Roberto Orci's 2016 Star Trek "3" Could Be the Trekkiest Trek Yet
This week, Paramount Pictures confirmed that the third (or thirteenth, depending on how you look at it) Star Trek film will be released in 2016, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the original 1960’s TV show. With J. J. Abrams wrapped up in Star Wars commitments, Roberto Orci—co-writer of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness—will be writing and directing the latest installment. And because of his hardcore Star Trek cred, this film could be a bold return to form.
While the 2009 reboot of Star Trek is an impressively memorable and nostalgically charming pop masterpiece, its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness feels more like a copy of a copy. While there’s not one overwhelmingly bad feature of Into Darkness many fans (and casual viewers, too) felt a little ripped off by the non-spoiler spoiler that Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison was really the egomaniacal super-villain Khan. In the classic 60’s episode “Space Seed” and the film The Wrath of Khan, the character of is like the Star Trek universe’s version of Bane. The only difference is, whereas Bane’s motivations in The Dark Knight Rises don’t need to make sense, Khan’s sort of do, and in Into Darkness, it wasn’t clear why he was doing what he was doing.
Among fabulist and sprawling fictional worlds (like Marvel Comics or Harry Potter) Star Trek’s main jam is making some sense of its high-concept premises, and while this was less important in the initial J.J. Abrams reboot, Star Trek ought to be exploring strange new worlds and seeking out… well… really anything other than punching and explosions, which is all we truly got out of Into Darkness.
Now, with Roberto Orci seemingly completely in charge of Trek, this moment may have arrived. Historically speaking, Star Trek is both bolstered by outsiders who are given the reigns, and made stronger by veteran fans who want to take it in a new direction. In the 60’s Roddenberry (the original Star Trek fan) created the show, but it was made totally genius by outside science fiction writers like Harlan Ellison, Dorothy Fontana, Theodore Sturgeon, and others. In the 1990’s Trek outsider Rick Berman was effectively in charge of The Next Generation, and didn’t have a lot of love for the classic show. However, people who were life-long fans like Ronald D. Moore eventually joined the writing team and put the Star Trek back in Star Trek. Obviously because Abrams was/is a Trek outsider (he admitted this many times) this non-fan/fan flip is poised to happen again with Orci.
Of all the creative people behind-the-scenes on the new Treks, Orci is clearly the biggest fan and the one with the largest knowledge base of Star Trek lore. If you need proof of how much all of that extends, he’s been the story consultant (read: mastermind) of all the (mostly) awesome IDW Star Trek comic book titles since 2011. He also famously took to some message boards last year to defend the work he did on Into Darkness, in what can only be called a fanboy tirade. Far from making him seem like jerk, this should confer the idea that Orci is indeed the right person to steer Star Trek solo. If anyone can break the mold and prevent Star Trek from becoming just one more movie series dominated by shooting and killing, it’s him.
Should Orci fall back on an established Star Trek story or character for the next film? He’ll probably be pressured to do so, but we hope he’ll choose something awesome. Because the rebooted Star Trek universe is still fairly wide-open for interpretation, Orci could do stories involving everything from the telepathic Talosians (from the classic episodes “The Cage” and “The Menagerie”) or even the pesky omnipotent alien “Q” from The Next Generation. In any case, Orci has the knowledge, the chops, and the love to turn his “Star Trek 3” into the though-provoking, humanistic and optimistic work of fiction this phenomenon has the potential to be. Because in the minds of many us, the hidden title of the next movie is really Star Trek 3: The Search for Star Trek.
OS or NG?