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J.J. Abrams Redubbed & Retouched Preview Scenes To Keep The 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Villain Secret

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | Indiewire May 20, 2013 at 7:39PM

By now almost everyone who really, really wanted to see "Star Trek Into Darkness" has. And those who haven't probably don't care who the villain in "Star Trek Into Darkness" is. That said, we should still issue a perfunctory spoiler warning to those who get queasy at the sight of plot specifics. Not that this is really about whom the "Star Trek Into Darkness" villain is, but rather the insane lengths to which director J.J. Abrams went to cover up and classify this revelation. Homeboy's crazy.
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Star Trek Into Darkness Benedict Cumberbatch

By now almost everyone who really, really wanted to see "Star Trek Into Darkness" has. And those who haven't probably don't care who the villain in "Star Trek Into Darkness" is. That said, we should still issue a perfunctory spoiler warning to those who get queasy at the sight of plot specifics. Not that this is really about whom the "Star Trek Into Darkness" villain is, but rather the insane lengths to which director J.J. Abrams went to cover up and classify this revelation. Homeboy's crazy.

Still with us? Great. So, as /Film pointed out, back in December, there was a press event in Los Angeles where Paramount showcased footage from the sci-fi sequel (including what would ultimately be the 10-minute prologue that was attached to select IMAX presentations of "The Hobbit"). One of the sequences that was shown at this event was the scene in the final movie where Kirk (Chris Pine) and John Harrison, er, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) shoot themselves out of the Enterprise in these jazzy space suits and rocket towards the hulking Vengeance, a ship that looks like the Enterprise except way more militaristic and totally murdered-out. 

So in the footage that was screened in December, not only was the computer readout changed (by J.J. Abrams) to read "John Harrison" instead of "Khan," but lines of dialogue spoken by Spock (Zachary Quinto) and others was altered so instead of "Khan" they said "John Harrison." If this sounds insane, that's because it is.

"[Producer] Bryan Burk was the one who first proposed that we use the space jump sequence as a way of getting folks excited for the movie,” producer and co-writer Damon Lindelof told /Film. “The challenge was obvious [because] this is AFTER the reveal. Therefore, J.J. and post-production supervisor Ben Rosenblatt executed a 'Harrison Cut' to preserve the secret. I’d rather not get into the details of how this was accomplished, suffice to say it wasn’t easy. It was, however, worth it.” Was it worth it, though? We think not: it was covering up a character that most audiences members would ultimately shrug at and the ones that would know who Khan was were most likely disappointed since the version of Khan in "Star Trek Into Darkness" is kind of watered down and wimpy.

“The preservation of Harrison’s identity has been on ongoing and evolving strategy since the moment we decided to go down the road we went down,” Lindelof told the site. “Before we even started shooting the movie, we acknowledged that there was a fine line between cryptic avoidance and outright denial. We never wanted to overtly lie, but agreed that a certain degree of misdirection wasn’t only warranted, but necessary.” Manipulating footage from the movie that you've already shot and edited seems like outright lying to us, but oh well. At least it was to the end of a well-kept, unguessable secret - oh.

"Star Trek Into Darkness" is in theaters now.

This article is related to: Star Trek Into Darkness, J. J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto

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