Monday, December 05, 2011

Less-Than-Thrilling "Star Trek" Bad Guy Rumors

EDIT: Somehow, this initially went up without the page-break I intended. My appologies.

This has been "news" for a few days now, but I wanted to chew it over before posting anything. Plus, weekend and all that...

So... Internet Lore has it that I "hated" JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot; which is basically untrue - I didn't really care much for it, and I think it's kind of telling that the "return of Trek as a super-relevant franchise" thing that it was supposed to kick off has more-or-less failed to materialize - let's be real for a moment: the Geek Culture "organism" has been obsessing over "what's gonna happen in 'The Avengers'" since the end of "Iron Man"... how much chatter or even excitement has there been over "New Trek" since the movie? - but mostly I was underwhelmed.

Anyway! Latino Review claims to have the scoop as to the identity of the (presumed) villain Benicio Del Toro is playing in the sequel. POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT!/


According to LR's sources - and they are known for having really, REALLY good intel - he'll be Khan Noonien Singh, pretty-much THE most widely-recognized Trek villain (moreso because of "Wrath of Khan" than his origins on the original series.)

This has pretty-much been what most people have been assuming (again, Khan is really the only Trek heavy that EVERYONE has heard of) since the beginning... and while there have already been a slew of denials from the filmmakers that means very little at this point, as Devin at BAD points out "extreme truth-stretching" is standard-issue for movie rumor denials these days.

In any case, IF true it's kinda dissapointing news from where I sit.

Mainly, it smacks of taking the easy route: This was what everyone assumed the 2nd movie would be before they shot the FIRST movie. By the same token, it smacks of Abrams and company's strictly-superficial read of the franchise: Khan is iconic mainly because of "Wrath of Khan" - which they probably aren't going to remake (in no small part because they already 'borrowed' the basic skeleton of Khan's story in that film for Nero in the last movie.) "Space Seed" - the Young Kirk era episode that introduced the character - had previously been  prized mostly for it's world-building; one of the few Original Series episodes to offer some tidbits about what had happened in Trek's history between the audience's present and the Federation-era future (short version: Khan is a genetically-engineered superhuman who became a would-be conquerer during the delightfully-named "Eugenics Wars," later discovered hibernating in a spaceship by The Enterprise.)

Basically; if this is true it means that despite re-booting the entire Trek universe and thus having the option of using ANY character (or making up a new one) they'd be going for a retread of the most popular movie in the pre-reboot series. This isn't automatically indicative of anything, of course - maybe THIS will be the screenplay where Team Abrams finally delivers - but it's not a terribly encouraging sign.

Also... not to nitpick here, but if it IS going to be Khan... with all due respect to Del Toro, it would've been nice if they could've found an Indian actor for the role. Khan is supposed to be a Sikh, after all - and it's not like there aren't a metric-ton of good Indian actors who could really benefit from a breakout part like this (not to mention it could mean HUGE boxoffice in the increasingly-important India market.) Casting him with another Spanish actor - a good one, don't get me wrong - once again smells unpleasantly of a surface-only read of the series. Plus, let's be honest, the ONLY way for a new Khan to stand on his own merit is for him to be as far removed from Ricardo Montalban's version as possible.

We'll see.


Lithmus said...

Well thanks for the info, but here's hoping you aren't entirely correct, then again it is only rumor. Its just a fluke I happen to get here right at this time, just watched Ong Bak, wasn't bad but wasn't as good as the Protector. Felt like a similar movie with similar plot line anyways.

William said...

Bah, I had my fingers crossed for Garth of Izar.

Elessar said...

Actually the highest grossing (and therefore, theoretically most popular) Star Trek film, pre-reboot, was Star Trek IV: The Journey Home. For those of you who don't speak Trekkie: The one with the whales.

I honestly do not know why that is, but it was at least mildly encouraging, as that's the best one in my estimation.

As for Khan as the new villain, I agree with you Bob: Easy way out. But then I thought we'd all forgotten the new Trek.

vamast said...

you know gundam has better continuity by making it new characters over generations or another generations, and making reference to the original or anything after, before. I guess america sucks at it, seeing how dc rebooted their super-spandexed again. explains why transformers isnt doing bad, seeing how they are all treated as convoy, and micheal bay blankblankblank...

Download Movies said...

Lithmus, it's not so similar as you think.I think that tis movie has original play with unusual ideas.. but maybe I'm wrong..

lemonvampire said...

Bob, I know you're really super-duper excited about The Avengers, I am too. But there are other things in the world to be excited about, and believe it or not some of us really do care about the next Star Trek.
I'm not entirely disagreeing with your assessment here, just pointing out that the entirety of geekdom is not as completely obsessed about the Avengers as you are. Really, every single piece of news you've posted for the last four or five months has at some point boiled down to "who cares about any of this because we have Avengers coming!"

Goose said...

J.J. Abrams already denied this rumor, Bob, so you have nothing to worry about.

MovieBob said...


Yes, absolutely nothing to worry about because no one making a movie has ever straight-up LIED when asked about an Internet rumor.

Check the link to BAD. The people making the new Superman movie denied that Zod was in it up and down when that scoop broke months ago... and yet there he is. This is how things are done now.

Sanunes said...

I was really excited to see a new Star Trek movie in theaters when the reboot was released in 2009, but I felt indifferent by the movie and I have several reasons why I think it might be, but no need to bore you fine folks.

My concerns if it will be Khan it could wind up being "They just slapped Khan's name on a completely different character" or "how is this different from Khan before?"

Popcorn Dave said...


If this is true, what the fuck are they thinking? They'll never recreate Montalban's performance, even if they cast a "better" actor - his brand of wild-eyed scenery-chomping is nearly impossible to pull off without being unintentionally funny - and once you take that out, what's left? They can't seriously be thinking about recreating the "Trek II" plot right after TWO revenge films in a row.

If they were doing a series, I could imagine an interesting storyline where Khan actually escapes the Botany Bay and starts to build up the great empire that he talked about in "Space Seed", with his forces gradually getting stronger over multiple episodes, occasionally coming to blows with Kirk before eventually he's built up enough of an army to take on the Federation. That would be pretty damn spectacular and a worthy reason to bring back the character.

That's way too big a storyline for a 2-hour movie, though. Probably they'll just have him running around quoting Nietzsche, taking his shirt off and having dick-measuring contests with the Captain, before taking over a ship and getting beaten by his overconfidence. Like Devin said, "Space Seed", but EXTREME. Yawn.

Most people assumed that the Trek 2 villain would be either Khan or the Klingons, and both of those would be kind of "easy" and obvious, but I think the latter would at least give the writers a few more options. But Christ, can't we fucking move on from Khan, Klingons and Borg now? The Star Trek universe is so much bigger than a handful of big-name supervillains.

By the way Bob: Using Zod in Snyder's Superman is every bit as lazy and unimaginative as this, and you damn well know it.

Peema said...

Not that it contradicts anything that has been said so far but presumably since this is Reloaded Trek Universe (and with the wrong sensibilities at the helm this could be Star Trek: Their First Assignment, what part would Bobcat Goldthwaite play?) the whole original setup wouldn't have happened. "Has the altered past changed the outcome? Thrill! to the subtle nuance that'll be lost on half the audience!" If nothing else it's a potential for kinda backstory for people who only saw Wrath.
Besides it could be worse, it could be tribbles.

Mariner said...

You didn't hate JJ's Star Trek?

That's okay. I have enough vitriol for both of us, and change.

The Karligarchy said...

As much as a love the Star Trek franchise and want to see it persevere, there aren´t a lot of villains that new audiences will recognize that can carry a whole movie. Other than Klingons, Khan and destructive space probes (maybe the Borg which would be awful in one of these movies) what villains does Trek have that can carry a whole movie? Are they going to use the Romulans again? They only got away with that in the last movie because at least half of it was dedicated to the origin story. Are they going to give a movie to the Cardassians, the Ferengi or risk making up a whole new race? We saw how well that worked in Insurrection. They also have to develop the other core crew members a little further like McCoy, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov. Klingons and Khan seem to be the only options. Maybe a destructive space probe plot where the Enterprise has to "quest" to get whatever is needed to stop it could work in allowing the introduction of a few races that could come back as heavies in later films. New audiences are going to have to be introduced to the other races of Trek somehow before they can heavy in their own film. The new audience the franchise is looking for isn´t going to really know who the Cardassians, Ferengi, or even the Romulans really are. If they use Khan they will undoubtedly have to retcon the Eugenics Wars because those were supposed to have happened in the 1990s. Other than Klingons, Khan and space probes what the hell else could possibly happen? We can probably also expect a few cameos from older cast members. Guesses on who those would be?

The Karligarchy said...

Process of elimination of viable candidates for heavies in the next film does not leave many options. I´d actually be kind of surprised if they went with Khan. If I had to put money on it I´d say Klingons. They were name dropped heavily in the last film, audiences know them. Cardassians were mentioned once in the form of a drink order but no one other than long time trek fans know who they are. The Nero thing was really similar to an earth threatening probe plot so I doubt (hope) they wouldn´t try that again. Retconning the whole Eugenics thing or for plot purposes, why the hell Khan even exists in the first place is going to be kind of hard. If he is in the movie I´d bet it would have to be along with the Klingons. The retcon might go something like, "starfleet created a test batch of genetically engineered super soldiers to help deal with the Klingons whom they struggle to defeat." Khan and some super people are brought on board the Enterprise to help in a mission to deal with Klingons. The initial encounter is successful but is allarmingly brutal and effective to the other starfleeters. Khan soon becomes dissatisfied with the overly lenient tactics of Starfleet and regular humans in dealing with the Klingons. He decides that a more genocidal approach involving maybe the Klingon homeworld is in order and siezes control of the Enterprise or some other starship to carry this out. Kirk has to stop Kahn from committing genocide and possibly has to team up with some Klingons to stop him. Just a guess. In any event the second movie needs to introduce the audience to more of the other races for potential heavies for the following films. The franchise isn´t going to survive with 5 films with Klingons being the only bad guys. I would like to see contemporary Romulans and Cardassians personally. Perhaps the Enterprise has to chase Khan around because he needs to acquire things for his mass murder weapon which will introduce the audience to other races. Khan then reveals that when he is done with the Klingons (or before dealing with them) he will use it on Earth so from the rubble he can create his new, stronger world order or whatever naturally led by him. (Possible fan shout out to a Terran Empire?) That´s all of the too much I have to say about that.

Judin said...

While Star Trek did not come back as a "super-relevant franchise" after the reboot, Abrams' movie did make a major difference, though one that most fanboys might not notice: girls love Star Trek now, and I'm not talking about teenage girls drooling over young Kirk and Spock, oh no. Most of those girls, and especially those who were a little older, moved on to TOS to drool over original Kirk and Spock. The amount of fanfiction must have doubled since the reboot. Personally, I think that's a good thing.

On the one hand, I love Khan, and I would love to see more of him, even in a rebooted version. On the other hand, there is no way Abrams can top "The Wrath of Khan". It's considered the best film in the franchise! So if Khan is the next villain, I'll expect the new film to be decidely "meh".