J.J. Abrams Discusses ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Villain

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star trek2 J.J. Abrams Discusses Star Trek Into Darkness Villain

For Star Trek fans, it’s been a long, difficult wait for the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ hugely successful 2009 franchise reboot. With the theatrical release of Star Trek Into Darkness only a few months away, anticipation is higher than ever, especially after the recent release of the film’s first trailer.

Abrams – like many of his contemporaries – has been pretty secretive regarding his film’s plot details and character arcs, but perhaps the most mysterious element has been the identity of the villainous new character played by Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch. We know that Cumberbatch is playing a man named John Harrison, but speculation has persisted that this is merely an alias, with his true identity still unknown.

The ambiguity continues in the latest word from Abrams about the film – courtesy of Japan’s GyaO! (via TrekMovie) – but he does drop a bit more insight into the villain’s background and motivation. Here’s what he had to say:

“So this movie doesn’t require you [to] have seen the first movie. The characters are a group of people who have recently come together and find themselves up against this incredibly terrifying force. His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an average – that is what makes him so scary – he is just an average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet, and he turns against the group because he has got this back-story and this kind of amazing secret agenda. After two very violent attacks, one in London and one in the US, our characters have to go after this guy and apprehend him. And it is a far more complicated and difficult thing then they ever anticipated. ‘Into Darkness’ is very much about how intense it gets and really what they are up against.”

What’s most intriguing about Abrams’ comment is the fact that Harrison has a “secret agenda.” That certainly invites speculation regarding whether or not the character will have an eleventh hour reveal as an established figure in the Star Trek mythos. Cue the onslaught of fanboys everywhere crying that this possibility harkens too closely to the finale of The Dark Knight Rises.

trek poster J.J. Abrams Discusses Star Trek Into Darkness Villain

Abrams also confirmed that (at least) two terrorist attacks will figure into the plot of Into Darkness, one set in London and the other somewhere in the United States. Regardless of the level of devastation and actual, well, darkness involved in the film’s story, Abrams asserts that his Star Trek sequel will send a positive message before the credits roll.

“I love movies that are big and unabashedly a huge fan of big pop mass appeal movies. I do love that. I love being in a theater packed with people and everyone gasping at the same time and having that communal experience. I don’t like going to the movies to feel bad. I don’t like going to the movies to feel depressed and feel diminished. The reason you go to the movies is to feel bigger and stronger and happier. So this is a movie that they certainly go ‘into darkness,’ but I would be the wrong director if it was about characters staying there. This is very much a movie about hope, about love, about romance, and about facing something that is truly terrifying and finding a way through the connection of your family and surviving and being stronger afterwards.”

At this point, there’s little chance we’ll have a definite answer regarding the true nature Cumberbatch’s character and where the Star Trek franchise will boldly go after Into Darkness, but in the meantime, it seems that Abrams has taken great care and consideration in designing a film that will satisfy fans.

Do you like what you’re hearing about the character of John Harrison and the nature of Star Trek Into Darkness? Sound off below.

Star Trek Into Darkness zooms into theaters on May 17th, 2013.


Source: GyaO! [via TrekMovie]

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  1. I’m still wondering if John Harrison is his ‘true’ name, or if it’s just some kind of cover up by the character himself, to hide his true identity. I don’t know, but I like that I don’t.

    • I heard is the young version of NERO

      • The character is clearly human and Nero was Romulan, so at least try to make a rational guess. Thanks.

  2. “His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an average – that is what makes him so scary – he is just an average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet,”

    Clearly not Khan then.

    Millions of trekkies around the globe just fist pumped the air.

    • Well, the “average guy” story doesn’t really fall in line with the incredible strength that he displayed in the first teaser. So, I call “obfuscation” on Abrams’ part. He’s in mindscrewing mode and everything he says must be taken as an attempt to keep us guessing about the actual story of the movie.

      • Ya keep thinking to that, if hes just an avg guy then pwrhaps the feats of strenght scene was really do to a low gravity situation and not a superhuman feat.

      • I thought about that.

        Lower Gravity, the place looks like a space station, if he altered its gravity, then he would have the advantage even if his foes did not know the gravity was altered, he would attack them before they knew what hit them. Or he has a way to manipulate gravity around him and increase his strength.

      • Agreed. The fact that he says “I’m better than you” then when Kirk asks “Better at what?” he answers “Everything” suggests he is far from average. I am wondering if he is genetically enhanced and thinks it is time to end the ban on Genetic Engineering imposed after the events of the Eugenic wars (at least according to old cannon). Does Harrison think Starfleet and the Federation have taken the wrong course and does he feel we need to bring back Genetic Engineering in order to take a more hostile stance towards the Klingons and other species? I wonder……..

  3. I still think he has something to do with Paxon. I think this story has something to do with augmentation.

  4. Naming the character after a famous clockmaker sure does allow for some interesting hypothesis. I’d be careful about wild speculation though. I’d hate to invite disappointment. I didn’t care too much for the last Star Trek movie and I really hope this one is better.

    • I really quite enjoyed the first one. The only real weak point in my eyes was the Romulans. They just weren’t memorable enough to be satisfying villians. Or at least, Eric Bana’s character wasn’t.

      And I’m not over keen on the new Enterprise. We didn’t actually see that much of it either, but that’s just a minor complaint really.

      • I thought Bana did a great job as Nero, it was that the script didnt allow him enough screen time to really establish his character. I wish there was more of him on screen, as I really enjoyed his scenes. That being said I think Cumberbatch will be on screen much more and the film will benefit greatly from this…

        • I totally agree. It was nothing to do with Bana’s performance, but as you said script and screen time.

  5. “This is very much a movie about hope, about love, about romance, and about facing something that is truly terrifying and finding a way through the connection of your family and surviving and being stronger afterwards.”

    Sounds like TOS to me!! Can’t wait!!!

  6. I like how this movie is sounding. and at this point I don’t care about who Cumberbatch’s character is – just wanna see the movie! :)) may can’t come soon enough!

  7. And for the next “more info” star trek article: we find out the middle name of the villain’s dog. Maybe he has a secret agenda too.

    • The villain’s dog’s middle name is “du”.

      Too obscure a reference?

  8. I’m excited to see this! I’ve really been hoping that he isn’t going to be revealed as Khan. It seems silly to me to reboot the series with time travel and allowing a totally new timeline only to then go back to so close a parallel to the original ST2.

  9. check out Trekmovie.com

  10. Abrams and company don’t have to do a thing to hype this film. They actually name the villain, John Harrison, reveal a bit of his back story, yet fanboys are still assuming otherwise and taking it all upon themselves to theorize about who the “true” villain is. Abrams, et. al. must be getting a good laugh from all of this errant speculation.

  11. io9 has more from Cucumberpatch saying that he is indeed a terrorist (by his own definition) and (oh thank goodness they didn’t leave this one out) a mix of Hannibal Lecter and the Joker.

    I don’t know who finds this scary, but Hollywood certainly seems insistent that we all share the state of quivering before this bad ideal.
    Trek movie or not, if they keep pushing the same villain profile over and over again (I heard all this about Bane et others) I am simply going to lose interest. I have the option to not see it right? And to not like it? Why keep putting their eggs in the same artistic basket? It’s a fool move.

    And Abrams described the villain as an “average” guy which may invalidate my theory that it’s Garth of Izar, but he DID confirm that the character has the ability to sow ideas that spread, and he can manipulate people psychologically.
    Which is SO SCARY!

  12. Like I stated. He can be an engineer with the capability to manipulate gravity around him. If he discovered a way to lower the gravity around him, and increase the gravity around others.

    Now if he is or were born on a planet with a heavier gravity, then he would have an advantage.

    He can bring a ship down from orbit, he might be in control of device that can alter gravity anytime he wants it. So that can enhance his strength. Whatever he capable of does, I am thinking its gravity concentrated.

    I am willing to stand behind this to the last drop of The Lost Winchesters Blood! :)

    • Ha! I thought you were done with Star Trek discussions?


      Well, I like your theory, and I am glad that you are not among those still thinking that the villain is Khan…

      • No, I was done with WHO THE ANTAGONIST IS.

        I will not debate who John Harrison is or is not.

        I never thought it was Khan to begin with :)

        • I’m guessing John Harrison is really General Zod escaped from the Neutral Zone, in a crossover from Superman. (I’ve given up on my Barney the dinosaur idea.)

          And I’m willing to stand behind that to the last drop of The Lost Winchester’s blood, too!


          • The character ‘John Harrison’ could be Kirk’s half brother (as seen briefly in the first reboot movie). His name was John and Cumberpatch certainly looks like an older version of the kid that plays John. It would explain the ‘family’ line in the trailer. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that John would follow Kirk into Starfleet?

        • He’s Nero The Romulan… the young version.

        • I got so angry at my non-trekkie friend who said it was khan because he saw it on IMBD . immediately sent this to my friend.

      • Well played my friend with the Godfather reference lol :)

  13. I heard from a very reliable source that the villian’s name is…

    …John Harrison

  14. I would accept that he’s simply a new villain named John Harrison if pretty much the whole cast didn’t say the villain was iconic. But almost everyone has said that he’s an iconic villain before any trailer or official photos came out. Taht’s why I believe its an alias… particularly for Gary Mitchell.

    • Perhaps he is iconic in the FUTURE sense of the word.

  15. I’m going to go with a young charles xavier or magneto lol

  16. I’ve been saying that John Harrison is an alias for Gary Mitchell and we probably won’t find out that until the end of the movie.

  17. The problem with John Harrison being an alias for Gary Mitchel is that Gary and Kirk were best buds. I understand this is a different timeline, but if it is Gary why terrorist attacks? Why an alias? If however it was an alias for Khan that would make sense. But then how would he end up in star fleet?

    All I know at this point is this movie looks like it could be great. :)

  18. John Harrison will be standing over a bloody kirk body while ripping of his face that’s turns out to be a rubber mask to reveal that he is a gorn …
    But really I would love to see the gorn in this movie. I heard they were gonna make an appearance n in the trailer there a quick shot that I swear is them *fingers crossed*

  19. Of course, the villain can only be Omne, from The Price of the Phoenix, a better villain with a more insidious technology is not to be had…

    • Or the villain is Lore, built and unleashed early;

    • my research (intensive!!) maintains that Omne is the real enemy pulling everyone’s string from the darkness.

  20. He’s a rabid purist fanboy of ST: TOS from our universe unleashed on theirs, and vowing revenge for the alternate timeline changes…

  21. it has to be something with the death of spock
    the two hands touching throigh the glass genesis proyect some kind of plot

  22. My research and my money is on the real enemy being Omne from 2 70′s Trek novels by Sondra Marshack and Myrna Culbreath – regardless of John Harrison, it wlill be revealed at the movies’ cliff-hanger conclusion that this “ultimate of all opponents” has been pulling strings from the darkness.

    • Thank you for recognizing the probability of my theory, Ed; after all, a strong alpha male scientist who creates modified transporter tech that generates duplicates and allows for immortality, all impressive. Also, his plan for Kirk…

      • By the way, it’s Marshak. Omne or Black Omne or Omnedon, was not human, but he was very much against the Federation as it existed, he was subversive and manipulative and persuasive…

        • Their 2 Phoenix books are among the few Star Trek books I read with contemplative pleasure. I still have my copies, have been rereading since I first came up with the theory, wishful and unsubstantiated though it is.

  23. My research indicates Omne has 24th century Borg Technology, the plans to the Narada, and Romulan cloaking ability. John Harrison is nearly a puppet for Omen, but thus won’t come out till the cliff-hanger ending (SEQUEL!!!)! Anyone want to email me or comment??

    • Uh, what research…. the novels were written in 1977 and 1979; the name is Omne or Black Omne or Omnedon, and my theory is playful. No connection in the originals to Borg; Omne created a copy of Spock with his own mindcopy embedded within, for an assassination. He makes a copy of Kirk in order to torment and break his will, freaky stuff. I suspect it will turn out to be a minor Enterprise crewman who is subverted into undermining the Federation, but it is fun to imagine

    • yeah totally. id love to argue and theorize with you.

  24. jtkno6@gmail.com

  25. I really wanna see this, the first one was great, I hope this one has at least 1 character die, main or not, even if they return as a ghost/flashback person or really lived in a different reality for the third movie. I think this movie series should end at 3 though, even though it is SO great, I was never a fan of the show – but then again it’s just not in my time, im only a teen – and have heard it is bad, but me – and my family – really enjoy the movie!

    • Good points, Badger, and they probably will limit it to 3 movies, if only because they will reboot the reboot lol, like Spiderman. Killing off one of the main characters, and giving some of the secondary ones a chance to shine in a way that they never did in the original, would also be welcome. My 12 year old daughter accepted Star Trek more thanks to the movie; interestingly, it sent her to checking out the originals.

  26. Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell Gary Mitchell….

    • I also have a soft spot for the return of Gary Mitchell, but I’d like it to be a plot where he did not get mega powers and did not die, but is otherwise persuaded to undermine the Federation. It would be great to find a villain of intelligence and subtlety, the latter quality was lacking in Khan.

  27. no gary mitchell coming back would suck. maybe in the next movie. btw the last movie was great if u thought of it as an alternate universe as it is supposed to be. contact me @ iwouldneverinhellgiveyoumyemailaddress@gmail.com

  28. I have watched everything related to Kahn and the augments… I am not convinced… There is one other” Iconic” villian who he fits almost perfectly though… Lore. I think that it is Lore and or Dr. Soong… I am almost convinced after watching datalore… It says that dr. Soong was a top dr. Who went under a different name (Could be John Harrison). Lore is helbent on his own superiority and on destroying biological life.. This seems to fit the trailer pretty well.. Im guessing that in this alternate timline with accelirated tech.. Soon or even solngs father created lore much sooner… Lore kills soong and asumes his fake identity… Soong the first even has ties to the augments… So a kahn refrence isnt unlikly… I wouldnt be surpised if the movie even ends with lore being shelved along side another yet to be compleated android… Watch datalore and then the trailer… Im telling you its almost obvious.. Other then the time discrepancy.

  29. I’m really starting to think it’s Gary Mitchell. That would be super killer with all the new effects possible today!