These guys call it a treat, but you might have a different opinion.
Star Trek Into Darkness is peppered with references to Trek's past, from Tribbles to Klingons to Harry Mudd's confiscated ship, but screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman never wanted to force those little Trekkie easter eggs into the flick. Their policy was to tell the story and let the easter eggs fall where they may, not set out to write a story peppered with a certain amount of inside jokes. Here's one example, courtesy of Orci.
"Let's start with basic fun ones like the line, 'Mr. Scott, you're a miracle worker.' If you know Scotty was a miracle worker in the past, great," Orci said. "But if you don't know "Star Trek," it doesn't matter. If the story presented us with a place, we'd pop in an Easter egg. Not the other way around. Chasing an Easter egg is dangerous, right Alex?"
In a new interview at Yahoo!, the pair walk through several Trek easter eggs that they slipped into the flick, and explain why they felt each one was acceptable because it fit into the overall story. Then they get to the big one: the villain. Oh, and if you haven't already heard about where this is going and you're still hoping to be somehow surprised when you see the film, you should note that there are SPOILERS AHEAD!
So, as you might have heard if you're a regular visitor to this site (or, you know, the Internet in general), there were a lot of confirmations and denials and general whispers in the months leading up to Into Darkness' release, all regarding who Benedict Cumberbatch was really playing. Well, according to Orci and Kurtzman, they weren't even sure when they cast him.
"He was so compelling on the set that the other actors brought extra energy and extra attention to their roles. He was a force of nature," Orci said. "In terms of his character, we wanted to make sure that the audience did not need any previous knowledge to understand him. So the big debate was: should he or shouldn't he be Khan?"
So how'd they decide that the humble villain known as John Harrison deserved to be transformed into the baddest Trek villain of them all? Well, they made a rule that Cumberbatch could be Khan "as long as the audience doesn't have to know that backstory," according to Kurtzman. The standalone story (terrorist attacks, Klingon homeworld, secret Federation war machines, etc.) came first, and then they tried to find ways that Khan's own history could fit naturally into that story.
"We couldn't use Khan just as a gimmick, as an excuse to get fans into the theaters," Kurtzman said. "Once we developed the story, suddenly the details of Khan's life became an even better way to tell it. Only when we decided that Khan really does fit here - and the fans know that Khan is to the series what The Joker is to Batman - that's when we decided we earned it."
So because they felt they'd "earned" the ability to use Khan in their movie, Orci and Kurtzman refer to him as "the ultimate easter egg."
Of course, some fans might argue that Khan became a gimmick anyway as the filmmakers spent months trying to hide his identity from us, but at least Orci and Kurtzman have their own logic for why and how they included him in the movie. What do you think? Were they right to simply work Khan into a pre-existing story, or would it have been better to approach the Enterprise vs. Khan battle in a more direct way?