Ever since J.J. Abrams’ reimagining of Star Trek hit theaters in 2010 to both critical acclaim and financial success fans have speculated on the identity of the antagonist of its imminent sequel. Or, more specifically, Star Trek fans collectively crossed their fingers that the second movie would feature Khan Noonien Singh, a character made famous by the late Ricardo Montalban and a certain iconic scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan that can only be described as “perfectly Shatnerian.”
When word broke that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch had been cast as the villain in Star Trek 2, this fan speculation intensified to the point where it was more or less assumed that Cumberbatch would be portraying Khan. A recent comment from Karl Urban however, casts serious doubt on that idea.
While promoting his upcoming film Dredd, Urban was asked by SFX how he enjoyed working with Cumberbatch. “He’s awesome, he’s a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary,” Urban replied with unexpected candor.
Though not nearly as beloved a villain as Khan, Gary Mitchell should be known to Trek fans as the villain of the second pilot of the original TV series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” In that episode, Gary Lockwood (2001) plays Mitchell, a long-time friend of Captain Kirk who develops telekinetic powers that eventually force the Captain to take his life.
So that basically wraps everything up, right? Cumberbatch is Mitchell because Urban said so, no? Well, maybe. Urban is a wily actor who has, in the past, proven very willing to go along with J.J. Abrams’ desire to shroud his films in a cloud of mystery prior to their debut, and it seems entirely possible that Urban may have just dropped the name to screw with fan expectations. If we were constantly being pestered by Trekkies about the second movie, we’d probably do exactly that.
Likewise, Mitchell’s name was also mentioned by screenwriter Robert Orci in a recent list of “five characters who will not appear in Star Trek 2.” Alongside Mitchell, Orci also named “Charlie X, Ruk, Janice Rand, and The Borg.” Notably absent from his list is Khan Noonien Singh, though it’s possible that Orci is just messing with us as well.
If there’s a moral to this story it’s that we can’t trust anything said about J.J. Abrams’ movies before they hit theaters. If you want to trust Urban, fine. If you want to trust Orci, fine. Realistically though we have no solid idea who Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing in Star Trek 2. He could be a lanky, particularly British Tribble for all we know.