Wise Words, Mr. Spock
The film doesn't take long to start paying tribute to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), even if the most iconic dialogue has been somewhat shifted. In the opening scene following Spock (Zachary Quinto) on his descent into the bowels of an active volcano, one of the character's most memorable lines from the original film - "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." - is given new context. While the line was previously spoken by Spock as foreshadowing his sacrifice to save the Enterprise, its placement in Into Darkness kept the spirit of Spock's logic intact, while hinting that the alternate reality of Abrams' universe is similar, but not identical to that of previous films. As did McCoy's outburst: "shut up Spock, we're trying to rescue you!" - from "The Immunity Syndrome" episode of The Original Series.
Body Movin'Continuing the tradition of featuring the Beastie Boys in his Trek universe (the young Kirk's Corvette joyride in Star Trek was set to the band's "Sabotage") moviegoers are treated to yet another Beastie Boys single in Into Darknes. When Kirk (Chris Pine) is found emerging from bed - accompanied by a pair of tailed young ladies (played by real-life identical twins Katie and Kellie Cockrell) - a sample of "Body Movin' (Fatboy Slim Remix)" plays prominently in the background. More than keeping up a running joke, the scene seems to imply that Kirk is, in fact, a fan of the 20th Century New York musicians. What that means for the paradoxical mention of 'Mr. Spock' in the band's song "Intergalactic"...we still can't explain.
The Daystrom Institute
When John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) sets his master plan into motion, setting off an explosion in the Kelvin Memorial Archive, the heads of Starfleet convene in a single boardroom to determine their response. One might wonder why it is that Admiral Pike and Kirk are called to the soaring "Daystrom Institute," not some heavily-fortified bunker, but Trekkies recognized the nod immediately. Named for the brilliant human scientist Dr. Richard Daystrom, the prestigious institute has appeared in several Trek series as the gathering place for Starfleet's top minds, and most groundbreaking technology. Since the institute survives well into the 24th century, we have to assume they upgraded their security shortly after the events of the film.
When the target of Harrison's bombing is revealed to be not a simple archive, but a secret 'Section 31' installation, most audiences wouldn't bat an eye. The name 'Section 31' certainly sounds like a top secret government facility, even if they are up to some incredibly dangerous and morally questionable affairs. For starters: extorting Harrison to work for their cause, and building even more devastating weapons technology (with built-in passengers!). Of course, considering the history of Section 31 in Star Trek: Enterprise and Deep Space Nine, fans know that nothing is below the shadowy division. For those in the know, the mention raised suspicion even before the film's many twists were revealed.
Caped CrusadersDespite being one of the most trustworthy and meaningful mentors to Jim Kirk, Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) isn't able to provide Kirk and his crew with advice on how to deal with Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) - a true shame, since he would know the man's mind better than most. ...Not due to their rank, but because both actors have voiced Batman. That in itself is an odd twist of fate, but the versions of the Dark Knight played by each is even more serendipitous: Greenwood voiced the hero in the animated feature Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) and the Young Justice animated series, centering on the hero's greatest failure and successes as a father figure, respectively. Weller? He voiced the character in the animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns (2012) - a dark tale of an older, angrier Batman willing to do terrible things to save a world he feels is on the brink. Hmmm...
Call Me a CollectorSurely every fan noticed the extensive spaceship models displayed proudly on Admiral Marcus' desk during his meeting with Kirk and Spock, but the exact ships being shown may have slipped by all but the most discerning eye. In order, the ships are miniature replicas of: the real-life NASA shuttle Enterprise, the USS Enterprise XCV 330 (an early Vulcan design that led to a dead-end), the Enterprise NX-01 (the groundbreaking ship and star of Enterprise), the Phoenix (featured in First Contact for its instigation of contact with Vulcan), and the then-unrevealed USS Vengeance. Besides tying real space history into that of Starfleet, the models also illustrate Marcus' vision of the dreadnaught Vengeance paving the way for humanity's future.
Nurse ChapelThere are few Starfleet bachelors with as much of a reputation as Jim Kirk, even if he can't quite keep all his romantic conquests straight. When Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) first informs Kirk that his reputation has preceded him, she mentions a mutual acquaintance, Christine Chapel - a woman he has no memory of whatsoever. Kirk may not remember, but Trekkies will; Nurse Chapel was not only a med-bay mainstay on the original TV series, but was also played by Majel Barrett, the future wife of series creator Gene Roddenberry. Bones (Karl Urban) made reference to an off-screen 'Nurse Chapel' in the reboot, but these lines prove that even the slightest changes in this alternate timeline are significant to anyone who notices them.
Red Shirt, Mr. Chekov
As any Star Trek fan knows, a red shirt means death is all but guaranteed. So when Kirk instructs Chekov to replace his uniform with that worn by the engineering crew - "put on a red shirt" - fans knew why the order gave Chekov pause. It was played for a laugh, but the hint that Chekov may be in serious peril was a deliberate choice by the writers. In fact, every main member of the cast who had previously been out of the action comes face-to-face with death in Into Darkness. Spock in the volcano, Uhura against the Klingons, Bones and the torpedo, Scotty aboard the Vengeance - the list goes on and on. Could the curse of the red shirt now be broken?
A Weakened Kronos?Fans of the Star Trek feature films will already be familiar with the changing attitudes (and constant tension) between the Federation and the Klingons. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), the Klingons are forced to pursue peace when their homeworld's moon, Praxis, explodes catastrophically, crippling energy production and tearing apart Kronos' ozone layer. Into Darkness, like Star Trek VI, shows Hikaru Sulu take command of his own ship, but that's not all they have in common; as seen in the latest film, Kronos already features the remains of an exploded moon in orbit around the race's home planet. Could Praxis already have exploded in this alternate timeline? It's a question we'll have to wait to see answered, but Kronos did seem like an inhospitable world, with the Ketha province (a farming lowland) already completely devoid of life...
The Mudd IncidentAnother easy one to miss: when Kirk starts to explain his plan for landing on Kronos to apprehend John Harrison, he cites the need to erase all connections to Starfleet - beginning with transportation. What to use instead of a shuttle? A merchant vessel commandeered during "the Mudd Incident last month." When pulled out of the surrounding film, it's impossible for any Trekkie to miss the allusion to Harcourt "Harry" Mudd, a space-pirate/smuggler/con man that was used mainly for comic relief in the original series (for obvious reasons). The Into Darkness prequel comic explains that the "incident" actually centers on Mudd's daughter, but the nod to the memorable character is one of our favorites.
Hello Again, CupcakeMost eagle-eyed fans of J.J. Abrams' reboot noticed the return appearance of actor Jason Matthew Smith - the Starfleet officer affectionately dubbed 'Cupcake' by Kirk. But it's no coincidence that Kirk selects him as part of his hand-picked crew meant to capture John Harrison on a hostile world. As the accompanying Star Trek comic book series showed, Cupcake - referred to by his actual name, G.P. Hendorff, in Into Darkness - went on to become one of the most committed and capable members of the new Enterprise's crew, and promised to follow Kirk, despite him being promoted over Spock. For fans of the original TV series, Hendorff was one of the many red shirts killed in the episode "The Apple" - in the alternate timeline of the movies, he was saved by Spock.
Elementary, My Dear SpockIt's no secret, even if it is a little known fact, that Leonard Nimoy played Sherlock Holmes on stage following the end of the original Star Trek series. The role may not be his most iconic, but it did lay the groundwork for one heck of a strange coincidence. Spock's explanation of the alternate-reality-wormhole theory in the previous film was based largely on the assertion that “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth” - taken at the time as a nod to Nimoy, since the quote is attributed to the fictional detective. For the sequel, what were the odds that the villain should be played by a man perhaps most famous for his portrayal of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock; albeit on television, not the stage.
ReflectionsEasily one of the most alarming and memorable members of the bridge crew, the entity known as 'Science Officer 0718' and played by Joseph Gatt (pictured left) also possesses an odd Easter egg. One look at the man's glowing eyes and augmented voice reveal him to be not-quite-human, but it's the round device on the back of his head that we're interested in. Besides a blue glow, makeup supervisor David LeRoy Anderson decided that something had to go into the transparent device on the back of Gatt's head. As a tribute to the one part of the Enterprise bridge that audiences almost never see, Anderson embedded a small model of the bridge's ceiling into the receptacle. A miniaturized reflection of a rarely-seen piece of set design is an odd choice, but given the prominence of the character, we may be getting more chances to see it firsthand.
You Sound FamiliarAudiences may have been too distracted by the cool blue and snappy uniforms seen aboard the USS Vengeance to pay attention to what they were hearing, not seeing. Mainly, Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader's voice. After lending his voice to the disembodied narration and commentary of Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010), Hader as apparently gotten quite the promotion, voicing the computers of the USS Vengeance. It's nothing new for a human voice to be used to bring life to a starship's more rote functions: in J.J. Abrams' reboot, Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel Barrett was called upon to give the Enterprise a voice (continuing the tradition started in the many series and films). Since the actress passed away in 2008, the Enterprise's voice is largely downplayed for the sequel.
Returning RegularsDirector J.J. Abrams has a bit of a habit when it comes to casting friends for smaller roles in his films, and Into Darkness is no exception. Besides once again casting Christopher Doohan - the son of James Doohan (the original Scotty) - as a Transport Officer, Abrams also recast his father and father in-law as Starfleet admirals during Kirk's memorial speech; the pair had previously appeared at the Iowa bar in Star Trek (2009). Abrams didn't stop there, casting real-life veterans as Starfleet guards, and even legendary video game actor Nolan North as one of the Vengeance's bridge crew - just because he and his son love video games. Those are the only cameos we know of so far, but we're positive more will crop up over time.
ConclusionThose are all the nods and Easter eggs we've been able to spot, but be sure to point out ones you feel are worth mentioning. We've tried to avoid the obvious adapted elements of previous storylines and villains, and will do our best to keep them updated as more arrive. If you haven't already, be sure to check out:
- Star Trek Into Darkness Spoilers Discussion
- SR Underground Ep. 92 - 'Star Trek Into Darkness' w/ Bob Orci