Tuesday, December 11, 2012

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS: The Cumberbatch Maneuver

I don't know whether to be impressed by all this or just plain exhausted.

As some of you already know, I've been a big supporter of the theory that the villain for the upcoming J.J. Abrams movie Star Trek Into Darkness would be original TV series character Gary Mitchell since October of 2010 when Badass News quoted an anonymous source naming Mitchell, Harry Mudd, Trelane, the Talosians or the Horta as the film's chief antagonist.  Working off the basis that the source was actually legit, Mitchell seemed to me like the best pick because of the character's friendship with Captain Kirk and the growing godlike powers he acquires that would make for a dramatic, visually exciting movie.

A year later, speculation centered around the return of Star Trek II nemesis Khan Noonien Singh instead, with actor Benicio Del Toro turning down the role and a number of other candidates being rumored before Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch was ultimately cast.  Khan speculation continued to build, until Star Trek actor Simon Pegg was interviewed six months later and said no, it wasn't Khan and called the rumors "a myth."

The Cumberbatch mystery abruptly shifted to Gary Mitchell, where I was already waiting and tapping my foot impatiently, when Karl Urban was interviewed a month later and said of Cumberbatch, "He’s awesome, he’s a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary."  This, of course, was in complete contradiction to comments from co-writer/producer Bob Orci who claimed Mitchell, Janice Rand, Charlie X, Ruk the android from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", and the Borg were definitely not in the sequel.

"Aha! Told you so!" came the smug, validated cries from Team Khan, who loved to point out that Gary Mitchell couldn't possibly be in the Star Trek sequel because he recently appeared in the first two issues of the ongoing Star Trek comic book series from IDW Publishing, which has Bob Orci as a creative consultant, and was killed off.  Right, because the movie producers couldn't possibly decide that their movie continuity needs were more important than adhering to a comic book retelling of a classic TV episode if they wanted.

So what the hell was going on?  Was Cumberbatch playing Khan, Mitchell or someone else entirely?  And were Star Trek fans being deliberately fed misinformation?  Looking back, it certainly seems that way.

Months passed with details of Cumberbatch's character, along with the characters of co-stars Alice Eve and Peter Weller, still under lockdown greater than classified national security intel.  Last week, we finally saw two versions of a one-minute teaser trailer that sent Team Khan and Team Mitchell at one another again with Team Garth of Izar desperately trying to be taken seriously.

And then yesterday, the above still image of Cumberbatch as Khan-or-Mitchell in the Enterprise brig (behind a wall of transparent aluminum?) was released with an official caption that named him as the character "John Harrison." 

Excuse me, who?

Well, maybe this Harrison, an extra in the original TV series who, depending on the episode, wore all three colored Starfleet uniforms of command, science/medicine, and operations/security.  "Aha!  Harrison was in the episode 'Space Seed' with Khan as a red-shirted operations officer!"  Shut up, Team Khan.

Oh, and J.J. Abrams also decided to invite a bunch of journalists to a screening of the film's first nine minutes Sunday night, people who certainly don't know their way around a computer.  Well, one of those people spends all of two seconds on Twitter to announce that guess what?  Even though Alice Eve has the exact same hairstyle and blue Starfleet uniform as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner from the Gary Mitchell episode, she's playing Carol Marcus, who was Kirk's ex-wife in Star Trek II.  "Aha!  Told you--"  Shut up, Team Khan!

Yes, speculating speculation is speculative and you really have to credit J.J. Abrams, Bob Orci and everyone involved with this production for keeping Trek fans guessing and adding to the overall buzz.  At this point, the villain could be anything from Khan, to Gary Mitchell, to both Khan and Gary Mitchell (Holy crap if that happens...), to something else entirely.  Oh, and we still don't know who Peter Weller is playing.

Oy.  I think I need to start checking the Doctor Who 50th anniversary message boards for a while...

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