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5 Things You Might Not Know About 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist May 14, 2013 at 12:57PM

This week, one of the most hotly anticipated (and deliberately mysterious) movies of the summer movie season boldly goes into theaters nationwide. "Star Trek Into Darkness" is director J.J. Abrams' follow-up to the ridiculously entertaining 2009 "Star Trek" reboot, which introduced audiences to a younger, sexier Enterprise crew and turned the occasionally lifeless original series into a zippy space opera. The first film was the best kind of surprise – Abrams only had a single feature under his belt (the somewhat disappointing "Mission: Impossible III") and had yet to solidify his magic-loving geek-cred persona into an identifiable, Steven Spielberg-like brand. "Star Trek Into Darkness" is less of an unknown quantity in that respect, but Abrams and his confederates have tried, tirelessly, to keep the movie shrouded in mystery, offering all sorts of red herrings and deliberate attempts at obscuring plot details from being delivered prematurely. Still, there are some things we can tell you about this new 'Star Trek' experience. And so, without further ado, we will deliver five things you might not know about "Star Trek Into Darkness." Because in space, no one will hear you nerd out.
Zoe Saldana Star Trek

3. The Movie Was Almost Two Movies
One of the more welcome aspects of these new "Star Trek" movies is that they are wholly stand-alone affairs; if you're a diehard or a newcomer, you can slip into the franchise with a comparable level of ease. This wasn't always the case, however. Way back at San Diego Comic Con 2009, writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who would eventually be joined by "Prometheus" scribe Damon Lindelof and, to some unspecified degree, Abrams himself) mentioned that the next 'Trek' outing could span two movies, with the first sequel ending on a cliffhanger that was immediately resolved in the following film. (Again, speculation pointed towards a "Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan"-type narrative. At the end of that film, Spock is killed and, in the subsequent movie, "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," he is revived, with much of the narrative of the previous film carried over directly – including the mysterious Genesis Device doodad that all the bad guys want so desperately.) The "Kill Bill" approach was stoked further with a conversation with i09 during that same Comic Con, in which Orci said: "Nothing was decided… [They said to us] 'We thought maybe you could do that as like 2 and 3.'" Of course, this idea was probably one of a thousand that was batted around and ultimately discarded -- it would be another 18 months before plans for the sequel even solidified in any kind of real way, with filming not starting until January 2012. In space-terms, that's longer than light-years.

Star Trek Into Darkness, JJ Abrams,Orci, set

4. A Number Of Discarded Notions From The Original Wound Up Here
When Abrams came aboard the original "Star Trek" reboot, there were a whole galaxy's worth of ideas that he wanted to cram into the movie that ended up not making it in. Thankfully, that's what "Star Trek Into Darkness" is for, acting as a kind of dumping ground for ideas developed but not utilized. One of the things that so fascinated Abrams about the 'Trek' property as a whole was the idea of the "Prime Directive" – something in 'Star Trek' lore that forbids the crew of the Enterprise from interacting with primitive civilizations. Abrams couldn't fit it into the more focused first film, so he made it the breathless prologue for the new movie. (Abrams got to also explore the consequences following what happens when you fuck up the Prime Directive.) Another facet of the original film that found its way 'Into Darkness' was the inclusion of Carol Marcus, a character that in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is revealed to be the mother of Kirk's son (she's a scientist that developed the aforementioned, highly sought-after Genesis device). In the original Orci/Kurtzman script, a young Kirk falls in love with Carol Marcus. Marcus appears in the new movie (played by the lovely Alice Eve), but in an entirely different capacity too good to spoil here. And for those of you with the bursting-at-the-seams "Star Trek" Blu-ray, you know that a huge part of the original film that was shot but left on the cutting room floor was the Klingons! The famous 'Trek' baddies actually held Eric Bana's evil Romulan Nero prisoner (Abrams favorite Victor Garber played a Klingon interrogator even). Famously, these scenes were cut for time and featured completely masked Klingons, which would have left the audience guessing as to which "style" of Klingon the new series would employ – the Klingons from the original series with their smooth foreheads or the more iconic, ridged-forehead Klingons from follow-up series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Thankfully, "Star Trek Into Darkness" answers this question. But we're not spilling.

Star Trek Into Darkness, JJ Abrams

5. Abrams Now Considers Him A True "Star Trek" Fan
Many members of the 'Star Trek' faithful were unhappy with director Abrams when he expressed indifference towards the original franchise. This is something that Abrams has gone to grain pains to rectify (after all, he still wants all of the nerds who lashed out against him to show up to "Star Trek Into Darkness" this weekend), recently describing the situation to The Guardian as: "Here's the thing: it definitely put some fans off… I think they think it's me saying, 'I'm better than you.' But I'm not saying that at all. I am saying that I do not think I was as smart and sophisticated as my friends who loved the show. So I didn't get it, it doesn't mean I'm judging anyone." And he has since changed his tune: "I have come to love it working on it, but it would be disingenuous of me to say I was a 'Trek' fan." (Orci and Lindelof were the requisite fanboys on the team.) In an admittedly hilarious interview with "The Daily Show" host/'Trek' super-fan Jon Stewart this week, after Stewart mentioned Abrams' involvement in "Star Wars" and gushed "I'm not even going to go to these conventions anymore, I'm just going to sit on your lap," Abrams reiterated his new-found commitment to the 'Trek' universe. "I fell in love with it – getting to understand the characters, the archetypes, the dynamics, made me appreciate it," Abrams said. Stewart then tried to get Abrams to cast him in "Star Wars." It remains to be seen if that will be the case.

There are other things, of course, that you don't know about "Star Trek Into Darkness" that we're not keen on spoiling. As the movie finally opens around the world and the people behind the film are able to talk more freely about specific plot points and characters, even more will be revealed about the latest adventure of the crew of the Enterprise. It's honestly hard to dig stuff up when everyone involved in the movie has taken an unshakable vow of silence (which, come to think of it, was another part of Bana's Nero character from the original 'Trek' that was abandoned). We'll also have our rundown of the film early next week, which should pick apart some of the aspects of the film that have been untouched here. Until then: live long and prosper.

This article is related to: Features, J. J. Abrams, Star Trek Into Darkness, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Jon Stewart, Benicio Del Toro

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