Lindelof: Star Trek Needed A Batman-like Reboot

Star Trek producer Damon Lindelof is considered part of the ‘hardcore fan’ wing of Star Trek’s new ‘Supreme Court. In a new interview, Lindelof discusses the ‘state of the union’ of Trek and also dives into the whole ‘Shatner in the movie’ debate.

Excerpts from the AMC SciFi Scanner Blog.


SciFi Scanner: You’ve said the episode of Lost where Desmond travels through time is an homage to Star Trek [in a TrekMovie interview]. Did you approach the upcoming film as a fanboy?

Damon Lindelof: I had a real reverence for the material, but more importantly, for the world and how special that world is, and how long it’s persevered. I watched a fair amount of the original and I really watched a lot of Next Generation. The first series of meetings we had were along the lines of: What is the State of the Union of Trek, and has it been brought to a place where people will resent our involvement because we’re coming from the outside? I think it’s like how with Batman, it got to the point where there was more press about the nipples on the Batsuit than there was about the characters, and the franchise needed a reboot.

SciFi Scanner: William Shatner has been very vocal about his displeasure in not having a place in the film. How did you react?

Damon Lindelof: Mr. Shatner created Kirk, so I understand and sympathize with his feelings about what his role — or lack of a role — in our movie was. That being said, Kirk died; he fell down a cliff face. That made it incredibly challenging for us to tell the story we wanted to tell and figure out a way for William Shatner, who is now several years older than Kirk was when he died, to be in the movie. It’s an incredibly ambitious movie on a technical scale. I can say with confidence that we achieved what we set out to achieve, and that’s all you can ask for.

From more from Lindelof on Trek, Lost, and other projects, see the AMC SciFi Scanner blog.

He used the R word! – Don’t panic
To date the Star Trek team have been careful in the terminology they use. Although many franchise fans use the word ‘reboot’ when talking about an approach to canon, ‘reboot’ is also used in terms of reintroducing a franchise to a new audience and also re-invigorating a franchise’s popularity. In fact, Lindelof has been known to call the film a ‘re-invigoration.’ From what TrekMovie has learned about the new film, it certainly is not a ‘reboot’ in terms of continuity the same way Batman Begins relates to the previous Batman films (if it were, would Lindelof care about the continuity of Kirk dying in Generations?). However, in discussions with various people involved in the new Star Trek film, Batman Begins is often held up as an example of how a franchise successfully came back after some unsuccessful outings.


Related: interviews with Damon Lindelof:

July 2008 (Comic Con)

February 2008 Part 1, February 2008, Part 2

Lindelof at Comic Con



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If the new Star Trek is as good as Batman Begins, it will do very well indeed.

If Batman could pull back after ‘Batman and Robin,’ Trek can pull back from Nemesis.

At first glance I thought the headline said “Star Trek needed a Batman-like ROBOT”.

That would have been wicked cool…


It’s very risky going into something like this while comparing your movie to Batman Begins. Batman Begins, and Casino Royale for that matter, represents how well-done franchise reinventions can be (though, as we know, this one is different as it fits with canon). My only hope is that it is comparable to Batman Begins and Casino Royale, and not Rob Zombie’s abysmal Halloween reinvention.

#4: That’s exactly what I read, too. :)

See, I don’t get the Casino Royale thing. I thought that movie was HORRIBLY boring. They spent an hour and a half at a card game. The beginning and ending scenes were cool, though.

they should have done the x-men CGI thing with kirk and spock to make them look younger

@ yay blogs: Sorry, but that scene in X-Men 3 just looks wrong. I’m not talking story here. But when you watch that scene their faces just look wrong.
It’s even worse in that car ad where they de-age Sean Connery till he looks like he did in the Bond movies. I don’t know if that is running where you live but it looks extremely fake.

All of these younger folks involved with Trek cannot hurt at all. I think that a lot of people are going to totally dig the 2009 movie, but a few ‘purists’ are going to complain about stuff not being canon.

To me, it’s the heart behind the scenes and the interaction between the characters on-screen that really make or break a movie. If J.J. and gang preserve (and perhaps enhance) the character interaction we saw with Kirk, Spock and McCoy in TOS and the various films, plus infuse it with modern-day effects and some creativity, I think most of us will be in for a great piece of entertainment.

May 2009 can’t come soon enough for me. :-D

You know after watching the preview episode of the pilot called FRINGE by Writers J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci… All I can say is… that my original fear about having these people do Star Trek has just been amplified a thousand fold!!!

MI:III was dreadful! It was poorly written and not very original. Lost is good but then Lost isn’t J.J’s alone anymore… it’s just floating out there and slowly dying now, but it had an amazing run… I still love the show but the last season was just a slap in the face.

Back to this new series by the same writers who’ll bring us Star Trek 0. They did such a poor job on the script and dialogue that I fear what’s going to be in this new Trek movie.

They dialogue was horrible, very amateurish and sometimes childish. It was very think on writing on the nose on more than one occasion, all this and more made me really angry and afraid of them being in TOTAL control of the new Trek movie.

People may argue and say well the company supported them so it must be good. Correction they supported them on the basis that they had no idea what to do with Star Trek anymore since they were the reason Enterprise fell out of the skies. Further more they simply thought that J.J’s rep is so good he MUST be good. So they were sold on his vision but then since we don’t know anything about it, who knows just how good it really was??!!!!??

Second thing to remember is this, just cause the cast members and those working on the movie compliment it to the skies and beyond the afterlife, is quite simply because they WANT us to be hyped up enough to secure the DUMB box office money to spawn another movie.. hence more work for them. If enough people go in to watch it based on the hype it might actually bring back quite a lot of the investment to begin with.

Is this another Batman Begins? I doubt it… it’s simply because it’s got too many variables to live up to the hype. It’s probably going to boast of tons of eye candy.. sure, that’s always nice… and old Trek fans will get nostalgic and watch it anyway… much like people watched Star Wars I,II and III, even though we knew it was nothing like the originals.

So the big question is… will it be good enough to pull us in for a sequel?

And will we forgive them for their ‘brave’ new take on our favorite characters?

Then… will they ever work in Hollywood again if they ruin Star Trek? ;)

“That being said, Kirk died; he fell down a cliff face. That made it incredibly challenging for us to tell the story we wanted to tell and figure out a way for William Shatner, who is now several years older than Kirk was when he died, to be in the movie.”

That one quote shows that they are respecting canon in the movie, which makes me very pleased. My concerns about this film have been largely laid to rest by the recent comments by both the production staff and actors and the above quote is one of the many reasons why. I think that this movie is going to be great and if it revitalizes Star Trek like “Batman Begins” did for Batman then I’ll be extremely happy. Let’s hope May 2009 is a huge month for Star Trek!

Good good! So is this our first official clarification that it is a “reboot?” Or should it still be taken loosely?

Thanks Anthony!

…Gah, I’m going blind. First glimpse of that headline, and i thought it said “Star Trek Needed A Batman-like Robot

[bangs head on wall]

Well, this interview just contradicts on so many levels. How can this movie be respectful to canon AND be a reboot at the same time? KirK’s death in GEN is definitely old stuff, this movie – if compared to CASINO ROYALE or BATMAN BEGINS must be a new timeline / new take! So and older Kirk may still be alive in this series’ future…

What bothers me: I could live with both, a genuine reboot OR a real prequel…but we’re obviously getting a little bit of everything. This can’t be good.

Obviously they just want to figure out general interested in the franchise. That’s why they’re offering us this two-headed creature of a movie:

If the movie works, they will instantly screw the prequel concept and start an entirely new run with TOS and all further Trek as a source material like comic books, but with an entirely new conuity. I bet we’re gonna see Kirk facing the Borg and the Q!

If the movie doesn’t really work out financially they’re gonna make it look like a genuine prequel to TOS with some SFX updates so that they can milk the remainders of the old franchise and market this one as some sort new introduction as if nothing has happened.

That’s their strategem. The only thing that brightens my view is in fact Nimoy’s appreciation of the script. He’s retired a long time ago. He wasn’t looking for a job and he did that just because he liked it! So maybe it isn’t that bad after all.

As for good old Trek, Phase II is most certainly the better option. I hope Paramount isn’t gonna pull the plug on this one as they produce far better instellaments these days than anything Voyager seasons 6+7 or Enterprise years 1+2 had to offer. Phase II is it! This movie may just be another step in the wrong direction. Hopefully it’s not!

#16: How many ‘reintroductions’ that don’t destroy the established canon are there? ONE! Doctor Who! And that’s set AFTER the original series so it doesn’t have to mess with the lore.

Now, there are dozens of R-productions that don’t care about canon at all. Just to name the most popular:

Ron Moore’s BSG
Batman Begins
Casino Royale
Rob Zombie’s Halloween
probably the new Superman movie
Sarah Connor Chr. erasing T3 and all subsequent movies

Okay, there is the new Knight Rider, but that one at least screws Knight Rider 2000 and the aweful TKR series…

There is no reason to asume JJ or the writers really care about the old timeline no matter what they say in some interviews. And I wouldn’t either! But than they should go out and ADMIT that this is an entirely new start. Not clearyl labeling it as an outright reboot is far more unfair to the fanbase. I certainly won’t get my hopes up. This movie most certainly won’t fit into the old timeline and it’s sequels (should there be any) won’t fit FOR SURE!

Why caring about a 40 year old TV chronology anyway if they can milk and exploit some popular icons and assemble them into 3 or 5 blockbusters that could make billions of dollars? Come on, that origin story may work as both a prequel and a reboot but for a sequel, they really have to forget about the old canon! It may, if we are very lucky, still respect some IDEAS and PRINCIPLES but not the CANON!

This may be a good thing and may result in a far better product than TOS and the old movies all together. It will be far more condensed though. You may see a kick-ass Doomsday Machine, Klingons, Romulans and Tribbles in one gigantic movie. But it won’t fit with anything seen on TOS! It’s an entirely new version…get used to that thought!

Yankees?! oh paleeese….Go Sox!

The new movie will be different than what we are used to. No doubt about it.

It will be hard enough for us fans to swallow new actors in the iconic roles no matter how good the story and effects are. Reboots with new actors in iconic characters is always very difficult—and often more so when there are too many similarities. I had faith that Singer could pull-off the Superman reboot—until I saw the suit. Then there was the story…the wrong Lois….and character motivation issues. Playing a modified version of John Williams theme only served to remind me that I wasn’t looking at Christopher Reeve.

Ugghhhh. This is not going to be easy.

It’s beyond obvious that, in a fandom where people take minutae like whether or not the “delta” insignia was used throughout Starfleet or only on the Enterprise or exactly when first contact with the Klingons “occurred”, this film will not be reconcilable with the “Star Trek Universe” that has existed up until now.

The way this will work is: if people really like the film, they’ll decide on a gut level that they want it to be part of the continuity and they’ll construct elaborate explanations for each deviation. If they don’t like the film, they’re going to be livid at the liberties taken.

Will Spock now have rubber nipples???

#12 – You are so wrong. Lost is one of the most annoying shows in the history of television. Everything else that JJ has touched is golden. I hope they tear canon a new one. Bring in the characters only and shake up the history all to hell!!!!!!

#15 – Don’t worry. It will be all good.

Oh, no! Lindelof is a Yankees fan? BOO! Go Mets!


It sounds like your whole post concerns your thoughts on Fringe, so let me go with that in my response.

Having seen that Fringe pilot, I agree that there were some rough elements to it. But it is just that, a pilot, and an incomplete one at that. Sure, the FX and editing seemed to be mostly in place, but the music was all looped in from other sources, mostly Michael Giacchino compositions (Lost being the main one). So who’s to say they didn’t reshoot or add some material for the final version next week? Even if they don’t change a frame though, things will solidify over the first few episodes. Most shows have to iron out little things at the start. See, oh, I don’t know, every Star Trek series to date. Or to get closer to a Fringe connection, how about the X-Files? The characters were solid out of the gate, but the whole alien conspiracy arc didn’t really become the major element of the show it was until the second season. So don’t just judge a show based solely on a leaked pilot. We don’t really know what’s around the corner yet for Fringe.

And you just lost me in the 2nd paragraph. M:I:iii was a pretty good movie. Solid action, great characterizations, and the whole thing wasn’t a big confusing mess the way M:I:ii was (or the crappy plot behind the first movie, but neither of those involved Abrams & co. so I’ll leave it at that). It was as much a movie version of Alias as it was an excellent homage to the original M:I series.

As for Lost. Are you sure you actually watched the 4th season and not a replay of the 2nd? It was the most consistent season of the show so far, and there’s a real drive to it now that it has an established ending point. Actually, come to think of it, the season was a slap to the face – that’s what I found myself doing to be sure it was actually happening!

And it wasn’t Paramount itself that had lost its way on Trek so much as Berman. He was a good leader in the early 90s, but his work on ENT shows just how stale things had gotten with him at the helm. Same reason Stargate TV has really faded in quality over the last few seasons; same people doing the same writing for far too long.

Trek has had plenty of issues with stale dialog and storytelling, particularly through the runs of VOY & ENT. I actually AM willing to consider reputation when it comes to Abrams & co. The real parting point for us seems to be what we judge that reputation to be. You see bad dialog and scripts; I see fine dialog and excellent scripts. They know how to tell stories worthy of the big screen, no matter what medium they’re in. It will certainly be an improvement for Trek, given how some of the movies are little grander than episodes.

I’m going to withhold any judgment on this film, however, until I see the next trailer and the final product.

I don’t think that this film will be a bomb, I see that people are having a hard time digesting the Idea that Trek might change a little, but I figure it is no big deal. I don’t think it will be a reboot in the sence that it will change everything…but it WILL breath new life into Star Trek. so if it goes off Cannon is OK with Me.

also GO CUBS!


there was next to no back story on the original series & the episodes were almost all entirly stand alone episodes so there is planty of wiggle room for a prequell & sequells- RELAX

I also think that Judgement should be held off until we see the movie!!!

That does it !!!
I’ll catch this movie on cable… If I have the time !

I thought MI:III was brilliant! It was engrossing, surprising and action packed. It totally fulfilled my expectations and I suspect Trek will as well.
I just wish we didn’t have to wait 9 months to see the movie!

The Insider (#11),

Just to flip the coin on your points of debate…

I like what I’ve seen of Fringe so far. The premise seems interesting and the characters have intelligence and wit. Of course, I’ll reserve final judment until I see the whole thing, but nothing so far has given me reason to complain.

MI:III is my favorite film of the series, and the one most like the original TV show. It’s fast-paced, but also reveals some great character moments. They’re not just just action figures going through the motions. There are reasons why they do what they do and many of their actions had unforeseen repercussions. The film also looks absolutely gorgeous, adding a cool visual style to the mix.

I don’t watch Lost, but I’m a big fan of Abrams’ previous show, Alias. That show foundered a bit when JJ stepped away from the day-to-day oversight, but jumped right back on track when he returned to the center seat. Everything I’ve seen of his work shows me he’s got what it takes to do this.

I also really enjoyed Transformers (written by Orci and Kurtzman), even though I was no fan of the toys or the cartoon. Again, it had incredible action, plus more genuine character moments than you find in most Michael Bay films.

I’m not trying to convince you that you’re wrong. If you don’t like the filmmaking styles of the people involved, then the chances are you might not like this new movie. On the other hand, isn’t it possible, just possible, that the stars might be aligning for Trek and these guys might be able to do it justice? I like what I’ve seen these people do, so I’m more willing to believe they’ll get it right. That doesn’t make me right and you wrong. It simply means that we have different opinions. And the great thing about opinions is, they can change, if we keep an open mind.

Yeah, all the great stuff being said by the actors and crew must be taken with a grain of salt. There’s no way they’re going to badmouth a potential summer blockbuster. But I prefer to think that, if they didn’t like how the project was going, they’d keep their mouths shut instead of spinning yarns that will obviously come back to haunt them later. Try to keep an open mind, and judge for yourself this summer when the film hits theaters. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best.

” … the franchise needed a reboot.”

Finally, somebody just said it for what it is.

And Rubber nipples

“I have added a note at the end. Reboot is a term that means different things to different people, I am fairly certain that Lindelof did not mean it in terms of the ‘throw out all the canon’ view.”

With all due respect, Anthony – and I mean that very sincerely – why are you always acting as an apologist for these guys? Every time there’s a new quote or interview from one of these people, you post a commentary that basically says they didn’t say what they actually said. “Oh he said reboot but I’m sure he really meant something else.” Sincerely, why are you taking that role upon yourself? Are you acting as their fan liason, officially or unofficially? Are you being remunerated? Do you feel you have to give them coverage in the best possible light to continue to have access to them? Or are you so supportive of the idea of this movie that you’ve taken it upon yourself to make things sound as good as possible to the persnickity TOS fans? Can’t you just be a reporter and report what they say, and let people draw their own conclusions? The guys making this movie, they are very savy people. They have been successful in a very competitive business and I’m sure they know wxactly what they’re saying, to whom they’re saying it, and why. Just let them speak for themselves and continue reporting that in the generally excellent way your site has been operating.

What’s the point of a reboot if it doesn’t jettison “Generations” from the canon?

I like MI:III best of the three MI movies but I was not in love with it however that plays in JJ’s Star Trek. So after reading so much about this movie, I feel that we are in for a very good entertaining, action packed, movie that will probably do well.. I don’t expect a TOS look or feel nor an imitation of the original actors portraying the iconic characters. I expect some inconsistencies with established canon but not significant changes to canon. I have no reason to believe that JJ is misleading the fans in any way or out to overhaul canon or destroy what came before. I look at this movie as I do the classic Bond movies with Sean Connery and the modern Bond movies with Brosnan and Craig, very different in tone, the modern versions much more action, SFX filled.. and I appreciate viewing both versons and that’s how I approach this new Star Trek movie, I may appreciate a great deal while still appreciating the original series.. both can coincide in this universe..

Re #20: I’ll take it one step further, Dennis. Either the new movie will be so good that people will accept the new paradigm and sign on happily for sequels; or it will be so foreign/off-the-mark/bad that the general public will say, “whatever” and won’t come back for more, and the long-time fans will leave in a huff and go curl up with their Concordances and Trek DVDs, and (any potential new) Trek will fade away….

I’m hoping for the former myself.

Scott B. out.

I thought the exact same thing about the headline. I had to give it a second look myself.

#26 – CANON CANON CANON – Jeez, if you’re gonna shout, can you at least use the right word? It’s kind of ironic that those who are most vocal about respecting tiny details tend to not spell the word correctly.

I just hope it’s a good, exciting, intelligent, emotional movie. I want my non-fan wife to love it. I think it would be foolish to make the nostalgic trappings unrecognizable, and hope that the sets, costumes and props evoke the original series. But no one should get worked up about the color of the knob on a phaser, or whether Gary Mitchell is there or not. If the writing and acting portray Spock, Kirk, and McCoy correctly, we’re 80% there.

I am so thrilled that there is new life being brought to the TOS world that I love so much that I don’t care if it is a REBOOT, or a REINTRODUCTION, or a REIMAGINATION…
…it’s better than having nothing but RERUNS to watch for the last 39 years… To me the terminology that they use is not that important.

Fact: JJ’s Trek is going to be different.
Fact: Everyone involved seems to love and respect Trek.
Fact: After many years of waiting… STAR TREK LIVES!

By the way, what movie COULDN’T use a Batman-like Robot? It would sell as many tickets as Batman AND Iron Man put together!

Come to think of it, J.J. could rebrand his company from “Bad Robot” to “Bat Robot”! That’s synergy right there, my friends.

Star Trek is Star Trek.

No matter what anyone does with the series or movies, we the fans are the ones who should not judge what is presented. Remember Spock’s Brain on TOS, The Game on STNG?

Did we leave the universe? No. Star Trek is a part of culture and a future that we would love to have happen, except for the Borg, I wouldn’t wish that on any race.

So, those that don’t like the poor episodes and movies, that’s ok. I’m one of the idiots that likes Star Trek V. Story is good and I wish that Paramount would let Shatner redo the movie with the ending that he wanted instead of what got shot.

I have been a huge Trek fan since I was 6, and I have no problem with Mr. Shatner not being in this movie. Spock is a very specific and defined character, as was said in another thread, so having Leonard Nimoy is not such a deal. To have Shatner in the film would have limited Chris Pine in ways that would have destroyed this film. He would have had to emulate the acting style, and it would have screamed “Cheese” louder than Billy Mays. :)


@30 BuckarooHawk – thanks for response to @11.

Saved me all that typing!

To reiterate the fourth season of Lost ROCKED!

Great answers Damon especially in regards to the Shat.

…the adventure continues…

He’s more of a TNG fan than a TOS fan – what does he care about it?

I’ve never understood their reasoning of “Shatner’s Kirk is dead so he can’t be in this movie.” Doesn’t the film jump from time period from time period? Whether or not someone’s dead is pretty much irrelevant when it comes to time travel stories. There’s no reason they couldn’t have the narrative “jump” to the Movie era and have Shatner play the character, even though I don’t like the movie era.

Their reasoning still doesn’t hold up for me.

#45 – Because Shatner didn’t want a small part or cameo…

Re: 41. Odkin –
” Come to think of it, J.J. could rebrand his company from “Bad Robot” to “Bat Robot”! ”

As long as he does not change the name to “Bad Reboot”…

24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31 and …32(?)

I couldn’t agree with you more.

It seems to me that those who have decided that the new Trek movie will suck have made up their minds – even without giving the new film a fighting chance. If Star Trek ended-up being the best Trek Movie EVER, the the folks whose childhoods have been raped and pillaged by CGI, a new cast, different nacelles, CBS Digital, a different Enterprise and Dolby Digital 7.1 will find a way to HATE HATE HATE this movie. So what if The Fringe was shaky? So What if Lost wasn’t your cup of tea? So What if Cloverfield did sit well with you? This is Trek, a franchise that has been tweaked and reinvented several times, and has managed to draw an audience and make some money along the way. The ship has changed, and been blown-up…The crew has grown-old…died…and been resurrected…The stewardship of the brand has changed hands…and it is still Trek! If you think that this movie sucks before it’s release or that you know exactly what the storyline is based on a few photos and interviews, then good for you! There are always the untouched VHS (or beta) copies of TOS for you to watch over and over again, while the rest of us can sit back and enjoy some newfangled Star Trek on the big screen reinvigorated with a new cast, a familiar face and an even more familiar ship.

Reboot…reinvent..reinvigorate…whatever; a fresh dose of Trek is welcome thing to me, IMO.

“Is it possible that we two, you and I, have gotten so old that we have outlived our usefulness? Would that constitute a joke?”

—–Captain Spock, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Who cares what this guy thinks!!!! I want James Cawley as chief exec of the new film.

spock always had rubber nipples, seven of them, just not where you could see them. so much of vulcan physiology remains unexplored. except by maybe trip, and he’s dead.