Lydia Wilson has just been announced as the latest addition to the growing call sheet for Star Trek Beyond, currently filming in Vancouver. As usual, no one has any clue as to what her role might be (although there is plenty of speculation abound). I am excited about the addition of another female presence on the screen, but I remain cautiously optimistic after our “strong female role model” Carol Marcus turned into a one-trick pony designed to catch Kirk’s (and the audience’s) romantic interest.
Lydia Wilson, while you may not know her name, has built herself a rather impressive on- and off-screen resume. She is perhaps most famous for her roles in the time-travel themed romantic comedy About Time and sci-fi romance Never Let Me Go. Wilson has also made her mark in British theater and on television, appearing in shows Ripper Street and Misfits. Will Lydia’s new mystery character, along with Sofia Boutella and Zoe Saldana’s Uhura make for a more balanced film this time around? One can only hope.
What went wrong with Carol Marcus?
It’s been no secret that I personally was not the biggest fan of the Carol Marcus underwear scene in Star Trek Into Darkness. And, I’m not alone in that feeling. Even Damon Lindelof, one of the film’s writers, apologized for the “gratuitous” scene being written into the film.
I won’t reiterate the details of my arguments as to why this particular scene rubbed me the wrong way. For that, I invite you to read my article from just after STID hit theaters. What I will remind you of, however, is that Carol, played by the beautiful and talented Alice Eve, started as a strong, independent, intelligent character who just happened to be female. In that one short little scene in the back of that shuttlecraft, the writers ceremoniously undid everything they had set her character up to be. They turned her from role model into squeeze-of-the-week love interest.
The role of women in Star Trek
Star Trek has had its share of good moments and its bad when it comes to women of the 23rd (and beyond) century. Overall, I’d have to give Star Trek pretty high marks for its treatment of women in general, extra credit given to a smattering of cringeworthy moments when each of the series and movies are analyzed as products of their respective times (well, maybe with the exception of ENT).
The latest incarnation of Trek, however, has left something of a bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to the representation of the “fairer sex” on screen. Star Trek (2009) wasn’t half bad. It wasn’t outrightly sexist, in my opinion, but we didn’t get to see a lot of female action, save for Uhura’s badass communications skills. I give some slack to the writers for having to work with an almost exclusively male main cast, gifted to them straight from the 1960’s.
Star Trek Into Darkness took a step in the wrong direction, with Uhura being relegated to Spock’s overly emotional love interest and Dr. Carol Marcus… well… you know. Let’s just say I’ll be happy if this trend doesn’t continue.
Speculation is abound as to what role Lydia could be playing in Beyond. Although none of these rumors have any indication of ties with reality, let’s go over them anyways (and speculate more in the comments!). The front runners for Lydia’s role are currently:
- A Starfleet captain who challenges Captain Kirk
- The president of the United Federation of Planets (unlikely given Wilson’s youth)
- Bones’s ex-wife
- Leading love interest
- Gender-bender Khan (I just made this up. Let’s start this rumor!)
Like I said, I remain hopeful at the present time. With so little information out there, a lot of things could go wrong or right with Star Trek Beyond between now and its summer 2016 release. Here’s hoping for: a good script, good director, good villain, good action scenes, more exploration away from Earth, humanist viewpoints, and a strong female character.