How Benicio Del Toro’s Khan Could Work For ‘Star Trek 2′ [Updated]

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:28 pm,

In the last week we found out Star Trek 2′s new summer 2013 release date, confirmation that it would be “made” in 3D and that Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League, Men in Black III) will be playing an entirely new character. With the film a year and a half away, it’s still making headlines with the latest reporting that Benicio Del Toro will actually be playing the long-rumored Khan in Star Trek 2.

[Update: Benicio Del Toro is no longer in talks to play Khan in Star Trek 2]

Del Toro was reportedly offered the villain role in J.J. Abrams’ sequel to Star Trek - for which Abrams is again directing – a month ago but there was no indication as to who he could play, outside of speculation of the commonly rumored villains of Star Trek 2. Since long before Del Toro’s name was thrown into the mix, fans have pondered the possibility of Khan being the film’s villain.

According to a scoop from our pals at Latino Review, this may be exactly the case. While on the prowl on another story, El Mayimbe – who’s usually spot-on with his scoops – says that Benicio Del Toro is in fact playing Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek 2.

Del Toro as Khan pays tribute to the original Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan but it doesn’t exactly coincide with what was previously rumored about the Star Trek 2 villains:

“It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS excited. Think along the lines of Harry Mudd or Trelane or Gary Mitchell or the Talosians or the Horta. Actually it’s one of those that I named.”

HitFix reached out to Abrams for comment and received a simple and firm two-word response: “not true.”

So, what does this all mean? Not that much at this point. Del Toro playing Khan will remain a rumor until otherwise officially confirmed and Abrams throwing out an obligatory denial also doesn’t mean much. Recall, director Zack Snyder denied rumors that Zod would be featured in his Superman reboot, then Warner Bros. announced the casting of Zod…

Ricardo Montalban Khan Star Trek 2 570x369 How Benicio Del Toros Khan Could Work For Star Trek 2 [Updated]

How would Khan’s story play out in Abrams’ Star Trek universe? The original Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban, first appeared in the 1967 fan-favorite episode “Space Seed” where the Enterprise discovers the SS Botany Bay, an old 20th century space vessel that’s home to a crew of cryogenically frozen people from Earth’s past.

Khan is awakened automatically during the encounter and while on board the Enterprise, reads up on 300 years of history of the United Federation of Planets, before reviving his crew in an attempt to take over the Enterprise. Kirk and co. learn of Khan’s past as the leader of genetically altered superhumans and by the end of the episode, they send Khan and his people to a planet they can colonize.

These events laid the foundation for the story of the second original Star Trek film which saw Khan return in force with a vendetta against Kirk and the Federation after losing his wife and most of his people on the planet they were abandoned on. Since Abrams’ version of the younger Kirk and crew takes place before the events of “Space Seed” could happen, there’s confusion as to how this would work in the new film. The only difference between the two universes in regards to this, assuming Khan is in fact the villain of Star Trek 2, is that he’s not met Kirk yet. He could however, have the exact same backstory and hatred of the Federation so the film could be re-telling of their first counter, but in an entirely new and different way.

To get geeky on this, Star Trek broke a lot of timelines from canon and while it’s the year 2258 but the time Chris Pine’s Kirk is in command of the Enterprise, in the prime Star Trek universe, Kirk doesn’t encounter Khan until 2267. So a younger Khan, played by Del Toro, fits for a new take on their first encounter.

Some say seeing a new Khan is unnecessary or too taboo, but why? The entire film is a new and different take on Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. What’s different about a new take on one of the franchise’s greatest villains?

[poll id="222"]

Star Trek 2 hits theaters on May 17, 2013.


Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Sources: Latino Review, HitFix

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  1. Help me out here, doesn’t old spocks appearance acknowledge the other star trek movies to have happened? Therefore he would have encountered khan already so they can be prepared for the wrath or better yet avoid it?

    • That’s an interesting point about Spock.

      But their first encounter is 9 years later however, and presumably this encounter would be under entirely different circumstances. If Khan is the villain in this Star Trek 2, their encounter would be several years before their first encounter in the original series and decades before the events of Wrath of Khan – Spock made it clear that young Spock would live out his journey with Kirk without interference so old Spock probably won’t play into the film at all.

  2. Every damn villain in every damn Trek film has been inspired by Khan. In a way, Montalban’s fantastic performance was the worst thing to happen to the franchise.

    I wish the saga would just step away from Khan and do a villain that’s not an over-the-top, classics-quoting, revenge-driven maniac.

    Plus, of all the interesting ideas that were poorly executed on the original series, why resurrect the one that was excellently protrayed?

    • Every villain in Trek movies were inspired by Khan? Really?

      Trek 1 – Vger
      Trek 3 – Klingon Commander
      Trek 4 – Unknown probe trying to contact hump-back whales
      Trek 5 – Renegade Vulcan
      Trek 6 – Ok, maybe you have something there
      Trek 7 – Man trying to get back to heaven
      Trek 8 – Borg trying to change history
      Trek 9 – Man trying to gain eternal youth
      Trek 10 – You may have a point here as well
      Trek 11 – Romulan getting revenge for destruction of his planet (ok, maybe)

      I only see about 3 movies out of 11 that someone can claim to inspired by Khan.

      • I meant performance-wise: they all fall into the same villanous archetype. Your list is very good when it comes to the plot of the movies, but it’s always the same type of (excuse the reiteration) over-the-top, classics-quoting.

        I left the revenge-driven out because, as you pointed out, I was mistaken there.

  3. Id be very disappointed if it was Khan. And I don’t think the writers would go for such a lazy idea.
    When I look at Del Toro, I see Klingon.

    • We can’t say it’s a “lazy idea” until we see it. It could be entirely different.

      • Then why bother doing it? It’s lazy because it’s taking an already established fan favourite character. And that it’s Star Trek 2 all over again. The Re-Wrath Of Khan.

        They can do better. Use a lesser known villain, one that doesn’t come with so much baggage, or do an original villain.

        • It Doesnt have to be that way. With good writing and Acting, any character can have new life breathed into them. It can be so that the character only slightly resembles the original.

        • The Joker has been used in the Batman films (notably Tim Burton’s and Chris Nolan’s), which is also an established character. Both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger did well in their respective roles.

          Who knows, maybe Del Toro’s interpretation of Khan might be up there with Ledger’s Joker (assuming Khan is the actual villain of this movie).

          I will agree with you and say that I hope it isn’t Khan, as I would like to see Hollywood do something original for a change. If it IS Khan, however, then it might not be so bad…

          • I was waiting for someone to bring up the joker. Thanks.
            It’s not the same thing. There have been loads of different jokers over the years in film, tv and comics. It is a character that creates reinterpretation.
            Ricardo Montoblan was Khan. The only Khan there has been. Why not just leave it at that?

            • There were loads of Jokers because they started with a second. Why can’t their be loads of Khan’s? There’s a second Captain Kirk but it’s lazy to do Khan again?

              Again, it’s going to be ENTIRELY different. If anything, it might just be the name that’s the same so we can’t say it’s lazy.

              • Gotta agree with Rob. I don’t see how it’s not the same thing.

          • The only difference is The Joker is such an important character in the Batman mythos that you can’t have a Batman franchise w/o using the character at some point.

    • i see a young Harry Mudd myself

  4. I love the idea of a new spin on Khan, how about this time a Klingon ship discovers the Botany Bay. I don’t see the villian just being Khan, but another antagonist as well. A trek film with Khan and Klingons; what more could you ask for. Now lets see if JJ gets another a-lister to play the Klingon lead, either way this is shaping up to be a kick ass film.

    • That was the same thing I said months ago. If the Klingons find Khan first, Khan could become the new emperor and this opens up a whole new scenario.

  5. It’s not inconceivable that Kirk will encounter Khan sooner in this timeline. (Please excuse the following nerd theory/explanation). The events of the new movie (ie future agents coming back to the past and wrecking havoc) in essence created a splitting of the timeline. On one hand we have the traditional timeline that we all know and love where Kirk meats Khan later in his career. This timeline still continues on. Another timeline/dimension was started at the point where the change happened (Kirks father and his ship being destroyed). Up until this point everything about the two timelines are the same. Once this interference happens the new timeline/dimension is started and continues on congruently with the traditional timeline. This one event will have a ripple effect that will slowly move the new timeline events away from the old timeline events. Things may start out similar, but there will be slight differences (for instance timing of events, characters involved, attitudes/choices, etc). As time moves on the new universe may start to look very different from the old one. Look at the mirror universe in Star Trek as an example. Therefore it is possible that Kirk and khan may meet sooner and have a slightly different encounter because they are at different points of their lives, attitude differences (especially with Kirk because of the emotional events of the first movie), etc.

    Thank you for bearing with me during my nerd rant.

  6. it could be khan
    del toro is a fine
    actor he could do it
    but as far as looking
    like another character
    i think del toro looks
    more like cyrano jones
    then any mention especially
    his face watch the tribble
    episode and you’ll see,if it’s
    not khan perhaps a younger harry
    mudd that would prove interesting
    i don’t see why you don’t create a
    new villian somebody’s whose kirk’s
    match and did i see Tiberius not mention
    Khan was too one of the bad boys of star
    trek but so was the evil Tiberius from the
    episode Mirror Mirror,cmon j.j. you can do
    better use that creative talent you use in the
    first film and other films you done,who just
    wants to hear Kirk say,Khaaaaaan again .

  7. Kind of agree, but Nero from last Star Trek was not too interesting of a villain despite his background and his menacing nature. Khan can be interesting because he can GRAB the fans attention with him but go an entirely knew direction. It may be lazy, but it could be very interesting in my opinion.

    • I agree, Nero was a waste. I mean, his character, if he truly wanted revenge on Spock, should have specifically sought out and attempt to kill the younger Spock. His character was a complete and total waste…. just waiting. Big woop-de-doo.

      I’m not keen on Khan 2.0. Sigh. Really, must we? Totally agree with above poster instead of trying to do a Khan retread, which many later Trek villains tried to emulate, something new and different, well, thought out! I didn’t mind the Star Trek new movie, but… it’s a slap in the face many ways.

      • Or Nero waited for Spock Prime so he would suffer by watching Vulcan be destroyed, as was explained in the film :)

  8. If anything, I hope Kahn is just in the last few minutes – setting up the third film. I think it’s just too soon for Kahn. I agree with Erik that there should be more than one antagonist, regardless of Kahn. One reason why “Wrath” was so good was that they were fighting Kahn and the dangers of the genesis device simultaneously (because originally those were separate stories). Either way, I still hope a “Space Seed” encounter ends so that the “Wrath” can happen for Kirk because that was a pretty transformative moment for both Kirk and the Star Trek canon.

  9. “Expect rebuttals and denials.”

    lol this was at the end of the article in latinoreview. so yea jj abrams is lying

  10. I agree that reinventing the Khan timeline would be boring and lazy, but reinventing Khan himself (despite how it might upset fans) would be captivating. Imagine a Khan that actually SEEMS like a superhuman; a superior, calculating behemoth who actually DISPLAYS superior intelligence, rather that constantly having vague statements made about his intellectual prowess. A man who is always one step ahead of those who oppose him. That’s something I always wanted to see in this character.

  11. ST fans deserve better than this. Why reboot a classic villain, when there are so many and better stories to consider. JJ should be considering how to return the timeline to its original, not on rebooting a seminal character.

    For all the buzz JJ ceeated with the alternate timeline, ST had serious flaws. His next tale needs to address new and inventive storytelling, which is what made ST:TOS so memorable. Do anything less, with Khan, or the Doomsday Machine, or anything else without planning for a mending of the universe and we’re all just wasting time.

  12. I said this a few months back here when we first heard these rumors

    If he is playing Khan,…..

    One would assume if this is going to be a riff on Space Seed that the exceptionally creative duo of Orci and Kurtzman would be aware of the original Star Trek II script that set Khan up as some sort of a intergalactic Al Queda leading a mass of disinfranchised and dissallusioned rebel starfleet personal and ships (Sound similar to the news today?) There was also the dumb aliens (Sanjay and Mojay?) and their crystal helper robot but the Khan thing as a dangerous charasmatic leader as some false savior with his own fleet of rebel starfleet ships could be pretty f-cking epic and quite timely for todays events.
    If they were to draw on the original concept and incorporate it with Space Seed over the course of two or three films it could be mindblowingly awesome

    • include me OUT!

  13. well, interesting to see how they play this one out.. too much deviation and it screws with the entire genetic enhancement timeline from the original series and the eventual development of Data…

  14. It couldn’t be a YOUNGER version of Khan. Since Kirk awoke Khan from cryogenic freeze, there’s no way Khan could have aged between Abrams-verse 2258 and Prime Universe 2267. Since the part of the Prime Universe timeline involving Khan and Co climbing on board the Botany Bay and leaving Earth was unaffected by Spock’s and Nero’s time traveling, the only way Abrams-verse Kirk encounters Khan is if he stumbles across the Botany Bay 9 years earlier than Prime Universe Kirk did, which basically means (if Khan is the villain) Abrams and Co are retelling “Space Seed”, not Star Trek II.

    I really hope it’s a different villain. Not only that, but I hope this next movie isn’t called “Star Trek II”, just to keep people from confusing it with “The Wrath of Khan”. In fact, I really believe the whole concept of Khan being the next villain came out of the warm fuzzy feeling Trekkers have about Star Trek II and not out of any real speculation. If the next villain IS Khan, then all I can say is that Abrams and del Toro better knock this movie out of the ball park, because otherwise Star Trek II is NOT a fan film to be messed with.

  15. To beat a dead horse, Khan was pr-established by the TV series. So he was a known villain by the second film. This is like catching lighting in a bottle. I absolutely love Star Trek 2, but i don’t ever want to see Khan on film again!

  16. Don’t be starting a panic! Remember this Trek is a reboot so stop trying to whip up the fan base into frenzy!

  17. I’m not sure if Del Toro is fit enough to play the perfect genetic specimen that Khan is supposed to be.

    • motoko,

      With a personal trainer and 6 months to train full time almost ANY actor can get fit enough for a role like this. :)


  18. Lets have some new villains, new stories, new worlds and new civilisations… Not going boldly where we have been before.

    • You are right, and the only thing worse than re-hashing old familiar villains, are the blantant lies told by studio/directors when they’ve known the truth all along.

      zack snyder and MOS anyone? liar liar pants on fire.

  19. Hope Khan is not the villian. If he is this is how it will play out…
    Khan does in fact get discovered and then exiled by the Klingons. He plots his revenge against them using the Enterprise as a key instrument in the destrucition of much of the Klingon homeworld. Kirk and crew must stop Khan, thus working to SAVE the Klingons. There attempt fails. Khan is successful at his revenge against said Klingons, and because of Kirks failure, the Federation is now the sworn enemy of the KLingons that survived Khans attack. Khan will become the leader of the Klingon homeworld and start his next plan. Destruction of the Federation.

    Your welcome J.J.

    • I don’t know. The Klingons don’t seem to be the exiling type. They’re more like the kill-everybody-in-their-sleep-and-plunder-the-ship type.

      • Only Klingons that ally themselves with Romulans would do that. Klingons like Worf, Kurn or Kang would not kill someone while they were sleeping.

  20. I like movies, in fact I love to watch them, but to see another remake of an already classic or whatever just drives me nuts… We’ve had one to many Batman remakes, and the same with the Hulk movies, some of these have been good, I like del Torro he’s a good actor, but with all these New Visual effects, would it not be better to get a new bad guy, I mean come on, you guys spend so much money on making Movies for all to see, and you expect to make that money back, right… Well get something new then…

  21. I love how if the same villain is used people get angry and start ranting that it will be “boring”, “done before”, etc. (Example: Zod in Man of Steel). But just because they’re using the same character doesn’t mean that it will be the same. The character will change. He will do different things and go to different places. It will be fine. If they can reinvent Kirk and Spock then I see no reason that Khan wouldn’t work.

    • “the character will change. he will do different things…”

      how is it the same character if he’s completely different? Might as well make a new character.

  22. Oh please not Khan. Don’t fall into the crutch of the originals so quickly. Give this cast and crew some original adventures. There were several enemies and explorations from TOS that could be epic given full special effects and big movie budget treatment.

    Follow the original credo of the show, “To boldly go where no [one] has gone before.” Not the current Hollywood credo of, “Meh this made a ton of money and was hugely popular the first time.”

    Kirk is just as likely to never encounter Khan in the new timeline as he is to encounter him earlier in his life. He’s captain of the Enterprise sooner, maybe he goes through that section of space before Khan’s ship drifts through it, maybe he gets orders to explore a different corner of the Galaxy, maybe there is a war since in the 2009 movie Nero kicked the Klingons. Saying, “Oh well we have carte blanche to change anything and everything,” is lazy writing if you are just going to conveniently change the order of events to recreate a previously popular movie.

    I’m not saying never use the character again, but so soon seems a little weak from a creative group that appears to have so much talent. Give us original exploration, explanded takes on Klingons, Romulans, Gorn, or some other species my young brain may not know about or remember since I haven’t seen all the original episodes.

  23. Quite a bit of interesting (and passionate) discussion going on. I’ll throw out some (geek & non) stuff that came to mind.

    1. Have to agree with several other posters’ nominations for Harry Mudd or Cyrano Jones. Both would both be characters ripe for development, as well as affording the writers an opportunity to inject a more light-hearted tone to ST2′s adventure (re. The Trouble With Tribbles).

    2. Have to agree with Dr. Beckett, NEW is a great concept, something that Hollywood should embrace. IMHO, J.J. Abrams showed an incredible amount of respect for the source material, did a great job “recycling it” (getting tired of the word reboot, it’s what I do with my PC) and still managed to inject some measure of freshness into it.

    3. If Paramount is holding tight to continuity, which they seem to do in their publishing, Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock has quite a bit to say about how alternate time-lines and dimensions work in the ST Universe.(and makes for some “fascinating” reading). In essence, time tries to mitigate change and reconcile divergences. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    I’m taking a wait & see attitude toward ST2. Even as a ST:TOS fan, I enjoyed Abram’s take and am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  24. There are 77 OTHER episodes they could draw inspiration from (removing the ST1 inspired episode) but they instead choose the EXACT one that ST2 was based on?! Come ON. I’m with DrSambeckett and think think this is real laziness. They might put some new twist on it but it’s STILL the same characters we have seen before (plus no one can match Montalban’s performance). Is Spock also gonna die in this one so we can have #3 be about finding Spock a new body??! /rolls eyes.

    To be honest I’m having Man of Steel flash backs here. They are doing the same lame thing also. New dammit NEW! If you can’t give us something completely fresh then please stop making these half-***** attempts at being original.

  25. I HATE when the antagonist element in a sci-fi film is nothing more than a generic villain.

    It’s a freaking SCI-FI movie!!

    I don’t give a rat’s pattootie about interpersonal relationships between villains and heroes.

    I want to see spaceships, and monsters, and world-eating giant amoebas!

    If I wanted to see some human villain, I’d watch Law & Order.

    And just for the sake of geekyness: Khan would be exactly the same age meeting THIS Kirk as he was in the original series.

    he was in stasis/cryo. in other words, if Kirk meets him 8 years earlier, Khan will STILL be in stasis, thus the exact same physical age as 8 years later.
    Kirk may be younger, but Khan won’t be.

  26. It’s a logical choice. Khan is a well known villain and it’s easy to market and to bring in the audience who really don’t know much about star trek. This is a new timeline anyway they can do what they want anyway. If they did make a NEW villain it wouldn’t really make sense would it. You wouldn’t make up a new villain for batman when there’s a bunch of villains in canon. I think it’s cool and I’m pretty excited for this new star trek movie

    • There are villains that have not been in the Trek movies before: Gorn, Tholians, Triskalions, etc… While I can see Khan being used in a totally different fashion, there are tons of other rogues in the Trek gallery to put on the big screen.

  27. Dont they need to kill off the “old SPOCK” before this timeline can move foward? Cuz isint it likely that EVERYtime this crew has a galactic crisis they can just run over to good ol’ future SPOCK and ask how they solved it in thier timeline?
    And if they do use Khan as the villain, since this is a “diffirent Kirk” why not have Khan try to corrupt Kirk and turn him against the federation?

    • I think Spock-Prime mentioned he wouldn’t get involved. Although I wouldn’t be surprised that he would mention something about a Hitlerian being still out there, and even gave the initial coordinates of that being; he may have also mentioned the giant amoeba, the Doomsday Device, Rayjack, or even Nomad. I can see JJ squashing any Khan movies by having Kirk and crew destroy the Botany Bay when they first encounter it.

  28. Harcourt Fenton Mudd=Jack
    Black. It’s just crying to be written

    • Well that would be one way to officially kill Star Trek. Jack Black is a terrible actor.

      • I could not agree more.