As is to be expected, the Internet is all a-buzz with the latest rumors concerning Star Trek 3.
It’s been a crazy week for the third installment in the rebooted franchise – we’ve learned it will probably start shooting in February, that the story will most likely take place in deep space during the crew’s five year mission, and that the characters should hew more closely to their TV counterparts.
That’s a lot of info – but the real bombshell was the revelation that William Shatner might re-don his Starfleet tunic and appear in the new film. Naturally, like all things Star Trek, this news provoked two distinct and opposite reactions: fan jubilation and fan derision. I think bringing Shatner in for a part in the new film is actually a good idea, and here are a few reasons why.
The most obvious rationale for bringing Shatner back into the fold is plain old fan service. I know some of the Star Trek fanbase is really tired of seeing the new films (which went out of their way to try to divorce themselves from original canon, then take every opportunity they can find to tie back into it…) present updated riffs on classic Star Trek. I can even sympathize with that viewpoint at times, if only because it doesn’t feel fair to the new crew to constantly have them playing second fiddle to fan nostalgia.
That being said, having Shatner return as Kirk is a bit more interesting than working Khan into the second film, or any of the other nods littered throughout Star Trek ’09 or Into Darkness. This is Captain Kirk – without him and Leonard Nimoy, we don’t have a Star Trek to reboot. We haven’t seen Kirk and Spock together since 1991. It’s time for this to happen, even if it’s just a tiny cameo. In fact, maybe it’s best served by being a tiny cameo where we can all have a minute to remember what made us love this franchise in the first place and then move on.
Abrams and company had an opportunity to do this with 2009 film, which gave Nimoy’s Spock a pretty prominent role, but excised Shatner completely. Had Abrams’ worked both characters into Trek ’09, we could have had our moment to acknowledge two beloved characters, then gotten on with getting to know the new crew. Instead, the Shatner omission has made it feel like there’s unfinished business to be addressed – business that should have been dealt with two films ago.