Jul 11, 2012

Star Trek Sequel Villain (Maybe) Revealed (Probably Not)

One thing is certain, right now J.J. Abrams is either tremendously pissed off, or cackling with maniacal glee.

Karl Urban, overseas promoting his upcoming Judge Dredd remake, let slip the following nugget to SFX magazine when asked about working with Benedict Cumberbatch.

“He’s awesome, he’s a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary.”

No one seems to know what to make of that sentence, least of all me.

Firstly, you've got to consider the infamous Abrams Mystery Machine.  Everything is a close hold with his people and any actor who's ever worked with him is intimately aware of that fact.  Hell, when they shot the first Star Trek, they wouldn't even let the extras walk off the stage without wearing a black cloak because they didn't want outsiders to see what the uniforms look like, despite the fact that EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT THE UNIFORMS LOOK LIKE.  (It'd be one thing if they made some dramatic change to the uniforms, but they didn't.  They looked virtually identical to the TV show.)  So, in that light, it seems unlikely that Karl Urban would, intentionally or not, wander so far off the reservation as to casually announce the single most sought-after piece of information about the film, especially not on his second tour of duty aboard the Enterprise.

The alternative explanation is that Karl Urban is essentially screwing with us.  After all, a mere two weeks prior screenwriter Bob Orci tweeted a list of characters that would not be appearing in the new film, including Gary Mitchell.  Not only that, but IDW has been printing a line of comics that are considered to be "in canon" with the new film, and they've already used Gary Mitchell in their latest issue, with Abrams blessing.  (A quick glance at the cover reveals that Sherlock is nowhere to be seen.)  It's plausible that Abrams is looking to drum up a bit of buzz heading into Comic Con; frankly, after Simon Pegg came out and said that Cumberbatch definitely wasn't playing Khan, it felt largely like the internet gave up on guessing and decided to just sit on its collective hands until Paramount releases a trailer.

But here's the biggest problem with that theory: Gary Mitchell could actually make for a great villain to revisit because he's got great potential as a character (Mitchell was an old Academy friend of Kirk's who gained god-like powers after an encounter with the Galactic Barrier) and, unlike Ricardo Montalban's Khan, the audience wouldn't be forced to draw nostalgic comparisons to the character's original incarnation.  Essentially, Cumberbatch could really do his own thing, without having to worry about how the role was played 30 years prior.  However, that same reasoning is exactly why Mitchell makes for a bad red herring: he's not the kind of character that inspires excitement.  Hell, I wouldn't even blame casual Trek fans for having to look him up, as he appeared only in the show's (second) pilot before many of the show's signature elements had really come together.  On top of all that, Urban feels like an odd choice to play the patsy.

So I guess I don't really have a good answer here.  Was Urban speaking the truth out of turn, or is he just the latest player in Abrams' marketing shell game?

Flip a coin.

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