Where to take the Star Trek sequels
JJ Abrams and his team have begun the work of putting the next Star Trek film together. But where should they be heading?
It’s a bit of an odd question in these times. Where will they take the Star Trek sequel, or sequels? Trek fans are more used to the question: will there be another Star Trek film?, as the steadily declining box office receipts for many of the previous sequels made new entries in the series far from a foregone conclusion.
However, thanks to bespectacled geek filmmaker J. J. Abrams and his motley crew, a new hope for Star Trek‘s future has emerged, which generally comes in Hollywood after making a lot of money, which the film has managed to do. Who could have guessed that in a year where heavyweights such as the Transformers, Harry Potter, Wolverine, Terminator, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop, what was once perceived to be the nerdiest franchise in the world would not only hold its own, but eclipse some of them? Not even Derren Brown and his splitscreen of doom could have predicted that.
So, with a lot of money comes the inevitable word: sequel. Abrams and Co. have already said that they’re looking at ideas for the sequel, and there are a lot of questions to be asked. Will we see cameos galore from the franchise’s past? Will Chekov say “nuclear wessels”? Will they finally bring back the numbering system? Just where will the Star Trek sequels go?
One thing about this new era of the franchise is that everything has been thrown open by that oft-used sci-fi phrase ‘parallel universe’. Once Spock and his jellyfish decided using red matter was a good thing, and the Narada decided the Kelvin should be blasted into oblivion, the universe as we know it was irrevocably changed, with the two timelines now running parallel, one featuring Shatner, the other featuring Chris Pine, which opens up all kinds of opportunities for new takes on classic events. Let’s hope one of the first things Nimoy does is tell Starfleet never to let Kathryn Janeway anywhere near a starship.
Let’s get this out of the way first. As soon as Star Trek went supernova, everyone started talking about sequels and lots of (clearly unsubstantiated) rumours floated around about bringing Khan Noonien Singh into the fold. The reason for this is that Star Trek II is the Trek universe’s equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back, and in much the same way as after that movie every geek thought all Star Wars movies should be dark and tragic, both Trek fans and the filmmakers usually looked to a big screen-stealing villain for Kirk or Picard to face, with some space battles thrown in for good measure. Sometimes it worked (Star Trek VI), sometimes it didn’t (Insurrection).
But where fans look to Khan, it’s almost certain that most of them are thinking about vengeful and eel-wielding Khan, as opposed to charismatic yet overly confident Khan, from Space Seed. But for that to really come off, they’d have to redo Space Seed, then wait a while before bringing him back, as one of the beautiful things about Wrath Of Khan is that both protagonist and antagonist had aged appropriately for the story. So by my reckoning, we’d see Melville-quoting Khan right about 2024.
The Space Seed idea is somewhat interesting – although I think it would need reworking as the nature of the episode means it almost completely takes place aboard the Enterprise, which isn’t necessarily cinematic – but mostly because of the possibilities about not only who could play Khan, but who could possibly match Montalban’s inspired ravings. Send your answer, along with a stamp-addressed envelope, to…
Long before a certain white-haired scientist decided eighty-eight miles per hour is the optimum speed for time travel, the starship Enterprise was bouncing all over the space time continuum like nobody’s business and, indeed, Star Trek 2.0 is all about time travel itself.
Time travel is great because it opens up a shedload of new possibilities for drama, but is also kind of a cliché in Star Trek now. Time travel was once this shiny new ‘ooh’ thing, but after thirty years, a bit of the sheen has been taken off, which was bound to happen once you let Voyager and the NX-01 get involved (sorry, Enterprise fans). Nevertheless, there must be some great ideas somewhere that involve travelling to the past (or future) to help save the present. Sorry, parallel-present.
Writers Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman have said that they were looking to work in some political themes for the sequel, so maybe we could have Kirk et al head back to England circa 2007 and stop Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister. That one might have a slightly limited appeal, but it’d certainly guarantee a five-star review from The Daily Mail. One plotline that would definitely get the crowds rolling in would be to send the crew to California circa 1997 to stop a certain bearded filmmaker from messing with his magnum opus. Or at least stop Alexandra Burke murdering Cohen/Buckley’s Hallelujah on The X-Factor.
But seriously, where could they go? They could go to the future and meet any number of people from the future franchises, including, perhaps, the Borg. I have to admit it would be nice to see someone try and give the Borg back their teeth, especially after their overuse made them seem a bit, well, cuddly. Not to mention having two shades of shit kicked out of them by Species 7627290, which didn’t really do a lot for their street cred.
I suppose it might be a bit interesting to maybe have the knock-on effect of Old Spock’s arrival causing a major disruption/tragedy, meaning New Spock has to take him down, or Kirk’s future womanizing causing a breakout of apocalyptic war between the Federation and the Planet of the Amazons. As long as there’s no whales involved, I’ll be reasonably happy.
Ah, the Klingons. Again, once the most fearsome race in the galaxy, now a bit teddy bear-esque after our love affair with Worf and the entire empire helping out the Federation against the Dominion, which was admittedly quite awesome.
The whole honour and death thing though, it’s a bit cute now, isn’t it? Like ‘Aww, they’re drinking bloodwine to honour their fallen comrades who did a kamikaze run on a Jem’Hadar battlecruiser. How adorable!’ The only real glimpses of parallel-Klingons we’ve seen thus far were the Warbirds in the Kobayashi Maru sequence, and the interrogators from a deleted scene on the DVD, who were all wearing steel masks and as such looked a bit like the Predator.
I suppose the other question is, will they have the forehead ridges? Canon has established that they originally did have the ridges, but these were originally lost after the Klingon Empire caught a bit of flu, only to restore them a century later. Maybe the Enterprise and the Klingons will have lots of fights and harsh conversations, with the situation only being resolved when Dr. McCoy gives them some Lemsip? Either way, it would be nice to see the old, nasty Klingons back, ridges or no ridges. Vicious warmongers out to rid the galaxy of the human pestilence and claim glory for the Empire, with no reservations about what they do, be it bar room brawls on the K-7 space station or the threat of mass genocide. Those are the Klingons I miss.
The Alien Object
One of the main themes of Star Trek, which has occasionally been forgotten over the years, is that of exploration. The Enterprise as originally conceived was a vessel for scientific discovery, as denoted in the “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilisations” in the opening log. As opposed to running around blowing everything up.
This was explored liberally over the various television series, with some themes generally repeated, and in a couple of the movies, the much-maligned The Motion Picture and The Voyage Home. Unless, of course, you count God as an alien object, even though he wasn’t really God, just a bloke with a few magic tricks and a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
One of the downsides to this kind of story is its lack of commercial appeal. While Abrams will, no doubt, have carte blanche to do what he wants with the sequel, it still has to bring the bucks home, and the main issue with these kind of plots is that there’s no real villain, and with that a lack of your typical action and space battles which the public are expecting to see. Nevertheless, it’s something I’d personally love to see explored, a possible combination of the philosophical and theoretical ramblings from The Motion Picture with Abram’s pace and wit.
Oh, Bill. Most people reading this will know how fiercely William A. Shatner, esq. lobbied for a role in Star Trek 2.0, only to be told by Abrams that there was no room for him in the film. Which is probably right, as, looking back, there is only one place where I thought he would have fit, and that would be to have him read the opening narration at the end of the film.
Personally, I’d have much rather Chris Pine read it than Shatner or Nimoy, but that’s logically the only part that I think would have worked with him in, especially since in normal Trek canon, his Kirk is, well, dead, although that word certainly doesn’t have the finality in Star Trek that it does in real life.
Shatner’s fiction seems to be obsessed with bringing Kirk back, and he did so in several novels with the aid of the Borg. However, with this new timeline, you still have to assume that he’ll grow up to be Shatner, so there’s a future-Kirk somewhere if they need to get him in there. I think they should leave it, though. Let’s see what the new crew can do without having to rely on more cameos from established characters.
If you’re to take the Internet and fan-fiction into account, if there’s one thing people love more than graphic pornography and photoshopping cats into humorous situations, it’s universe crossovers. From Buffy vs. The Evil Dead to Star Trek vs. Star Wars vs. Babylon 5 vs. Stargate vs. Battlestar Galactica vs. Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, there’s literally millions of pages out there solely dedicated to seeing popular and not-so-popular franchises meet.
You could have the Enterprise fight the Millennium Falcon, Spock getting jealous as Uhura is whisked away in a whirlwind romance by Robert Pattinson, or even have it turn out that Iron Man’s technology was really created by Mr. Scott. Which would, in turn, mean there’d have to be an awkward cameo by Stan Lee somewhere, but it’s not as if these universes have never met before, assuming I’m not the only person who ever read Star Trek / X-Men.
Abrams himself has a few franchises to his name that could certainly be exploited. Perhaps the island-based survivors of Lost will make an appearance when the whole thing turns out to be an elaborate holodeck program, or the crew will have to intervene when the Cloverfield monster attacks 23rd century New York.
But to be honest, there’s only really one option, and that’s to bring Paramount’s two longest-standing franchises together for a titanic battle. But would the intrepid heroes of the Federation ever really be any match for the force of nature that is Jason Voorhees? For their sake, let’s hope Starfleet never builds an outpost at Camp Crystal Lake.
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