Of all of J.J. Abrams’ directorial efforts, none is quite as widely maligned as the sequel to his rebooted Star Trek, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Shortly after its release, it was voted the worst Trek movie in the canon at a fan convention (below even Galaxy Quest, which, as you’re probably aware, isn’t actually a Star Trek movie). Though that may have been a harsh, reactionary response, Abrams himself admitted there was at least one big problem with Into Darkness.
Chatting with late night talk show host Stephen Colbert at the Montclair Film Festival over the weekend in New Jersey, a "celebrity nerd off" witnessed by Rolling Stone, Abrams admitted:
[T]here were too many nods to '[Star Trek II]: The Wrath of Khan.' I'll cop to that.
The most obvious of these nods is, of course, that the primary antagonist, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, does in fact turn out to be Khan Noonien Singh, who is, as you probably guessed, the very same Khan from The Wrath of Khan. You also likely recall the whole hullabaloo building up to Into Darkness where Abrams, Cumberbatch, Bad Robot, and everyone else involved in the film swore up and down that the villain was not Khan, calling everyone who had this theory crazy along the way. Yeah, that still stings for a lot of people.
This isn’t he first time that Abrams has admitted there were problems with Star Trek Into Darkness. A while back he said that before they even started filming, there were "fundamental story problems" with the picture, which seems like a dubious way to embark on a massive, multi-million dollar movie production.
While it gets a bad rap, Into Darkness performed well enough with both critics and general audiences. It still maintains an 87% Fresh rating at review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a 90% audience approval score. It also earned $467 million at the worldwide box office, a marked improvement over Star Trek’s $385 million global haul few years earlier. Still, despite all of that, the film appears destined to go down in history as something of a misstep in the eyes of many.
Next summer we’ll get the third installment in the rebooted franchise, Star Trek Beyond. While the cast remains primarily the same, with a few new additions like Idris Elba, the behind the scenes personnel has changed quite a bit. J.J. Abrams has moved on to helm Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and after some turmoil, Fast and Furious’ Justin Lin took over the big chair. Star Simon Pegg, along with Doug Jung, wrote the latest version of the script, which reportedly finds the crew of the Enterprise in the midst of their five-year journey to seek out new life and whatnot.
Star Trek Beyond opens on July 22, 2016, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens is right around the corner, opening on December 18.