the Fabians would approach this is they would cozy up to the leaders of ethnic groups around the globe and they would say, “Psst, hey, boy do we have a great deal for you.” It would be a deal with the devil, of course, but they would advertise only positives and their plan would become embedded within the social fabric of all these different people, and then they would try to be a unifying force among them once the children of their experiments were born and were being trained and groomed for eventual takeover in their respective regions.

They would plan it to be as subtle and organic a takeover as possible, but you know what they say about plans. So it’s easy to imagine that if they got exposed close to their objective, they might use force and then pacify the people. And if things got worse, they might escalate the use of force until things got out of hand and thy had to run. But in my view force would be a last resort, not the first thing they tried.

And in that way you might portray Khan — and the others — as becoming progressively more severe, but they wouldn’t be these cartoon pure evil characters.

That’s more like how I see them. When they wake up in Space Seed, they are the supermen and women who in their experience recently resorted to harsh methods to try to hold power, but that’s not how they started out.

153. Curious Cadet - January 17, 2013

@150/152 Jai/dmduncan,

Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is …

154. dmduncan - January 18, 2013

It’s not romanticism, dude (or dudess). I don’t romanticize dictatorships, particularly since as the years go on I get closer to living in one.

(To quote from Mann’s Last of the Mohicans

British officer (sarcastically): “You call yourselves subjects of the British Crown?”

Hawkeye: “I don’t call myself ‘subject’ to much of anything at all.”)

What this IS is trying to flesh out a scenario in which Khan is more than a cartoon villain. You don’t have to be PRO dictatorship to create complex and not entirely evil antagonists. Hell, even Darth Vader comes out the other side redeemed.

155. K-7 - January 18, 2013

I have to agree with Curious Cadet, while it is probably unintentionally-subconsciously inferred by Duncan, Jai and others, their discussion here certainly smacks to me of romanticizing strong-man types of dictators.

A lot of people romanticize dictators without even realizing it, and can’t even consciously see that this is what they are doing. So they argue like they have no idea that that is what they were doing — because consciously. they don’t even see it.

156. Red Dead Ryan - January 18, 2013

#155.

I do agree with what you’re saying. Its part of human nature to admire at least some aspects (if not all, ie, neo-Nazis) of various strongman dictators. A lot of people still admire Napoleon.

However, in this case, Khan is entirely fictional. The character did not commit any real world crimes. He couldn’t have. Anything he did do occured within the fictional realm of “Star Trek”.

No different from people dressing up as the Joker for Halloween, or collecting Tony Montana action figures.

No one is going to base their lives on those characters. If they do, then its clear they can’t seperate fiction from real life and obviously would have severe mental issues.

157. dmduncan - January 18, 2013

155: Folderol. There’s nothing unintentional or subconscious in what I mean. To put it in words taken directly from Space Seed itself:

Scotty: There were no massacres under his rule.

Spock: And as little freedom.

McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.

Spock: Gentlemen!?!

*Laughter by Kirk, McCoy, and Scotty*

Kirk: Mr. Spock, you misunderstand. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.

And admiring the positive qualities of someone who has negative qualities as well does not romanticize the negative.

The people who romanticize dictators seem to keep wanting to return to the days when they were in power; they have no problem granting more and more authority to leaders who will gladly accept and not give back whatever they are given.

And, in truth, there are people on this site who seem to have those sentiments, and they can be recognized by their support of America’s strongman tactics across the globe — and increasingly at home (because what an empire does to people in other countries it can do to people in its own) — to “keep us safe.”

I am not one of them. I am one of the strongest voices on this site AGAINST that behavior.

But you already know that, don’t you?

158. dmduncan - January 18, 2013

And BTW, just on the canon question of what TYPE of dictator Khan was, that snippet of dialogue I posted totally disputes CC’s characterization.

According to what Kirk, McCoy, Scotty all think, Khan wasn’t as ruthless as CC imagines in 153. Khan had ruth.

159. dmduncan - January 18, 2013

And so did Kirk!

ba da boom *teesh*

160. Curious Cadet - January 19, 2013

@158 dmduncan,

It does nothing of the kind. It just says he was smart enough no to fall into the same traps other longer ruling dictators did during his brief reign of 3 years. It does not address how he came to power, or how he left power, only what happened while he held power.

As I said before, if this doesn’t romanticize what we know to be true, I don’t know what else to call it. Any strongman who attempted to control the quarter of the world’s population that resides from the Middle East through Asia, would absolutely not be able to do so without fear and brutality. Do you honestly think al-Qaeda would simply roll over and let a secular leader take over? Would the Chinese? Would Pakistan or India? Honestly those countries are all ready to nuke each other now, why on earth would they all agree to live in peace and harmony under one guy?

Just because a dictator doesn’t commit genocide or initiate wars, doesn’t make him any more acceptable, and it doesn’t prove he wasn’t any less violent, sadistic or oppressive in what methods he did use to control the population. It’s like John Gil found out the hard way, there was NOTHING good about Hitler. The mere fact Kirk, Scott and McCoy laugh says they know they are cherry picking the ONLY good things that can be said about Khan. It’s like only saying, Hitler was a benevolent leader to the German people and the conquered nations, and calling it a day. It’s totally specious reasoning to assume he was therefore a good dictator on that information alone.

161. dmduncan - January 19, 2013

160. Curious Cadet – January 19, 2013

The mistake you are making is in treating Khan as a real character with a real history, rather than a fictional character about whom a known set of facts has been described, which it is then our job to construct a more detailed picture of who he was, how he came to power, and how he ruled in the fictional universe of which he was a part.

And while your story is ONE version, I think it is TOO influenced by actual past historical dictators, and does not try to imagine the particular type of character Khan was. I think you are trying to get out of the Space Seed version of Khan to make him fit your generalized picture of The Dictator rather than seeing him as an individual. This is why your notion of Khan seems cartoonish to me — because it’s based on The Dictator generalization. So your view, while legitimate, is in my view not the one that best fits the facts as laid out in Space Seed about who Khan was.

No massacres under his rule, no wars until he was attacked. Those are the fictional historical facts, which Spock does not dispute, which our characters recall to describe the type of “strongman” that Khan was.

In my view, not at all “ruthless” as you describe him, although by the time TWOK rolls around he does appear to be more that way — but he’s a changed man by then as well, so the NIck Meyer evolution does not affect the earlier Khan of Space Seed.

Indeed, one of the more powerful parts of Montalban’s performance that shows Khan is not “ruthless” takes place with Kirk in the decom chamber when Khan gets ANGRY that the crew will not cooperate, yelling “Each of you in turn will go in there!”

I think that says Khan doesn’t really LIKE that technique of persuasion. He prefers to win people’s hearts and minds, and what frustrates him in that moment is being trapped in potentially using a technique which he himself finds repugnant. He thought he could coerce cooperation by doing it to the crew’s top man, and now that he sees it isn’t working and that he will have to KEEP doing it, he gets angry. A ruthless man wouldn’t care. He’s a psychopath. He’d be HAPPY to keep killing crew members until someone had had enough and finally agreed to help. He wouldn’t get frustrated because he’d know that eventually he’d get what he wanted, because the crew would be experiencing far more pain and horror at the continued executions than he was feeling. In short, Khan has ruth.

Now…is that what Montalban had in mind with his portrayal? Is that an example of the goodness of the man coming out in the role?

No freakin idea.

But my interpretation fits the rest of the part he plays there.

So I myself am not encountering trouble imagining a scenario that is different from yours and which does not conflict with the Space Seed version of how the character is portrayed.

His first name was Khan, not Genghis.

162. dmduncan - January 19, 2013

160: “Just because a dictator doesn’t commit genocide or initiate wars, doesn’t make him any more acceptable,”

Oh I agree. To me, no dictator is “acceptable,” but some are more repugnant than others because some are far more unrestrained than others. Dictatorship is implicitly bad for a number of reasons, one of which is that Caesar will inevitably lead to Caligula, which is why we must fight to stop ourselves from even taking a first step down that road.

“and it doesn’t prove he wasn’t any less violent, sadistic or oppressive in what methods he did use to control the population.”

Well here you have to be very specific, because you can oppress people through radically different means. Violence is one, but control of the economy is another. You can oppress people by forcing them into a way of life as debt slaves from which they have no means of escape, effectively controlling their lives from birth to death without the use of violence.

As it happens — which dovetails nicely with my other comments — the Fabians WERE very focused on economic control. John Maynard Keynes — the guru of modern economic theory! — was treasurer of Cambridge’s Eugenics Society!

So here I don’t agree with you. Sadistic violence is one method of oppression, but it doesn’t fit Khan — and in fact, it doesn’t even fit the socialist eugenicists (GB Shaw, Margaret Sanger) of the 20th century, who wanted to *clean up* humanity by eliminating “undesirables” in “kinder, gentler” ways than the Nazis.

163. Curious Cadet - January 19, 2013

@161/162 dmduncan,
“In my view, not at all “ruthless” as you describe him”

That is the term Spock uses, not mine. As you have done, I am merely attempting to discern what actions Khan may have taken to elicit that description from Spock which are otherwise not explicitly stated on screen.

Look, if I am to take Khan and the other so-called “supermen” (though “they were HARDLY supermen” according to Kirk), out of the context of the time they were written (i.e. 1966), and/or assume the writers imagined the Middle East and Asia of 1992-96 was a much less divisive area than it was and still is, then all bets are off. Khan could be anything and anyone, and debating the point is moot.

You can say Khan was frustrated because he didn’t want to have to use horrific methods to torture the crew to get the cooperation he wanted. I say he’s frustrated because he is being defied (these people don’t know who they’re dealing with). Khan stops Joaquin from slapping Uhura again. Perhaps he is being benevolent, or perhaps it’s a tactic, show her can be reasonable in hopes of having her come around before he has to throw her into the chamber. Good cop, bad cop. And what of Joaquin? He’s ready to knock Uhura across the room. No frustration whatsoever, and he’s Khan’s number two guy. Where’d he learn that? Khan could get estimable joy out of torturing these guys, but he doesn’t let it get the better of him here as he does in TWOK. He’s totally in control, and has an objective which takes precedent. But in the end he’s still willing to do it.

The fact is, as you have acknowledged, Khan is an anomaly amongst the supermen, at least in the way he ruled. But your Fabians theory doesn’t fit the rest of them. And Khan’s relatively peaceful short rule doesn’t prove much. It proves he’s smart enough to let the other petty warlords wipe each other out before moving in and taking over. He states his intention of fighting for the “universe” as soon as he wakes up the others. Kirk observes he thinks in terms of military. Khan may have sat quiet for 3 years but then Hitler sat quiet for 6. Given enough time, Khan may have shown his true colors to history.

Obviously I can’t deny your theory doesn’t have merit, or that mine may not fit every single event in Space Seed, though I’ve yet to see one it doesn’t. So the question may never be resolved. However, I believe we are in agreement that there are no good dictators, however well intentioned.

164. K-7 - January 19, 2013

Duncan and Cadet, get a room would you…this is like watching paint dry.

165. dmduncan - January 19, 2013

163: “But your Fabians theory doesn’t fit the rest of them.”

But we don’t KNOW the rest of them. The episode was devoted to Khan. And because it’s so vague regarding them, you can take off in almost any direction.

166. The Sisko - January 27, 2013

Ok…this may sound nuts….but……In the movie “This Means War” which stars, of course Chris Pine, his friend is played by Tom Hardy, who was, of course, Picard clone-boy, and Bane in “Dark Knight Rises”, who was a front for the real villain, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Talia. But his name in this movie is…..John Harrison. Coincidence? or carefully planned easter egg? I think there may be a Khan in our lives after all. LOL

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