My WhatCulture colleague Adam Borders wrote an article recently on why Khan should feature in the upcoming Star Trek sequel. He gave a great run down on what makes Khan Noonian Singh such a great complex villain and why he is still held in such high regard since his first appearance 46 years ago. Even though I agree with his fine analysis of Khan, I disagree with his argument that he should make an appearance in the new film.
To say i was relieved when Simon Pegg poured water over the rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch will play Khan in ”Star Trek 2” recently is an understatement. When the news first broke that Khan might be in the new film, my heart sank as my immediate reaction was that Cumberbath was a total miscast and why??? But the casting rumor could still prove to be true and until there is concrete proof either way, people will continue to speculate. Also the original rumor and Simon Pegg’s denial could just be part of JJ Abrams plan to drum up excitement and throw fans off the scent.
So until we know one way or the other, here the main reasons why I believe Khan should not appear in ”Star Trek 2”!
1) You Can’t Better Ricardo Montalban
There are some roles that will always be associated with the actor who first played them. Captain Kirk will always be William Shatner, Han Solo will always be Harrison Ford and Khan is Ricardo Montalban. He played the role perfectly and gave the character far more dimensions than a lesser actor would have struggled to. He could have played him as the bog standard super villain who’s main power is his super strength but instead fleshed him out and made his ego and self perceived intelligence his strength but also his weakness. He was capable of deep compassion, love and pride which meant that if he was hurt, it would bring his anger to the forefront and blind him to the route that he should be following and lead him to do the wrong thing, i.e the fatal mistake he made following the Enterprise into the Mutara Nebula in Wrath Of Khan.
If Khan appears in ”Star Trek 2” you can guarantee he will be written as a standard movie villain like all the bad guys in films penned by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. You just have to look at Nero as an example. You couldn’t have asked for a more credible actor than Eric Bana to play the seriously annoyed Romulan but he was given such dubious motivation and boring lines, it resulted in Nero being one of Star Trek’s most weakest villains. He was a standard antagonist who shouted out a lot and who’s only memorable feature was his facial tattoos. The same will happen with Khan. He will be so diluted that anything that makes him special will make way for cliches revolving around him being strong and clever but underneath there will be no actual substance. The same has happened with Spock and Kirk in JJ’s Star Trek.
If its already been done perfectly by Montalban then you are better off just leaving it and accepting that some things just can’t be topped.