Trek writer reveals how close Khan came to not being in Into Darkness

Contributed by
Sep 12, 2013

Did you know that Khan was almost not Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness?

That's what Roberto Orci revealed.

In an interview with 1701 News, the Star Trek Into Darkness co-writer talked about Benedict Cumberbatch’s big bad villain who almost wasn’t Khan Noonien Singh. Let's call him ... John Harrison.

“Khan was in our mind. When we were doing the '09 one ('Star Trek'), we can't help but fantasize about a sequel, like W.O.K. -- the Wrath of Kirk.”

Orci revealed that he and Alex Kurtzman almost had the Botany Bay (Khan’s ship) being discovered at the end of 2009’s Star Trek. (Which obviously didn't happen.)

In the interview, Orci apparently stated that Khan was a villain he'd wanted to explore from the get-go (which is strange, since he'd already strongly argued against having Khan as the movie's big bad), but it wasn’t always that way.

“We started with Khan, went away from Khan, and then went back to him,” Bob Orci said.

Seems like there was a push early on to bring back Khan and create a sort of Heart of Darkness type of storyline with the iconic Star Trek villain. The idea was to have Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the crew of the Enterprise hunt down Kahn and then be obliged to work with him.

Roberto Orci said: “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 in order to do that, Orci and his fellow writers Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof created a villain that was NOT Khan to see if it would work.

Orci asked: “What's the story? A villain that has his own situation that doesn't rely on anything."

The writers then created a character that was badly used by Starfleet, and who resorted to terrorism as a backlash. They had Kirk find this character (um ... John Harrison) who then told him (Kirk) about the abuse he’d suffered at the hands of Starfleet, and having him explain how he was actually a victim of the "national security apparatus.”

So far, so good, right?

That’s what Orci obviously thought as well. He explained: "There is a cancer within Starfleet, and it's a story you can pitch without saying anyone's name prior. Once we had that story, then it became, 'Now can it be Khan?'"

While the choice of Khan as the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness might have been a no-brainer for most of Trekkies/Trekkers everywhere, it was less obvious to non-fans, Orci admitted. Still, there was a desire to piece to some specific key elements of the Star Trek mythology together. For Into Darkness, it was the rivalry between Kirk and Khan.

“You can't do Batman without the Joker,” Orci added. “We knew it would be tricky, and we knew it would lead to a vocal outcry by some fans. But, you know, you have to make tough decisions when you do something like this.”

Do you think Star Trek Into Darkness would have worked better if the villain had indeed been John Harrison instead of being revealed to be Khan?

(via 1701 News)

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