Disclaimer: This article was first written by Ray DeRousse for what was then Obsessed With Film on May 18th, 2009. I have decided to re-run this article in the days after J.J. Abrams has reportedly offered the villain role in his Star Trek sequel to Benicio Del Toro. We sincerely hope the idea is for Del Toro not to play Khan but as the Internet explodes with fanboys claiming Khan’s return would be no different to The Joker’s re-use in The Dark Knight… I feel Ray’s words are still apt and accurate.
Reboots and prequels are a bad idea for everyone except studio executives and their shareholders. Creativity is shackled to previously-formed ideas and developments, and everyone involved vainly attempts to recreate what everyone loved about the previous version.
Don’t get me wrong – J.J. Abrams did a pretty good job rebooting Star Trek. The alternate timeline gambit paid off, giving the movie a certain lift since it was no longer tied to the events of later years. This avoids what was, of course, one of the worst aspects of the Star Wars prequels, as well as the recent Wolverine abomination – you knew what was going to happen later, so everything had to play into that eventuality. It not only saps the movie of drama, but it also causes an instant comparison to previous films rather than create its own identity.
But I didn’t really care for all of the time travel nonsense in the film. While necessary for Abrams’ alternate universe idea, it came off as a convoluted gimmick. This was particularly true of Old Spock’s magical reappearance in the ice cave, thereby converging the two timelines in a ridiculously haphazard way. However, by the end of the film, I wanted the franchise to shake itself free of the former timeline and to boldly move into new territory.
But clearly Abrams and his writers are not willing to do that. In this recent interview, Abrams breathlessly discusses the possibility of including Old Kirk in the sequel via yet another time travel device (ugh), or possibly including the infamous Khan in it as well.
As I asked in my initial review of Star Trek, has there ever been a franchise that has crawled up its own ass as much as this one? For a series that is supposed to be about boldly going places, STAR TREK sure does spend a lot of time navel gazing at its own history. What good can possibly come of seeing a 70 year old William Shatner stuffed into a uniform, hamming up the place? It would be, in my mind, and affront to a cast that worked hard to carve out new identities in this reboot.
Even worse is the idea of bringing in Khan. Look, I loved Khan in the second Star Trek film, and it would be great to see that character again in some capacity. However, Ricardo Montalban is DEAD. And trust me, nobody can recreate that character in his place. EVER. Thanks to the television show, we’ve seen Khan as both a young man and an old man. What can possibly be done with this character again? Abrams would be wise to put that idea aside.
Of course, Abrams has to appeal to the Star Trek fanbase, which has all the imagination of ritualistically setting up a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. In a poll on Twitter by Peter Sciretta of SlashFilm, the three most popular “ideas” by Trek fans were:
1. The Original Crew vs. The Borg
2. The return of William Shatner
Wow. Terrific ideas, guys!
Here’s a better idea: either don’t make a sequel (ha ha ha), or make something original for once!!! The sequel will have over a 100 million dollars to play with, and a clean slate. Come up with something new … fresh … exciting. I realize that, by doing this, Abrams would need to go out on a limb and release something that wasn’t test marketed into the ground, but that’s the beauty of having a job in the entertainment industry. The primary point of that position is to be CREATIVE.
So my advice to Abrams would be: Experiment! Create previously unseen villains! Explore strange NEW worlds, and NEW civilizations! Boldly go where no one has gone before!!!
It’s amazing how quickly everyone involved in this franchise forgets their own motto.