How are we supposed to react to the breaking rumor that J.J. Abrams has tapped his Star Trek Into Darkness villain, Benedict Cumberbatch, to join the still-formulating Star Wars: Episode VII? As rabid Sherlock fans, we should be jumping for joy that such a brilliant actor will step into a (hopefully) significant role for the franchise. And yet, there’s a part of us that remains burned by Abrams’ "Mystery Box" nonsense, and the lack of concrete facts has us withholding judgment.
Whenever major Star Wars news breaks, I love to get my friend and colleague Adam Frazier from Geeks of Doom on the horn. The man knows Star Wars, and I wanted his opinion on the casting rumor, and where Cumberbatch could fall into Lucas’ existing galaxies.
Sean: So, Adam, the news is "breaking" that Star Trek Into Darkness co-star Benedict Cumberbatch is following director J.J. Abrams to his pending Star Wars project. Not Simon Pegg, as many had hoped/believed. But Khan, himself. I, for one, believe adding Cumberbatch to ANY project is a step in the right direction. Do you see any problems with it? Do you think casting Cumberbatch in Star Wars is a good idea?
Adam Frazier: I think Cumberbatch is a great actor, but I'm a little worried. There's already this "Oh great, here comes J.J. Abrams to ruin another franchise" mentality out there on the Internet amongst fanboys. If you add on top of that, "Oh great, the guy who ruined Khan," the hate for Episode VII might surpass Ben Affleck as Batman. I personally don't have a problem with it -- but I want more diversity between those two franchises.
Sean: I understand that. Why do you think the knives are out for Star Wars already? It can't still be "prequel hate." Why has Abrams gone from "savior" to "potential demon" in the eyes of Star Wars faithful?
Adam: I'm not sure it's the Star Wars faithful that you have to worry about. It's everyone else. The Prequels have millions of apologists -- not to mention younger generations who love the Prequel Trilogy just as much as we loved the Original Trilogy. According to Star Trek fans, Star Trek into Darkness is apparently the worst Trek film ever made. It's that kind of over-the-top hatred that will doom Episode VII before we even know a single plot detail. You know what they say: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to... suffering.
Sean: OK, let's start thinking positive, because I think adding Cumberbatch can only help a project. Any project. He's a terrific actor, and he's about to show everyone his range in a series of major film dramas this fall. But in the Star Wars realm, do you have any guesses on who he might play?
Adam: It's hard to say, considering we know zero about the plot. But clearly, he's too old to play the offspring of Skywalker or Solo [based on the rumors so far about the ages of the supposed leads]. The Expanded Universe contains a wealth of material covering hundreds of novels, comics, and video games. There are so many characters and storylines with cinematic potential. I think he would make a great Grand Admiral Thrawn. But perhaps playing another iconic villain isn't the best move. I can hear it now: "Oh great, he's going to ruin Thrawn the way he ruined Khan!"
I would prefer to see him play a heroic character - maybe a Jedi - the Mace Windu to Old Man Luke's Yoda?