In the lead up to last summer’s Star Trek Into Darkness, director J J Abrams was determined to keep much of the movie’s plot under wraps, even to the point where there was an active campaign to obscure information about the villain that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing. But in hindsight, Abrams is thinking that all that secrecy was a bit too much and may have hurt the film and the audience’s reactions to it. As he explains to MTV –
The truth is I think it probably would have been smarter just to say upfront ‘This is who it is.’ It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that’s what the thing was… The truth is because it was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you’ve really got to know what ‘Star Trek’ is about to see this movie. That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it.
Here is the entire video from MTV’s interview.
Personally, I regret Abrams’s choice to use Khan at all, seeing it as a mistake to go back to such an iconic Star Trek villain right after having given himself a blank slate to explore whole new stories in the just rebooted Star Trek universe. But he does have a point that trying to keep too much of a mystery around aspects of the film’s central plot will only have a short-term payoff during the first time that someone watches the film. For repeated viewings, it does nothing.
Additionally, though, keeping things too much under wraps may build expectations in fans, but those expectations may become too big to properly fill. And there were many hardcore fans who found themselves disappointed with Into Darkness.
Going forward I am sure we will see if Abrams has taken what he has learned here and will apply it to his next project, the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII.