While this year’s sequel Star Trek Into Darkness was a sizable commercial success and garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, many longtime Trek fans weren’t so keen on director J.J. Abrams’ follow-up. One of the key criticisms launched at Into Darkness was its heavy riffing on previous Trek film Wrath of Khan, specifically Abrams and Co.’s coyness about the true identity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s villainous character. The team wanted to keep the film’s Big Bad a surprise until opening weekend, and they went to great lengths to conceal the fact that Cumberbatch was indeed playing Khan.
Abrams is currently knee-deep in pre-production on Star Wars: Episode VII, but he recently spoke frankly about Star Trek Into Darkness, admitting that they probably should’ve been honest with fans by confirming that Khan was in the film. Moreover, he addressed the possibility of Joe Cornish taking the helm of Star Trek 3. Hit the jump to read on.
Speaking with MTV News, Abrams was asked if he regrets withholding Khan’s identity in the months leading up to the release of Into Darkness:
“The truth is I think it probably would have been smarter just to say upfront ‘This is who it is.’ It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that’s what the thing was.”
The director went on to say that Paramount was also keen on keeping the Khan talk to a minimum for fear of alienating non-Trek fans:
“The truth is because it was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you’ve really got to know what Star Trek is about to see this movie. That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it.”
The truth of the matter is that the team was likely in a no-win scenario. By not copping to the fact that Cumberbatch was playing Khan, the constant side-stepping by Abrams and the cast in pre-release interviews became rather irritating and made for unfair expectations regarding the finished film, but if they had confirmed Cumberbatch was playing Khan, they no doubt would’ve been inundated with endless questions about how their character was different from the original version, the nature of Into Darkness’ ties to Wrath of Khan, and plenty of other questions that they couldn’t possibly answer without ruining the twists and turns of Abrams’ film.
That being said, the big “reveal” of Khan in the context of Into Darkness is still a little befuddling since at that time, the Enterprise crew has no prior knowledge of Khan or his past. He’s just a mysterious, dark character who happens to have a funny name.
While Abrams won’t be directing the third Trek film, he’s still onboard as a producer and Paramount is working towards potentially beginning production next summer. Reports have been swirling that the studio has its eye on Attack the Block helmer Joe Cornish to take the reins, and Simon Pegg confirmed as much recently. Abrams addressed the issue himself, saying it’s not a done deal but it seems likely:
“I don’t know if Joe Cornish is the guy. My guess is that’s up in the air. I adore him and love him and can’t wait to see what he does next. Hopefully it will be Star Trek. Whatever it is, he’s brilliant. Attack the Block was one of my favorite movies of the year when it came out.”
He went on to say that Roberto Orci is working on the script at the moment with two other writers, so expect to hear more news regarding Trek 3 soon. Watch the full interview below.