The director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has expressed his disappointment with Star Trek Into Darkness. Created by Gene Roddenberry, the science-fiction space opera began as a television series before making the jump to the big screen, ultimately producing six movies. The franchise has since spawned numerous spinoffs on both big and small screens.
Director by J.J. Abrams gave Star Trek a soft reboot in 2009. His Kelvin Timeline series (named after the U.S.S. Kelvin) stars Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as younger versions of James Kirk and Spock, respectively. Both a continuation of the original series, as well as an origin story for a whole new timeline, the new film series spawned two sequels: Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. And, while both films dealt with their share of fan criticisms and underwhelming box office results, the former is currently under fire from one of the classic film series' directors.
Speaking with Tom Connors from the YouTube channel Midnight's Edge, (via: ComicBook) director Nicholas Meyer, who also worked on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, revealed that he was disappointed with Star Trek Into Darkness, which borrowed various elements from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Though he was flattered by the numerous references and homages to his film, he was equally unimpressed with the end result, as well as its failure to add something new to the story. He said:
"In my sort of artistic worldview, if you’re going to do an homage, you have to add something. You have to put another layer on it, and they didn’t. Just by putting the same words in different characters’ mouths didn’t add up to anything, and if you have someone dying in one scene and sort of being resurrected immediately after there’s no real drama going on. It just becomes a gimmick or gimmicky, and that’s what I found it to be ultimately."
Being a Star Trek film, predictions and fan theories raged before the film went into production. Most prevalent was the theory that Star Trek Into Darkness would serve as a retelling of The Wrath of Khan, and the belief only grew when the trailer hinted at a moment lifted straight out of the original film involving Benedict Cumberbatch, who was originally credited as John Harrison, but would be later revealed as Khan. Abrams was quick to shoot down the theory, stating that Cumberbatch would play a wholly new character, though it was all revealed to be subterfuge when the film was released and the theories proved correct.
It's nothing new for filmmakers to deceive fans in order to preserve plot twists, but Star Trek fans felt aggrieved by the film's particular tactics, especially considering that the twist was heavily foreshadowed in the marketing. Given the similarities between both sequels, many even wondered why it needed to be a twist at all. The mere announcement that the popular villain would be returning would have delighted fans, without ultimately insulting their intelligence, but audiences were ultimately frustrated with the plot contrivances referred to by Meyer - namely the use of Khan's blood to magically resurrect Kirk after his sacrificial death.
Although Abrams remains proud of the film, he ultimately stepped down as director, crossing galaxies in order to helm Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which didn't come without its fair share of similar criticisms (in this case, the similarities referred to Star Wars: A New Hope). In the meantime, future film sequels in the Star Trek universe continue to remain up in the air due to collapsing contract discussions. As such, all eyes have returned to the small screen, where Star Trek is experiencing a resurgence thanks to Star Trek: Discovery and the upcoming return of Picard.