So today saw the release of the first trailer for the next film in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, entitled Star Trek Into Darkness. Speculation about it has been rife for months, but has hit a particular fever pitch with it. Primarily this has been around what character Benedict Cumberbatch (Yes, he’s in this, as well as every other film of the moment) will be playing.
And, after watching the trailer on my lunch break (as a true geek should) I’m ready to make my prediction, and to stake it on line for prosperity to be either vindicated or humiliated in time to come.
I think that Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing Gary Mitchell.
Gary Mitchell, for the uninitiated, featured in the first proper episode of Star Trek: The Original Series as Captain Kirk’s best friend from the academy. I won’t give specifics, but it doesn’t end well for Mitchell. Mitchell is a name which has been mentioned a fair bit amongst fans, along with Khan Noonien Singh (of Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan fame). There are a few reasons why I think Mitchell is more likely than Khan:
- Khan would be just too predictable. When Abrams and co rebooted the franchise, they made a special point of turning the concept upside down. To then, for their second film, to follow the track of the orginal second film… It just feels too easy.
- There isn’t time for Khan. Khan’s appearance in The Wrath of Khan was actually a follow-up to an episode of the TV series. Cumberbatch specifically says in the trailer “I have returned, to have my vengeance.” There doesn’t seem — to me — to be enough time in a film to do the two storylines justice. He could be taking revenge on humanity, rather than Kirk, but still…
- Cumberbatch is wearing a Starfleet uniform. Mitchell, in the original story, was at the Academy with Kirk. Of course, Kirk attended the academy later in the new timeline, so its likely that he wouldn’t have been at the Academy with Mitchell. Hence, Mitchell’s backstory could be told during the film itself.
- Benedict Cumberbatch is white. This might seem a silly point, but the character of Khan was not a white character. At the first suggestion that it might be Khan, there were rumblings about why Abrams would cast a white actor in a (rare) minority ethnic role. I think there’s potential for it to seriously piss off people in the “how dare you mess with the cannon?” camp as well as non-white audiences.
So there we have it. I’m by no means certain that it will be Mitchell rather than Khan. And, indeed, it could potentially be neither and we’re just all being led down the garden path. But I’m leaning ever closer to Gary Mitchell.
Of course, the most exciting image of the film wasn’t Cumberbatch flipping around like a slimline Bane, but rather this:
This frame (only appearing in the longer Japanese version of the trailer) will be familiar to anyone who remembers The Wrath of Khan. It is, of course, Spock’s death scene. It’s a bit of a hint towards Cumberbatch being Khan, but again it runs up against the first point I made. I don’t believe that JJ Abrams would be content to rehash the originals.
Of course, if I was writing the film (which, as you may have noticed, I’m not), I’d reverse it. I’d have it as Kirk’s death scene, rather than Spock’s, especially as the first film moved towards a more emotional Spock. I’m not sure that’s what will happen, especially since you don’t kill off your lead character so early into your new franchise (well, unless he’s played by Sean Bean).
But still, the net result of this trailer is that I’m now very much looking forward to 17th May 2013.