The last Star Trek film was by all accounts a huge success, both financially and critically. The reboot brought in $384 million worldwide since its May 2009 release and with the DVD soon to hit store shelves November 17th, the financial gain is sure to continue. Director J.J. Abrams, along with writers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci managed to reinvent the Roddenberry franchise without the use of *gasp* William Shatner.
Some people questioned why they wouldn't bring Shatner on board for the reboot - not because he is the greatest actor in the world, but rather because he essentially IS the embodiment of Star Trek. Our friends at Cinema Blend pointed us towards The West Australian, who were at a Los Angles press conference promoting the Star Trek DVD, where J.J. Abrams addressed that very topic and it looks like William Shatner MAY (not will) show up in the new Star Trek sequel.
"The problem was his character died on screen in one of his Trek films and because we decided, very early on, that we wanted to adhere to Trek canon as best we could ... the required machinations to get Shatner into the movie would have been very difficult to do given the story we wanted to tell and also to give him the kind of part that he would be happy with."
I suppose that makes sense. Shatner did die in the Star Trek: Generations movie only to come back from the afterlife "Nexus" and die again later in the movie. So why wouldn't Abrams and company do the same kind of thing for the prequel?
"It was a foregone conclusion we wanted him in the [Star Trek]. It was this thing where it would have felt like a gimmick in order to get Shatner in the movie, which would have honestly, to me, been distracting."
Not quite as distracting as Leonard Nimoy returning to battle a snow beast as his home planet is destroyed, or as distracting as a green alien hottie in her underwear, but I understand what he means. Trying to start a franchise basically from scratch so that it may continue to live through numerous sequels is tough enough to do without bringing back in a familiar face just for the sake of branding.
So what has changed in the Star Trek universe that would allow Abrams to include Shatner into the upcoming sequel?
"In terms of moving forward, I am open to anything. I feel like the first movie did some of the heavy lifting that needed to be done in order to free us to continue going forward. Maybe there's less of a burden and there's going to be more opportunity to work with him (Shatner)."
I'm not really sure how I feel about that statement. The inclusion of Shatner in any manner other than portraying Captain Kirk would just be strange. That means in order to use both Chris Pine and William Shatner as Captain Kirk there would have to be time travel involved and honestly that would feel gimmicky to me. The whole topic is covered in detail on the upcoming Star Trek DVD, in a feature called "The Shatner Conundrum".
I honestly don't think Shatner should return to the franchise. He had his three decades of fame from Star Trek and should now fade into the background and enjoy watching younger actors pick up the torch and run with it. I've enjoyed watching him in his more comedic roles lately and who doesn't like the Price Line Negotiator? But he most likely will play a part in the sequel because Abrams added:
"I would love to work with [Shatner]. We speak. We actually have a lunch date planned. "
What do you think about William Shatner coming back on board to play a part in Star Trek 2? Should he leave well enough or alone or does he deserve to be in every Trek movie as long as he lives?
The Star Trek Blu-ray and DVD comes out in the US November 17th, 2009.
Source: Cinema Blend, The West Australian