As an early Christmas present, Collider has collected some new photos from J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film ‘Star Trek Into Darkness‘ for us. Taken from the latest issue of Empire Magazine, these pictures give us a glimpse of many returning cast members such as the Captain, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana. Check out the pictures below to see the crew of the Enterprise in action:

Also heavily featured in this picture round up is the highly mysterious John Harrison played by the enigmatic Benedict Cumberbatch. The director recently shared some words about his sequel to his 2009 film in which he touched a bit more on Cumberbatch’s character, who is still rumored to be Khan despite many, many denials. Abrams said:

“So this movie doesn’t require you have seen the first movie.  The characters are a group of people who have recently come together and find themselves up against this incredibly terrifying force.  His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an average—that is what makes him so scary—he is just an average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet, and he turns against the group because he has got this back-story and this kind of amazing secret agenda.  After two very violent attacks, one in London and one in the US, our characters have to go after this guy and apprehend him.  And it is a far more complicated and difficult thing then they ever anticipated. ‘Into Darkness’ is very much about how intense it gets and really what they are up against.”

Abrams continues to say that while his film definitely goes into the darkness, that’s not what it’s all about:

“This is a movie that they certainly go ‘into darkness,’ but I would be the wrong director if it was about characters staying there. This is very much a movie about hope, about love, about romance, and about facing something that is truly terrifying and finding a way through the connection of your family and surviving and being stronger afterwards.”

What do you think about the new pictures from ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’? Are you excited to find out more about Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ hits theaters on May 17, 2013.