Sci-fi fans have marked their calendars by now for the first look at Star Trek Into Darkness (coming to IMAX theaters this December). It’s unlikely that the preview will finally reveal the mysterious villain opposing Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew, but at this point we’ll settle for anything.

While Chris Pine was on hand to promote Rise of the Guardians in London this week, questions concerning the brash captain of the USS Enterprise predictably arose. Pine’s comments didn’t address the most nagging questions, but they do hint at the growth his character will undergo in the sequel, and what fans can expect from Benedict Cumberbatch‘s performance.

Unsurprisingly, Pine reiterated the cast-wide claims of Star Trek 2 being bigger and bolder than its predecessor, both in terms of the story being plotted by Kurtzman and Orci and the scale of the action sequences. With introductions and bickering now out of the way, the stage is set to get into real character development.

As far as Kirk is concerned, it sounds like the events and conflict of Into Darkness will put the young captain’s abilities to the test:

“Kirk is fun because he is a brash, cocky, bull-headed kind of guy. I think the journey he goes on in this new film is a lot about – the first one was about getting the chair and the second one is about earning it. And I think that’s a big part of his journey.”

There’s no question that James T. Kirk proved his merits (and likability) in the previous mission, but taking down a pack of vengeful Romulans required guts and courage, not necessarily leadership. If the story for the sequel is focused on galvonizing the crew around Kirk (while serving to further differentiate this series from the original TV show), then audiences can look forward to a story that has gone largely untold.

A hero is only as strong as the villains he faces, of course, and the producers have covered their bases on that front. Signing an actor as universally praised as Bendedict Cumberbatch stacks the odds in the movie’s favor, even if the details of his character are still a complete mystery. Pine didn’t confirm or deny the rumors surrounding Cumberbatch’s role, but did speak to the benefits of having Kirk tested by such an accomplished actor:

“I’ve been so fortunate, Benedict is an incredible talent. He’s did some work in the new ‘Trek’ that I think will blow people away.

“There’s one scene in it that’s like, you know… in all kinds of heavy science fiction there’s got to be the exposition scene where it’s like, what the hell’s going on? It’s a really, really, really hard scene. Not for me, for Benedict – and watching him handle that and to make something that I think, on paper, could have been a death trap for an actor and to see how he [deals with it]…

“I think, also, I know that he did Frankenstein. I never got a chance to see it, but his sense of body and voice… he has great command of his instrument or whatever the hell you want to call it. He’s formidable as an actor and as a character in the story. He’s formidable. He’s a great actor.”

Anyone familiar with Cumberbatch knows he’s no slouch when handed expansive monologues or encyclopedic information – his performance as Sherlock Holmes was largely based on bringing stuffy knowledge to life. Regardless of who the thespian will be playing, or how dark the story gets, it looks like fans have one heck of a face-off to look forward to.

It was Bones (Karl Urban) himself who explained that keeping some plot twists and characters a secret until the fans are sitting in the theaters has its merits, and as much as we hate to, we’re inclined to agree. That was the approach taken for the original reboot, and the results spoke for themselves. That’s little comfort, but it’ll have to do for the moment.

What storylines do you hope to see for each of the Enterprise’s crew members? Will Cumberbatch automatically take the series to a new height, or is it the good guys that you’re most looking forward to revisiting?

Star Trek 2 will be out in theaters on May 17th, 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: TrekMovie