Speculation about the new villain for ‘Star Trek’ still runs rife, and while we’ve been given hints and possibilities, we still don’t know who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing. Frankly, though, until IMDB gives up on Benedict Cumberbatch being Khan, I won’t.
Yes, it was released last year via Badass Digest by sources close to the producers that:
“It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS excited. Think along the likes of Harry Mudd, or Trelane, or Gary Mitchell, or the Talosians or the Horta. Actually, it’s one of those that I named.”
But knowing what we know now from the trailers, all of these supposed villains are kind of impossible. Don’t get me wrong. All of those antagonists would prove to be excellent concepts. Sadly, none of them work, which is a shame because I so badly wanted Cumberbatch to play Trelane.
So, before I get into the sordid details of why I think the producers of ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ are pulling a double bluff, I’ll go over why the above statement was a total sham.
There is nothing in the destruction of the Kelvin that would alter Harry Mudd’s story line to the point where he feels the need to destroy Earth. He is a rogue, on the wrong side of the law more often than not, but nothing more. Plus, if they ever did his character without the mustache, I think it would lose the entire ‘Star Trek’ fandom.
For the same reason it can’t be Mudd, it can’t be the Q-like Trelane, seeing as he was not vindictively evil for any real purpose than just to have a bit of fun.
I was almost fooled into thinking it was the Talosians, what with the famous preview line “You think your world is safe. It is an illusion,” because illusions are totally the Talosian’s bag which is evident in the “The Menagerie”. But yet again, I can think of no reason for the Talosians to want revenge on anything, aside from Captain Pike for refusing to join in their bizarre breeding program. It’s not the Horta because… well… Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t look like a brain made out of stone, nor do I think he’ll be laying any eggs for miners to accidentally destroy. Lastly, the one it is most likely to be, Gary Mitchell, seems unlikely as his turn to the darkside was precipitated by encountering the Galactic Barrier, and evilness wasn’t really sparked by revenge, which is heavily implied of the villain in the trailer. Also, they already did an IDW comic about Gary Mitchell using Pine and Quinto as character designs, so it seems doubtful at this point.
The question remains, then, who is the villain of ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’?
Really, if I want to get right down to it, there are really only two villains it could be, if I take into account the desire for revenge: Sybok and Khan.
Though Sybok is not a popular theory, it does have some traction. Some fans have pointed out that Benedict Cumberbatch had pointy ears in this scene, which suggests it was Sybok, Spock’s half brother who plays the revoluationary/enemy in ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’.
Unfortunately, I think this is just a camera angle problem. There is very little evidence in all the other stills that he has pointed ears, and in any case, if they were actually Vulcan, they would be significantly more pointed. Just looks at Spock’s:
Now there is a pointy-eared bastard.
Thus, I come back to Khan, (despite really wanting it to be Trelane or Sybok), and I keep coming back to him despite all the smoke and mirrors and all the denials that it’s Khan. Let’s then indulge in another crackpot theory and allow me to tell you why I still think Cumberbatch is playing Kahn.
- Captain Pike’s Speech in the trailer
“There’s greatness in you, but there is not an ounce of humility. You think that you can’t make mistakes, but there is going to come a moment when you realize you’re wrong about that. And you’re going to get yourself, and everyone under your command killed.”
This speech is obviously supposed to be a foreshadow for what’s to come in the movie. In the history of ‘Star Trek’, there are only two times where Kirk truly puts the ship in danger and makes truly spectacular strategical errors. That is in the episode “Space Seed” and ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’, otherwise known as the Khan story-arc.I like to call this “that time when Kirk nearly killed everyone on board out of hubris and was saved by someone growing a conscience”.
If anything, the only times where Kirk’s audacity and lack of humility brought him to almost destruction, it was most memorably at the hands of Khan.
- The Unknown Villain’s Speech
“You think your world is safe. It is an illusion. A comforting lie to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace for I have returned to have my vengeance.”
What I think is particularly catching in this speech is the “vengeance” part. This could very easily fit into the narrative of a man who once controlled the largest empire on Earth and was exiled into the vacuum of space despite leading what he considered to be a benevolent dictatorship. It would also stand to reason why he would be so bent on revenge. Thus, I conclude it is Khan.
- The Last Words of the Trailer
“Is there anything you would not do for your family.”
This is at the very end of the trailer, which is dubbed over a scene that will help further my proof that the villain is Khan, but I’ll discuss that in the next section.
These words make me think about the crew of the Botany Bay, who are his followers and also fellow pariahs, who were born to be hated because of their genetics. It is very easy to look at the crew of the Botany Bay and know, had they gotten past Kirk in “Space Seed”, they would try to take over the universe, and the way Khan spoke to them was more like family than that of subordinates.
Also, who knows? This may be said in reference to a baby David that Kirk only just found out is his, which would be another ‘Wrath of Khan’ reference. Though I think in this case, be Cumberbatch Khan or not, the quote is probably about the crew of the Enterprise.
- The Hand Touch (The Needs of the Many)
As I mentioned above, this scene is a very obvious homage to the ending of ‘Wrath of Khan’. Take this picture:
Now this could just be an tribute to a fantastic movie, but seeing as there are other similarities, I’m going to go with my crackpot theory on this one. Also, it would be a fitting realization for Kirk to understand “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” in terms of his past, where his father died to save 800 people, and his present.
- Carol Marcus
I hope all of you are just as surprised as I was that this character was not ‘Doctor Who’s’ Rose Tyler. I was very seriously convinced for a whole day that it was Billie Piper before I thought to look it up on IMDB.
Anyway, Carol Marcus only shows up once in all of ‘Star Trek’, and that is the ‘Wrath of Khan’, though for the rest of you who think too much about ‘Star Trek’, I suspect she’s the blonde that Gary Mitchell stirred towards Kirk to distract him at the academy. This blonde, by the way, Kirk almost married. But I’m getting ahead of myself… or behind… or sideways of myself. It’s hard to tell in an alternate timeline.
Having Carol Marcus in the film may have nothing to do with Khan, though I think including her would be a nod to the last movie despite the fact that she has not yet worked on Project Genesis or had Kirk’s kid by this point.
An alternate reason of why she is in the movie that has nothing to do with Khan is that she is there is because they needed to give Kirk a love interest, which would explain why he writes a Captain’s Livejournal about how lonely he is in the ‘Countdown To Darkness’ comic prequel.
- But what about John Harrison?
So, my yoga-like contortions to make this Khan don’t even stop when it comes to the fact that Cumberbatch’s character is supposed to be named John Harrison. And I am still insistent even after J.J. Abrams released the following statement:
“His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an… average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet, and he turns against the group because he has got this backstory and this kind of amazing secret agenda. After two very violent attacks, one in London and one in the U.S., 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. Star Trek Into Darkness is very much about how intense it gets and really what they are up against.”
By the way, that pretty much absolutely rules out Gary Mitchell, no matter what Keith Urban “accidentally” lets slip. It also doesn’t really follow my other suspect, which was the warrior/explorer Garth of Izar, if only because Garth was never just an average guy and he couldn’t even pretend to be.
But what about the name, John Harrison? That name doesn’t exist in ‘Star Trek’ canon, so I’m going to assume that’s because it’s not his real name. After all, the creators promised it would be a villain we all knew. Yes, I too find it funny that I don’t believe a word any of the writers or producers say about who the villain is, aside from that it will be one from the original series. It is possible they could have been lying about that and, if that were the case, there would be no reason for secrecy. We wouldn’t have any backstory to assume because we wouldn’t know the character at all. Thus, I can assume that John Harrison is a fake name. And staying true to this article, I’m going to assume that it’s Khan’s pseudonym.
It would make sense though. Khan was a dictator in the 1990’s. It’s very likely people would recognize his name, especially if paired up with his face, though it obviously took the crew of the Enterprise in the original series an obscene amount of time to put those facts together. I’d like to think the world of the reboot is a bit quicker on the uptake.
I think the “interesting backstory” that Abrams is referring to is the fact that Khan somehow made it to Earth and gained access to Starfleet in order to get the information he needed to rule the Federation.
Also, Harrison is mentioned for a commendation in “Space Seed”, when the crew is dying.
Now, take this little fact and add to the fact that we know in the prequel comic that Captain Robert April, who supposedly was the first captain of the Enterprise, is on a planet that Spock and Kirk are investigating, and you start having a pretty compelling case that Khan assumed Harrison’s name. That, of course, is assuming that Harrison was apart of the original crew roster.
- Benedict’s Own Words
According to Cumberbatch, when Abrams described the role to him, he
“described someone who was, in movie terms, a mixture of Hannibal Lecter, Jack in ‘The Shining’, and the Joker in ‘Batman’. He’s someone who has enormous physical strength. He’s someone who is incredibly dangerous, both as a physical entity and through the use of various technologies and weapons and who performs acts of what I would describe as terrorism. He’s also a psychological master. He manipulates the minds of those around him to do his bidding in a very, very subtle way.”
If anyone fit this bill it would be Khan. After all, in “Space Seed” they describe him as five times stronger than an average man and his intelligence and cunning was the focal point of ‘The Wrath of Khan’.
- In Conclusion
I’m not suggesting this new movie could be a remake of the ‘Wrath of Khan’. Far from it. What I am suggesting is that this movie is about how the Khan story would have happened if Kirk’s Enterprise wasn’t the first ship to find the Botany Bay. The timeline may have diverged just enough for that.
What do you think? Are you now convinced Cumberbatch is Khan?