Star Trek Beyond achieved a bit of artistic redemption for the film franchise after its controversial 2012 reset “Kelvin” universe predecessor Star Trek Into Darkness was generally considered a hokey misfire, notably due to the rather sloppy way the Benedict Cumberbatch/Khan twist was handled. However, Into Darkness additionally referenced the venerated 1982 feature Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by (re)introducing the fateful character of Carol Marcus. Interestingly enough, she was completely missing in Beyond without any explanation… until now.
Fielding this most vexing of issues on The Official Star Trek Podcast (via i09) the co-writer of the Justin Lin-directed Beyond and onscreen Scotty, Simon Pegg, gave multifaceted answers to the Carol Marcus question. Into Darkness gave us a nascent version of the would-be Wrath of Khan Genesis device developer Carol Marcus, played by the blonde Brit bombshell Alice Eve. However, Pegg – who co-wrote Beyond with Doug Jung – states that her character would have been “underserved” in the scope of the film and even considered killing her off at one point. As Pegg explains:
“We thought, rather than have Carol Marcus be not used to a reasonable capacity, let’s just not include her, have her be alive, in canon, and be ready to come back at any time.”
While Carol’s Into Darkness debut – coupled with a backstory about the evil genetic genie her Admiral father let out of the cryogenic bottle in Khan – seemed to imply that the (gratuitous space lingerie-rocking) Enterprise science officer would have an ongoing presence in the film series. However, more practical plot variables apparently kept her out of the current Star Trek series threequel. Yet, Peg also provided a less inside baseball explanation, revealing that an earlier version of his script did actually contain lines acknowledging Carol’s Trek truancy. According to Pegg:
“I think we had some lines to explain her absence in one of the initial drafts that had her going off to start work on the Genesis project and do sort of very, very early research on that. But it didn’t make it into the final cut.”
Interestingly enough, there is a more obvious explanation to this issue. Of course, the claim to fame of Carol Marcus’s character (originally played by Bibi Besch in Wrath of Khan) was her eventual development of the potent terraforming project with an apocalyptic downside known as Genesis – and the fact that she secretly had an (eventually ill-fated) son with James Kirk named David Marcus (Merritt Butrick, pictured below); a paternity revelation that surprised both father and son.
That’s where things get interesting, especially with Star Trek Into Darkness taking place in the year 2259 and David Marcus (at least in the Prime universe,) said to be born just two years later in 2261. Since Star Trek Beyond takes place in the third year of the five-year mission started at the end of the previous film, we could conceivably conclude that Carol is not on the Enterprise because she is taking a maternity hiatus with her infant son David, conceived after Into Darkness with Kirk. – Barring the more complex explanation that the altered universe divergences prevented this fateful conception.
Nevertheless, with Pegg essentially confirming that Alice Eve’s Carol Marcus is still hanging around somewhere in the continuity-reset cinematic Kelvin cosmos, the possibility of Eve reprising the role, possibly with Kirk’s (secret) young son in tow, while working on the would-be Genesis project, seems like a reasonable possibility. However, just don’t expect any more gratuitous space-lingerie shots, which even director J.J. Abrams conceded was an appeal to baser instincts.