While we live in a time when Star Trek TV shows are once again plentiful (keep up with those using a Paramount+ subscription), it’s been a while since the sci-fi franchise has left an impact in the cinematic arena. Following the release of Star Trek Beyond in 2016, there have been numerous attempts to get Star Trek 4 off the ground, and the first iteration of that movie would have seen Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk meeting his late father, Chris Hemsworth’s George Kirk. It no longer seems like that version of Star Trek 4 will see the light of way, but the writers behind it have revealed some details about what would have happened, including how the two Chrises would have crossed paths.
As those who’ve seen 2009’s Star Trek will recall, in the Kelvin timeline, George Kirk sacrificed his life crashing the USS Kelvin into Nero’s mining ship so that the survivors from the Kelvin could escape, and this happened shortly after James Kirk was born. So naturally there was the big question of how the adult James would end up meeting his father, who was not just still alive, but the same age as when he’d seemingly perished. J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, the writers behind this version of Star Trek 4 (and these days are the showrunners of Rings of Power, which can be watched with a Prime Video subscription), revealed that rather than have this meeting take place as a result of time travel or some kind of hallucination/dream sequence, they took a cue from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Payne explained to Esquire:
Patrick McKay added that James T. Kirk and the other USS Enterprise crew members would have sought out the wreckage of the Kelvin “because of a mystery and a new villain.” After stumbling across George Kirk’s pattern, they would have reconstituted him, and he would have no idea how much time had passed, let alone that the man captaining this ship is his adult son. McKay also described his and J.D. Payne’s take on Star Trek 4 as “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in space” with a “really cool 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque sci-fi idea at the core.”
J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who’d already done uncredited rewrites on Star Trek Beyond, worked on Star Trek 4 for two and a half years with executive producer Lindsey Weber (who now works with these two on Rings of Power), and by spring 2018, S.J. Clarkson had been lined up to direct. However, by the following summer, it was reported that Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth exited talks with Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media due to pay disputes, and by January 2019, it was said that this version of Star Trek 4 had been “shelved.” Hemsworth later said that he turned down Star Trek 4 because he didn’t approve of the script.
Star Trek 4 has since passed through the hands of various other writers and directors, and while Chris Hemsworth will be seen in the coming years in Extraction 2, Furiosa and potentially another MCU project involving Thor, there’s been no indication he’s been recruited back to the next Star Trek movie. The project was recently dealt another blow when the previously-attached director, Matt Shakman, left to helm Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four reboot, resulting in Paramount taking it out of the December 22, 2023 slot.
Once again, we’re at a point where it’s unclear where things stand with Star Trek 4, but once that changes either way, CinemaBlend will let you know. Catch Chris Hemsworth’s latest appearance as the MCU’s God of Thunder by streaming Thor: Love and Thunder with your Disney+ subscription.
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