Lindelof: Destruction of Vulcan Had 9/11 Effect On Federation For ‘Into Darkness’

In a new interview, Star Trek Into Darkness co-writer/producer Damon Lindelof discusses the process of making the film at length, including how they are dealing with tying into the the last film and the rest of Star Trek canon. He also talks about Kirk’s arc, the time setting of the movie and more. Excerpts and highlights below (minor spoilers).



Lindelof on connection between Star Trek 2009, Star Trek history and ‘Into Darkness’ & more

It is worth checking out the full interview at Collider with Damon Lindelof which was done at the Bad Robot event a couple of weeks ago, but here are a few highlights…

Lindelof wouldn’t get specific on how Into Darkness will deal with the destruction of Vulcan (from 2009’s Star Trek), but did offer a general comment saying…

…we understood when we did it in the first movie that it was going to have a 9-11 level impact on that universe. In the same way that 9-11 happened over ten years ago, but we’re still talking about it and it still influences everything about our daily lives…Anything that happens in our new timeline has to walk in lockstep with Vulcan was destroyed and what is the impact of that on the federation? And what is the impact of that on Spock? What is the impact of that on Kirk? What is the impact of that on the geo-politics of the galaxy itself?

The writer also talked about how even with a new timeline, they "do their homework" to ensure they honor the prime timeline….

I think the fans want to feel that that stuff had a lot of thought behind it and that we’re not being casual about referencing the original series or the Trek-verse. And you have to do your homework especially because we started a new timeline. You have to be very responsible about the sequencing of things because it’s not we can do whatever we want now. Our timeline can’t really abberrate before the first movie where Nero basically destroyed the Kelvin.

Vulcan destruction (in 2009 ‘Star Trek’) had ‘9/11’ type of effect on Federation

Other highlights

  • Confirmed six months passed in-universe between end of 2009 Star Trek and opening scene of Star Trek Into Darkness’ mission on Nibiru
  • Kirk’s arc is still in the "phase that preceded" the type of captain he was in the original Star Trek
  • Changes were made to some of John Harrison’s dialog after casting Cumberbatch, but "that didn’t mean that John Harrison did anything differently, or it didn’t change the story in anyway."
  • Despite "Darkness" title the film contains Trek’s signature humor as "totally dark Trek is not Trek"
  • There is "reasonable expectation" of redshirt death but they don’t want to be "too cutesy about it"
  • Feel that Earth "needed to play more of a role" in their Star Trek movies due to "relatability"
  • Studio has given team a lot of freedom and "no mandates" (like x number of explosions, etc.)

And much more including discussion of how the sets are connected, how the writing process works and more at Collider.

Spock Prime watches Vulcan’s destruction (Star Trek 2009) – Lindelof says team makes sure new movies stay true to prime timeline

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I’m not very happy about the “Earth needs to play more of a role” comment, but no other complaints.

I very much enjoyed that interview.

I really did.

But…ahem…DamOn…Not ONE word about the role Mr. Weller will be playing?


C’mon, man!

Have mercy on me!


Seriously, great interview!

If everything’s consistant then no problems here either.

Sounds good to me. Looking forward to it.

That’s sort of the opposite of a previous comment he made of “because we can.”

That said, I don’t just want it to feel like it was planned out- I want to know it was actually planned out. I don’t want another Heroes “Peter Petrelli’s Girlfriend Stranded in Time” piece of junk plot thread dangling or a “All questions will be answered in the finale of Lost” followed by “Oh, well, it’s whatever you want it to be.”

But it’s good to know that the destruction of Vulcan isn’t just gonna be glossed over. That could have far reaching consequences in the Trek universe which could potentially play out in interesting ways.

Sounds very cool. I like what I hear.

Who is Peter Weller playing? I want to know.

Changes made to the script after Cumberbatch got cast? Ok, maybe it was originally going to be Khan, but they changed him to John Harrison, and tweaked his background a bit to not be a total rip-off of Khan. Khan will still be in the sequel, but won’t make an appearance until late in the movie. He’ll just be played by someone else.

And the fact we still don’t know anything about Peter Weller’s character leads me to think its John Paxton. The Weller character seems to be central to everyting that goes on in the sequel, judging by the deliberate secrecy by the writers surrounding the character.

And yeah, it sounds just like what dmduncan has been saying for a few weeks now…

I felt like the Kelvin was their 9/11. After all, it freaked everybody out so much they all changed their uniforms and props, and doubled the size of the Enterprise.

Damon, is Gaila still alive? You know, green skin, red hair…

Confirmed “6 months have passed” since the first movie?? I thought they said that it was more like 4 years between movies? Which is it?

RE 6 months

No one ever said there were 4 years between movies ‘in universe’ only that there were 4 years in real time. In the nine minute preview at IMAX the stardate shows the film starting around February of the year following events from 2009’s Star Trek.

RE: changes for Cumberbatch
Read the full interview but even the bullet point notes they didn’t change the story. They just tweaked the dialog for his style, which is what they always do once they cast someone.

After defeating Nero, they should have gone back in time to save Romulus, thus averting the loss of Vulcan and peace with the Romulans.

And Lindelof’s writing has a 4/20 effect on audiences.

Earth never played major role in any of the previous Star Trek movies, except The Voyage Home & First Contact. It will be interesting to see what they will come up with.

911 was an inside job!!!

“911 was an inside job!!!”


Earth, the only frontier the high court seems to care about. Why is it that so much effort is being put into something doesn’t even make Star Trek unique? Imagine if Nero had destroyed Earth instead of Vulcan. Not only would that have changed Star Trek more than destroying Vulcan, it would also mean that the writers of future Star Trek productions would actually have to ‘work’ to find ways of making a Star Trek movie exciting without the comfort zone of the ‘crew saves the Earth again’ trope.

Earth in Star Trek is just a cheap gimmick for writers to fall back on so they can raise the stakes on something that really shouldn’t be important in the franchise. After all, Damon does state that the only reason for Earth’s bigger role is for our benefit, not Star Trek’s. The crew may be from Earth, but they already have a home, and her name is the Enterprise.

SFDebris gave the same 9/11 analogy to the Borg incursion in his “Best of Both Worlds” review and the Battle of Wolf 359. After the battle, Federation security took on higher importance and ships like the Akira-class and the Defiant, ships that were designed for combat, became more and more common in fleets. Ships before the battle (Galaxy, Miranda, Excelsior, Oberth-class, etc) had their focus on exploration with (in some cases) enough firepower to defend themselves from an aggressive species.

>>Feel that Earth “needed to play more of a role” in their Star Trek movies due to “relatability”<<

Excellent! The connections with our real world are the only thing that sets Trek still apart from Wars ;)

I’m cool with more Earth, just so long as it doesn’t totally overstay its welcome. The climax of the previous film occurred in the Sol System. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the same thing happened this time. Please don’t go three-for-three with it though, sheesh.

“Feel that Earth “needed to play more of a role” in their Star Trek movies due to “relatability””

This. This is what worries me.

Fellow Mass Effect fans can probably relate with me when I say that a massive Earth-centric advertising campaign sort of bit BioWare and Electronic Arts in the arse this past March, by the way. Mass Effect 3’s finale wasn’t exactly well-received overall.

I know that’s mostly off-topic, but I find the Earth woes here mirroring that whole shindig not so very long ago. Space operas are levitating toward Earth lately, and that is kind of a shame, yeah.

#10: No, they never said it was four years later.

“Changes were made to script after casting Cumberbatch, but “it didn’t change the story.””

Exactly…first they wanted Khan or rather aclone of him…Del Toro…now we get John Harrison, another augmented superman, especially written for Cumberbatch… A British icon, combining John Lennon and George Harrison…

@7 I would love it if Weller reprised his role as John Paxton. I just watched the Terra Prime episodes to re-familiarize myself with the character. Sure, he would be much older but he was already using alien DNA to keep himself alive and he was incarcerated at the end of the episode. So who knows?

@Anthony – Except that some people haven’t seen the nine minute preview. For one thing, NZ didn’t get it with Hobbit screenings (and wasn’t on the website). No-one seems to want to comment on it. Asked IMAX twitter account as a last resort too. I am kinda pissed off about it. I want to see it. (and not in some crappy cam quality like what is on YT).

If they are going to do a preview, do it everywhere. The Dark Knight did, and showed here..

7. I have a hard time with Weller being John Paxton again. I hope he is not playing him. I really hope there are no Augments in this movie or any future movies. Even so, he did play an administrator at the Orpheus Mining Colony on Luna. He could be part of the reason Augments return to Earth to free the human race from the Aliens that he hates so much. I’m very tired of the Racism/Xenophobia storylines done to death in Scifi.

Oh, sweet Lord, it’s called “STAR Trek”, not “EARTH Trek”. Nothing against the occasional episode on Earth, but after the last film, where the beginning and showdown was already Earth-focused—origin story plus save the planet from bad Nero etc.—, I kinda hoped for a real SPACE adventure. Ah, well, “relatability”, mass appeal, make heaps of money… yeah, I get it, not your father’s Star Trek. [Pff.]


Four years between production / release of each movie but a significantly shorted period in the fictional timeline… And that is a good thing. If the new movie series is a reimagining of the original Five Year Mission, there should be at least five movies telling it…even if that takes them 15 years to produce…The actors are still very young and if they speed up the production a bit (2-3 year intervals), it would work…

Why would the studio mandate the number of explosions when this team is happy to deliver as many explosions and hollow gee-whiz action as possible?

They really know their Trek:

Collider: I’ve lost count of the Next Generation movies; there are like four.

Lindelof: Yeah, so there was First Contact then Generations. First Contact may be the last on I saw. I saw the one where they were with the Borg, that’s First Contact

I’m being anal, but…

Destruction of Vulcan was ridiculous and served no real point other than to say that they were doing Trek they way they wanted to and could change or destroy whatever they wanted just because of it.

It’s our sandbox and we can do as we please and if you don’t like it, go find some other sandbox because this one is ours and we don’t care what was presented before, that wasn’t ours, this is.

When you turn off fans and cover things in secrecy that, when boiled down, aren’t really in need of secrecy, you over inflate things just for the hype. I feel this for 2009 “trek” and I feel this for the 2013 movie…all this hush hush is not really needed.

@26. The Hobbit just came out in Australia yesterday – didn’t even get the regular STID trailer with it.

Oh, and if it is only 6 months between movie timelines, why bother at all with comics in between and call them canon?

To be cutesy? To keep us guessing? I actually don’t care about the characters as much as I did for the original cast because of this. There isn’t any continuity to hold on to if you are just going to say one moment, we can do anything we want and the next we have to stick to canon. Make up your minds, people. Which is it?

You can’t tell me all the comic adventures are squeezed into a six month period? You want to claim realism, well, that isn’t being very realistic.

17 and 28

Why are people freaking out about the Earth comments? I mean, Star Trek is pretty Earth-centric. Its the headquarters of Starfleet, its the Federation capitol, and the vast majority of SF personnel are descended from there. And why is that? Well besides budgetary reasons, I’m guessing Gene Roddenberry thought having Earth be the center of the Federation made everything more relatable.

Lindelof admits that the only ‘real’ canon left is Enterprise [Ironic?] and anything discussed in a Trek series as an event pre- Kelvin….
Ties the Botany Bay and the Eugenics War in pretty tightly into Newverse canon.
The Khan hints are coming fast and furious….

I don’t fault the current team for making Earth important in Star Trek movies. Following a TV series that never visited the Earth of Star Trek’s time, all six movies with the original cast had scenes on Earth and showed the Enterprise departing from Earth orbit. Star Trek: Insurrection is the only one of 11 movies that never goes near Earth.

Homework for Lindelof

“The Immunity Syndrome” Spock is checked out by Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy in sickbay where he explains he was nauseated when he felt the combined shock and terror in the minds of 400 of his fellow Vulcans aboard the Intrepid as they died. McCoy is amazed that Spock felt anything with the great distance involved between the two ships, but admits there is a lot about Vulcans he still doesn’t understand.

Spock felt nothing when Vulcan and Billions of Vulcans died in Star Trek 2009.


To be fair, what are they being secret about? We know the general plot, the characters, and the villain. Are they supposed to release the script five months before release?

#34: Why can’t the comics fit in a six-month period? There are only a dozen-plus issues. They could occur in a matter of weeks.

@33 – Geekgirl – Yeah, we didn’t get the trailer either, it’s like we get forgotten down this end of the world, and they think we don’t want to see it..


Uhm…which Spock are you talking about? I think its pretty well implied Spock prime felt it, Kirk is overcome with emotion after the meld, and Spock couldnt have SEEN it feom Delta Vega, so it must have been his feelings from the meld. Spock Quinto probably felt it too, but if I remember correctly, any reaction would have happened off camera before the sickbay scene.

“Signature Trek humor”?

Are they referring to the sugar-rush Looney Tunes sequence with the giant Kirk hands, the sugar-rush Looney Tunes sequence with the water pipes, the topless Uhura scene, or the cliched bar fight?

#42: He clearly DID see it in the film. In fact, that was one of the biggest criticisms of the movie–the writers inexplicably parked Delta Vega right next-door to Vulcan.


In a Q&A on this site, Bob Orci said the idea was that Spock was ‘seeing’ Vulcan destroyed telepathically, but that it might not have been clear in the film.

43 – No, he was referring to the sugar-rush Looney Tunes Delta Vegan Prolapse Snot Beast.

Actually, I like the tone of these remarks much more than other recent interviews. I guess it’s hard for me to recognize that JJ must straddle an impossibly uncomfortable fence.
Trekkies want Trek: Ideas, themes, fun, characters, take-away thoughts.
Ticket-buyers want : ‘splosions, boobs, fistfights.
Of course Into Darkness won’t be TOS, any more than TWOK is TOS. TOS was lightning in a bottle. It’s been recaptured on tv several times… but, at the movies it’s only part of the business of selling tickets.

25. I’m Dead Jim!
“I would love it if Weller reprised his role as John Paxton….he was already using alien DNA to keep himself alive and he was incarcerated at the end of the episode. So who knows?”

Orci has already told us Weller is playing a new character they created. So The character he played in Enterprise will not be in the movie, unless Orci lied, which he says he didn’t/doesn’t.

However, Weller could be playing a relative of Paxton’s and technically considered a new original character, even though it is based on one from canon. I would personally still consider such a related character canon, but it’s open for interpretation I’m sure … Especially if they are trying to hide his identity. You cast Weller and say he’s playing a canon character and that’s pretty much all you need to guess John Paxton.

45 – sean.
Um, that would have been great. A la “Immunity Syndrome.”
But, um… nope. We saw Vulcan in the Vegan sky. That wasn’t Spock a-feelin’ it. We were shown it.

#44 Exactly!

Vulcan didn’t even have a moon and they decided to show Vulcan that close from Delta Vega.


That is what it looked like during the meld. It was probably an amalgamation of what Kirk may have seen and what Spock may have felt. Spock COULDN’T have seen it with his eyes, just like we couldn’t see Mars implode from here without naked eyes so clearly. Delta Vega would have to be a moon of Vulcan to see it that clearly, and then it would have been sucked in.

@44/48/49: Funnily enough, that’s one of the few parts of ST09 (besides the beginning) that I had no problem with, and that lots of other fans seem to go nuts over. When we saw Spock witnessing Vulcan’s annihilation from Delta Vega, it was in the middle of a MIND MELD SEQUENCE. In other words, what Spock conveyed to Kirk in the meld (a.k.a. what we saw on-screen in that sequence) may have been coloured by metaphor and the inherent “fuzziness” of organic memories. Spock wasn’t *actually* zipping between star systems in seconds flat between each shot, either, was he? It’s tantamount to a dream sequence.