Update (July 18 at 8:28 a.m.): According to Variety, Paramount Pictures has confirmed the sequel, in which Kirk will cross paths with his father, “a man he never had a chance to meet, but whose legacy has haunted him since the day he was born.” J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are on board to write the screenplay.
In a significant departure from his "mystery box" approach, J.J. Abrams has reportedly revealed the return of a familiar face in the planned sequel to "Star Trek Beyond."
During a press conference for the latest installment of the Paramount Pictures franchise, Abrams was asked whether there any ideas for the next film. “Yes, and there’s something that hopefully we’re figuratively minutes away from talking about," replied Abrams, who serves as a producer of the films. "The answer is 100 percent yes, and it’s incredibly exciting.”
While enthusiastic, the response was -- as you might expect -- light on details. However, shortly thereafter Scott Mantz of "Access Hollywood" dropped some pretty big news:
— Scott Mantz (@MovieMantz) July 15, 2016
Before he was Marvel's Thor, Chris Hemsworth of course starred in 2009's "Star Trek" as George Kirk, first officer of the U.S.S. Kelvin, who sacrifices his life in battle to ensure the survival of the rest of the crew, as well as that of his wife Winona as she gives birth to their son James T. Kirk. His death in the first few minutes of the film is what inspires Chris Pine's Kirk to join Starfleet.
Although Hemsworth's voice is heard in 2013's "Star Trek Into Darkness," it seems pretty clear that George Kirk is dead in the rebooted Kelvin Timeline. However, the franchise has never shied away from time travel or parallel universes, so either device could be used to reintroduce the elder Kirk. Or it could be a simple flashback, or a hologram -- that is, if Abrams isn't simply having a little fun with fans.
Directed by Justin Lin, "Star Trek Beyond" opens July 22 nationwide.