Doug Jung, co-writer of Star Trek Beyond, brings up that Zero Dark Thirty thing again. Jung talked to Entertainment Weekly recently about the process of writing the movie, his onscreen role as Sulu’s husband, and his thoughts on where the franchise could go next.
When asked about the future of the Star Trek franchise, including the possibility of spin off series and films, Doug Jung expressed his excitement over a Star Trek universe that includes darker, more action-oriented movies and even tossed around the idea of a “Starfleet Academy” movie.
It’s a franchise that can support different styles of movies. There’s the big action tentpole feel of Star Trek and the Enterprise, but why not try to do something that’s the Zero Dark Thirty version of Star Trek, or one that introduces some younger characters at the Academy?
We’ve heard the Zero Dark Thirty idea before; last year, a Paramount exec told Wired Magazine that he had given some thought to the areas of the Star Trek universe that “haven’t been taken advantage of” proposing both “Star Trek: Zero Dark Thirty” and “the SEAL Team Six of the Star Trek universe”.
TrekMovie editor Kayla Iacovino expressed her disdain for the concept, along with an illustration for good measure. The problem with this kind of thinking, she argues, is that there are already 800 other movies full of espionage stories and tough-guy military stories, and they all run completely counter to the philosophy behind Star Trek and the very ingredients that make it so unique. Would adding familiar elements from commercial blockbusters revitalize Star Trek, or kill it?
That said, Jung has some pretty good ideas in there too. A Starfleet Academy story has obviously been floated around for years, from a series that never got made, to the Next Generation episode “The First Duty,” and would satisfy Hollywood’s youth obsession at the very least. The idea of honing in on smaller storylines has some merit, too, like taking a deeper dive into specific alien cultures, exploring places one of our crews have affected and left behind, or doing a Star Trek movie with an entirely new set of characters we haven’t seen before. The tricky part is to remember that it’s Star Trek, which means retaining the philosophy, the ideals (and yes, idealism) of that universe. It’s not perfection that’s needed, but an understanding that there are dozens of dystopian future movies out there and Star Trek is supposed to be different.
Jung also talked about the appeal of a Star Trek cinematic universe akin to the way the Marvel, DC, and Star Wars franchises operate today:
It’s 50 years’ worth of discovery, and obviously they’re doing that with Star Trek Discovery, but why not blow it out to a cinematic universe that has secondary characters, and smaller storylines, more intimate storylines, ones that deal with more of an espionage element versus the large-scale exploration themes of the main Star Trek.
There’s definitely some good thinking in there, especially in light of the yet-to-be-judged Rogue One. In 2014, Star Trek writer Mark A. Altman (The Fifty-Year Mission) gave us his in-depth thoughts on how to revitalize the franchise, which notably included the prophetic suggestion of giving a new series to someone like, say, Bryan Fuller. (Good call, Mark; we’re still sad about his departure.)
One thing Jung is definitely right about is that it’s a flexible franchise. Look at the difference between Deep Space Nine and Voyager; both are true to the Star Trek universe and yet they’re wildly different in tone as well as in the stories they chose to tell.
On Beyond‘s villain
Jung also talked about Beyond, explaining that Krall was “not the full actualization of where we want to progress to as a species” due to his inability to change with the times. They kept him accessible:
[Krall] becomes consumed with the darker impulses of who we are, but in a very understandable and relatable way.
On being Sulu’s husband
Jung also discussed his brief stint in front of the camera, saying:
I’ve always been incredibly proud of that scene, even when it was just on the page. I’m even more proud of it now…We wanted to depict [their relationship] as a normal part of the fabric of life. Which it is! I think it will stand the test of time. The great victory would be that, in however many years, if they look back on Beyond as part of a Star Trek retrospective, they wouldn’t even blink.
It wasn’t an attention-getting moment, but rather a way to just show that it doesn’t have to be such a thing; it just is. John Cho has admitted that there was a scene in the script that never got shot of Sulu kissing his partner, but Jung says he thinks the moment works just as well without it.
Read the full interview at EW.