The next Star Trek movie should have Khan in it. Purists fight this idea, saying Wrath of Khan cannot be topped, but that’s silly. The movie is 27 years old; it’s not The Godfather, it can be topped and it is slightly dated. Like Superman II, it is a classic that should not be remade no matter how dated or silly some of it is in hindsight, but that does not mean it cannot be revisited.
In this new timeline, we are far enough back that the original “Starseed” episode where we meet Khan would be the thing getting remade. Certainly we can agree that that can be topped in terms of scope, special effects, sheer budget?
In this universe, Wrath of Khan, and its events, would most likely never occur. This is upsetting, but yet one more reason to introduce Khan into the new timeline — I’d just like Khan and this Kirk to meet at all. I don’t like the idea that Khan is just never discovered and never awakens. I feel like he needs to be. The second of the new movies is the perfect opportunity, if for nothing other than the symmetry of it all, but also because everyone knows the second movie should be about the villain, and they just don’t make villains like they used to.
So, the original setup for “Starseed” happens, and Kirk and the Enterprise find Khan’s ship and awaken he and his people. Only this isn’t the original series’ Kirk or Spock. This is Kirk raised by a grief-wracked mother and an alcoholic uncle. This is the Spock that watched his mother die, then watched his planet implode. They aren’t going to leave Khan to rot on some planet, they’re going to pop a cap in his ass if he gets unruly. Odds are, the revelations of “Starseed” would go to a darker, more agressive place perfect for a solid 2 hour action epic that would be rife with history our characters aren’t aware of — thus recapturing some of the magic the recent movie has. There’s a backstory even though this is an origin. On top of that, since the time travel business in the first film has freed us up for anything to happen, who says that Khan even ends up being the villain of Wrath of Khan anymore? What if there is a much larger threat that he has to work with Kirk to face? Imagine the weight in the meer implication of that — the odd beauty and closure it brings as we watch a relationship go in a completely different direction because small things go differently. Would destiny make them enemies in the end anyway? Or could Khan actually change his ways through a respect he finds for Kirk that he couldn’t have in the original episode?
Now, I don’t want them to just redo the Search for Spock or some shit for the third film, nor continue to take cues from the old movies or TV plots — that would just be stupid. But Khan seems like one of the most important pieces of the puzzle that absolutley needs to be adressed if you are rebooting a story. Just because Vader was perfect in the original Star Wars doesn’t mean that if you are re-doing Star Wars you should just leave him out entirely. That would be ill-advised, to say the least.
The last bit of argument against re-introducing Khan into the new Trek is much more understandable and actually had me stumped for a long bit — how do you even pretend to replace Ricardo Montalban as Khan? How can you top that performance, even if paying it homage? For that matter, how can you even find an actor of the caliber or look to play Khan? This alone nearly dashed my dreams of a Khan-based sequel, because I had to admit that nothing but a complete unknown was springing to mind as a solution. I proferred this question to Desmond, and he immediately came out with a name, as if descending from the clouds on wings made of macaroni and cheese. Beautiful, cheesy wings. And that name was Nestor Carbonell.
Nestor looks like young Ricardo Montalban, but more importantly looks like the type of racelessly beautiful man that would be genetically engineered to be a sort of more forward-thinking, inclusive version of “master race.” He has shown himself to be a formidable character actor, lending a subtle gravitas to Richard Alpert on Lost, a terrifyingly nice assassin Pasquale Acosta in Smokin’ Aces, and funny as hell in The Tick live action series as Batmanuel. Even his previous roles support his casting — he has played mysteriously perfect, terrifying, and vaguely Hispanic. He would basically be playing Richard Alpert with the sophisticated deadliness of Pasquale Acosta, and Batmanuel’s accent. And I haven’t even brought up yet that Nestor plays Alpert on Lost, which is produced by J. J. Abrams, meaning this should be a completely natural and forgone conclusion for all involved. I’m putting this out there so that if it hasn’t occurred to them yet, it does soon. The idea of him with the ponytail tied back as the slick, confident, young, chillingly sane Khan from “Starseed” is what brought me to complete confidence that Khan should at least play a major role in the next Trek film.