ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. More ramblings on Twitter @ExtraTremeerial
Eleanor Tremeer

Star Trek Beyond has a big challenge ahead of it: going up against 2016's biggest Spring blockbusters like [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) isn't easy, not to mention overcoming director J.J. Abrams' departure and delivering something special for Star Trek's 50th anniversary. Simon Pegg, who took up the reins of writing the franchise, is confident that Star Trek 3 will live up to the franchise's past successes, and the casting of Idris Elba can only help Beyond achieve this lofty aim.

Idris Elba has risen to fame in recent years, thanks to his incredible performance on the UK detective show Luther, and his role as Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim helped boost the film to cult fave status. When he was cast in Star Trek 3, fans eagerly speculated on whether he would play an antagonist or Kirk's rival, but it was later revealed that Elba would indeed play the villain of the piece. So what can we expect from Elba's bad boy turn? Great things, according to the actor himself!

Breaking New Ground

Idris Elba recently revealed some details about his role in Star Trek 3 at the press release for his new Netflix film Beasts of No Nation.

Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation
Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation

The actor has played a multitude of characters, mostly dark and gritty or lordly with grandiose authority. But it looks like we're going to see something completely different from Idris Elba in Star Trek 3, as Elba revealed.

"Simon Pegg and the team have written a very interesting, complex journey for my character. You’ve never seen me play a character like this."

This is excellent news. Too many villains are just plot devices shoved in for dramatic effect (*cough* Admiral Marcus *cough*), who are bad because of reasons that are never properly explored. It seems as though part of Star Trek Beyond's story will revolve around Elba's character, which will add some variety to the story.

Whether we'll see some of the tale from his point of view remains to be seen, but don't go thinking he'll play a brooding and complicated villain: Idris Elba also compared his character to Trek's other iconic villains, and revealed why he thinks that this baddie will be one of the most fascinating yet.

"I think Star Trek has prided themselves as being quite classic when it comes to villains, like 'he’s a guy who wants to end the world', there’s no doubt about that. But in this version of the film, there’s a slightly different twist to that. It’s quite an interesting journey, which I think is groundbreaking for the franchise. But, it still keeps with the ’classic bad guy is a classic bad guy’ tone."

A different twist to an apocalypse seeking villain? Colour me intrigued.

So he wants to end the world... but which world? The creative team have promised that Star Trek 3 will strike out from Earth and finally go on that Five Year Mission we've heard so much about, so could Elba be playing a maniacal ruler of an alien world? Or is he just out to take down the Enterprise? We can't wait to find out.

The fact that Elba described his character as a "classic bad guy" is confidence inspiring, and in keeping with the fact that both Pegg and director Justin Linn have promised a return to the franchise's roots. Elba's promise that this character will be "groundbreaking" is certainly ambitious: after almost 50 years, can Trek really give us something totally new? And could Elba's villain change the course of the story forever?

What This Means For Trek

There are several things that really make me excited for Idris Elba's villain, and what the character means for Star Trek 3. Simon Pegg previously stated that Elba's villain would have a very distinct and different motivation to the previous Star Trek movie villains, which is refreshing as both Abrams' baddies (Nero and Khan) were driven by revenge. This was an attempt to give their characters a bit of moral ambiguity: both men were distraught over the deaths of their people, and acted in accordance with what they thought was best.

But we've been there done that, and some Star Trek's best villains have been the classic cloak and dagger type, occasionally campy but delightfully evil. Of course there have been some great antagonists who challenged the boundaries of good and evil - Lore, Q, and Gul Dukat just to name a few - but they had one advantage that the movies do not: years and years for the writers to develop their characters, offering possibilities for redemption and slowly revealing their motivations.

Gul Dukat: that guy you love to hate.
Gul Dukat: that guy you love to hate.

Idris Elba's character promises to be interesting enough to engage the audience, but with that "classic bad guy" characterisation it seems he'll be one of those villains we love to hate. And with Simon Pegg promising a commentary on social issues in Star Trek 3, we can only guess what Elba's "groundbreaking" comment might mean... Beyond certainly seems posed to live up to Star Trek's most intelligent moments!

Elba's already proved that he sparks off Chris Pine very well, so hopefully we'll get some great conflicts between the two characters as the story develops. You can check out Idris Elba and Chris Pine butting heads in this clip that was released from the Star Trek set. And doesn't the Bridge look great? It's nice to see it without all the lens flares and shaky cam...

So what do you think about Idris Elba's new villain? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!

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