Ever since J.J. Abrams successfully brought Leonard Nimoy back into the Star Trek fold for his 2009 reboot of the series (using time travel to allow older Nimoy the chance to interact with a younger Spock), a quiet groundswell of support for William Shatner has existed on the Trek timeline to find a way to also include James T. Kirk in this reconfigured storyline. Shatner, himself, has fanned the flames, but those hoping for a surprise in this year’s Star Trek Beyond better brace for disappointment.
Star Trek, as a whole, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Paramount is working hard to make sure that it has a fantastic Trek in theaters to commemorate the landmark. Some viewed this as a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to William Shatner’s contributions to the franchise, but it now appears that nothing really happened behind the scenes to make this dream become a reality. In an interview with SFX Magazine (via GamesRadar.com), Shatner admitted:
There was never a conversation.
And with that, Shatner set his phaser to stun and shocked the Star Trek rumor mill into an uncomfortable silence.
Rumors of William Shatner’s return to his signature role have popped up at various points of development in Star Trek Beyond. Back with Roberto Orci was tasked with directing the follow-up to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, there was talk of an alternate-universe Kirk interacting with Chris Pine’s younger, more modern Captain Kirk. Reports, at the time, even entertained the notion of using a holodeck Kirk. From what it sounded like, the creative team behind this third Star Trek was just looking for ways to include William Shatner’s Kirk, because fans reacted to strongly to Leonard Nimoy’s Spock role in 2009 Star Trek. Sadly, it doesn’t sound like it worked out.
There’s always the possibility, however, that this is misdirection on the part of Shatner to throw rabid Star Trek fans off of the scent of his glorious cameo. Obviously, this Star Trek series isn’t opposed to lying to its fanbase to protect secrets (cough, cough "Cumberbatch is Khan"). And as we mentioned above, bringing William Shatner back, in some form, for Star Trek Beyond would be an outstanding way to pay tribute to Trek on its 50th birthday. But it’s also highly possible that the screenwriters on Justin Lin’s movie just never cracked the code on a realistic way to bring William Shatner back, so they went in a different direction.
Star Trek Beyond will be in theaters on July 22. What do you think? Do you believe we will see a William Shatner cameo as Kirk? Or has that Enterprise already sailed?