Quentin Tarantino's proposed Star Trek movie is taking another unlikely step toward reality, as the film has now enlisted The Revenant screenwriter Mark L. Smith to write a script based on Tarantino's idea.
Tarantino has long been a vocal Star Trek fan, but the film world was caught off guard when it was learned the Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill auteur had actually pitched an R-rated film to Paramount, and that the studio was eager to make the film, with J.J. Abrams producing. Tarantino is currently busy prepping a film about the Manson murders in 1969 Los Angeles starring Margot Robbie, and it was reported he and Paramount agreed to bring in another writer to work on Tarantino's Trek idea, with the eventual goal of getting a script that Tarantino would then direct.
We now know who's writing that script. Per Deadline, Mark L. Smith has been enlisted to pen Tarantino's vision of Starfleet. After working on some lower profile horror projects, Smith got his big break as co-writer of Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant, the award-winning epic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Smith seems a curious choice to write a screenplay for Tarantino; The Revenant is an almost dialogue-free film that tells its story through its arresting imagery, whereas Tarantino is famously one of the most verbose filmmakers of all time.
That is, of course, far from the strangest aspect of this project. Tarantino has earned a reputation as one of Hollywood's boldest, most audacious filmmakers over a three-decade career, and while pop culture is routinely referenced in his work, he has pointedly avoided Hollywood's current obsession with franchise filmmaking. The consensus has been that was due to a combination of Tarantino's disinterest in making family-friendly PG-13 films based on characters and worlds he didn't create, and studios' understandable apprehension about handing the reins of a multi-million dollar franchise to a filmmaker known for his penchant for graphic violence and poetic profanity.
But the rules of franchise filmmaking have slowly begun to change. Deadpool was just as violent and filthy as any Tarantino film, and became a box office sensation. This year's Logan proved franchise films could not only deal in R-rated language and violence, but in stark, decidedly adult themes of mortality and loss. Still, Star Trek seems an incredibly strange venue for Tarantino, especially the current film version starring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk. Those movies have jettisoned a lot of the intellectual heart of Star Trek in favor of special effects thrills and family-friendly laughs. It's hard to imagine Tarantino feeling at home in that corner of Star Trek, though there's no guarantee that's what he has in mind; by all accounts, Star Trek's film future was in a sort of limbo after Star Trek Beyond severely underperformed at the box office. If Paramount is mounting another franchise overhaul, it's hard to imagine a bolder way to do that than with Quentin Tarantino in the director's chair.