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Into Darkness - Didn't care for character development


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Report this Jun. 19 2013, 1:58 pm

A little background - Huge fan of the original series.  Love that the original series has been rebooted.  But not sure I like the new vision for the characters.  Was semi-ok after the 2009 reboot; and although I enjoyed Into Darkness; I really didn't care for the characterizations of the crew; they seem almost less mature rather than more mature than in the 2009 film.  To cover some character highlights:

Kirk - The original series Kirk was supposed to be Horatio Hornblower in space.  Was the true hero of the original series; weighing the logic of Spock and the intuition/humanity of McCoy to make the right decision time and again.  He upheld the Prime Directive and Starfleet policies far more then he broke the rules and they always made a big deal out of it when he had to bend the rules and it was always for a very good reason. 

He was the action hero of the series; this was the 60's; martial arts was almost unheard of so you have to excuse the combat scenes; he was supposed to be the best on the ship at hand to hand combat; regularly taking on multiple highly skilled adversaries and coming out on top - see episodes such as "gamesters of triskelion". 

He was a true renaissance man; skilled at everything from Negotiation/Diplomacy to Starship Combat Strategy and Tactics to Federation Law to American History and Abraham Lincoln. 

He was highly charisamatic and pursuasive and again; this was the 60s so he was also portrayed as being quite the seducer. 

Even when he was young; they indicate that he was pretty grim and scholarly while at Starfleet Academy (see "shore leave". 

The new Kirk seems to take away almost all of the good qualities and turn him into a comic relief character; they only show the womanizing, disregard for rules and shoot first/ask question attributes but don't show any of the many heroic qualities of the original character.  He gets beat up all the time, never winning any meaningful fights; and has minimal leadership capabilities.  He seems almost downright incompetent. 

Spock - ironically; almost everything Kirk lost from the original series; Spock seems to gain.  In fact; he is almost the new hero of the story.  It seems like all the humans are incompetent and only Spock has half a brain.  The 2009 movie did ok with showing some of the skills around the bridge; but this one seemed to be outright hero-worship of Spock as the hero of the story.  He is suddenly the guy that gets the girl and has all the best fight sequences and has all the right judgement of command decisions.  Kirk wears himself out punching Khan and doing no damage so Spock is the one that gets to do the real fight sequence.  Spock's logic, lack of emotion and trouble understanding humans was the comic relief for a lot of the dialog of the original series.  Kirk now plays that comic relief role. 

The original series was all about Kirk for a reason; it was about a very positive, optimistic view of humanity and Kirk was supposed to embody a lot of those qualities.  He would figure out a way to succeed time and again; whether through brawn or brain.  Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons or even Khan supermen may have had a leg up on one or more dimensions; but Kirk always came out on top. 

Rest of the Crew - In the original series; the Enterprise Crew were supposed to be leaders in their respective fields; Kirk as discussed above; McCoy able to heal the horta or even finish installing spocks brain even after losing the skill download.  Scotty could understand, modify and improve upon advanced alien technology.  Again; 2009 film did ok with this; but didn't really see much to be impressed about from the crew in Into Darkness. 

This is indeed a younger crew than the original series; but somehow Spock is suddenly the main character while the rest of the crew is very young and inexperienced. 

I'm really hoping they can get Kirk and the rest of the crew back to at least some semblance of their original heroic qualities before the reboot ends. 

I'm totally ok wtih the increased action levels and various storline changes.  I'm just not ok with the new portrayals of Kirk and the crew. 

In every revolution, there's one man with a vision.


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Report this Jun. 19 2013, 3:19 pm

I think nuKirk is on his way to becoming the character we know and love from TOS. Abrams' movies are more of a "coming-of-age" story that the series. As for Spock, I think they're toying with his vulnerabilities more because of the destruction of his planet. Watching something like that would change anyone, Vulcan or not.

Also, keep in mind that tese movies take place several years before the events of TOS. There's still plenty of time for growing up.

"The future is in the hands of those who explore... And from all the beauty they discover while crossing perpetually receding frontiers, they develop for nature and for humankind an infinite love." - Jacques Yves Cousteau


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Report this Jun. 22 2013, 12:10 am

I entirely agree with what you're saying; however, the character I have the greatest issue with is Khan. In the "original timeline" his character had an opportunity to interact with Kirk in the episode "Space Seed", which was why "Wrath of Khan" managed to be so effective. In "Into Darkness", Khan is introduced randomly, serving as a terrorist villain rather than a particular enemy for Kirk. Indeed, in the scene where Harrison reveals his true identity, the only person for whom the dramatic line seems to have an effect on is the viewer, who is of course very familiar with the original version of the villain. 


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Report this Jun. 22 2013, 5:08 am

I personally always thought the most frightening thing about Khan in Space Seed was the fact that he WAS charming, handsome and charismatic. It's easy to imagine him convincing people to follow him. One of the reasons why Hitler rose to power was because he had enormous charisma. Khan was sophisticted, genteel and reserved.  Even when he is threatening the crew with death he's reserved and polite. He rarely loses his cool. When watching as a third party it's easy to see through him, but imagine sitting beside him, subjectively.  He's even warm and welcoming and charmed Kirk to a point. It's easy to imagine being fooled by someone like Khan, while Cumberbatch is more of a cold, calculating, text book villain and more transparent. Even if he is a smart villain, he possessed none of the qualities that made Khan such a great character.


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Report this Jun. 22 2013, 10:01 am

Thanks for the replies. 

MitchZ95 - This is indeed a coming of age story; which can be fun.  Just hoping they can accelerate things a bit so that we can get a stronger showing from the other characters outside of Spock, especially Kirk.  I'm fine with upping the summer action quotient with that end scene face off to "bring in new blood and increase box office take".  However; why alienate the old, loyal base by changing the action hero from Kirk to Spock.  I will have a hard time continuing to feel good about the reboot if a new generation of viewers is brought up to think of Kirk as a comic relief side-kick rather than the 60's, space race, right stuff hero of the story.  This vision for human potential and heroic ideals is timeless and has relevance outside the 60's.  With the US space program all but cratering we need this heroic ideal more than ever. 

kevin.nelson.1291 and bunkey - I was focusing primarily on the hero side of my character development commentary; but agree with both your points as well on Khan villain side.  Would have been nice if there had been more of a connection/history with someone in the film; only connection was to the audience.  He could therefore have been any super-soldier type vs Khan.  Cumberbatch did a good job as an actor with the screenplay he was given but would have been nice to see more development and more links back to the main characters.  Cumberbatch has a lot of range as an actor and could have probably done a fine job even with the charming, handsome, charismatic type if he had been written that way. 

In every revolution, there's one man with a vision.


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Report this Jun. 23 2013, 12:16 pm

LeVar Burton's opinion:


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Report this Jun. 23 2013, 3:18 pm

Wow. Great analysis. Never thought about it this way, but totally makes sense. I think you are totally right. I was initially perplexed at why Kirk was coming off so douchy in Abrams' Trek. They are sacrificing the Kirk character to the Spock character. To make Spock look so good, they have to destroy Kirk. What a limited vision! In TOS, they played off of each other's strengths. Spock was limited due to his nature, he couldn't see past logic. He was great in the captain's chair when he used logic to guide his actions, but Kirk was a better judge of character when going up against villains. Kirk is such a weak character is Abrams' Trek, why even have him around? In Abrams' vision Spock can do it all!


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Report this Jun. 24 2013, 8:10 am

Well, I think the narrative strategy is to show what the characters could have become, and then have them rise from that to form into the heroes. From STID, what I gather is that the characters were being taken to their extremes, leading them all into darkness. The important thing here is that the whole film was proving that Adm. Pike was right about Kirk, allowing him to learn from his mistakes, as shown in the ending monologue. If I am correct, the next film should have Kirk more visibly like his TOS counterpart, and gradually smoothening into him.


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Report this Jul. 19 2013, 10:58 am

Chator - this is exactly what I was referring to on the Spock and Kirk trading places.  They could have upped the game on all the characters; instead they chose to boost Spock from the original series while dimishing all the other characters vs their original series counterparts.  In a distant way it reminds me of a lot of remakes which don't really take the original subject matter seriously and do the whole hero role-reversal bit.  Lone Ranger is now comic relief side-kick and Tonto is the hero.  Avengers remake - John Steed is fairly average and Emma Peel is the hero to play up.  Making Wild Wild West into an Action Comedy.  Really the only remake that got it right was Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes.  They upped the action quotient significantly; made Watson much more impressive, a hero in his own right; but ALSO significantly upped Sherlock Holmes to retain the balance of power among the characters.  And as I mentioned before; this doesn't appear to be an actor issue; it is how the characters are being written and the situations they choose to put them in. 

Gallifrey102 - I certainly hope they indeed begin to show Kirk and the rest of the crew in a much more heroic light in the next movies.  But I'm not sure I buy into this as the long term plan that they had going from the beginning.  One can explain away Kirk being more brash and lacking judgement vs TOS due to age/experience/no father (not that I like that).  But they could still have retained his "action hero" status.  Instead Spock plays that role now too.  He is no longer the guy that kicks a$$ and takes names but now gets beat up in pretty much every encounter.  Outside of Spock the rest of the crew is really much less impressive than their original series counterparts.  I really wish JJ Abrams could have given the crew the Alias treatment to show just how good these "Right Stuff" characters are.  I guess there is still time 3 movies in.  

In every revolution, there's one man with a vision.


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Report this Aug. 12 2013, 9:22 am

Quote: FleetAdmiral_BamBam @ Jun. 23 2013, 12:16 pm


>LeVar Burton's opinion:



I agree 100% with LeVars assessment of the new Star Trek Movies. They lack Genes vision.

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