Over the last four years, many fans and commentators have referred to the 2009 Star Trek film as a "reboot." I usually get an eye roll when I take the time to explain that the film wasn't a reboot in the traditional sense. Yes, it brought back original characters with new actors, and they do get to go forward without having to adhere to what came before, but most reboots usually completely abandon a previous continuity.
Star Trek, and by extension Star Trek Into Darkness, do not do that.
Spock explained that because of the arrival of Nero, the timeline they were all experiencing was irrevocably altered and had created an "alternate reality." As a result, the timeline in which the new Star Trek films operate in is parallel with what is now called the "prime reality," which is the Star Trek universe originally created in 1966 and exploited until 2002's Star Trek Nemesis (The Enterprise series was unaffected by Nero since it ended about 70 years before his arrival in his past).
So, the new films aren't a reboot in the traditional sense, because they operate parallel to the original Star Trek universe. It didn't destroy it or cast it off, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman managed to preserve everything. Think the alternate 1985 from Back to the Future Part II, only less horrifying.
Even so, there are several components of the alternate reality that have made it in from it's prime universe counterpart, and even some of the surprises to fans may have had their groundwork laid down in the original television series right under their noses.
"So, what kind of combat training do you have?" "Fencing."
One of the more fun nods to arise out of the 2009 film was the mention of Sulu's training as a skilled fencer. In the 2009 film, when Sulu mentions his advanced combat training to Kirk in the shuttle as they get ready to disable the Romulan mining drill, I was overjoyed because it was one of the many ways the writing would demonstrate its reverence for some of the most classic elements of the original series.
Sulu's fencing was actually a creation of George Takei himself. According to his autobiography To the Stars, Takei saw the script for the episode that moment would appear in, and was dismayed by the writer's use of a samurai sword instead of a fencing foil. Takei felt that a samurai sword would play too much into a racial stereotype, against the themes of the show's human unity, so instead recommended a fencing foil. As a child, Takei was quite a fan of the 1922 Douglas Fairbanks Robin Hood film, and as a result had taken up a bit of an interest in that type of swordsmanship from an early age.
After that, the moment was brought to life with a great deal of fun in the episode "The Naked Time." In it, the crew of the Enterprise is infected by a virus that causes them to behave erratically, without inhibition. Some crew members struggle greatly with holding onto reality, and Sulu is one of them. He stalks around the ship topless, brandishing his foil at terrified crewmen before eventually being stopped on the Bridge by Spock's trusty Vulcan nerve pinch.
It was fun seeing the 2009 film bring that back to a degree, and given what we've seen from Into Darkness so far, Sulu may be dusting off his advanced combat training at least one more time. One never can tell!
"His wheelchair is constructed to respond to his brainwaves..."
Captain Pike was one hell of a hero in that last film, wasn't he? When so many fans could've been waiting impatiently for the moment Kirk took over the command chair, the writers and actor Bruce Greenwood really created a character that not only was really interesting to watch, but managed to evoke a lot of the great qualities as commanders that usually get a lot more screen time. By the end of the film, when James Kirk receives his promotion to captain, you might've noticed that Pike was sitting in a wheelchair. It's subtle and nonintrusive, but Star Trek fans everywhere were likely having a little giggle inside. Not because handicaps are funny, but because Pike's new position was a very deliberate nod to his prime universe counterpart.
You see, when Star Trek was going into production on it's unprecedented second pilot in 1965, the production team reached out to actor Jeffrey Hunter to reprise his role from the first pilot episode, "The Cage," as Captain Christopher Pike. When Hunter declined, the role was recast and William Shatner became Captain Kirk. The series was picked up, and began airing on NBC in September of 1966, but as happens sometimes on TV shows, the production staff was short on scripts and money by the middle of the first season, so a two-part episode called "The Menagerie" was created, using clips of the first pilot episode and a limited cast for the new sequences. Mission accomplished.
Hunter wouldn't return as Pike for the new segments shot, because he would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, another actor was hired that looked similar to Pike, but it was explained that the Captain had suffered a horrible accident, necessitating a lot of obscuring makeup. This is where the idea of Pike in the chair originated, and although Greenwood's Pike wouldn't suffer as catastrophic an accident as his prime counterpart, the fact that the visual motif was included continued to demonstrate the writers' desires to please the longstanding fans.
"Thank you, Nyota..."
"SPOCK AND UHURA NEVER HAD A ROMANCE IN THE ORIGINAL SERIES!" Well yes, screaming fanboy, you are correct (as always). But, while there was never any explicit exploration of a romance between the two characters, is it possible that at least the possibility of such a union could've been hinted at without us really realizing it?
Known for his unshakably stoic demeanor, Spock has only been seen all-out smiling on just a few occasions. The first was in the aforementioned original pilot episode, "The Cage," where Spock's encounter with an certain alien plant life on Talos IV elicits a smile from him, mostly due to the fact that the unemotional aspect of Spock and the Vulcans at large had yet to be established. Another was in the episode "Amok Time," where after believing he had murdered his captain while in the violent throngs of pon farr, Spock sees his captain alive and well and yells out in sheer joy before quickly composing himself.
But there was another moment, that was oh-so-very subtle. In the episode "Charlie X" while playing his Vulcan lute in one of the Enterprise's common areas, Uhura begins to sing to Spock, playfully teasing him and bringing the subtlest of smiles out of him. While this may not mean much for a human crewmember, for a Vulcan, it's a powerful display of emotion and may indicate an affection the Vulcan had for the young lieutenant. Additionally, in the episode "The Man Trap" (the first broadcast episode of the original series), Uhura attempts to get Spock to flirt with her, actually asking him to call her, "an attractive lady." Spock's response? A curious dodge.
There's also evidence that seems to indicate that the famous first interracial kiss on television, shared between Captain Kirk and Uhura in the episode "Plato's Stepchildren," was originally supposed to be between she and Spock. At the last second, though, William Shatner himself had it changed because he wanted to have the opportunity to kiss his beautiful costar.
While in all likelihood I'm reaching a bit here, it's fun to look at ways in which the eventualities have been played with in the past, and it's these moments in particular that has a Star Trek geek like me excited about how the creative team will further explore new ways to hark back to that show so many love so much in Star Trek Into Darkness.
The wait is almost over, and guessing things like this is definitely part of the fun of being a Star Trek fan. Thanks for reading, be back here in two weeks as we dive deeper into the machinations of the Star Trek universe, and begin celebrating the impending return of Captain Kirk and the fabled USS Enterprise!
The Enterprise boldly goes Into Darkness in 35 days.
Chris Clow is a geek. He is a comic book expert and retailer, and freelance contributor to GeekNation.com, Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his weekly piece The Geek Beat every Tuesday and the Star Trek Into Darkness Countdown every other Wednesday right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.