Abrams and Orci Talk Space Battles, Bar Fights and more

In a couple of new interviews conducted at the Televisions Critics Association winter press tour, Star Trek director JJ Abrams and co-writer Roberto Orci took time out from promoting their TV show Fringe to talk a little Trek with SciFi Wire. Both were asked about combat, both in space and in a bar in Iowa.


Starfleet battles
SciFi asked screenwriter Roberto Orci about the space battles in the new Star Trek and if they were moving away from the traditional ‘submarine battle’ style of Trek combat:

Orci: It’s safe to say that that has not been totally thrown away, but imagine super-advanced submarines. It still maintains some of the maritime origin battle-wise, either a sub battle or ship to ship, cannon to cannon, Master and Commander battle. Just, I think, on a different pace.

And in a separate interview director JJ Abrams clarified:

Abrams: They’re big ships, so I’d say that there is a little bit of that, but there’s a little bit more flash and fun and action than you’ve seen before. There are some pretty spectacular visual effects. ILM outdid themselves. It’s amazing.

Kirk’s bar battle
In the press preview shown in November (see TrekMovie report), there was a  scene where a young James T. Kirk gets into a bar fight (before going into Starfleet Academy). SciFi Wire asked Orci what he had to say to fans who feel this is out of character for Kirk:

Orci: Well, they cite the quote that he was a stack of books with legs in the Academy. The truth is that in our movie there’s nothing that precludes Kirk from being a stack of books at the Academy. What you see is what he is before the Academy. Some would argue that him being a rebellious bar fighter in our movie is absolutely consistent with canon.

UPDATE: when asked about fans reaction to this scene Abrams pointed noted, again, that he is not just looking at the core fans:

Abrams: I would say that the fans of Star Trek will be very happy with the movie. It honors what’s come before, but I didn’t really make the movie just for the people who are already inside, because I like Star Trek but I was never a massive fan. So I think the movie’s going to not satisfy everyone, of course. It can’t. But it’ll satisfy most of both.”.

Go to SciFi wire to see much more from the two interviews with Orci (also covering Transformers and Cowboys and Aliens) and Abrams (including discussing Shatner). There is also an additional interview with Abrams on Fringe.



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Great interview. Look forward to the faster pace.

Maybe they called young Kirk’s motorcycle a ‘garbage scow’…?

I’m excited that Orci referenced Master and Commander, one of the best Star Trek movies ever!

BobOrci: Good point on the stack of books with legs.

Both are a part of James Kirk.

He’s given a challenge, so he rises o it. Almost like having ADD, where he’s hyperfocussing.

Drunk in Iowa Bar: I bet in a prime QM reality, you’re a stack of books with legs!

PineKirk: Why you — @#$*!!

OK OK… I’m just glad we’re in the same calendar year, so this maddening half-preview talk will soon be over. I trust ILM. I look forward to the new take on Kirk. I KNOW it’s not going to be Shatner redux.

There’s an old saying: It’s not change that hurts. It’s anticipating (or resisting) change that hurts.

The stack of books with legs just shows how committed he is to accomplishing what he sets out to do. Apparently in the film, it took Captain Pike to coax him into going into Starfleet almost on a dare and that doesn’t preclude him thoroughly dedicating himself to that end while he was there.

I hope in this new movie they don’t lose the one element of Kirk’s character that I always enjoyed… the love Kirk had for his ship.

The Next Gen series seemed to get away form the romantic connection that a Captain has for his ship.

None of the other captains in the star trek universe never quite had that affection for their ship.

In “naked time” Kirk’s biggest fear was losing his ship, losing her.

In the the novel “Destiny” the author shows the Enterprise was a thread in Kirks life starting when he was a boy when he first visited the bridge of the Enterprise under Captain Robert April, George Kirk was a security officer at the time. The Enterprise was painted as Kirk’s first true love.
The spark that led him to the academy, then into command.


So he hits the guy in the bar because he insulted the bike, not because they…

Well, it’s a matter of pride.

#3 I sure hope you’re joking……

I wish it was May……

It’s funny that Bob references the “stack of books with legs” comment from WNMHGB. Kirk was barely fleshed out in the second pilot, if at all, and his extra-curricular propensities became known as season 1 unraveled.

Kirk is obviously highly intelligent. Though he never comes across as a bookworm like Picard. He’s more of an action hero. The old TOS writers’ guide perhaps made him more like Picard than he ended up being.

I just cannot imagine Kirk sitting down and reading a book. “I was absolutely grim!” LOL

Drunk in Iowa bar: I didn’t say it should be hauling garbage, I said it should be hauled away AS Garbage….

Ok, sorry….just had ta do it….. :p

I agree. Kirk and fisticuffs. Five of the seven previous movies he is in and dozens of episodes makes “Kirk is a brawler” canon.

“I just cannot imagine Kirk sitting down and reading a book.”

Are you kidding? Kirk practically wrote the Kama Sutra!

13. CmdrR


“I just cannot imagine Kirk sitting down and reading a book. ”

really? I have no trouble imagining him as real person with multiple facets to his personality



Couldn’t have said it better!!!

Kirk has elements of both.

He reads books, and quotes from them.

He drop-kicks adversaries.

He is a multidimentional character, a highly-intelligent astronaught, diplomat, fighter and ladies man.

All of these things, and these combined with determination and leadership skills, give him the rare, special qualities of a Starship Captain.

I suspect his love of the Enterprise and her Crew are developed in the movie. He sees the Enterprise the first time, and sharing a trial by fire with her and her crew, brings out an all-encompassing bond.

The Enterprise as seen and felt by Kirk:
She’s a lady, with needs, who will never let you down, who will fight for you, go to hell and heaven and back for you and with you, and who needs you as much as you need her.

And when you are tired and weary from the trials of life, she will always be the one to bring you home.

“Nothing is more important than my ship.”

Im hoping for the fying double legged drop kick

“Abrams: Well, the guy sort of asks for it a little bit in that scene.”

That has absolutely nothing to do with the bar stuff. That was in reference to the Red Shirt.

i was always under the impression that the “stack of book with legs” was while Kirk was an instructor at the Academy, with Mitchell in his class.

I’m sure while Kirk was a “student” at the Academy he had plenty of altercations…it’s just his nature. Not starting them, so to speak, but definitely participating.


I suspect he dictated the Kama Sutra.

Kirk: “Hey, that feels good. Yeoman? Can you write this down?”

Rand: “Sure, Captain. As soon as my orgasmic convulsions stop, and you untie my hands.”

@ #2, Surely it should have been Scotty who would be in the fight scene then, eh?


The new US Army combatives manual (FM 3-25.150) actually calls the “foot-in-the-stomach” (AKA Tomoe Nage in Judo) throw the “Captain Kirk” throw in the new manual.

It’s a fact that Kirk respected Sam Cogley’s love of books, but I never saw a literary bent in him.

Spock gave him “A Tale of Two Cities” due to his ‘fondness for antiques,’ and not specifically books.

It is canon that he is a book-guy, but the show never gave him the chance to show it. Picard’s love of Shakespeare was made apparent, especially by Q, and the open Complete Works in his Ready Room.

I suppose Kirk’s reference to the poem in “City on the Edge of Forever” could be a clue, as could his knowledge of the preamble to the US Constitution in “Omega Glory.” But it never added to the character’s development.


I’m also hoping for that Gymnastic/judo rolling throw-thing that TOS Kirk was famous for….

I’ll bet that Kirk’s character is the classic scenario :

“Our hero has the abilities, but not yet the sense of focus to use them, pretty much acts like a butthead, then there’s some pivotal event (and usually somebody dies in the process) and everything shifts into place, and our hero starts banging on all cylinders and kicking butt like we expected him to do all along.”

“Some would argue that him being a rebellious bar fighter in our movie is absolutely consistent with canon.”

Yes, like the two guys who wrote the script! :-)


Correction: it’s not the preamble to the Constitution, it’s the “eeb plebmista..”


Regardless of whether you think the bar fight is in or out of character for Kirk, I understand from prior interviews that in the movie his life follows a different path because his father dies prematurely due to Nero’s timeline interference. That gives the writers a fair amount of freedom; however, if the whole story’s an altered timeline, doesn’t that suggest that what you’re seeing isn’t really how the TOS crew came together?

#7 I don’t think they will lose that part of Kirk since it is a major major part of who he is. I felt they really had this down in the trailer where he comes up to the Enterprise being constructed. That shot on his face is really great since the look on his face is that ship is his destiny.

“I just cannot imagine Kirk sitting down and reading a book.”

Hmm never seen ST II: The Wrath of Khan then? You know, the movie where Spock gives him an “antique” copy of A Tale of Two Cities and Kirk reads it.

Thing about Kirk is that he is an athlete and an intellectual.

When asked by Kkan, “Are you familiar with Milton?” Kirk was. He made literary references all the time. Not a bookworm, but well read. If he couldn’t outsmart you, then he’d dropkick you and lay a double-handed chop on your neck. Kirk was intelligent to the place that he would annoy Spock by beating him at chess.

I wish they would do the drop kick; I have a feeling it’s not going to happen in this one but it would be fantastic if they did it. And Kirk is a bookworm–he’s up on his Milton, remember. I’m glad to hear the acknowledgment of Kirk being a stack of books with legs…

RE: Books.

Actually, didn’t Kirk, upon seeing the mess in Cogley’s quarters ask him why he didn’t just access the information from the Starbase databanks?

It would seem Kirk preferred his reading material in electronic format (which is really incredible foresight since there was no such thing as an e-book in 1966) but did appreciate the passion in Cogley’s speech.

Of course, “stack of books with legs” contradicts the whole damn thing anyway.

Sometimes I wonder if JJ is a Denebian Slime Devil.

RE: Chess

Kirk could make an illgical move if it would allow him to win five moves down the line. Even though Spock could probably predict the outcome of a move much better than Kirk, he could not make such a move and probably palyed a very measured and defensive game.

Kirk could also quote then entire Preamble to the Constitution without looking at it.

I too want to see a Kirk-style coreographed fight.

I love the scene in the air force headquarter from “Tomorrow is Yesterday” where Kirk throws his entire body horizontally against the three airmen and then does his nutty swing in the doorway over one guys head

What I’m trying to reconcile is the difference between the two fates of George Kirk, Sr.

In the “original” timeline, George was deployed on a deep-space mission and disappeared while Jim Kirk was young. In the new timeline, George is killed. How would this change the impact to Jim Kirk’s life? In the original timeline, George was already gone, presumed dead.

So, if this new timeline alters Kirk’s history that much just because his father goes from being presumed dead to being really dead, what does that say about the psyche of James Kirk? How does this minor difference make such a drastic change to make James Kirk now James Dean-Kirk?

Makes no sense, other than to surmise that the writers just wanted to change it because they could.

I’m going back and forth on this movie.

“A difference which makes no difference IS no difference.”

Quoting the classics does not a bookworm make.

Perhaps a “stack of books with legs” refers simply to Kirk’s great intelligence.

Who knows? It was his first episode, and Gene was obviously trying to keep it “cerebral,” while making Kirk more of an action hero than Pike was. Kirk’s early days are still largely unexplored in canon.

Though, I now remember the scene on the bus in TVH where Kirk recalls the trash authors of the 1980s. A ‘stack of books’ indeed. Just not the ones we thought ;-)

Episode: Errand of Mercy
Scene: Kirk and Spock are harassed by a Klingon soldier and Spock restrains Kirk before anything more can happen.
Afterwards, the following exchange:

Kirk: You really didn’t think I was going to beat his head in did you?

Spock: I thought you might….


The difference would be up to Winona Kirk. What did she do after George dies on the Kelvin?

She obviously stayed in Iowa, and Jim and Sam Kirk grew up in an environment which included an abusive uncle. I hate to put it in stark terms, but Kirk’s mom perhaps withdrew into the doldrums of a US rural existence, and her gifted kids were left to fend for themselves. Pike is obviously a positive influence on young Kirk in this timeline and sorts him out.

#34- Or a Cardassian Vole!

I’m not familiar with the fate of George Kirk Prime. I know it’s not 100% canon and obviously comes from one or more of the books. The only real origin story I read was the recent Shatner novel where George Sr. was alive and well and disappointed in his two offspring, George Jr. was getting into pretty serious trouble, and little Jimmy, whose faith in the Federation was completely destroyed by their slow response to the problem at Tarsus IV, is following in his brother’s footsteps rather than those of his father. Of course, Shatner’s version was written in the real Trek universe and is supposed to fit neatly into the holes of existing canon, which to Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens’ would be anything put on film or previously written by them.

lets not forget that Kirk got in fights with Finnegan and probably others. I think they could have been threatened by his good looks and book smarts.


Where is it said that George Kirk in the “original timeline” disappeared? I’m not aware of that being stated anywhere other than in Harve Bennett’s proposed prequel.

Actually Kirk, never got into a fight with Finnegan, instead he had to suffer Finnegan’s pranks until the upperclassman got bored and settled on someone else.

If there was one thing Kirk always wanted to do, it was to beat the tar out of Finnegan.

3/13 lol, yeah, no kidding…

As far as the faster pace of battle, well yeah, makes sense. Wrath of Khan was only slow paced really because it was a surprise attack, and then because both ships were somewhat beat up and in a nebula, so it fit the movie. Flash forward to TNG erra, seems like during the show run all of the battles were needlessly slow paced, probably due to budget stuff, and I think it detracted from the show, at least as far as realism went. Then go to Nemesis, and I think that despite the fact the movie FAILed it had the best Trek ship fight ever so I’ll be happy if what’s in this movie is similar…just not against a cloaked ship again hopefully. It’ll be interesting to see how they match up a mid 23rd century ship against a later 24th century one. As far as technology that Romulan ship should be able to rip the E apart without a second thought, so they’ll have to get creative.

On the whole Ive never been that big of a Star Trek fan comment, yeah, they can say that because they know we’re going to go see this movie no matter what at this point. Even if they said “well I dont know if they trekkies will like it, but everyone else will” we’d still go and see it. Makes it look like they’ve made a big movie with low Trek quality, I hope not, but honestly those comments lead me to think that. I wish they’d give us some reason why us Trekkies are going to like it, aside from the whole “you get to see how it all came together…its magical, wooooo” bit. I want to know what at its core makes it good Star Trek, and not just a big sifi action movie.

Satisfying fans or non-fans… which is the lesser of two weevils?

Yeah…why would you make a STAR TREK movie for STAR TREK fans? That would be just plain crazy!!

This guy is the king of terrible quotes!!

Stop speaking publicly, Abrams! You sound ridiculous!

AJ: If you accept any of the novels as back-story, it’s been a generally accepted notion that Kirk grew up in Iowa regardless. As for what Winona did, I would guess it would be pretty much the same in either instance: he’s either dead, or we think he’s dead… I just don’t see how much of a change this could bring about.

45. Joe: There are a number of novels that mention this, and someone needs to check me on this, but I believe it’s been established by those in the TREK creative teams somewhere. Might not have been mentioned on screen, but it had to come from somewhere for it to be a generally known item.

My thinking has always been that Kirk joined Starfleet because of a combination of several things:

– wanting to find his father
– wanting to be like his father
– wanting to separate himself from brother Sam, the science guy
– wanting to escape the bounds of Iowa and explore in the biggest way he could

And lots of other things. But I really don’t see anything in any TOS story that would fit with this new James Dean paradigm.

The only new factor in this whole thing is the abusive uncle, and that just seems a little too much of a cliche for me. Kirk is a hero because he was born to be, not because he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it. Remember, Kirk was inspired by Horatio Hornblower, who wasn’t at all a reluctant hero. He recognized when he had opportunities to do great things. The only thing he was hesitant about was marriage.

My two cents.