Good news! Or bad news—your mileage may vary. But something tells me most of you are going to come down on the “Yes!” side of things. J.J. Abrams has confirmed that he’s stepping down from the director’s chair for the next Star Trek film. That and other bits of reboot Trek miscellany (Khan almost wasn’t in Into Darkness! Abrams talks about his decision to make the villain reveal a secret! Another BS explanation of the Carol Marcus underwear scene!) are behind the jump.
Seeing that Abrams is going to be a busy dude with directing Star Wars: Episode VII and all, it’s no surprise that he won’t have time to direct more Trek. He’s not saying goodbye to the franchise, though; he’ll still be on-board as a producer, and he’ll have a hand in choosing his successor. The director said in an interview with IGN that it’ll be “a little bittersweet” to let someone else take the reins, but:
“…it definitely feels like the right time to let someone come in and do their own thing. I certainly don’t want someone to come in and try to do what I would have done. We want to hire someone who’s gonna come in and bring their own sensibility. I’m very excited to see what comes next, despite feeling jealous of whoever that person is.”
Agreed. And not just because I didn’t like Into Darkness. I don’t love Abrams, but I don’t hate him, either. Trek is a franchise that transcends a single director, so I’m excited to see what a different person will bring to it.
Maybe, just maybe, this new person won’t be so obsessed with secrecy as Abrams. He and the Star Trek writers have been doing a lot of interviews timed to Into Darkness‘s home video release, and in one of those interviews Abrams was asked about his infamous decision to keep the true identity of the Cumbervillain (KHAAAAAAN!) a tightly held secret.
“…if people wish they had known beforehand, OK, I totally get it. But we just were trying to preserve the experience. But it’s not like we saved it until the end of the movie where there was a big, final, shocking reveal. This was something that was revealed by the middle of the movie to the audience… I think at the end of the day, the withholding of story elements for me is something I would far rather have as an audience member than someone ruining a good first or second-act twist. But look, for people who want to have that information in advance, there’s no shortage of access to that information if you want to see it. And I’m sure anybody who wanted to knew before they went to the theater that it was Khan.”
I’ve got Abrams’ back on this one, to be honest. If a plot twist is good (or bad), it’ll be good (or bad) whether you know about it first or not. But there is something to be said for learning about that plot twist as the characters do, not before. But hey, that’s a personal preference, and if you wanted to know in advance who the Cumbervillain was all you really needed to do was not see a midnight showing and then Google it.
“Well, it’s funny, we had tons of story conversations, and spent a whole lot of time talking about how we were going to justify that. And ultimately, I think it’s one of those things that you either accept is part of the scene dynamic – you know, she is bold, and certainly Carol Marcus as we knew her was bold from the first movie. That was part of what was fun about her relationship with Jim, and yet obviously it’s a different Carol Marcus than before. And we figured, how do we harness the spirit of that in this scene, and that’s ultimately where we came to it from. But certainly it’s been criticized as egregious, and I guess everybody has their own point of view of that. All I can tell you is that it’s not something we went into blindly, and certainly we all sat in a room going, okay, we’re going to be criticized for this, but how do we justify this in a way that feels like it was thought about? And either you go for it or you don’t.”
Her stripping down to her skivvies is an act of… boldness? That’s funny. I thought she just needed to change her clothes, and then Kirk creeped on her despite the fact that she explicitly asked him not to. That’s less an indicator of Carol being bold than Kirk being a giant jerkbag, at least to me. And you knew you’d be criticized for it—ie, you know people would take offense at the scene—so you decided to justify it and make it non-gratuitous… how, exactly? Did you take a coffee break and then just forget about it? What am I missing?
And finally, Roberto Orci, the Into Darkness writer who’s made headlines most recently for telling people who didn’t like his movie to “f*** off, said to 1701 News that at one point they decided not to use Khan in the movie, only to go back to him later: “We felt like we were falling into the trap of using a villain based on previous knowledge of the villain, and we were somehow relying on the audience’s expectation to love or hate Khan to make that work.” So they scrapped Khan and made a new villain, John Harrison, with new motivations. “Once we had that story,” Orci continues, “then it became, ‘Now can it be Khan?'”
Orci’s comment about “using a villain based on previous knowledge of the villain” reads as ironic to me, as I felt one of the major flaws of the film was how it did piggyback on the emotional resonance of The Wrath of Khan without having really earned the right to do that with the rest of the movie. But hey, obviously Orci feels differently. Maybe you do, too.