Is he Khan? Is he Robert April? Gary Mitchell? Who is John Harrison? If anything, the mystery surrounding the primary antagonist (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) of Star Trek Into Darkness has created a wave of buzz based on the just the unknown. And that’s exactly how director J.J. Abrams and his writing team wanted it to be.

Despite a series of contradictory rumors and reports along with multiple official trailers to go by, Trek fans still do not know for certain who Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise are up against, and that’s all by design in crafting a specific experience for moviegoers, one that emulates the feelings and discoveries the crew makes throughout the film.

In an interview with Hero Complex, Damon Lindelof – who produced 2009’s Star Trek and joins Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci on the writing team for the sequel – spoke to the secrecy that surrounds the story and most intriguing character of Into Darkness, joking that “Benedict doesn’t even know who he’s playing.”

“The audience needs to have the same experience that the crew is having. You’re Kirk, you’re Spock, you’re McCoy, so if they don’t know who the bad guy is going to be in the movie, then you shouldn’t know. It’s not just keeping the secret for secrecy’s sake. It’s not giving the audience information that the characters don’t have.”

As for the title of the film, it’s based on the character relationships, and the twists and turns that come with them:

“If the first movie was about meeting and introductions, this movie is about becoming a family. The title of the movie is not just about the mission that the Enterprise is going on but what happens when you get to know each other a little better and the hurdles you must jump over in order to truly become family.”

Fan-Made ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Poster

Not giving anything away on Cumberbatch’s John Harrison character and his background, Lindelof does say that Abrams and co. knew very early who they wanted the film’s villain to be and they decided then that – in Lost fashion – they’d keep it a big secret. He does admit that for the story of Star Trek Into Darkness, they’ve opted to honor Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek and his stories as opposed to crafting something entirely original.

“If anything, we’ve become more terrified. We kind of got it right the first time, [we thought], ‘Let’s really not screw it up this time.’ You really have to honor the 40-plus years of canon and legacy that this amazing franchise had before we put pen to paper.”

If you’re dying for more details on Star Trek Into Darkness a recent screening in Brazil may have unveiled several spoilers, but be warned, Damon Lindelof doesn’t think spoilers are a good thing:

“I’m working on a bunch of different projects, and I even have to keep secrets about one project from the people I’m working with on the other project. They’ll say, ‘So, seriously, who’s Benedict playing?’ I’ll say, ‘Do you really want to know?’ Then they go, ‘No, no, no, I don’t.’ They know that if I said it to them they would have a five-second rush of exhilaration followed by four months of being completely and totally bummed out that they can’t tell anybody else and that when it gets revealed in the movie, it will have been spoiled for them. That’s why they’re called ‘spoilers,’ they’re not called ‘awesomes.'”

And that may be one of the most wise statements about spoilers we’ve heard in a very long time. It won’t be long until the mystery unravels and then J.J. Abrams is off to a galaxy far, far away as he directs Star Wars: Episode VII while doubling as as producer on Star Trek 3 which is planned to release in 2016, the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise.

Star Trek Into Darkness opens in theaters (regular and IMAX 3D) on May 17th, 2013.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes and let me know if you prefer there being no spoilers!

Source: Hero Complex, The Film Stage