Star Trek: Into Cannon Darkness

Warning: Spoilers Ahead


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big closet Star Trek fan, but with the baby on the way it took a little more than a week to get into theaters and fulfill my Trekie obligation of seeing Into Darkness.  I left the movie mostly satisfied, but came to a realization: this movie is really tied down by mythos and cannon, and it definitely got in the way of the story.

I’ll admit that I was pretty excited to think that they were going to do a “Khan” story. I have a soft spot in my heart for “alternate histories” (a la the Age of Apocalypse, the New 52, or even Yesterday’s Enterprise), and I thought it would be interesting to see how Khan would be developed in this post-Vulcan Trek universe.  However it became pretty apparent that in the writers room went something like this:

“Ok, we’re going to remake the Wrath of Khan.”

“Wait a minute, who said we were going to remake the movie? I thought that we were telling a new story!”

“No, we are, but people expect to see Wrath of Kahn, so I made this list of nostalgic things from the Wrath of Khan that we need to see in this movie.  Let’s put these things in the movie – this is where we want to end up. Now figure out how we get there.”


I’m sure the remake checklist had the following items in it:

  • Someone needs to scream “KHHAAAAAAN!”
  • Spock Kirk needs to die, let’s get in the “needs of the many” line
    • In fact, let’s make sure the death involves getting the mains back on line
    • Also let’s get Scotty there talking about radiation flooding
  • Lets get 2 Marcus’ in there: Carol and preferably the son, but if the son’s not available – then her dad.
  • Don’t forget Section 31, because they weren’t so secret after all.

They started there, then filled in the blanks to round out the story, counting how many times they can wink to the audience with mentions of Harry Mudd and Tribbles.

Look, I appreciate the callbacks.  The older (and more married) I get, the less opportunities I have to watch Star Trek, so I love opportunities to geek out. That said: you can talk about “a reboot” all you want, but Star Trek now has even more baggage than ever.  At least before they had to worry about the mythos and history of Trek, but now they need to figure out how they can recycle the same stories and keep the interest of all the Trekies.  You’re letting it get in the way of good story-telling, and before you know it you’ll accomplish the very thing you wanted to avoid with a reboot – alienating casual fans. Right now I’m dreading the “Genesis” references that the next movie will bring.

Trek writers & producers: please don’t worry about ruining my childhood. Through Netflix and my DVD collection, I can go relive those moments when I yearn for nostalgic Trek. Instead, just write a good story. Use some or even no past Trek characters, but if you’re looking for somewhere to begin: start with a compelling villain.