As he has been out promoting his new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, director Quentin Tarantino has been talking a bit of Star Trek, providing more clues about the project he has in development with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Paramount Pictures. The latest example of this has him clarify (and possibly confuse again) the issue of timeline.
Tarantino wants the Chris Pine timeline
As a guest on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the subject of Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek project came up, and the director gave a brief recap of how it came together with him and producer J.J. Abrams:
It’s an idea that I had, then we got together and talked it out and we hired Mark Smith who did The Revenant to write the script.
Then Tarantino seemed to clarify the open question as to which timeline the film would take place (Prime or Kelvin):
I don’t know how much I can say. The one thing I can say is it would deal with the Chris Pine timeline.
…or maybe he wants the Shatner timeline
So, Tarantino’s comment about the “Chris Pine timeline” seems to answer the timeline question. The film he is developing would be another chapter in the Kelvin timeline, starring Chris Pine as Kirk. However, as Tarantino kept talking, things got more confusing when it comes to the timeline question. Here is the exchange with Happy Sad Confused host Josh Horowitz:
Tarantino: Now, I still don’t quite understand – and J.J. can’t explain it to me, and my editor has tried to explain it to me and I still don’t get it…Something happened in the first movie that kind of wiped the slate clean? I don’t buy that. I don’t like it. I don’t appreciate it. I don’t…fuck that! Alright? I don’t like that.
Horowitz: I’m going to lead you down a road. You want The Guardian of Forever [from TOS episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”] to have happened, don’t you?
Tarantino: I want the whole series to have happened, it just hasn’t happened yet. No, Benedict Cumberbatch or whatever his name is, is not Khan. Khan is Khan. I told J.J. I don’t understand this, I don’t like it. And he went: “Ignore it! Nobody likes it! I don’t understand it. Do whatever you want. If you want it to happen in the exact way it happened on the series, it can.”
Horowitz: So that’s more in line with, you are honoring the series that you loved and came up with?
Tarantino: Yes, exactly. And ultimately why I would be interested – somebody asked me what is it about Star Trek that you like? Easy. William Shatner. I love William Shatner as James T. Kirk. That’s why I like Star Trek. The reason I like Star Trek more than I like Star Wars is: William Shatner is not in Star Wars…William Shatner as James T. Kirk, that is my connection. That is why I liked it…So the reason I was actually intrigued by the J.J. Abrams version of it is because I thought Chris Pine did a fantastic job, not just playing Captain Kirk, but playing William Shatner’s captain. He is William Shatner. He is not just another guy. He is William Shatner’s, Captain Kirk. And Zachary Quinto is literally Leonard Nimoy’s – because they had that scene together – he is his Spock. And, they fucking nail it. They just nail it.
…could it be he wants both?
So reading between the lines, it seems that Tarantino saw J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie as just a prequel to The Original Series, and he didn’t pick up on the whole new timeline created by the Kelvin incident. The way he talks about Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock appears to see them as earlier versions of Shatner’s Kirk and Nimoy’s Spock, all on the same timeline. Tarantino has also had high praise for the 2009 Star Trek movie but seems to dismiss the Star Trek Into Darkness follow-up, and possibly Star Trek Beyond as well. He also doesn’t see how the Prime and Kelvin timelines can exist in parallel, without one overwriting the other. To be fair, Star Trek has been inconsistent in how time travel works, with episodes like “City on the Edge of Forever” showing how timelines can get erased.
Putting what he said together, it would appear that Tarantino wants to make a Star Trek movie in the prime timeline, but with the younger actors from the Kelvin timeline. It could also include actors from the Prime timeline as well, notably William Shatner. It would be a prequel to The Original Series but may also follow the 2009 Star Trek film. It could ignore Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. Could something like that work? It would be hard to fit such a film into the canon, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it wouldn’t be interesting or entertaining on its own. A simple solution would be to envision it takes place in a universe where the events of the 2009 Star Trek film happened which somehow flow into events that closely follow those of The Original Series and beyond.
There is also the practical issue of Chris Pine. If Tarantino is determined to have him play the younger Shatner Kirk, he will need to convince Pine to sign a new contract. The planned follow up to Star Trek Beyond fell apart at the last minute due to salary renegotiations with Pine and returning star Chris Hemsworth. While Hemsworth doesn’t seem to factor into Tarantino’s plans, Pine still could be a problem. However, Tarantino has a knack for getting big-name stars to sign on for his movies. Just last night in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tarantino noted it was very rare that actors have turned down the opportunity to be in one of his films, with the exception of scheduling conflicts.
A little from column A, a little from column B
The idea to ignore later entries in a franchise, and focus on the popular (or those seen as more appropriate by the creators) films in a franchise is becoming a common trend. Producer James Cameron is making a sequel to Terminator 2, the Paramount produced Terminator: Dark Fate (due out in November), which ignores the movies that came after. Similarly, Ridley Scott has reshaped the Alien franchise since his re-involvement, basically ignoring everything after Alien and Aliens. So Tarantino’s idea seems like it may be joining the trend.
Listen to Tarantino talk Trek
The whole discussion of Star Trek starts at the 21:28-minute mark in the podcast embedded below.
Tarantino’s STAR TREK will star the new cast (he loves Pine’s Kirk) BUT he’s saying no thanks to the Kelvin timeline. “I don’t like it…Fuck that. I want the whole series to have happened! No, Benedict Cumberbatch is not Khan. Khan is Khan.” Listen here! https://t.co/ziTCBqITrI
— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) July 22, 2019
Keep up with all the news on upcoming Trek films at TrekMovie.com.