Every geek worth his or her salt has their attention (at last, partly) focused on Iron Man 3 right now (read our review), which has just begun its U.S. theatrical run; however, it won't be long - less than two weeks in fact - before their conversation shifts to Star Trek Into Darkness instead.
Director J.J. Abrams' followup to his popular reboot of the sci-fi franchise (released in 2009) has already been screened for a number of critics; judging by the initial wave of reviews, there will be plenty of material for Trekkies to chew on, debate and discuss after seeing the movie - including, those inevitable questions about where the story (and the U.S.S. Enterprise) will go in the next installment - not to mention, who the villains will be in Star Trek 3, as we'll call it for the time being.
HeyUGuys! caught up with Star Trek Into Darkness co-screenwriter and producer Damon Lindelof after the film's premiere; there, he spoke about when, exactly, he and co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci knew what Into Darkness would be about:
“Very early on, I think the fundamental ‘this is what the plot is going to be’, ‘this is who the bad guy is’, ‘this is what they’re up against’, that came very, very early. Even while we were working on the first movie, I think we had plans for the second one... You should always know where you’ve been, you should always know where you are, but most importantly, and I learned this from Lost, you should know where you’re going.”
There's not much need for us to rehash complaints about the divisive ending to Lost, or the highly-debated payoff to Lindelof's script draft for Prometheus, right? Besides, everyone will soon be talking about/deciding for themselves whether or not the surprises and conclusions for Into Darkness lives up to expectations - built up by the story and character developments that preceded them - so we'll side-step that discussion and move on (for now).
It's best to keep in mind that, despite Lindelof indicating a rough plan is in place for Star Trek 3, it took him and Kurtzman/Orci a fair amount of time to "crack" the story for Into Darkness (and even longer for Abrams to commit as director, while he was putting the finishing touches on a very different sci-fi project, Super 8).
Plus, when you combine that fact with the general air of uncertainty surrounding the matter of whether or not Abrams will direct the next Star Trek installment after he makes Star Wars: Episode VII - which is a slim possibly that both the filmmaker and Paramount executives refuse to rule out - it doesn't guarantee that the, overall, thirteenth Star Trek feature-length movie will arrive in theaters in time for the franchise's 50th anniversary in 2016.
However, when Star Trek 3 DOES arrive, there's a good chance the antagonists will be an oldie, but goodie, for Trekkies of all ages:
“You can never see enough Klingons, and I think in this film we’ve given the audience a little taste, but there’s also a promise that there’s a larger conflict on the horizon, and that would be fun to see.”
We've known for quite a while that the Klingons play an important role in the plot mechanics of Into Darkness, and earlier this week a featurette revealed what the aliens now look like (spoiler: it's familiar, but not at all the same as the previous versions). No disagreement here, their presence has made for some of the best storylines in past Star Trek movies - Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is a personal favorite - so having them around doesn't sound like a bad idea (so long as they're not overused, of course).
Moreover, the Klingons aren't the only iconic Trek baddies that Lindelof teased (taunted?) the HeyUGuys! staff about, with regard to them, eventually, showing up in future movie installments:
“You can’t talk about Trek and not talk about the Borg, and certainly about Q. Very iconic adversaries from The Next Generation which is, outside of the original cast films, was my entry way into Star Trek, so I wouldn’t mind getting – towards the end of our run on Star Trek, maybe baby Picard could be born. There has to be some sort of crossover we’re not thinking of.”
Lindelof's comment is probably best taken as half-joke, half-wishful thinking, but it would be interesting to see how (and if) the rebooted Star Trek movie continuity eventually incorporates villains more closely associated with The Next Generation, as well as later TV spinoffs like Voyager, Deep Space Nine and even Enterprise.
One complaint that's been raised by a number of critics about Into Darkness is that it doesn't move the series far enough in a new direction; hence, a decision to bring in famous adversaries not associated with TOS could be an effective way to correct that, down the line.
We'll be able to give more thought to this discussion about balancing innovation with honoring canon later, once spoilers for Into Darkness are fair game - which, according to Lindelof, is "two weeks [after the movie hits theaters, to] let everybody who really wants to see the movie, see the movie, before I personally started assuming everyone had seen it."
Lastly, as for the possibility that John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) will return in a future Star Trek movie, Lindelof said:
“To answer that question would be to determine whether or not he actually survives this movie, but if he survives this movie, I think that we would be incredibly stupid to not use him again.”
Star Trek Into Darkness opens in select 3D/IMAX theaters on May 15th, 2013, before it starts a regular theatrical release two days later.
We'll keep you posted on Star Trek 3 as more information is made available.