Kirk and Spock and the courageous crew of the USS Enterprise have triumphed over a universe-threatening menace once more! And with peace restored to the universe and dust settling on "Star Trek Beyond," we're thirsting to know what comes next!
True to his mystery box tactics, producer J.J. Abrams has been tight-lipped about "Star Trek 4," admitting little more than a story for the sequel is already in the works and that "it's incredibly exciting." However, Paramount Pictures hasn't been so shy about teasing the fourth film in the franchise promising some surprising returns, and some regrettable goodbyes. With eyes to the next destination on our journeys through the final frontier, CBR digs into the questions "Star Trek Beyond" set up, and explore where the answers might lead us in the franchise's next much-anticipated adventure.
10 How will the next film handle the death of Anton Yelchin?
Just one month ahead of "Star Trek Beyond"s worldwide debut, the young actor who played lovable Russian navigator Pavel Chekov died in a fluke accident. Because the film was more or less completed, the only apparent change to its final cut was a dedication title card during the end credits, which reads simply "For Anton." But in the wake of this terrible event, there are three possible ways Paramount can move forward in "Star Trek 4."
The first is they could recast the role. But producer J.J. Abrams has already assured fans that won't happen, promising, "I would say there's no replacing him. There's no recasting. I can't possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better."
That leads us to option two: they could kill Chekov off. Abrams has admitted that is a possibility. But this won't happen, because there's no good options there. Sure, they could briefly bring the character back by pulling some tricks from "Furious 7," which employed previous footage, CGI, and body doubles to give the late Paul Walker's character a graceful exit. But more likely, Chekov would die offscreen, as Leonard Nimoy's older Spock does in "Star Trek Beyond."
However, Spock's death serves the two-fold purpose in "Star Trek Beyond," paying tribute the legacy of Nimoy and giving the rebooted Spock (played by Zachary Quinto) motivation to muse over his own mortality and what choices he must make in his life. Killing off Chekov could feel too much like a retread of this dual-device, making its inclusion feel shallow. But whether Chekov would die on or offscreen, it will play badly, as audiences will be woefully reminded of the Yelchin's tragic end. Instead, the lesson Paramount should take from "Furious 7" is how the film shifted -- albeit a bit conveniently and unbelievably -- to give a happy ending to a character whose actor wasn't so lucky.
"Star Trek" fans don't want Chekov to die. Yelchin's death has been traumatic enough. Instead, our bet is that the screenwriters will give Chekov a more heartwarming out. We predict Checkov will be written off the ship with a simple dialogue line, placing him happily and canonically far, far away. Perhaps the writers could play into "Beyond"s setup of Chekov as a ladies' man, and have him settling down with the gurgling alien girl he's seen chatting up in the film's final scene. A photoshopped pic with him and his extraterrestrial gal on a honeymoon would be gravy. (Kristy Puchko)
9 What happened to Krall's weapon?
The "Star Trek Beyond" McGuffin is an ancient biological weapon introduced in the very first scene that essentially reduces organic life to dust. In the film's third act, the malevolent Krall races to unleash its horrible destructive power on the colony of Yorktown in a desperate and deranged suicide mission. But just in the nick of time, Kirk boots this life-sucking terrorist through the bay doors and out into space, where the eviscerating device gobbles up Krall's every molecule before he can shut it off. Which means this biological WMD is still activated. Which means it is capable of eradicating any organic life it comes in contact with as it swirls through space. At best, it's a PR nightmare for the Federation. At worst, it could mean an entire planet gets wiped out in minutes. Sounds like retrieving and permanently deactivating that device might need to be the next Enterprise mission, doesn't it? (Kristy Puchko)
8 Where does theÂ Spock/Uhura relationshipÂ go from here?
Â One of the most revolutionary yet felt-so-right new twists in 2009's "Star Trek," the first film in the rebooted Kelvin timeline, was the revelation of the romance between the Science Officer and his now-mentee and soon-to-be communication chief. Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana clearly clicked, their scenes together were on point, and fans new and established really responded to the idea of a relationship between the two characters.
Yet in the two sequels since, now deep into the five year mission, there's been scant evolution in this provocative pairing, beyond some basic couple-y bickering. It's definitely time to take this romance to the next logical level -- perhaps it's time to see how a pon farr plotline might test their love. If nothing else, it would allow Saldana to play a bigger role in the next "Star Trek" film than she was given in "Beyond." (Scott Huver)
7 Is it time to introduce a new visual aesthetic? [SPOILERS]
When the next film in the series kicks off, the crew will man an entirely new incarnation of the Enterprise, which may make the time ripe to evolve the look and feel on the current "Trek" iteration from the ship on down.
The novelty of the old school '66-era uniforms hasn't quite worn off, but each of the three films often seems to be bending over backward to keep Kirk, at least, in something other than the gold command shirt. The timing would be right for a style upgrade -- yet perhaps still in retrograde: a nostalgic but modernized tweak on the classic red-jacketed uniforms of "Star Treks II-VI" would warm even a Vulcan's logical heart. "Beyond" started to take the franchise -- well, beyond -- some of the trappings of "Star Trek's" 50-year history, and a visual upgrade could be just what it needs to cross beyond the final fashion frontier. (Scott Huver)
6 How important is it that Sulu is gay?
In terms of plot? Not much at all. The much-discussed reveal that Sulu is gay boils down mostly to one scene where he and the Enterprise visit the bustling space colony of Yorktown. There, Kirk watches as Sulu rushes to reunite with his young daughter, accompanied by a handsome, broad-shouldered Asian man. Sulu hugs his daughter, then embraces the man as the three walk away exchanging warm pleasantries.
There's no kiss. No dramatic coming out scene. No shock or disgust graces Kirk's face as he witnesses this family reunion. Those unaware of the recent headlines might not even recognize the unnamed man as Sulu's husband. However, Sulu's family living on Yorktown is the film's sole means of personalizing the stakes when the whole colony is threatened by the homicidal Krall. As dangerous pieces of debris crash into pristine public squares, director Justin Lin includes a shot of Sulu's husband whisking their daughter to safety. It's a small moment meant to make audiences gasp as we realize the loved ones of our crew are under threat.
But Sulu being gay matters in a much more profound way. The "Star Trek" franchise has always focused on what humanity could aspire to if we embraced our differences and celebrated our commonality. This inclusive move is a remarkable way to further Gene Roddenberry's message and expand the storytelling world he created, even if not everyone sees it that way. Beyond that, representation matters. The visibility of Sulu's husband and child and the way it is presented warmly and casually could mean the world to LGBTQA people who too often see themselves excluded or erased from popular culture. (Kristy Puchko)
5 How will Chris Hemsworth return?
Introduced in the first film as Captain Kirk's dad who bravely sacrificed himself to save his crew, George Kirk died long ago in this timeline. Of course, time travel exists on the final frontier. It's popped up in "Star Trek" television episodes, as well as in the 2009 reboot. And with "Beyond" focusing on James T. Kirk comparing himself to his dad and his legacy, the path is paved for a time-traveling reunion.
Perhaps Captain Kirk will make the leap into an alternate timeline where his father didn't die on the USS Kelvin. Perhaps Kirk will pull a "Doctor Who" move and travel back to that pivotal moment to aid his dad in that dire time. Or perhaps the Kirks paths will cross in a time before the Kelvin's destruction. Maybe the pair will butt heads and we'll all get to enjoy what happens when two stubborn and arguably reckless captains collide! (Kristy Puchko)
4 What's next for Jaylah?
In our review, I gushed about "Star Trek Beyond"s edgy addition. Portrayed by the dazzling and intimidating Sofia Boutella, Jaylah is an alien warrior hardened by conflict, yet open-hearted enough to risk her own safety to help the Enterprise crew. Her fighting skills saved Scotty, and later her own skin. Her engineering expertise gives the Enterprise crew a ship. Her tech gifts them a distraction for their escape plan. She's a force to be reckoned with, and with an engaging backstory to boot!
Because Krall killed her people, Jaylah has a pretty single-minded focus on getting off his hellhole of a planet. Yet her desire to stay true to herself and her humanity keeps her open to helping Kirk and company. And by movie's end, she's rewarded with entrance into the Starfleet Academy. Jaylah, who's been guarded for so long, smiles, rejoicing in her re-entry to civilization. So will she suit up in "one of those uniforms" for the Enterprise's next adventure?
The script isn't written, so it could be up to the fans. Despite J.J. Abrams' controversial ogling of Alice Eve in "Star Trek Into Darkness," audiences did not warm to her stern Dr. Carol Marcus, who is not even mentioned in "Star Trek Beyond." But Boutella's Jaylah is getting early buzz. And if Trekkies rally behind the white-haired hero as critics are, it's possible that this hip hop-loving engineer who packs a punch could come back as part of the Enterprise's massive crew. As much fun as this reboot has with the pint-sized, acid-sneezing alien played by Deep Roy, Jaylah's suffer-no-fools attitude could make her a far more entertaining assistant to Scotty in the engine room. (Kristy Puchko)
3 Should the lead crew members have a better gender balance?
Genre entertainment in general and "Star Trek" in particular have always been on the cutting edge of gender empowerment, and the time seems right to focus on equality by bringing more woman in key leading roles among the Enterprise crew. The film established Jaylah as an intriguing character and would make a fine addition to the crew, especially if Kirk mentors her in the way Captain Pike did for him.
There are also some rich-with-potential established female "Trek" characters to reimagine, including series semi-regulars like Yeoman Janice Rand and Nurse/Dr. Christine Chapel; juicy antagonists like the Romulan Commander of "The Enterprise Incident"; and otherworldly yet underdeveloped movie characters like the sexually pheremonal helm officer Lt. Ilia of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." The next movie could also intro a younger, more undisciplined take on Lt. Saavik, the Romulan/Vulcan hybrid. (Scott Huver)
2 Is the time right for a more comedic adventure?
The Kelvin timeline version of "Star Trek" has certainly demonstrated it has a sharp sense of humor and a solid tonal sense of where to drop the one-liners. One assumes the extra-witty qualities of "Star Trek Beyond" were bolstered by the wry sensibilities of co-writer Simon Pegg (his first timing writing a "Trek" movie after two previous movies as part of the cast).
Deftly told comedic adventures have always held a special place in "Star Trek" storytelling, from "The Trouble With the Tribbles" and "I, Mudd" to "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." This crew seems especially primed to bring a lighthearted touch to the proceedings, so perhaps they should set their phasers for "fun" on their next mission. Whether or not Pegg is part of the writing of "Star Trek IV," the cast and sensibilities of the franchise seem ripe for more laughs. (Scott Huver)
1 Is it time for the themeÂ to get more Roddenberrian?
The three "Star Trek" movies released since 2009 have delivered on action, excitement and a vibe that hews close to the spirit of the original series. They've also gone heavy on excellent character development among the principals. Thematically, though, it's zipped past some of the wonderful Big Picture concepts that powered some of "Trek's" most imaginative and thought-provoking instalments -- the kind of moral dilemmas and social commentary that first prompted Gene Roddenberry to create the series in the first place: the future as a vehicle for commentary on who we are today and who we might become.
It seems high time for our beloved crew to enter a weightier universe that prompts thorny questions, philosophical arguments that get personal and a deeper sense of soul-searching -- in between the phaser fire, transporter saves and warp speed rescues, of course. (Scott Huver)