6 Classic Star Trek Villains Idris Elba Should Play

Idris Elba as the villain in Star Trek 3? We definitely like the sound of that. The rebooted franchise made use of probably the best bad guy in the canon when Benedict Cumberbatch revived Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness. That’s a hard act to follow, but there is no shortage of awesome antagonists to pick and choose from, and we’re certain, whatever character he plays, Elba is up to the challenge. We can’t wait to see the star of The Wire bring his calm, cool menace and air of gravity to Star Trek 3.

Fast 5 helmer Justin Lin is stepping into the chair vacated by J.J. Abrams (and Roberto Orci), and will work from a script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. We don’t know much about the plot, except that it will reportedly take place in deep space, with the crew of the Enterprise finally in the midst of their five-year mission. The party line has largely been that they’ll encounter Klingons (again, finally), who haven’t much figured into the rebooted films up to now. Whether or not that is indeed the case, we’ve come up with a collection of Trek villains Elba could play, both Klingon and non.

General Chang

Christopher Plummer leaves some big shoes to fill, but when you can quote Shakespeare in the middle of a pitched battle, you certainly leave a lasting impression. Piloting an experimental Bird-of-Prey that can fire while cloaked, Chang tries to frame Captain Kirk for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon, of the Klingon High Council, in an attempt to derail peace talks between the warlike alien race and the United Federation of Planets. Chang is vicious, intelligent, and has a stern presence that we think Elba would absolutely kill. And best of all? He has a damn eye patch. What more do you need out of a sci-fi movie villain? This would be one hell of a way reintroduce the Klingons to the fold, and would sow lasting seeds of distrust between the two sides, paving the way for more conflicts to come.

Commander Kruge

Killing the protagonist’s son certainly establishes your villain street cred. While we don’t think Kirk is going to have a son to kill in Star Trek 3, Kruge -- the commanding officer on a Klingon Bird-of-Prey -- has enough going on that he could still make a cool potential villain. Kruge has something of a god complex. His crew in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock refers to him as "my lord." And going down this path would also provide the opportunity to bring the Genesis Device into the mix. Kruge wants to hijack the Federation tech designed to terraform a planet and repurpose it, using its massive power to destroy worlds, instead. And if they want to stick close to the original, there’s already a pretty sweet climax, as Kirk and Kruge have a brutal fight to the death as a plant crumbles and burns around them.

Admiral Cartwright

For a republic based on peace, equality, and liberty, the United Federation of Planets is full of people who appear to be working against every single one of those principles. Admiral Cartwright is the second person on this list to try to sabotage peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Kirk was always suspicious of Cartwright’s motivations, and turns out he was on the right track. The Starfleet officer used his position to try to bring the Klingons to their knees, as well as to abolish the Klingon Neutral Zone. He is a key player in the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, which, of course, gets blamed on Kirk and Bones. Cartwright apparently already exists in the new timeline, however, and is present when Kirk is promoted to captain of the Enterprise, so that could be a tricky fact to work around.

The God of Sha Ka Ree

There aren’t many actors who have the countenance required to play a god, but after watching him as Heimdall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’re pretty convinced Elba could pull this off. Not actually an according-to-Hoyle deity, and more of a malevolent, non-corporeal entity—think an angry ball of self-aware gas or energy—this being lures the crew of the Enterprise to the planet in the center of the galaxy where it has been imprisoned, looking for an avenue of escape. Any god, real or fake, needs a deep, booming voice, and though the character presents a number of faces, Elba certainly has the vocal chords required to pull this off. When he talks, people listen. Following this storyline also comes with some ready made drama as both Kirk and Bones get blasted with bolts of energy, and the arc also prominently features Spock’s half brother, Sybok.


Sure, Zachary Quinto and Elba don’t look anything alike, but Spock and Sybok are only half brothers, after all. Vulcans may be the most logical race in the galaxy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own mythology. The radical elder brother, Sybok seeks out experiences and knowledge forbidden to his people, embracing emotion and self-awareness over rationality and reason. This quest leads to his banishment, but he is able to amass followers and seize control of the Enterprise. Following visions from what he thinks is a god, he takes the whole party on the road to the mythical planet he believes to be Sha Ka Ree, where, according to Vulcan legend, all life began. There is a lot going on in this storyline, and this could be an interesting avenue to explore, especially for Spock. Also, Sybok likes to talk about pain, which is creepy.

The Gorn

To be honest, I don’t think this is even a possibility, and considering that the Gorn is essentially just a pissed off, one-dimensional space lizard with a grudge, it would be a waste of an actor of Elba’s caliber. There’s not a lot of character to work with, or dialogue to say, and something like this is probably more suited to a performer who has specific strengths with motion capture. Mostly, I just want to see what a modern incarnation of this brutal warrior would look like on the big screen, and the idea of Captain Kirk squaring off against a big ass reptile sounds like a pretty good time.

There are, of course, countless other villains Elba could wind up playing. Klaa is another Klingon option, Admiral Dougherty is yet another Federation bad apple, and Soran causes the death of James T. Kirk, which would be memorable. Then again, this rebooted franchise has shown a willingness to introduce fresh enemies, like Nero, as well as mine the series' past for antagonists, so it’s just as likely Elba’s character will turn out to be a new big bad. At this point, we only really know one thing for sure: he’s not Khan. We think.

Brent McKnight