Star Trek Beyond may still be a long way off, but we're getting a steady influx of news from the set that continues to feed fan excitement. After the lukewarm critical reaction to Star Trek Into Darkness, and J.J. Abrams leaving the franchise to work on Star Wars, Star Trek 3 has had a bit of a rocky road to production. But with nerd god Simon Pegg penning the script, and confessed Trekkie Justin Lin directing, Star Trek Beyond is already shaping up to be one of the best Trek films yet!
Set Pictures Delight Fans
For me, one of the most confidence inspiring things about Star Trek 3 is the fact that both Pegg and Lin seem dedicated to paying attention to the fanbase. Pegg has spoken frequently on celebrating Star Trek's intellectual aspects and honouring the spirit of The Original Series. This is pretty much essential to the Beyond's success, as Abrams' movies divided the fans. But the latest set pictures certainly have pleased many people...
This seems to be a scene from Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, which is being filmed in Dubai. So what has fans so excited? Check out the sleeves on the female officer's uniforms. They are full length, which sets them apart from the short sleeved female uniform that sparked criticisms in the previous two movies. Why? Because the Starfleet officers' rank is shown on the lowest part of the sleeves.... for the men, anyway.
In 2009's Star Trek and Into Darkness, all female Starfleet officers lack any signifier of rank. This is not only sexist, it's pretty damn impractical for emergency situations, when women giving commands cannot be recognised as super officers, and would likely cause confusion.
Thankfully, this is finally going to change!
In the previous movies and TV shows, women serving in Starfleet have always had uniforms showing their rank, until 2009 of course. It's kind of shocking that it took 6 years from the erasure of female ranks for the costumes to reflect the gender equality of Star Trek's futuristic setting.
But criticisms aside, this change proves that the creative team really are paying attention to what the fans are saying! This is another in a long list of reasons to be excited about Star Trek 3, and that list just gets longer with every leaked photo and plot hint.
New Characters Inspire Confidence
Star Trek Beyond will feature a slew of new characters, and they're all very intriguing. Perhaps most exciting is the addition of Idris Elba, who will be playing the villain of the piece.
Elba's villain will be markedly different from Abrams' attempt at morally ambiguous baddies with Khan and Nero: both characters were driven by the desire to avenge their people, so their motivations were somewhat sympathetic. Idris Elba, in contrast, will play a villain who harkens back to the larger than life antagonists of TOS, a love-to-hate him type who nonetheless has a compelling story.
"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."
With Pegg promising a return to the "spirit of the TV show", and Lin assuring us that the story will be all about exploration and adventure as Enterprise embarks on the Five Year Mission, Elba's comments only add to the idea that Beyond really will honour The Original Series.
We're also getting an interesting new ally for the crew in the form of Sophia Boutella's enigmatic alien...
This is definitely a species we haven't seen before, so it'll be interesting to find out whether her people are also a race of explorers, or if she's discovering space travel fo the first time. As I talked about here, the scene we caught a glimpse of implies that Boutella's character will have all sorts of gadgets and expertise to offer the crew in their mission, and she may be a powerful ally.
All of this information is very confidence inspiring: Pegg and Lin really do seem to know what they're doing when it comes to creating a Star Trek film that will please long term fans as well as bring in a new audience. The story seems exciting, the new characters are interesting, and we can't wait to see what the crew does next. Roll on 2016!