It's already official: There's going to be another Star Trek movie. But what elements of Trek lore should they put on the big screen next time? The first two Abrams films already mined Trek's rich history for ideas, but they also left out some stuff. Here are 10 classic Star Trek elements that we'd like to see take center stage in the next movie.
There are a lot of baddies lurking in the first two rebooted movies, all with the potential to be the big villain in the next film. But did you notice the tribbles? No, you didn't. Not really. Nobody suspects the tribbles. Which is the point of tribbles. They just sit there, looking cute, until they breed like crazy and overrun everything.
And what if they get... supercharged? Like, what if they're injected with nanobots and start eating metal? What if they acquire a taste for human blood and their cooing causes paralysis? What if there is a zombie tribble outbreak? (You know that it could happen.) They finally have a big-budget movie to work with! Let's see the real trouble with tribbles.
Most of the last two movies had to do with the Federation battling great threats and lifelong grudges. How about stepping away from the planet-destroying Romulans and the moral compromises of facing the Klingons, and look at what it's like to actually be on "the final frontier," with outlaws and smugglers and shady business dealings happening all around you? Basically, the return of Harry Mudd, or some other lawless smuggler types.
Taking this further, I'd like to see a movie that's basically Star Trek versus Firefly. What's going to win out — an enlightened yet stifling monolith, or a band of shady, but liberty-obsessed outlaws? You wouldn't buy a ticket to see the movie. You'd buy a ticket to see the brawl in the movie theater.
The Shatner-Kirk had trouble with women. Multiple ex-girlfriends tried to kill him, his ensigns kept mooning after him, and no sooner did you see an "alien" woman with a high pony tail and a shiny dress than you knew she was going to be twining her arms around his neck by the third act. And Shatner-Kirk was restrained compared to Pine-Kirk. Pine-Kirk is what would happen if Shatner-Kirk and Zapp Brannigan had a fumbling, contraceptive-free night in a gene splicer. If you're going to take a captain of a flagship and amp up his inner hound to eleven, you are going to have problems. Sexy evil alien ladies would both demonstrate that problem, and eliminate the need to show a crew member in her underwear. Two problems solved!
Most of you will not remember Redjac. Some of you will remember him from the original series episode, "A Wolf In the Fold," in which the crew discovers an evil entity that feeds on fear and has been many of history's greatest serial killers, including Jack the Ripper. Redjac fools the crew, and the alien civilization that they're in contact with, for some time by framing a crew member as a serial killer. That doesn't sound too impressive, you say. It certainly doesn't deserve a higher position than Evil Sexy Ladies, you say. Why does Redjac get to be a villain, you ask.
Because, I patiently explain, the crew member that he framed was Scotty. And if you cast Simon Pegg in a film series, then by god, you use him. You don't just trot him around an engine room yelling about what he "canna" do. You find some way to put him front and center, and if that means we all have to spend a movie watching people hundreds of years into the future doing a retread of From Hell, then that's just what has to happen.
Many people complained that the first two Abrams films were missing the heart and soul of Star Trek: The Original Series — which is Kirk debating with evil computers. He does this in so many episodes of the show, it becomes one of the defining features. And we just had a huge hit movie based on Kirk's confrontation with Landru. So maybe the next movie should be about Kirk facing off against a computer that's gotten ideas above its station.
Or maybe you could even borrow from TNG and have an early prototype holodeck go awry. After all, they had holodecks in the semi-canonical Animated Series. We could see Montgomery Scott working on the holodeck — thus giving us the crucial Simon Pegg screen time — and then all holographic hell breaking loose. Whether it's Moriarty taking over the ship from its glorified entertainment center or, perhaps, holographic creations escaping into the ship and impersonating the crew, it's a classic. And it hasn't been done in a movie before!
The last two movies should have come with warning: "people in the first four rows may have their retinas burned away by the intense stares of the villains." Wouldn't it be a nice change of pace to have a movie where Kirk was out-quipped by the evil-doer? More importantly, making the villain a mischievous all-powerful entity, like Trelaine or Q, would involve a refreshing change of motivation. Q was, in the series, a villain at worst and an annoying anti-hero at best, but he's never motivated by tired notions of revenge. He, quite literally, wants humanity to be better.
He wants humanity — or even just individual humans — to be able to, through their experience in space, grasp concepts that no human had ever understood before. For all that Star Trek is meant to be about discovering new worlds and new ways of life, many movies and episodes are actually about saying humans are the best in the universe. Humans have become the smartest, the most compassionate, the most organized, the most virtuous, of any alien species. To have a villain expose that for the lie it is, and for the humans (and humanoids) to realize that we have to push ourselves intellectually, not just jump around and keep stuff from exploding, would make for an amazing movie.
The last suggestion sounded kind of profound, didn't it? Don't worry, it doesn't keep going. As fun as forcing humans to transcend their limitations might seem, having the entire crew of the enterprise tripping out sounds like even more fun. Two different Trek episodes, "The Naked Time," and "The Naked Now," both dealt with a space madness that included someone taking a shower with their clothes on. (Realizing that link to the original Star Trek madness episode helped people in The Next Generation diagnose their own sudden space crazies.) I'd love it if the next movie started with someone taking a shower in their clothes and just Hunter S Thompsoned the rest of the way. I wouldn't even care if they found a way to cure themselves.
And back up to the high ground. The TOS episode "Errand of Mercy" introduced us to the Organians, another set of all-powerful beings. The episode involves the Klingons occupying Organia, a little backwater planet. Kirk and Spock set up a resistance, blowing up weapons caches as the Federation and the Klingons edge closer and closer to war. The Organians are apathetic until the climax of the hostilities, at which point they reveal that they are so advanced that they need fear nothing, and are appalled at the primitive civilizations blowing each other up for no reason. They incapacitate the weapons of both sides, and, over the protests of both sides that they have the "right" to wage war, force a peace treaty.
The two most recent Star Trek movies, in the end, have been about might making right. Both sides draw their weapons and fire, and one side happens to be successful in the end, though both sides take losses. Perhaps a movie in which an entity simply says, "you can work this out peacefully and you will work this out peacefully," might be more of a commitment to a Star Trek ideal than armed conflict. Plus it's more of a challenge, and it leads to a lot of storylines in which Kirk has to use cunning, instead of might, against the Klingons.
Remember the first Star Trek movie? Remember what happened after the fifteen straight minutes of looking at shots of the outside of the Enterprise? If you got past that, there was a storyline about a massive entity called V'Ger that threatens both the ship and Earth. And it turns out to be Earth's own Voyager spacecraft, evolved into having its own consciousness somewhere out there in space, and returning with a vengeance. While the Voyager is still out there, we aren't as focused on it today. Today we look towards Mars, and the Mars Rovers. I think it would make a nice little twist if Earth finally faced invasion from its nearest neighbor. The terrifying R'Ver, evolved after being buried under the sands of Mars, has developed consciousness and set its sights on Earth. Kirk can battle little red robots.
In the end, though, no threat can be as awesome as the power of good, old-fashioned evil twins. Whether they should come from the Mirror Universe or a transporter beam accident, it doesn't matter. I just know that I want Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and the rest of the crew to be fighting evil versions of themselves, and I want those evil versions of themselves to be wearing thick eyeliner. Not only do I think it would be great fun to see the actors play both parts, I would love to see a comparison of how this incarnation of Star Trek does Good and Evil. We've seen it in multiple different times. The earliest evil versions of the crew were slimy, manipulative, sexually-aggressive backstabbers by nature.
Later, in Star Trek: Nemesis, we see good and evil put more in terms of nurture. Picard's clone has been twisted into something evil by abuse, neglect, and civilization-wide injustice. So while this concept contains a lot of superficial stuff, like evil laughs and amazing fashions, it also has the potential to examine the heart of a lot of questions about human nature. What is good? What is evil? What is it about us that makes us one or the other?