Remember Star Trek? It was your favorite before you started freaking out about the new Star Wars movies. Sure, things have been a little bumpy since Star Trek Into Darkness made its googly-eyed way across the screen, and some have worried that it may have cast a dismal pall over the entire franchise, stalling it completely. The story of Star Trek 3‘s development didn’t help in that regard: one director left (J. J. Abrams) and the next got kind of fired (Roberto Orci), and for awhile nobody seemed to have a clue as to what would happen next.
But our faith holds strong! More recently, Simon Pegg was brought on as a co-writer for Star Trek 3 and things have started looking up. The movie now has a rumored-to-be-true title—Star Trek Beyond—which matches stylistically with Simon Pegg’s statement that the next Star Trek film will return the series to its explorative roots. What could all of this mean? Here are five predictions based on nothing but circumstantial evidence, hunches, and my own Trekkie excitement.
Idris Elba Will Not Be a Bad Guy; Will Join the Crew
According to Simon Pegg the fantastic Idris Elba is in the movie and is playing a new “kickass” character. And by “new” hopefully they mean new and not a fake-out old character like the whole John Harrison/Khan debacle of Into Darkness. First of all: the fact that no one is coming out and saying Elba is the film’s new “villain” is nice because it implies that maybe, for once, they might not actually have a villain. If Elba isn’t playing Harry Mudd or some jerky admiral, then maybe he’s just a straight up new addition to the Star Trek ensemble, which is desperately needed. In Into Darkness we got that robot brain guy (his name is 0718) and a cool new navigator (her name is Darwin). But a full-blown new character to add to the crew of the Enterprise who isn’t in the background? Bring it on.
There Will Be More Hard Science Fiction in the Movie
Something that’s been missing a little in the new Star Trek movies is a lack of any cool science fiction concepts, or really, any new science fiction ideas. Sure, The Wrath of Khan is an action-packed phaser-’em-up blockbuster movie, but it centers around the Genesis Device and the concept of creating life from nothing! But what about 2009’s Star Trek or Into Darkness? Red matter, I guess? Jesus Tribbles?
The title “Beyond” suggests that deep space will be explored and that the Enterprise will really be going where no people have gone before. This is great and could lead to all sorts of awesome science fiction stuff. Maybe there will be a planet that’s alive and eats other planets. Or an area of space where all alternate timelines become visible. Or Sisko singing with Vic Fontaine on an asteroid somewhere! (What? The Prophets span all of time, don’t they?) Whatever the crew encounters, it will be more interesting than yet another “madman blows up the Federation” plot.
Classic Episodes Might Get Subtly Adapted, But Only If They’re Far Out in Space
Since the two Trek movies previous to this one focused on stuff near and around Earth, I bet that terrestrial-ish storylines are out this time around. This hopefully means no time travel, and that we might not even see Earth. The original series of Star Trek never visited the Earth in their present day, and it still produced dozens of classic stories. So which of those classic stories could Beyond use for inspiration? In “By Any Other Name,” the Enterprise actually leaves the galaxy thanks to some hijacking aliens. This happens in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” too, but that one has already been adapted by IDW’s ongoing nu-Trek comic book line. What’s the coolest outer-spacey classic Star Trek episode? “The Tholian Web” certainly springs to mind as does “The Doomsday Machine.” Actually. Yeah. It’s time to see “The Doomsday Machine” on the big screen. Just as long as Elba doesn’t do the voice of it. (Spoiler alert: the Doomsday Machine does not have a voice.)
The Relationship Between Kirk, Spock, and Bones Will Be Made Clearer
Despite many problems hardcore fans might have with the two J. J. Abrams Star Trek films, the undying friendship between Kirk and Spock has still been depicted lovingly, and in some ways, more mutli-dimensionally than it was in the classic series. However, classic Star Trek was always a trio that needed Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy to make everything tick. If Kirk is the Super Ego and Spock is the Id, Bones is the regular Ego. Or, to put it another way, he’s more of a down-to-Earth regular guy who puts the humanity into this grand human adventure. Bones is the Han Solo of Star Trek, and Karl Urban has played him wonderfully. It’s just he hasn’t been given that much to play with. Maybe that will change?
There Will Be More than One Cameo from Old School Trek Actors
Star Trek Beyond is set to come out on July 8, 2016, the year of the show’s 50th anniversary. Simon Pegg has already mentioned there will be some kind of tribute to the passing of Leonard Nimoy, but might we have a Shatner cameo, too? And why stop with the Shat? I’ve been hoping for Q to show up in these movies for ages (like he did in the IDW comics) or hey, I’d even settle for Trelane. It would be great to see Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and of course, George Takei, but these cameos don’t need to be limited just to classic Trek actors. Let’s get Patrick Stewart in there! And if he won’t do it, we’ll totally settle for Jonathan Frakes, if only because a bare-chested fight between Chris Pine’s Kirk and Riker is something we should have already been given.
What are you looking forward to in Star Trek Beyond? Is anyone out there hoping for the Whale Probe to come back? Maybe they’ll go to the Whale Probe’s home planet. I mean, if we’re lucky.
Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can’t Read and Other Geeky Truths, forthcoming from Plume Books on November 24th. His writing has appeared with The New York Times, The Awl, Electric Literature, VICE and elsewhere. He is a longtime contributor toTor.com and lives in New York City.