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Why Alice Eve's Carol Marcus Didn't Return in Star Trek Beyond

Here's why a key new character from Star Trek Into Darkness didn't return for the sequel.

By Matthew Jackson

Compared to its predecessor, 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness, 2016's Star Trek Beyond (now available on the SYFY app) is a somewhat stripped down affair. It's a straightforward planetary mission for the Enterprise crew, following their adventures as they find themselves stranded on a hostile world, facing down an unlikely and very dangerous enemy. That means the path is clear for all kinds of adventure, but it also means that some of the expansions to the franchise from Into Darkness were left behind. 

One such addition was the character of Carol Marcus, played in Star Trek Into Darkness by Alice Eve. A major character in Captain Kirk's original history, Marcus is a scientist who, in the modern timeline, sneaks aboard the Enterprise and joins the mission in Into Darkness. Because the character is a big player in the lore of the original cast –– she has a love affair with Kirk that produces a son who's a big deal in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan –– many fans viewed Marcus' arrival as a key piece of the growing Star Trek movie puzzle that emerged from the revived timeline. Then Star Trek Beyond came out and Marcus just... didn't show up. 

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Where Was Alice Eve's Carol Marcus in Star Trek Beyond?

For the stripped down version of adventure in Beyond, directed by Justin Lin and co-written by cast member Simon Pegg, the more expansive view of Into Darkness was largely left behind. The focus was kept tightly on the original crew as they tried to work together to battle a new threat and find their way back home. In an interview on the official Star Trek podcast (via Collider) back in 2016, Pegg explained why that focus meant leaving Marcus behind, rather than leaving her to be a tiny part of the new movie.

“With this it felt like we would under-serve her if we included her, she might end up feeling like she hadn’t been given the amount of screen-time she deserves, so rather than bring her in and just have her be a supporting role, like, have her not be in this one, and when the time comes [bring her back]," Pegg explained. "The worst thing to do would be to have her in the film and have that character be killed, and that felt like a cynical thing to do. We thought rather than have Carol Marcus not be used to a reasonable capacity, let’s just not include her, have her be alive, in canon, and ready to come back at any time.”

The decision to keep Carol Marcus in the deep background for Beyond feels like a good one, at least in the context of that one movie. The issue now, of course, is that it's been more than a decade since she appeared on the big screen, we have no idea where the series will go next, and sometimes it feels like a fourth film might never arrive at all.

Still, for now we have Star Trek Beyond and its fast-paced space adventure to watch whenever we want.

Star Trek Beyond is now streaming on the SYFY app and the SYFY Movies hub.