The creative team shake-up of Star Trek Beyond (seeing a switch of directors and a completely revised script) that happened as the project was gearing up for principal photography may have caused concern for some fans; but now that the pieces are in place, there are reasons to be optimistic. Chief among them is the casting of fan-favorite actor Idris Elba, as the mysterious villain the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise will face off against on their latest adventure.
Even though details about the film's plot and Elba's character are being kept under wraps for now, the prospect of seeing the British thespian portray an evildoer in a major studio tentpole is a tantalizing one to consider. As viewers speculate as to what he'll bring to the table, Elba has revealed some details about his villain, suggesting it will be a groundbreaking turn for the 50-year-old franchise.
Speaking with MTV, Elba praised the work done by co-writers Simon Pegg (who's also playing Scotty) and Doug Jung, suggesting that the pair have crafted a meaty role for him to sink his teeth into:
“Simon [Pegg] and the team have written a very interesting, complex journey for my character. You’ve never seen me play a character like this.”
Elba elaborated on what fans can expect when the film hits theaters next summer, teasing that it goes beyond the classic "good vs. evil" narrative trope and instead is something fresh and innovative for the series as a whole (while still honoring the Star Trek roots):
“I think Star Trek has prided themselves as being quite classic when it comes to villains, like 'he’s a guy who wants to end the world,’ there’s no doubt about that. But in this version of the film, there’s a slightly different twist to that. It’s quite an interesting journey, which I think is groundbreaking for the franchise. But, it still keeps with the ’classic bad guy is a classic bad guy’ tone.”
For what it's worth, the villains in the first two installments of the rebooted Star Trek film series have been a little deeper than a stereotypical mustache-twirling bad guy; both Nero and Khan had motives that made them feel more human and sympathetic. It will be interesting to see how Elba's character will offer that "different twist," but it is nice to know that helmsman Justin Lin is going to keep the tradition of well-rounded villains alive in Star Trek Beyond. Those are generally the more interesting to watch in action than someone who's evil simply for the sake of being evil.
Still, Elba is playing the villain of the movie, so no matter how complex his journey is, audiences are still going to want to see him stopped. From the sound of it, his character will pose a great threat to Captain Kirk and friends, as the role will feature some old school "end the world" characteristics to raise the stakes and generate exciting set pieces. So if you're a Star Trek traditionalist, it seems like this mystery character will have something for you, too.
Star Trek Beyond will open in theaters July 22, 2016.