One of the things I detested about Star Trek Into Darkness was the way Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan was handled. For the first half of the movie, we’re led to believe Benedict Cumberbatch is just a regular old terrorist named John Harrison or something generic like that. Then, he’s revealed as Khan! It’s supposed to be a big surprise, but it wasn’t.
On top of that, the reveal has no impact on the characters. They have no clue who the hell he is, so they call up Old Spock and ask him. It’s absolutely pointless fan service that actually hurts the movie more than it helps it. JJ Abrams is slowly realizing this and has told MTV that they handled it wrong.
"It ended up coming off like we were being coy. We were just trying to not ruin the thing. The truth is that after one screening everyone knows whatever it is. The idea was that for the first hour of the movie the characters in the movie don’t know, and it felt like if there were articles about KHAN! it would take away from the story. The truth is I think it probably would have been smarter just to say upfront ‘This is who it is.’ It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that’s what the thing was. The truth is because it was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you’ve really got to know what ‘Star Trek’ is about to see this movie. That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it."
He essentially is saying it was the studio’s fault because they wanted to make Star Trek a mainstream thing and didn’t want to pander to Trek fans. I like Abrams, but throwing Paramount under the bus seems like a load of shit. Firstly, the movie is structured to treat Khan as a reveal purely for fan service, the fans Paramount apparently didn’t care to cater to. Secondly, does anyone really believe Abrams, master of the Mystery Box, would want to be upfront about anything? The dude made his actors go to sets blindfolded and hide costumes and uniforms from photogs. Why the hell would he be upfront about Khan of all things?
This is two things: distancing himself from Paramount and Star Trek before Star Wars starts taking off and an apology tour because Into Darkness didn’t make as much money domestically as Star Trek 2009, and it also wasn’t as good as that first film. I’m betting Abrams knows it. Rather than fully take the blame, however, he’s deflecting it.
It’s definitely a good thing he sees there’s stuff the movie could have done better. Hopefully he keeps this stuff in mind for his future films, like Star Wars Episode VII.
Video at the source.