Back in 2009, Chris Hemsworth was just a little-known Australian TV actor when he appeared as George Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ reinvention of Star Trek. Now of course – thanks to becoming Thor in a series of Marvel movies – he’s one of the biggest stars on the planet. And he’s also due to return as George Kirk in the upcoming Star Trek 4.
According to the official announcement about the film, Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk will “cross paths” with his father, played by Hemsworth. The only problem: Hemsworth’s character died ten minutes into the 2009 Star Trek film, sacrificing himself to save the crew of the USS Kelvin, including his wife and infant son James.
So, Star Trek 4 has to find a way to get James T. Kirk together with his dead dad as a simple flashback is not going to cut it if these guys are to “cross paths.” Fortunately, this is Star Trek, and death has rarely prevented characters from returning to the franchise. Let’s take a look at a few of the means by which George could make a comeback:
James T. Kirk travels back in time
Time travel is the most obvious solution. It’s been a staple of Trek since its fourth broadcast episode, “The Naked Time,” and has allowed various crews to meet their predecessors, interact with historical events, and save humpback whales from extinction.
It’s also something the current movies have touched on before, with the timeline initially being created by Nero when he traveled back from future and destroyed the USS Kelvin. The Enterprise travelling back to the same period, and potentially even closing out the series, would be a nice bit of symmetry. Of course the time travel may involve some other means, and perhaps only involve Captain Kirk himself.
Captain Kirk going back in time could also create an interesting “The City On The Edge Of Forever”-type dilemma: with his foreknowledge of the future, will Kirk do something to save his father’s life, aware that the future as he knows it depends on George Kirk’s death?
George Kirk travels forward in time
Time travel goes both ways, so we could see George jump forward from a point before his death to what is the “present” for his son Jim and the crew of the new USS Enterprise-A. There are multiple instances in Trek of characters jumping forward in time, including James T. Kirk himself in Generations. It’s entirely plausible that George Kirk could travel 30 years or so into the future and have an adventure with his son.
George moving forward in time still brings the same moral and emotional dilemma for his son. The current movie timeline is based on George Kirk being on the Kelvin at the moment of its destruction. His heroic death allows the crew, including the infant James Kirk, to escape.
This means there’s only one obvious way for the movie to end. George has to return to his own time, either oblivious of his fate, or more likely with the foreknowledge of his impending death. If he stays in the future, then he condemns his wife, son, and the Kelvin’s crew to death. Oh, and Nero will likely destroy the Federation. This puts Jim Kirk in a somewhat similar position – although the time travel causality rules used were different – to Captain Picard in “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” knowing a sacrifice in the past is needed to save the future.
George never died
Jennifer Morrison, who played Winona Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek film, recently made headlines when she speculated that George Kirk may not have died after all. Although she later explained that she was joking, and knew nothing about Star Trek 4, it’s possible she was inadvertently correct.
We know, at least through deleted scenes, that following the battle between the Kelvin and Narada, Nero’s crew was captured by the Klingons. Who’s to say that a badly injured George Kirk wasn’t among the prisoners? We have seen characters who were assumed dead show up later, including a few held in a Dominion prison in Deep Space Nine.
The downside to this? The movies are set around 30 years after the Kelvin’s destruction. While it’s safe to assume that Hemsworth will age better than us mere mortals, he is – let’s be honest – annoyingly handsome. It’s doubtful Paramount will want to hire him only to hide his good looks by covering him in aging makeup to portray a 60-year-old character.
George is a duplicate
Of course, it’s always possible George Kirk is dead after all, and the version of George that the Enterprise crew encounter isn’t actually the original. There are numerous examples in Trek of characters being either cloned, copied, replicated, or duplicated through various means.
In fact, James T. Kirk himself has duplicated as an android, and even split in two, via a transporter accident. Other characters that have been copied or cloned include Riker, Picard, and Trip Tucker.
One issue is that the emotional core of a movie that brings James T. Kirk together with a copy of his father would be diminished, reducing the impact on the characters. Just look at TNG’s “Second Chances” and how the Enterprise-D crew don’t hold the same affection for Thomas Riker as they do for Will. Okay, maybe Troi liked Tom better, but you get the point. There is also a possible twist that the copy is unaware he is a copy, something we have also seen in Trek before, such as when Data met his “mother” (co-creator) who turned out to be oblivious to the fact that she was an android duplicate of the original.
George is from the Prime Universe
Don’t forget, there’s a living, breathing version of George Kirk around at this point in the multiverse. In the 2009 Star Trek film, Ambassador Spock informed young James T. Kirk that the Prime version of his father George “proudly lived to see you become captain of the Enterprise.” Prime Kirk assumed command of the Enterprise around 2265, two years after the events of Beyond.
It’s conceivable that the Prime version of George could cross into the Kelvin timeline. Leonard Nimoy’s Spock has already done so, as has Nero and his crew. And of course there are other examples in Trek of characters doing some universe-hopping; Worf visited quite a few in “Parallels.”
Age difference between Hemsworth and Kirk Sr. aside, there’s no reason why his character couldn’t traverse timelines. However, you again run into the emotional resonance issue as Prime Kirk has the memories of a life with his son Jim that Chris Pine’s Kirk wouldn’t share.
Alternatively, the Enterprise crew could travel into the Prime timeline. However, in that timeline, we’re now getting into the events of Star Trek: The Original Series (which begin in 2266), not to mention getting a little too close to Star Trek: Discovery (Season 2 starts in 2257). With the current state of affairs between CBS and Paramount, this seems unlikely.
George is from the Mirror Universe
Of course Trek’s most famous alternate reality is the Mirror Universe, home of the evil Terran Empire and Spock with a beard. Introduced in The Original Series episode “Mirror Mirror,” visits to and from The Mirror Universe in Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, and more recently during Star Trek: Discovery have been popular. They have also often been used to bring back the Mirror versions of dead characters.
Since events in the Mirror Universe unfold independently of its Prime counterpart, any Kelvin timeline crossover could be to (or from) the same version of the universe we’ve visited previously. Things might be simpler if Mirror George pops over to the Kelvin-verse to visit Jim.
Once again, Mirror George would not really be James T. Kirk’s actual father, and could quite possibly be … well, evil. As such, the emotional impact of bringing these characters together will not be the same; however, we have seen examples of how characters can still forge connections with Mirror versions of past dead characters, such as Bareil on Deep Space Nine or Georgiou on Discovery. And the Mirror aspect of a character could also be a surprise twist … dun dun dun.
There are certainly aliens in Trek with the power to bring characters back to life. The most obvious of these is the omnipotent Q, who resurrected both Worf and Wesley (admittedly after they were killed in a scenario he created) in “Hide and Q,” as well as (possibly) Picard in “Tapestry.” We’ve also encountered technology which has the power to resurrect characters, such as Nomad (“The Changeling”) or that possessed by the Kobali (VOY “Ashes To Ashes”).
While it’s unlikely any of these particular methods would be used, it does establish that there are precedents in Trek, so it’s a fair possibility. Such a resurrected George Kirk would be Jim Kirk’s real father. This method could also be used to explain why Hemsworth’s George appears to have aged (as the actor is now over a decade older), either as part of the resurrection process or because he has spent a decade with whomever it is that resurrected him. That could also cover any sort of age discrepancy, given that Chris Hemsworth is actually three years younger than Chris Pine.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be anything we’ve seen before that brings George Kirk back. Writers Patrick McKay, John D. Payne and director S.J. Clarkson may have an entirely new way to reunite the two generations of Kirks. Only time will tell.
What about the comics?
For the purposes of this article, we have focused on the canon of Trek films and TV. Some of the above scenarios have been touched on in the two series of comics set in the Kelvin universe; there is even an instance where Kelvin Kirk gets to see an alternative universe version of his father. However, the comics are not considered canon and so we haven’t used them as precedent here, as we don’t expect them to be referenced in Star Trek 4.
George is back
Have we covered all the possibilities? Is there another way the film could bring George Kirk back? Have your say in the comments.
I hope for more than a “Yesterday’s Prime Enterprise” !
My Production He Escaped in a Escape Pod at the Last Second and was picked up by Klingon Vessel but unlike the once we See These Klingons Orphans Young and scared helped him and in return he raised them. Qo’nos in respond to the Corruption and lack of Honor in the High Command Years Later at the Median Voyage of the Enterprise-A Kirk finds out he is still alive and finds him with Klingon Orphans with Federation Values but when the High Command Heres about this Sparks an Out Cry and Demands the Orphans and George Kirk’s Death or there be War
Did you translate that from Mandarin?
You need a few more periods in there.
You mean the way they covered up Idris Elba so as to be unrecognizable, such that they had to leak the plot “twist” in a trailer to International audiences in order to make their highly paid star a recognizable draw? You’re right, surely they’ve learned their lesson?
The only problem with that is Spock and Nero created the new timeline/universe. George crossing into it would — according to the non-canon explanation — necessarily create a new universe with a different set of characters who technically aren’t the same as the ones we’ve been following. That said, it would once and for all confirm the separate existence of the Kelvin and Prime universes — unless time travel is involved, in which case it continues to remain vague unless they clarify it in dialogue.
Re: non-canon explanation
You are going beyond buying into the conceit. Once a universe is created, there’s no reason time travel is still necessary to tunnel into it after. George simply could slide into the other universe as his son would via transporter accident or Lazarus’ ship, which oddly enough, was also a timeship which is how a young George Kirk could come across it.
But, follow me here, because Lazarus’ ship is also a universe hopper, the time travel that allows George to meet a young Pine Kirk doesn’t have to take place in the KT itself. In other words, George can do it in Lazarus’ ship their way:
1. Jump into the past creating a new universe separate from both the PRIME and KT universes.
2. From this new universes’s past, universe hop to the KT universe at a point in it’s timeline that best line’s up with this new universe’s past time dimension.
@Disinvited — no, it’s not permitted by the specific QM MWI theory proposed by Orci. Parallel universes in that model cannot communicate with each other.
Also, we don’t know that Lazarus wasn’t coming from the Mirror Universe. Given his predilection for evil, I’d say he was.
Re: non-canon explanation
True, but then he overwrote that proviso with this on screen canon dialog loophole:
“SPOCK PRIME: (voice-over) In my attempt to escape, both of us were pulled into the black hole.
(the Narada and Jellyfish are sucked through time)
SPOCK PRIME: (voice-over) Nero went through first. He was the first to arrive.
(scenes from the beginning of the film and the destruction of the Kelvin)
SPOCK PRIME: (voice-over) Nero spent the next twenty-five years awaiting my arrival. But what was years for Nero, was only seconds for me.” — Orci & Kurtzman, STAR TREK, 2009
If Nero went in first as Spock clearly says, then Nero’s ship time travel created the new universe BEFORE Spock entered the black hole. Orci’s QM MWI holds that Spock’s different entry time should have merely created yet ANOTHER universe, if Ambassador Spock were following the same time travel causing trajectory. But instead, he ends up in Nero’s existing parallel universe. The only way Ambassador Spock could accomplish that is if, in fact, parallel universe hopping IS possible because that’s EXACTLY what the Jellyfish did. The only loose end is why didn’t he emerge at a time synchronized to his point in the Prime timeline before he entered? I suppose we could wave some hands about Nero’s universe being freshly created and expanding while Spock crossed?
@Disinvited — No, the wormhole was literally open for 25 years due to the time dilation, or at least that’s Orci’s stated intent. In other words Prime Spock was in transit, caught in the wormhole tied to the KU. The presumption being that Nero and Prime Spock were both in the wormhole at the same time, Nero exiting after Spock entered, and 25 years later the wormhole sealed itself after PS’s arrival.
To complicate matters further, remember that PS later tells KS that he misrepresented the truth to Kirk, so anything PS says to Kirk must be taken with a grain of salt to imply traditional time travel with “universe ending paradoxes” rather than the “truth” according to Orci.
Re: No, the wormhole was literally open for 25 years
All the more misery for Orci’s attempts to block anymore transitions from Prime to the KT. That’s 25 years the Wormhole between the 2 universes stayed stable and further “after Nero but before Spock emerged” Prime travelers could have traveled it. And it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch that the wormhole was bi-directional and George could have emerged in the Prime and figured out he had only 25 years to get back.
That’s a good point Curiois.
It would be great to see the Mirror Universe in the movies, but why not just do a prequel or place the film in the Prime Universe and ignore the Kelvin Timeline altogether.
please no…to both
To get thru this article, I had to hit play on “I’m Coming Back” by The Human League.
I like all these ideas except the Mirror Universe one. I mean I have nothing against seeing that universe again but after seeing it so much in Discovery I’m not open to a whole film set around it.
But I love the idea of George Kirk crossing over from the prime timeline. That would be interesting! And yes for the more anal Trek fans confirm what we already know that but it would be fun to see a cross between two universes.
Something or someone could grab George from the timeline just before the Kelvin impacts on Nero’s ship; and brought forward to Jim’s ‘present day”. That would remove the previously used in the franchise “character X must die, or dire changes to the timestream would result.
@DA — ugh … That sounds like an episode of ENT where Archer is grabbed by Daniels and taken to the 29th Century. What a convoluted story that would have to be to justify it. And it reminds me a little of the plot of the Kris Kristopherson thriller MILLENNIUM.
OMG, MILLENNIUM??? I haven’t seen, or heard about,this movie in YEARS!!
Way to go, Curious Cadet!
ya, I really liked that movie too :-)
The crew encounter a strange object. They beam it aboard. It is George’s body. He managed to leap from the Enterprise at the last minute. He dived through space avoiding debris until he died. His body is extremely charred. He is taken to sickbay where Doctor McCoy injects him with the remaining Khan blood from the tribble. George awakes alive and well.
Let me make this a bit more cinematic:
We see George Kirk on Enterprise. Suddenly “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys starts playing. George leaps from the Enterprise right before the explosion happens. George dives through space, avoiding debris until he hits a large rock and his face mask cracks. George dies in space.
Cut to the Enterprise back in action after Beyond. The crew encounter a strange object. Kirk immediately believes it must be George. Spock tells him it is not logical. Kirk tells Scotty to beam him aboard.
It is George. He is badly charred. George is taken to sickbay where Doctor McCoy injects him with the remaining Khan blood from the tribble.
George awakes alive and well. He sits up and asks for a Budweiser classic while eyeing someone who looks like but isn’t Nurse Chapel. McCoy tells him he’s a doctor not a bartender.
@GQMF — Ha! Touché! Take that Bob Orci!
Star Wars did it, why can’t Trek lol
He was saved by a wonderful woman that called herself The Doctor.
Oooh, yesss! I could get behind that!
I would love to see it.
I feel like very few of these options would be satisfying. If he was maybe beamed out last second by the Klingons, I suppose that could work, assuming they were in transporter range. Then maybe it becomes a rescue mission, with Kirk risking his ship and crew to save his father. Or something like that. But really I think the mirror universe option is the best option. I can agree there might be some MU fatigue because of Disco, BUT the difference here would be it’s the MU of the Kelvin timeline. Which means that it’s at least as open to possibilities as the Kelvin timeline. The whole Nero thing could have happened but played out differently, and maybe the KT MU has the Terran Empire fighting a much more advanced Romulan Empire, with something closer to classic TOS ships (with a mirror George Kirk maybe captaining the ISS Enterprise…) The KT Enterprise-A then gets swept up in all of it and Kirk has to decide if he should get involved, even if his daddy issues compel him to want to help a man that looks a lot like his father…
That’s all fan wank, but I do feel like the MU of the KT could have some interesting concepts to explore.
My initial reaction upon hearing of George’s return was Mirror Universe…then they did it on Disco and I forgot about it in reference to Trek 4. I think for them to do it via MU at this point would be uninspired and late to the punch.
Time travel is getting old
You got that right. What used to be a novel idea has been done to death in Star Trek.
I tend to agree – too much TIME TREK and not enough STAR TREK.
He slams into the windshield (yes, I know…) ala A:IW, everyone acknowledges how funny that is, and we move on.
The George Kirk that died in the 2009 movie was really Loki in disguise.
“The George Kirk that died in the 2009 movie was really Loki in disguise.”
The half-and-half guy from Let That Be Your Last Battlefield?
I honestly hope they don’t use any of these ideas because I’m sick of hero’s daddy issues, and time travel plots are overused.
That said, Mirror universe or George Kirk from another alternate reality is the way to go.
If they use time travel it must be consistent with the kind of time travel this series canon uses which is quantum mechanics and not ‘Back to the future’ kind. So stop using ‘City On The Edge Of Forever’ as yet another trek episode to copy because that old fashioned concept of time travel and dilemma cannot apply. Whatever happened, happened. If they go back in time and change something, they get into another reality.
“If they use time travel it must be consistent with the kind of time travel this series canon uses which is quantum mechanics and not ‘Back to the future’ kind. So stop using ‘City On The Edge Of Forever’ as yet another trek episode to copy because that old fashioned concept of time travel and dilemma cannot apply.”
I wouldn’t mind seeing the KT crew finding The Guardian of Forever. But the producers would probably have to pay (at least) royalties to Harlan Ellison.
Harlan Ellison passed away very recently, but that doesn’t entirely solve the problem, since U.S. copyrights last for a very long time.
I also think that bringing George Kirk back would demolize the emotional poignancy of that first scene in star trek 2009, his sacrifice and his loss. You can’t bring George, Amanda and vulcan back. The impossibility of doing so is what makes their loss so important and profound for this story and characters.
He’s a borg. Somehow.
My expanded universe knowledge is fuzzy, but I recall a plot point in the Star Trek 09 prequel comic where the Narada encounters V’Ger and is somehow enhanced. V’Ger in turn, in some other expanded universes story, was previously enhanced by the Borg.
So, it’s possible ;)
No. He will return as a Force Ghost.
When will these articles actually include Chris Pine’s name? Chris Hemsworth is the actor that plays Thor. I can’t believe there are now two articles with this confusion.
You’re thinking of Chris Evans.
No, probably Chris Pratt.
Not old Kirk, Chris Walken?
His heroic action is seen by someone in the Q Continuum. They save him and reward him with a chance to interact with the son he saved before dying
A Talos IV encounter could also be used – a la The Cage. Not saying it would work in the context of a logical reason to shoehorn in George Kirk’s return, but it’s a way to avoid using time travel.
I’d like a TALOS 4 type scenario. Perhaps Kirk & co. wake up ( in the Prime Universe ) as prisoners of the Talosians and realise the last three movies have been a Grand Illusion or ruse of some sort?
I am not crazy about the idea of bringing George Kirk back. or at least in the sense of undoing his death.
But as far as the analysis – you’re putting way too much into how they would age Hemsworth. If George is brought back at 60, Hemsworth doesn’t need much aging. The fact is that people don’t age the same as they did just 50 years ago, a 50 year old now usually looks better and is in better shape than a 1970 40-year old. With McCoy living past 130, there is no reason to think that a 60 year old would look more than slightly older than a 40 year old, and Hemsworth is 35 now.
I would say that for a Kirk, unlike what was portrayed in the Deadly Years, time has a very minor effect. Shatner looked younger in ST5 than he did in ST2 (thanks to surgery or makeup to be sure, but also because he got fit). And at 88 he hardly looks like what we would expect an 88 year old to look like.
Here’s the other way you bring back Hemsworth, looking exactly like he does today. Bring him in as Sam Kirk.
Re: Sam Kirk
But how would you commensurate that with the “official” 2016 press release?:
“In the next installment of the epic space adventure, Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk will cross paths with a man he never had a chance to meet, but whose legacy has haunted him since the day he was born: his father.”
The same way you commensurate the press release on Star Trek : Phase II.
Kelvin George is hanging out with his own sort-of son Prime Kirk in the Nexus.
The Organians can also perform resurrections (ENT: Observer Effect) and it wouldn’t take much to give them a reason to meddle. They could be interesting villains, too, as they were in ENT.
George was somehow jettisoned into space and was injected by the whatever Khan and company was to become a superhuman and he has been trapped on some planet fighting for someone. Maybe on Sikar for the Grandmaster in an epic crossover….
Not sure any of those are movies I’d like to see……
Given Hollywood’s love for identity politics his return WILL happen just like this:
A woman of incredible power will have the ability to bring people back from the dead. A totally clueless Jim Kirk will team up with a very forward female captain who Kirk falls for but is denied at every turn.
Enter the witch. To defeat Kirk she brings back George who is as absent minded as ever. Apply jokes about how idiocy runs in the family, etc and a final showdown between the female captain and the witch.
Both kirks die and the female captain becomes the new commander of the Enterprise.
Mark it down. That will be the plot of the next movie.
@Tokyo Come on.
It’s simple. Have the USS Conctellation on a mission to the Typhon Expanse to chart the area. before they head to the nearest Starbase for Shore leave when they get to the Anomaly TNG Enterprise ran into in the future and was hit by a old federation ship. The ship that comes through the “Rift” This time is the Kelvin and after causing damage to the Constellation they manage to beam the crew still left alive,inclucing Kirk’s dad.
I love the idea of George Kirk Prime. While it’s not canon, the books always said that George Kirk mysteriously disappeared and PRESUMED dead. The idea that the prime universe sends a representative to the Kelvin universe, POST ST09 would also fully establish the prime universe is ok.
Kirk traveling to the past is also interesting. What loyalty should we have to the Kelvin universe, which was created by time travel in the first place? George Kirk living might actually be better for Star Trek as a whole. What if the story is that George’s death actually led to a catastrophic event? One that in the prime universe, George Kirk prevented and his absence led to the deaths of millions in the Kelvin universe?
To J.J. Abrams – For years you have said you couldn’t bring Shatner back as Kirk because Kirk is dead. How do you explain this?
For those of you who rant and rave that bringing Shatner back would be a gimmick or would distract (which is absurd) how do you explain this?
Just as the Kelvin hits the Narada and George is thrown forwards, a small wormhole opens and George is taken somewhere far away. Due to the time differential, when Jim finally meets his dad, only a decade has passed for George.