Earlier today, several sites started to report a major spoiler rumor about the role Benedict Cumberbatch will play in the upcoming sequel to J J Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot. And I have to say that it is one of the worst ideas I have heard of in some time. The rumor and the reasons why it is a terrible idea will follow so continue reading only if you don’t mind a discussion of possible large spoilers for the upcoming Star Trek sequel.
If everyone’s sources are to be believed, Cumberbatch will be playing Khan Noonian Singh, the genetically enhanced, would-be dictator who squared off against Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise not once, but twice. First was in the original series episode “Space Seed” and again was of course in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. He is one of the most famous of Star Trek villains and for go reason. So is that a reason to bring the character back for the upcoming film currently shooting under Abrams’ direction? Of course not. Here are four reasons why-
1. This reeks of total creative bankruptcy. Yes, I know that this sounds harsh, but I really don’t know how else to phrase it. With the reboot Abrams gave himself an entire blank slate with which he could tell any story that he wanted to. So he decides to rehash material from perhaps the most famous story out of any iteration of Star Trek? It feels like Abrams has just decided to throw away one of the most golden opportunities there is for a franchise with the kind of baggage that Star Trek carries with it. If it were a crappy story like, oh say “Spock’s Brain,” then go ahead and see if you can make a silk purse from that particular sow’s ear. But both times that Khan has shown up in Star Trek the stories were told well.There’s no reason to try and tell that character’s story again. Which brings us to my second point-
2. Does Abrams really want to deal with the comparisons? Not only has the story of Khan been told well it is often sited as one of the pinnacle’s of the franchise’s history. It is a story that most non-Trek fans at least have a passing familiarity with. Even if what Abrams has in store for his own film is markedly different, people will invariably draw comparisons to Wrath Of Khan and I don’t think that they will be favorable. Not only that, but people will be going into watching the film with some preconceived notions that the film will have to overcome.
3. Didn’t Abrams already hit a lot of Wrath Of Khan‘s story points in his first Star Trek movie? Think about it – You have a villain from out of Captain Kirk’s past armed with with a planet destroying superweapon out for revenge because an Enterprise crewmember’s actions inadvertently lead to the death of his family. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
4. Cumberbatch is a better actor than this. When Ricardo Montalban essayed the role of Khan first in the original series episode “Space Seed” and then again in Wrath Of Khan, he created one of the most conic genre villains. Do we really want to see him try to compete against that performance or would we rather see him take a new character and make it his own? I know which one I would rather see him do.
Hopefully this story turns out to be false, possibly even a fake rumor floated out by Abrams and the production in order to keep the film’s real secrets safe. It is a move that wouldn’t surprise me and in fact, is one that I am hoping he is pulling. Because the alternative just doesn’t hold much appeal.