More Star Trek is on the way, as the third installment of the rebooted franchise will hit theaters in 2016. Director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, True Detective Season 2) is sure to have a galaxy of thrills ready for fans who have been patiently awaiting the next Trek since 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. The familiar rebooted crew of the Starship Enterprise will be returning — but who will be the latest villain for the franchise?
Recent rumors springing from the folks at Film Divider have indicated that Bryan Cranston, best known for portraying Walter White on the critically-acclaimed and frequently binge watched Breaking Bad has “had words with the studio” and is up for the role of the latest Trek menace.
The rumblings quickly spread through the Internet, and if true, the question immediately becomes who will Cranston play? Remember, the new version of the franchise begun by J.J. Abrams exists in a new reality, so nothing says that characters who appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine can’t be moved forward on the Trek timeline and shock fans by menacing the crew of the original U.S.S. Enterprise. Another thing to keep in mind is that the first two installments of the new Star Trek brought back some familiar adversaries and ideas from previous Trek lore, but this latest film — in addition to welcoming a new director and writers — could go in whole new direction by casting Cranston as a brand new adversary to take on Captain Kirk and his intrepid crew. With all that in mind, let’s hit warp nine on the speculation engine and try to puzzle out which role Cranston might inhabit if he joins Paramount’s space-faring franchise.
Other than a brief tease of Klingons in Star Trek Into Darkness, two films without the seminal Star Trek aliens feels like the time is right. And when the Klingons finally do return to the big screen, their arrival will need to be huge. One of the most memorable Klingon adversaries faced by the original crew of the Enterprise was General Chang. Originally played by Christopher Plummer, Chang was a Shakespeare-quoting military genius who pushed Kirk and his brave crew to their limits in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Chang had a deep and abiding hatred for the Federation and felt that war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation was inevitable. Chang combines the Klingon love for battle with a Machiavellian affinity for political machinations to make one of the most formidable foes Kirk ever faced. Imagine Cranston beneath that metal eye patch and strangely subtle Klingon make up challenging the new Enterprise and her crew in ways they’ve never imagined. More of a when than an if, the Klingons will return to Star Trek. That return could be unforgettable with this military genius behind the controls of an attacking Bird of Prey. Say his name, indeed.
One of the most popular antagonists in Star Trek history, the omnipotent Q could make a huge impact on the new Trekuniverse if played in all his glorious arrogance and curiosity by Cranston. Fans have thrilled to the cosmic chess matches between Q and Captain Picard, but how about some glorious cosmic games between Q and Spock, or between Q and the emotionally volatile Captain Kirk. Walter White liked to play God at times, but with Q, Cranston’s latest character could wield the powers of a god and bring a distinct threat to a very different Star Trek timeline. With original Q actor John de Lancie playing a small but pivotal role in Breaking Bad, there’s already some cosmic synergy to this idea.
Walter White assimilated many an addict with his Heisenberg Blue, but the new Star Trek could take things to a whole new level. Picture Cranston decked out in the Borg gear commanding a squadron of Borg Cubes on a mission to assimilate the Federation. Walter White operated with machine-like precision when pressed into a corner, and Cranston channeling some of that inhumanity to play the first of many, the King of the Borg, would be unforgettable. While there has been no indication that any Next Generation characters will appear in Star Trek 3, the Borg are certainly one of the most iconic Trek villains and could allow Cranston to become an imposing figure under all that mechanical gear.
We already touched on the potential cool factor of Bryan Cranston stepping into the role of a Klingon with General Chang, but there are more legendary Klingons Cranston could be perfect for. Captain Kirk’s crew first ran afoul of Commander Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and this Klingon commander, played to perfection by Christopher Lloyd, could really herald the arrival of the Klingons to the new Star Trek Universe. The visual of Chris Pine as Kirk and Cranston as Kruge fighting to the death on a burning planet just like they did in Search for Spock is just too delicious to resist and would continue the current franchise’s nods to the original film series. Kruge was the cruelest of Klingons and deserves to be the leader that returns the signature Trek aliens to their glory. After seeing Cranston as the villain in 2012’s Total Recall remake, it’s clear the cruel and arrogant Commander Kruge is a role Bryan Cranston could more than pull off.
The Cardassian/Bajoran War was one of the most storied conflicts in all of Star Trek history. As seen on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the strife tore apart two civilizations and had a profound impact on the Federation. While fans never never actually witnessed the war, they certainly felt its riveting aftermath and the pain it caused. Gul Dukat was a Cardassian admiral who many believed to be a war criminal. He was a subtle character capable of profound inner knowledge but also a man capable of shocking violence. He was an ambassador, a butcher and one of the most complex characters in Trek history. In other words, tailor made for the nuanced abilities of Bryan Cranston. A new Star Trek film set during Cardassian/Bajoran War could allow fans to see the conflict for the first time and tie it into Kirk’s story while putting Cranston as the complex admiral Gul Dukat right at its epicenter. Maybe the war will have a different outcome if Kirk, Spock and company took part before the two worlds had a chance to tear themselves apart.
At times, Walter White seemed almost preternaturally intelligent. If Cranston played the tragic Gary Mitchell, we could remove the almost from that equation when it comes Mitchell’s mental prowess. Once a close friend of James T. Kirk during their Starfleet Academy days, while the helmsman of the Enterprise Mitchell was exposed to a cosmic anomaly that granted him advanced psychic powers that soon turned him away from his humanity. All hell broke loose as Kirk faced one of his most trying and personal conflicts, in direct opposition with his old friend. While Cranston is much older than Chris Pine, the current James T. Kirk, with some crafty retconning the idea of a friend and ally of Kirk’s becoming so powerful and so alien, especially one played by Cranston, could make Star Trek 3 a film for the ages.
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