Not only is it officially announced that we’ll be seeing another Star Trek feature next year (by the red-hot director who gave us Lost, Alias, Mission Impossible 3, and is producing 1-18-08), it’s now on the record that this film will feature classic Star Trek characters Kirk and Spock, played by new actors. The first “reveal” came at the San Diego Comic Con where it was announced that Zachary Quinto, made a star in the immensely popular television hit “Heroes” will play the pointy-eared and pointy-eyebrowed Vulcan, Mr. Spock.
At this point, the dashing and bull-headed Captain Kirk has yet to be cast. Rumors of Matt Damon and Jensen Ackles have been floating around the web, but the casting eagle has not landed. Fans seem quite divided over the return to classic characters played by different actors. Personally, I don’t see the problem. I think it’s precisely what the franchise needs.
Would we really have wanted Batman to end with Adam West? Granted, many thought Bond should have ended with Sean Connery. but then came Daniel Craig. Harrison Ford interpreted Jack Ryan quite well after Alec Baldwin did The Hunt for Red October, but then we got Ben Affleck. sigh.
Moreover, this actually follows a far grander tradition. After all, how many men have played Zorro? Sherlock Holmes? Tarzan? James Bond? Batman? If a truly lasting character has been created, it should outlast the actor. One can point out that Star Trek originated on television with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, whereas Tarzan and most others mentioned above originated in books or comics. and only THEN found their way to the cinematic medium to be played by various actors. I understand the slight difference, but don’t think it nullifies the concept. I am personally sad to see another Indiana Jones film staring Ford; much as I love much of Harrison’s body of work, I think the globe-trotting archeologist needs fresh blood.
Back to Star Trek, I’ll agree that no one can ever hope to replace the amazing William Shatner (who. could possibly. replace the Shat? I. don’t know) but that doesn’t mean someone can’t bring us an innovative, updated, 21st century interpretation of Captain Kirk. After all, while many will cry out against me, the later Star Treks were all just clones of the original. It doesn’t take a genius to look at “The Next Generation” and see that Data was Spock, O’Brien was Scotty, and Wesley Crusher was. just annoying. Other characters were simply split or amalgamated, and it didn’t attract new fans because it felt like it had so much baggage. By the time you got to “The Doctor” on Voyager, he was a clone of Data mixed with Dr. McCoy. By the time we got to “Enterprise”, it was clear we’d taken a quantum leap down into weaksville. Beam me up Scotty; there’s no intelligent life left in this franchise.
As discussed in previous posts, there is really nothing new under the sun; the same narrative themes pop up again and again. Still, many Star Trek fans are livid that they’re re-imagining Kirk and Spock with new actors. Criticism isn’t always wrong, mind you… but criticising something for being done at all is different from critiquing something for being done poorly. It’s certainly acceptable to criticize a BAD version of an iconic character after it’s been attempted; Joel Schumacher’s Batman will forever leave a bad bat-taste in people’s mouths. and yet Christopher Nolan proved the Dark Knight had some batarangs left in him. How many people even remember the other Captain’s names, really? Kirk and Spock, however, are known globally. A fresh start for Star Trek with their most iconic, mythical characters will likely draw an audience once again. I say we give J.J. and his crew a fair shot.
A parting shot to all the “purists” out there; what is it about a character, or actor, or show, that makes it so “sacrosanct” as not to be trifled with? Such passion about a television show seriously borders on worship. Whether it’s worshipping your favorite actor, favorite show, or just a nostalgic snapshot from your childhood, it’s time to let the false god go. Even I’m humble enough to recognize my pot is as black as the kettle, cursing the new Battlestar Galactica like a fool a few years ago, for example. now proven to be quite the slice of dynamic storytelling.
When someone shows up saying he’s Jesus and is clearly a bad imitation, I’ll shake my head and walk away. When someone is going to reprise a fictional captain of a cardboard spaceship, and I’m suddenly cruising at Warp Factor Freakout by the mere idea of it… let’s just say I think it’s time to stop worshipping a TV show and do what William Shatner himself told a gaggle of Trekkies on SNL: