J.J. Abrams Revisits ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ and Why It Didn’t Work

     December 16, 2015

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More than two-and-a-half years after its debut and J.J. Abrams is still facing the backlash from Star Trek Into Darkness. “I take full responsibility for this,” he told BuzzFeed in a recent interview, saying how he encouraged “the writers in certain directions” and there “were certain things” about which he was unsure. In taking a deep dive into his sequel with the site, he reflected on what went wrong and what didn’t work — one of which he reiterated was the whole Khan situation.

Abrams started things off by explaining how stories have “a fundamental conversation” or argument and a central question coming about, and Into Darkness did not have any of them. For him, it came down to the continuing relationship between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto), beginning in the first movie as “two orphans who are completely at odds” but with no clear issue, dynamic, or problem in the sequel.

It was a little bit lightweight, ultimately, that Kirk was disappointed that Spock didn’t feel that their friendship was as meaningful to him as it did to Kirk, which is sort of what we’re saying. And that Spock’s arc is coming to unabashedly love his friend Kirk.


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Image via Paramount Pictures

As for Benedict Cumberbatch’s true role as Khan, Abrams said he agreed that they were “lying to the people” in denying his presence, but he tried to defend his way of thinking in the face of leaking spoilers.

At the end of the day, while I agree with Damon Lindelof that withholding the Khan thing ended up seeming like we were lying to people, I was trying to preserve the fun for the audience, and not just tell them something that the characters don’t learn for 45 minutes into the movie, so the audience wouldn’t be so ahead of it.

Finishing the discussion with BuzzFeed, Abrams completely fell on his sword in saying how he “somehow misled” his team of writers to try things that ultimately didn’t work.

I felt like, in a weird way, it was a little bit of a collection of scenes that were written by my friends — brilliantly talented writers — who I somehow misled in trying to do certain things. And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices, and unable to hang my hat on an undeniable thread of the main story. So then I found myself on that movie basically tap-dancing as well as I could to try and make the sequences as entertaining as possible. Thank god I had the cast that we have, who are so unbelievably fun to watch. And an incredible new villain in Benedict Cumberbatch…I would never say that I don’t think that the movie ended up working. But I feel like it didn’t work as well as it could have had I made some better decisions before we started shooting.


For fans’ sake, he passed the torch to a Trek fan, Justin Lin, for Star Trek Beyond, and positive reviews are coming out of screenings for Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead of its theatrical debut this weekend.

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Image via Paramount Pictures

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