The latest news about Star Trek Beyond has given us plenty to get excited about. First the project gets some fresh creative blood in the form of [Fast & Furious 6](tag:37143) director Justin Lin and geek royalty Simon Pegg, and now we've got Idris Elba confirmed to be the film's big bad. Not only that, but there are some "spectacular" surprises in store for the show's 50th anniversary, according to Pegg...
"We just want to take it forward with the spirit of the TV show. It’s a story about frontierism and adventure and optimism and fun, and that’s where we want to take it, you know."
With the Enterprise finally striking out from Earth and going on that five year mission we've all heard so much about, could Star Trek 3 revitalise the franchise, bringing together new fans and oldies alike?
Saving Star Trek and Elba's Villainous Turn
It's no secret that 2009's Star Trek divided the fan base. While some appreciated the new look and were excited by the timeline shake up, others claimed it betrayed the nature of the show. Star Trek Into Darkness only caused more debate, as it shifted to a more military feel and attempted to emulate Trek classic film The Wrath Of Khan. Neither performed amazingly at the box office, though they did introduce thousands of new fans and help drag the franchise out of its recent decline.
But the outlook for Star Trek 3 is beyond hopeful! Each interview with Simon Pegg gives us more reasons to be optimistic about the new film, and Idris Elba's casting is not only a fantastic choice talent wise (his gravitas and presence are a delight to watch), he can also add some diversity to the cast after the Indian Khan inexplicably appeared as a pasty white dude. Thankfully, Pegg is promising that whoever Elba's villain is, he'll definitely be different from Khan.
“Only because it would be a retread. What we don’t want to do is have the same kind of villain with the same motivation.”
Fascinating! We're clearly going to get a completely new kind of villain from Elba, as Pegg is determined not to rehash plots from The Original Series either.
So who could Elba be? After Into Darkness focused almost entirely on humans, it's unlikely that the next villain will be of Earthly origin. Let's hope that they don't hide Elba's gorgeous face in too much makeup and prosthetics, though we're itching to see the new aliens that Justin Lin wants to introduce!
Speculation aside, Elba is primed to play one of Trek's most intriguing villains. Star Trek has never been about black and white morality: all of its antagonists have had their own motivations, causing the crew, and the audience, to question their ethical boundaries. With a proposed return to the social questions and intellectual themes that the shows had in abundance, what kinds of moral dilemmas will Elba's villain put the crew through?
A More Thoughtful Trek
Simon Pegg has been rather controversial lately, speaking out against the "dumbing down of cinema", and responding to questions about Star Wars with criticisms about the current "culture of spoiler-ism". Whatever you may think about his opinions, he certainly seems primed to make Trek as intelligent as he can, while preserving the joy of exploration that The Original Series had in abundance.
"It's going to be spectacular, but we're going to underpin that with some genuine 50th Anniversary ideas about what's happening in our world and the Star Trek world and try to make it a bit thoughtful too."
Since its inception, Star Trek has always aimed to represent a future that has learned from the mistakes of the past. Gene Roddenberry himself saw Trek as an optimistic view of humanity's future: he thought that the peak of our development would be reached when we didn't just tolerate but took "special delight in different ideas and different lifeforms". And in the case of Kirk, maybe a bit too much delight in alien lifeforms...
Will Star Trek 3 seek to emulate these ideas of acceptance? Or will Simon Pegg parallel real world issues? After Into Darkness showed a more corrupt Starfleet, there's certainly a lot to examine. Perhaps Beyond will give us a more Deep Space 9 feel: a story that preserves Roddenberry's ideals but doesn't shy away from revealing how the Federation can fail. Or maybe we'll see some different societies that challenge the crews ideas of right and wrong.
Whatever the case, the outlook for Star Trek 3 is very hopeful. Preserving "the spirit of the TV show" along with introducing some interesting new ideas, Simon Pegg may usher in a new era of Trek. Who knows, if Beyond is successful, maybe Paramount will finally give us a new TV show!