The reports about the Star Trek sequel over the last couple of weeks have generated a lot of discussion across the web and here at TrekMovie.com. As he does from time to time, Bob dropped by the site today and made a comment about the chat, this time a short blurb, but with important implications. See more below, plus my thoughts on the latest debates. [NOTE: Article discusses potential spoilers]
Orci: Star Trek Sequel Not A Remake
Last week TrekMovie.com joined the growing chorus of other websites (AICN, Latino Review, Vulture, FirstShowing, and others) reporting sources saying Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing Khan. Some have taken these reports to say that if true, then the Star Trek sequel will be just like the original Star Trek episode "Space Seed," where Kirk and crew first encounter the genetic superman from the past, or possibly even a rehash of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, when Khan seeks revenge for marooning him on a doomed planet.
Khan (Ricardo Montalban) and Kirk (William Shatner) in original series episode "Space Seed"
Today in response to these concerns, Star Trek co-writer/producer posted the following comment here at TrekMovie:
No remakes. No rehashes.
And to add some more context to recent debates, I also think it helps to bring back a comment from Orci’s fellow producer Bryan Burk who spoke about the villain in the film and their decision (in general terms).
Bryan Burk (speaking to MTV in December): There are amazing villains throughout the Star Trek universe, as well as new villains as we did in the last film. There are a lot of directions we can go in the film and in this particular case we chose to do something that would be original and unique and different and again on paper I think we made the right choice.
So maybe TrekMovie and the other sites are all wrong and Khan is not in the film (and I admit this is entirely possible). I have also noted that reports of Khan are still officially rumors from Paramount’s point of view.
However, for the purpose of discussion, lets say the Khan reports are true, then how does that fit with what Orci and Burk are saying? It seems to me that the team are sending the message they have their own story (even if it has known characters). And just look at their often used example of Heath Ledger and the Joker for The Dark Knight. While using a well known character, director Christopher Nolan found a way to tell a unique story, which turned into a monster hit with great reviews.
If you have seen me opine about this at cons over the last few years (it always comes up), I have consistently said that using a classic character does not mean that you are using the same story. If you just use your imagination, you can probably dream up a number of different ways an exiled genetically-enhanced leader from the Eugenics Wars can make headlines in JJ Abrams new Star Trek universe, and none of them have to look like “Space Seed.”
In fact, I have always found the debate kind of odd actually. With every new superhero movie there seems to be no question that they will use a classic villain. The new Superman movie has Zod, the next Batman movie has Bane (and Catwoman), the new Spider-man has The Lizard, and the list goes on. It seems to be a given that they will use classic villains, and yet with Star Trek this seems to be controversial for some. The irony of course is that the only Star Trek film that re-used a character for the villain was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which is still considered by most (including myself) to be the best film of the franchise.
In a way I think JJ Abrams obsession with secrecy just exacerbates the controversy. As noted with these other films, announcements on who the villains are usually comes with casting news, months before production. These other filmmakers don’t see how revealing a character is a big deal and know that it really doesn’t tell you anything about the story.
I agree, no one wants to see a remake or a rehash. But this team have always said they don’t want to be a cover band, they want to tell their own stories in the Star Trek universe (and they even made a new Star Trek universe for added flexibility). So for now, I take them at their word. They have a new story to tell and in the end that is all that matters. Whether it includes a known villain character or not, is really secondary.
Khan return for Star Trek II – and that worked out pretty well
Well that’s my two cents. What do you think? Sound off below.