Spoiler Alert!: J.J. Abrams, Star Trek, And The Non-Surprise Surprise

Categories: Film and TV

stidspoiler1.jpg
The second biggest mystery in Into Darkness: Why does Alice Eve strip to her underwear in this scene?
Before we get in to the nuts and bolts of Star Trek Into Darkness, let us take a moment to see what the studio behind the film wants us to believe the movie is about:

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

Now, because this is a J.J. Abrams flick, we all knew that we were going to have to take this synopsis with a grain of salt. At least it gave fans something to spend the run up to the movie debating about: who is this "one man weapon of mass destruction?"

The answer ended up being Khan, but the reality of the situation was that the answer was always going to be Khan. Oh sure, it might be fun to speculate that the villain of Into Darkness was going to be someone else, but now that Star Trek has gone mainstream the only way to truly take things up a notch in the sequel was to make the bad guy the biggest bad guy around.

That begs the question: why go through the trouble of keeping a character like Khan a secret? Why not put that fact out front and center in the official synopsis, the trailers, and the rest of the marketing campaign? It seems like a lot of people would be really jazzed to see the rebooted Trek characters taking on the original Trek's greatest enemy.

There are two schools of thought here:

1. The "J.J. Abrams Loves A Good Mystery" Theory

Everyone knows that Abrams has a thing about mysteries. Lost was about an island with more mysteries than the detective fiction section of your local library. Mystery made up the entire advertising campaign behind the Abrams produced Cloverfield. Mystery was the subject of his Ted Talk.

It is entirely possible that Abrams and company thought the film needed a serious "Holy shit!" moment, one provided by the revelation that the heroes were not just going up against a terrorist, but that they were going up against the most dangerous man in the galaxy.

2. The "How Can We Avoid Whitewashing Accusations?" Theory

In the original Star Trek Khan was played by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalbán. In Into Darkness he's played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The character, as discussed in the original series, is supposed to be of North Indian ancestry. There's a very interesting discussion to be had about the casting of Khan that's been largely swept under the rug (but not completely) because no one wants to be the jerk who spoils the movie.

Could hiding the true identity of the character Cumberbatch plays be a way to avoid the negative talk and cries of whitewashing (having white actors play non-white characters)? Perhaps, but that requires one to hold some very cynical opinions on the situation.

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12 comments
guy03
guy03

My guess is even simpler - Abrahams supposed, I suggest rightly, that only the Trek diehards would know Khan after all this time. He wanted a big wow for them but he didn't want the mainstream audience to think, oh, a 40-year-old villain who appeared in one episode and one film, that's...hardly thrilling.

So he sold him as a new menace for the mainstream viewer and the rest get their 'wow' moment.

katydidknot
katydidknot

In answer to the picture caption, I don't see why Alice Eve should need a good reason to strip down to her underwear. 

Roger Harmon
Roger Harmon

I think it was Spock mispronounced 'sentient.' I was appalled.

n0e11e37
n0e11e37

look, i know lost was a way more popular show, but considering that it involves the same writing team and director, could we maybe throw in a fringe comparison every once in a while when reviewing this movie?

of course, that would require actually watching fringe, which apparently no one does. :[

Tony Gutierrez
Tony Gutierrez

Jar Jar Abrams turned Carol Marcus from someone who wouldn't hurt so much as a "particle of pre-animate matter caught in a matrix" into a phaser wielding Klingon wastin' floozie.

chuybenitez
chuybenitez

Reboot campaigns are made for original fans and to hopefully get new ones on the bus.  The best thing about this reboot is that the Star Trek Reboot writers were BRILLIANT in going with the "Alternate Universe" twist!  Love it, and the two Star Trek Reboots thusfar have left me geeking like a little kid again.  New relationships, different twists, but still harping on the same team dynamics and characteristics from characters that fans loved for decades.  I think Abrams got the job because he knows how to stay faithful to a storyline, especially when he knows that everyone else knows the back story.   And about the "whitewashing"  Benicio del Toro was originally asked to play Khan but he stepped down, so they DID try to get another Latino in there, but it didn't work out.  I recommend watching it!

AwesomeMargie
AwesomeMargie

I've never seen a Star Trek episode in its entirety as well as a movie and usually, with  new movies coming out, I avoid all press so I knew nothing of Khan coming out in it.  ( I do know who Khan is though.)  Anyhow, someone on Twitter ruined it for me and just like that, I don't really care to see the movie now.  Is it pandering to a new audience?  Perhaps but JJ Abrams is in a no-win situation here because if he assumed we all knew who Khan was then he would be pandering to them.  I'll eventually watch it but now I'm in no big rush to watch it.

MadMac
MadMac

Good points, M. Garcia. The questions regarding EVII are troubling but very little could be as bad as EI.

n0e11e37
n0e11e37

@chuybenitez benedict cumberbatch is amazing and i will pay to watch this again just to see him, but benicio del toro would have been pretty badass.

chuybenitez
chuybenitez

@n0e11e37 Oh yeah, I thought he was perfect!  I mean, he already looks genetically modified, his voice just has the right kind of villainous tone to it. I think they nailed it with Cumberbatch.  I just wanted to inform everyone trying to get a proper Latino actor was attempted and didn't happen because the Latino actor turned it down first, not because the producers didn't try for it.  In hind, the thing I'm still wondering about the movie writing world is... why are the Villains always minorities???  Star Trek historically was the first TV show/movie series to break that mold, actually, and of course has stayed true to the crew, but I'm more so talking about the rest of the business.  

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