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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer theories.

If you thought my posts on The Avengers were in-depth, then gird your loins because Star Trek is gonna be 10,000x worse. Despite being raised in a household without access to television (yeah, I know, I'm making up for lost time now) I've always been a maximum Star Trek fan thanks to a combination of tie-in novels, and a mother who subscribed to xeroxed Bring Back Trek zines during her own childhood. So you could say that I'm kind of invested in this movie. 
This trailer really takes the name "teaser" to heart because it's so damn uninformative that the Star Trek corner of the internet is already self-cannibalising. WHAT IS HAPPENING? NOBODY KNOWS, BUT EVERYONE'S CAPSLOCK KEY SEEMS TO BE STUCK ANYWAY. To be honest, it would still inspire this type of reaction even if it was just a couple of shots of the Enterprise flying around and Kirk flossing his teeth. Unfortunately, we can't even analyse the style of the trailer for ~hidden meaning~ because it's clearly just following the same formula as the recent Avengers, Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3 trailers: vaguely apocalyptic danger, with the villain providing an ominous monologue in the background. The biggest question right now is Who Is Benedict Cumberbatch? There were already three popular theories knocking around -- Gary Mitchell, Sybok, and Khan -- but I think that all three can still be backed up by things we see in the trailer.
Gary Mitchell is my favourite because Khan's story has already been told, and since the first reboot movie was already very Vulcan-focused it seems less likely that we'd get an entire movie about Spock's renegade half-brother. Gary Mitchell is a relatively obscure character but could potentially be a very interesting villain thanks to the Original Series backstory of his Academy-era friendship with Kirk. The main thing counting in his favour, trailer-wise, is the presence of the woman pictured above (who also shows up wearing a blue science/medical Starfleet uniform).
Gary Mitchell and Dr Elizabeth Dehner.
She bears a strong resemblance to Dr Elizabeth Dehner, who appeared alongside Mitchell when they both gained god-like superpowers in the second Star Trek pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Of course, this woman could also be Janice Rand (unlikely, because Rand wears a red Command/Security uniform) or Nurse Chapel -- or indeed an entirely new character -- but her hairstyle is so similar to Dehner's that it can't possibly be unintentional, even if it's a red-herring.
Sybok doesn't have much going for him aside from the fact that Cumberbatch's voiceover is revenge-themed, and the film's subtitle is "Star Trek: Vengeance" in Russia. As a Vulcan he might well have reason to be angry at Starfleet for failing to save his home planet, which fits in with some things Cumberbatch has said about his character being more morally ambiguous than outright evil. However, I feel like "morally ambiguous outcast half-brother attacks earth" is really too similar to the Avengers plot to be a viable option in a major blockbuster only one year later? Particularly since they've hired another posh English actor with dyed-black hair to play the villain. There's also the detail that Cumberbatch doesn't have Vulcan features, but that doesn't necessarily negate him being a Vulcan since there are several instances in Star Trek canon where characters have plastic surgery to look like a different species.
Khan probably has the most trailer-related evidence, since in the Japanese version of the teaser there's a short clip mirroring the Kirk/Spock scene at the end of The Wrath Of Khan. But that scene is so iconic that I doubt they'd attempt to rereate it exactly, so this is probably some kind of homage. Also, Cumberbatch appears to have some kind of super-strength and is quite physically badass, which I think fits in slightly more with Khan's character -- even though Sybok has Vulcan strength and Gary Mitchell has telekinesis.
Personally, I think the costuming is a strong indication towards Khan, since several characters (including Kirk, Spock, and Uhura) wear a kind of semi-uniform of grungy black leather in the trailer. Obviously the "hey, check out my pecs" costume of traditional Khan fame couldn't really work in a modern movie because it's so utterly Barbarella, but the faintly grubby, post-apocalyptic theme of the leather outfits could well be inspired by that. If you look at the coat worn by Uhura in the picture below and compare it to Khan's costume from The Wrath Of Khan, I think there are definite similarities in the shape of the collar and shoulders. But whoever the villain turns out to be, I suspect that Kirk, Spock and Uhura will be dressing like Cumberbatch (and his followers?) as part of a disguise. (N.B. At one point we do see Cumberbatch wearing a dark Starfleet uniform, but that could mean anything.)

Misc. thoughts:
  • "Star Trek Into Darkness" is still a terrible title.  
  • I've already seen a couple of people saying things like "I find that blonde girl annoying already". CUT THAT OUT. If you hate the new blonde girl based on 3 seconds of trailer footage, then I don't know how to put this any simpler: you're being a sexist idiot. 
  • If you're going to get annoyed by anything, get annoyed about the fact that the two women in the trailer spend half their screentime screaming or crying while the men do action stuff. I have no doubt whatsoever that Uhura will be awesome in the movie, but I'm not hugely impressed that the trailer-editors decided to devote half of her miniscule screentime to crying into Scotty's shoulder. If anything, someone should be crying into her shoulder. Maybe Chekov.
  • I've also seen people on Tumblr getting excited over "how good Benedict Cumberbatch's American accent is". I'm sorry, what? He's speaking in his normal voice
  • I do kinda like the brown/black leather outfits worn by Uhura et al, but sci-fi movies realllly need to retire the whole "badass/villain = long black leather coat" thing because long black leather coats are dorky as hell. The only way I can really legitemise them in this instance is if everyone's on a lava planet, because leather is relatively fire-proof.
  • That red planet is super cool -- does anyone have any idea what it could be?


  1. I hope you're right that it's Gary Mitchell, because the TV series is a more promising well to draw from than the previous films. The show had a lot of big ideas but limited time and money to execute them, while the films tended to have the opposite problem.

  2. "If you're going to get annoyed by anything, get annoyed about the fact that the two women in the trailer spend half their screentime screaming or crying while the men do action stuff." 100%, it was the first thing I noticed. I am absolutely annoyed at that.

  3. Umm, just a thought, but the close up of Cumberbatch's face right above your paragraph on support for the Sybok theory... does it look to you like his ear is pointed? Because it looks to me like the tip of his is kind of pointy and I'm going probably go insane trying to figure out if that's all in my head or if his ear really is POINTY, OH LOOK NOW I'M FREAKING OUT AND STUCK ON CAPS LOCK TOO.

  4. I'm actually thinking this villain is a combination of Khan and Mitchell. And Benedict's ears weren't pointy at all in any of the shots we got of him so I doubt he's Sybok.

  5. This is. I can't even. Okay I'm not quite at the point of actual coherency, but I'm agreeing with you 1000000%. Especially with the hate on the blonde chick. It just makes me shake my head. And I think if I had read the BC comment about his voice I probably would have sprained something laughing. HOW DOES ONE MISTAKE THAT VOICE?!

  6. I think your point about the extra footage in the Japanese trailer is a good one - JJ isn't going to recreate such an iconic scene. And if he was, I highly doubt he would give it away in the trailer given how little we actually can glean from the rest of it. Altho I have read some interesting theories (well ok, more like fangirl wishes) about it instead being McCoy/Spock or possibly even Spock/Cumberbatch.

    Ugh, DO NOT WANT any of that "blonde girl is annoying" claptrap.

    And Cumberbatch's "American" voice? I'll just be over here laughing my ass off...

  7. Yeah, I was a little irritated that most of the only shots of women were them looking distraught. I'm 80% sure the movie will be better, though I'm still a little irritated at Abrams for making the only woman on the team have a romance, albeit not treated as /just/ a romantic interest.

  8. I hope it isn't Gary Mitchell simply because (like the movie itself) he has such a boring name. You can't go from a villain called Nero to one called Gary Mitchell. Hopefully they've at least renamed him.

    Also... I know you can't judge from a brief teaser trailer, but this doesn't feel much like 'Star Trek' to me. I did really enjoy the last one, but it was a bit too much of an action movie, and this one seems to be going further along that route. Star Trek shouldn't be just about cool action scenes, but about space exploration, scientific discovery, and a sense of wonder at the universe. If Wrath of Khan managed to keep all that while still being a great story of revenge and war, this one can too.

  9. Yes, my first thought on the trailer was how similar it was to the Avengers and the Dark Knight Rises trailers... especially the Avengers. I hope they don't go too dark and gloomy.

  10. Nice summary. Of course, the movie Of Gods and Men was about Gary Mitchell, so it is not completely unexplored territory. Sybok was not endorsed by Gene Roddenberry, not that this would stop J.J. Abrams, but it really doesn't make a great deal of sense to spring off the worst of the Star Trek movies. I could believe J.J. Abrams would use an iconic image from The Wrath of Khan, but it may be completely misleading. No, I wouldn't doubt that Khan escaped from his planet "prison" in this new time line and come back to wreak havoc on Earth. NBC says the movie is about the Enterprise returning to Earth to find it almost completely destroyed by the character played by Cumberbatch, which is much more specific than I have seen in the mumbo jumbo news release from Paramount. All I can say is: the publicity machine for this movie is well-calculated to keep us in...suspense!

  11. maybe spock and kirk's roles are reversed in the wrath of kahn hand-thing? we can't know. we can't even be sure it's spock and kirk, although i'm pretty sure it's spock and SOMEONE since it's a science sleeve and the vulcan salute.

  12. lol that's such a good point. IT'S KINDA HARD TO TAKE "GARY MITCHELL" SERIOUSLY??

    i totally agree with the tone of the trailer. however, i'm reserving judgement until later since it's just a teaser. as the second movie in the series (trilogy?) i'm not surprised they're going "dark", but the first movie was so good that i do have a certain amount of trust in the filmmakers to remain true to star trek's hopeful/exploratory tone.

  13. yes i'm intrigued by the hand theories as well!! like, maybe their roles are reversed etc. (i think it probably won't be mccoy, though, since mccoy and spock don't really have that kind of tenderness in their relationship...?)

  14. no, i'm afraid that's just his natural ears.

  15. Could the blonde woman possibly be Carole Marcus? That's the first thing I thought, when Kirk grinned up at her.

  16. Thoughts in relation to the additional scenes shown in the new international trailer?

  17. In regards to khan's costuming,They did have different costumefor him.It was a leather cloaked desert lord type outfit.But according to rumor,when he showed up for costuming,everyone saw his incredible build and gave him the costume he wore in the movie