Patience is a virtue, but indeed a virtue difficult to acquire when the summer movie season looms. How can we be reasonably asked to wait until, say, May 17th to find out what happens in one of the biggest movies of the year? I’m speaking of course about J.J. Abrams’ film Star Trek Into Darkness. We’ve been teased for months with sensational trailers, the most recent being the international trailer, and then we’re asked to sit patiently until the film's distant release?
More so than any other movie of the 2013 summer season, Star Trek Into Darkness tasks us. Abrams has always closely guarded the secrets of his films, even going so far as to build enclosures around his sets to keep prying eyes from snapping unauthorized production photos. Therefore, we are forced more than usual to rely upon deductions from the trailers to guide our pre-conceived notions of the movie. Granted, trying to accurately predict the course of an entire film from its trailer is the visual media equivalent of judging a book by its cover. But close examination of the marketing material so far, when viewed comparatively to other recent films, has yielded one possible theory.
Star Trek Into Darkness will be the Skyfall of its franchise.
Be forewarned, there will be Skyfall spoilers here. Let’s consider the plethora of similarities between the facts of Skyfall and what we know of Star Trek Into Darkness so far. First off, we are currently at about the same point in the lives of the two main characters at hand: Jameses Kirk and Bond. Bond may have existed in film for the last 50 years, but Skyfall takes place within a brand new origin arc for Bond. Abrams’ Star Trek is similarly rebooting Kirk, bringing us into the story just as he’s being established. By the end of Skyfall, Bond is a full-fledged double-O agent, re-committed to his work with a new M and young Q in place. Meanwhile, Kirk, as we know from the last film, is the recently appointed captain of the Starship Enterprise.
Just as Bond is getting established, he faces his greatest challenge at the hands of a former MI-6 agent, played by Javier Bardem. Silva, as he is called, launches an attack on the MI-6 headquarters in London. In the international trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, it is made clear to us that villain Benedict Cumberbatch is playing a former Starfleet agent and the inciting action of the film appears to be his attack on a Federation building… in London. Cumberbatch’s voiceover espouses, “Your commanders have committed a crime I cannot forgive.” It’s the same vaguely religious vendetta call as Bardem’s “Think on your sins” from Skyfall.
In the trailer, we also see Kirk in a great assembly hall during a firefight. This of course mirrors the gunfight that breaks out during M’s deposition in Skyfall. In fact, the craft Cumberbatch pilots to launch this assault, the one hovering outside the window, closely resembles a helicopter. Likewise, Silva mounts a full-scale siege on Bond’s family home in Skyfall. The aim of both villains is to annihilate everything for which our heroes, respectively, stand. Cumberbatch’s actions are no doubt the cause of the all the coffins we see in the Star Trek Into Darkness trailers. A shot of M standing before the coffins of fallen MI-6 agents was a central piece of imagery in the Skyfall trailer.
Then we come to the interrogation scene. One of the biggest clichés of 2012 was the “bad guy gets caught on purpose” trope. This occurred in The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and, yes, even Skyfall. In fact, in both Skyfall and The Avengers, the premeditated capture lead to imprisonment in a glass holding cell. In the trailer for Abrams’ new Star Trek film, Cumberbatch is at one point clearly being held in a glass cell, and exchanging ominous quips with Kirk the whole time. His confidence in that scene would suggest that his incarceration is indeed part of his master plan. The line, “You think you’re safe, you are not,” certainly lends further evidence to that supposition.
The opening scene of Skyfall, and thereby one of the earliest sights in its trailer, was Bond falling from a bridge into the waters below. This is of course an overt metaphor for his fall from grace and a foreshadowing of his eventual descent into a personal hell. Kirk and Bones also experience a tumble from dizzying heights into the sea in the STID trailer. In fact, falling imagery is plentiful throughout. At one point, the Enterprise itself plummets into the ocean from space. What could serve as a better metaphor for the severity of the trials facing Kirk’s crew than the sky itself falling down around them?
And finally, we come to the promise of death in the Star Trek Into Darkness trailers. We see two hands meeting from opposite sides of a pane of glass — an image rife with dreadful connotation for Trek fans. It mirrors Spock’s final moments of life in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The international trailer for the upcoming film additionally has Cumberbatch stating that he will walk over the cold corpses of the crew. In Skyfall, Silva decimates Bond’s world by killing M; as fundamental a moment for the Bond franchise as Spock’s death was for Trek’s.
Judi Dench’s M is the person who, under the new timeline of Craig’s films, guides Bond as he makes the transition to double-O agent; she is effectively a mother figure for him. Her death forces Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes, to step in and not only assume the mantle of M, but also usher in a new era. Given that the international STID trailer introduces a new Starfleet officer played by Peter Weller, and given the heavy insinuation that someone is going to perish in the movie, our prediction is that Commander Pike will not make it out of the sequel alive.
So what do you think about the similarities? What other conclusions can we draw about Star Trek into Darkness from the Skyfall model? And how do we think (and hope) they will differ? Sound off in the comments section and let us know!