If there’s one thing we geeks love to do, it’s wax theoretical on all the things that could have been or should yet be involving our favorite characters or properties. Whether an unseen final season or a never-produced line of action figures, we want them. Now. Make it so!
Warning: This article contains speculation and analysis regarding casting decisions in Star Trek 2. If you’re looking to stay spoiler-free, you might want to skip this… and all the other Trek movie news out there.
Oh what a tangled web J.J. Abrams weaves. Separating the realities and rumors of Star Trek 2 is driving Trek fans a bit crazy at this point. Principal photography has already wrapped, and yet we don’t have a title for the movie, or any clue what Star Trek 2 is going to be about.
One of the biggest secrets regarding Star Trek 2 has been the presence of Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain. After replacing Benicio del Toro, Cumberbatch was mentioned by numerous sources to be playing Khan Noonien Singh, and these rumors were confirmed by TrekMovie.com.
But recently, in an interview with SFX, Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy) let it slip that Cumberbatch might not be playing Khan after all.
Here’s a breakdown:
- October 26, 2010 — SlashFilm reports that “a source” denies Khan, but, “It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS excited. Think along the lines of Harry Mudd or Trelane or Gary Mitchell or the Talosians or the Horta. Actually it’s one of those that I named.”
- April 30, 2012 – TrekMovie.com confirms Cumberbatch as Khan.
- May 29, 2012 – The Telegraph publishes an interview with Simon Pegg (Scotty) in which he states that the villain is not Khan. “It’s not Khan,” he replies Pegg, annoyed. “That’s a myth. Everyone’s saying it is, but it’s not.”
- June 25, 2012 – Star Trek 2 screenwriter Roberto Orci names the characters not appearing in the movie: Gary Mitchell, Charlie X, Ruk, Janice Rand, and The Borg.
- July 9, 2012 – Karl Urban implies that Cumberbatch is portraying Gary Mitchell, saying, “He’s awesome, he’s a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary.”
- July 12, 2012 – Regarding his earlier statement, Urban says in an interview, “I’m really not at liberty to discuss anything about Star Trek. All I can say is that I did that interview after a 22-hour flight from New Zealand. I literally hopped off the plane into the interview.” He then goes on to say, “I can promise you that before the end of Comic-Con, some exclusive Star Trek footage, it’s going to come out. You’re going to find it. It’s going to come out.”
- July 14, 2012 – Star Trek 2 screenwriter Damon Lindelof states that “Karl is off the reservation,” and that these rumors aren’t true, including the rumors of a Comic-Con preview.
- July 15, 2012 — Karl Urban uploads a surfing video to YouTube that contains a few seconds of Star Trek wrap footage at the end.
(Nothing to see here.)
Here’s why the announcement of Gary Mitchell is so exciting to fans:
Gary Mitchell is the villain from “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, the second Star Trek pilot, and the third Star Trek episode to air. Mitchell is a crewmember onboard the Enterprise who begins to show telepathic and telekinetic powers. He and Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, who has also begun to develop similar powers, are stranded by Kirk on the uninhabited planet, Delta Vega. It’s there that their belief that they are highly superior humans ultimately leads to their demise.
The story of Gary Mitchell has already been rebooted, in IDW’s Star Trek #2. This version cuts out Dr. Dehner entirely, and leaves us with a much shorter, much less subtle and more brutal story. There are several major changes, and the ending is completely different in terms of character choices.
In both versions, Mitchell’s story is truncated, and you feel as though there is much more happening than we’re privy to. The story could easily expand to a feature-length movie, or could factor into a larger storyline (if the rumors of Klingon involvement are true).
To be honest, I think that Cumberbatch looks more like a Gary Mitchell than a Khan Noonien Singh. Now, when Benicio del Toro was cast as the villain, it made sense that he would be reprising Ricardo Montalban’s iconic character. However, Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t strike me as a genetically-augmented man whose “background was suspected to be Sikh, from the northern region of India”. He does seem more convincing as a normal, average guy who would suddenly develop superpowers.
And then there’s this picture, which was presented by TrekMovie.com as evidence that he was playing Khan:
I propose that this scene might actually be similar to the one in IDW’s Star Trek #2:
Is this conclusive? No. Does he have the tinfoil eyes? Not that I can see, but I’ll bet you that they make the glowing eye effect in post-production.
Add in Alice Eve, who is also playing an unknown role in the film. She could possibly have been cast as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner:
This is especially believable when you see this behind-the-scenes photo:
She’s wearing a Starfleet jumpsuit, plus the hair… it’s too coincidental for her not to be playing Dr. Dehner.
Why do I say “Make It So”?
Because this is a great story! “Where No Man Has Gone Before” is one of the best Star Trek episodes in existence. It’s the greatest human vs. god story in Star Trek canon (don’t even mention Star Trek V if you know what’s good for you).
Gary Mitchell is a character to which you truly feel emotionally attached. It’s not at all his fault that he developed psionic powers. Add to the fact, in the television episode, you feel horrible for Kirk, who searches for any shred of redemption he can find in Mitchell. While Spock insists that Mitchell must be killed, Kirk refuses to forget that his friend lies underneath the godlike monster.
It’s a powerful episode, and a story that will work really well as a sequel to 2009′s Star Trek. Make it so, J.J. Make it so.
No matter what the outcome of these rumors are, I guess it’s too late to ask for Ashton Kutcher to be cast as Lieutenant Kelso, huh?