This morning saw the first trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness hit the pipes of the internet. And these teasers are coming thicker and faster than ever. With a synopsis and a poster having drip-dripped in recent weeks, and a full trailer promised before screenings of The Hobbit next week, Paramount are getting us royally whipped about a film that’s still six months away. It’s just like The Dark Knight Rises, isn’t it readers? But then, JJ Abrams’ 2009 original was a stunning reboot of a franchise that most people suspected had had its day, faithful to the source, thrillingly modern and emotional. Secrecy is one of the writer-director’s closest allies, but we’ve managed to
work a certain amount out already…
The first movie broke with Trek tradition by setting a lot of the action on Earth. That made sense, since it was the story of how the Enterprise crew banded together after Starfleet Academy. But on the evidence of this trailer, it looks like they’ll be boldly going little further than back to Earth. There’s literally no deep-space action in this trailer, and the Enterprise itself is glimpsed only fleetingly, crashing. And witness the synopsis: "When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organisation has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.” We’re not saying this is a bad thing but, ooh JJ, why do you tease us so?
Look closely at the poster they put out this week, and through the Starfleet crest you see (what we’re pretty sure is) the main villain, Benedict Cumberbatch surveying a ruined cityscape. And in that cityscape you can clearly see the Gherkin, the Shard, the London Eye and seemingly countless other landmarks of the capital. This will be the first time Trek has ever boldly gone to our shores, save the occasional Sherlock Holmes-themed Holodeck episode of The Next Generation. This could simply be a neat way of letting Benedict Cumberbatch use his lovely accent… or is there something more significant going on here?
Talking of Sherlock, Ol’ Cucumberpatch looks like he could be even better as a baddie than as a goodie. But the biggest mystery surrounds the true identity of his character, leading fans to one frenzied conclusion: Khan: Or to pronounce it properly: "KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!" First seen in 1967 episode Space Speed, Khan Noonien Singh, played by Ricardo Montalbon, was a genetically-engineered superhuman who controlled a quarter of the Earth during the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. And he reappeared in the original Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.
A return would make sense, since the new series veered off in an alternate timeline, allowing different stories with the same characters. Rumour and counter-rumour leave the truth of it murky, but Abrams has said: "Now that we are in a parallel existence with what fans of the original series love so much, we could introduce any number of characters, settings, references and situations that the original series introduced. Dealing with Khan would certainly be a challenge, but we had an equal challenge in finding our crew of the Enterprise.” The fact that he is returning for his ‘vengeance’ might suggest a plot parallel with The Wrath Of Khan. Of course, the guy wasn’t British, but what the hell?
The movie is quite clearly all about the villain. Here’s what Benedict had to say about his character at a Japanese Q&A this week. "He is very ruthless… he is not a clearly good or evil character. He is a villain but the
actions he takes has intent and reason. He is a complicated character not to be judged by white-or-black, or good-or-evil. But this is the appeal of JJ’s works and I felt challenged as an actor".
Although history has since disputed it, 1968 episode Plato's Stepchildren courted controversy by featuring US TV's first ever interracial kiss, between Spock and Uhuru. Legend has it that the original script saw the kiss between her and Spock, but when William Shatner got wind of the scene, he demanded the moment in history for himself. Abrams' first movie rectified this, plotting romantic intrigue between Uhuru and Spock. Here's hoping for some sexytime amid all that Darkness.
The internet went ablaze when Zachary Quinto appeared to hint at an imminent exit in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. He noted a feeling of "association with certain roles… coming to an end." The actor was quick to rubbish such talk on Twitter: "Simmer down kids, rumours are rumours for a reason. Quotes out of context. Let's let the second movie come out before we talk about a third." But could that just be a move of counter-espionage? Could Abrams be about to do the unthinkable and kill off Spock?!
No sign of the original series’ most iconic antagonists here, though it doesn’t mean they won’t feature… possibly as Khan’s warlike footsoldiers? Wisely, the franchise didn't piss all its chips at once, and used Romulans as the main villain in the first film. And, we certainly trust Abrams with this but… HOW LONG CAN YOU REALLY HAVE STAR TREK WITHOUT KLINGONS PLEASE?
This blog over at Entertainment Weekly comes up with some great theories about the poster, but may be looking a little too hard for the clues. But the guy has a point about the very Earth-based nature of it. Star Trek, in all its iterations, was always an allegory for the politics of the day, the Klingons being thinly-veiled Russians in the era of the Cold War. The villain, we know, is a ‘one-man weapon of mass destruction’, so latterday paranoia about an enemy within on hometurf is something to be thinking about. Star Trek Into Homeland, anyone?
Come on, who didn’t do a little sex wee when they saw that trailer this morning?
Abrams pulled a masterstroke while establishing his alternate timeline by casting Leonard Nimoy as future-Spock last time round. It might be tempting to rub up with history once more and cast more old favourites. William Shatner won’t shut up about wanting in. But the ensemble cast established was so strong that the franchise really
doesn’t need it.