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"Four years? I'll do it in three."
- - James T. Kirk to Christopher Pike, 2255
James Tiberius Kirk was a 23rd century Human Federation Starfleet officer. As a Starfleet cadet, he was instrumental in the defeat and death of Nero, a Romulan bent on the obliteration of the United Federation of Planets. As a result, he was commissioned directly to the rank of captain and appointed as commanding officer of the service's flagship, the USS Enterprise. (Star Trek)
About a year later in 2259, Kirk faced Khan, an enhanced human with superior strength and intellect. However, the crew of the Enterprise managed to stop him, following the sacrifice of Kirk. Spock managed to capture Khan with the help of Uhura and Dr. McCoy managed to revive Kirk. Afterwards, the Enterprise set out on the first five-year mission. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
James T. Kirk was the son of Starfleet officer George Kirk, first officer of the USS Kelvin and his wife Winona Kirk. He was born aboard the Kelvin's medical shuttle no. 37, in the midst of an unprovoked attack on the Kelvin by the Narada, a 24th century Romulan mining vessel commanded by Nero. Winona had been evacuated from the severely-crippled Kelvin along with the rest of the crew and gave birth to James while George Kirk died piloting the Kelvin into the Narada in a kamikaze attack. He was named James Tiberius after Winona's father and George's father, respectively.
Jim was raised in Iowa, in Midwestern North America, on Earth. His mother remarried. As a young boy, Jim had a somewhat rebellious streak in him as he once, for example, stole his stepfather's '65 Chevy Corvette convertible, drove it recklessly, got into a high speed chase with local police, then nearly died when he barely managed to jump out, as he drove it into a quarry. As he grew up he had little sense of purpose and by 2255, he was an aimless rebel who had found himself on the wrong side of the law on more than one occasion.
While visiting a bar near the Riverside Shipyard, an inebriated Jim met and began flirting with a Starfleet cadet named Nyota Uhura. Although annoyed by Jim's advances, Uhura was surprised that Jim knew what was involved in the study of xenolinguistics. Moments later, Jim engaged in a bar fight with three male cadets who were irritated at his cocky attitude and the attention he was giving Uhura. He was ultimately overwhelmed by the cadets until Captain Christopher Pike broke up the fight. Pike, who wrote his dissertation on the USS Kelvin and was familiar with Jim's story pushed the young man to challenge himself and reach the greater potential he was capable of achieving, calling him "the only genius level repeat offender in the Midwest".
Pike tried to persuade him to join Starfleet, firmly believing that he could do more with himself than get into bar fights and break all the laws in the state of Iowa. Kirk laughed at the idea of joining Starfleet, but Pike reassured him that with his "off-the-chart" aptitude he could make captain and have his own ship in only eight years. He reminded him that his father had saved eight-hundred lives, including Jim's and his mother's, and dared young Kirk to do better.
Soon after their conversation, and to the surprise of Pike, Jim decided to enlist with the intent of completing the Academy training in three years. He rode onto the shipyard, gave his bike to a construction worker, and boarded a shuttle for new recruits heading to Starfleet Academy. It was on his trip to the Academy where he first met and befriended Doctor Leonard McCoy.
Kirk and McCoy became close friends at the Academy, though Kirk frequently exasperated McCoy with his maverick nature. Kirk had an eye for attractive female cadets and he once ended up in the dormitory of an Orion female cadet named Gaila. He was caught and hid under the bed when her roommate, Cadet Uhura, arrived unexpectedly. On discovering him, she angrily threw him out.
It was at the Academy that Kirk also met Commander Spock. Kirk had failed the Kobayashi Maru examination twice but decided to take it a third time, being sure that he would succeed. He eventually managed to cheat the test and won. Spock, who programmed the "no-win scenario," investigated the matter.
While discussing his cheating ways with his superiors, Kirk argued that the test itself was a cheat, and stated that he didn't believe in the no-win scenario. Kirk asked to face his accuser, and Spock stepped up. This was the first time the two met and clashed over their differences.
Kirk and Spock continued to engage in a heated argument (the accused becoming particularly agitated when Spock suggested that, "of all people", George Kirk's son should recognize the no-win scenario), when the hearing was suddenly interrupted after Starfleet had found out that Vulcan was under attack by Nero.
Many of the cadets were called into action after the news but Kirk - who had been suspended because of his recent academic dishonesty charges - was not allowed to join. McCoy, however, was able to get him aboard the Enterprise by injecting him with a vaccine that temporarily rendered him sick so he could be transfered to the ship on medical grounds.
Kirk tried telling Captain Pike and Spock about Nero's attack and his trap and with the help of McCoy and Uhura he was able to convince Pike about the trap. Pike raised the Enterprise's shields as they entered the Vulcan system, only to find a massive debris field of destroyed Federation starships having been attacked by Nero.
Along with Chief Engineer Olson and Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, Kirk skydived onto the platform. Facing off against two of Nero's crew, Kirk and Sulu eventually killed both of their adversaries before destroying the platform, but not in time to prevent Nero from successfully completing his plan to destroy the planet Vulcan.
After returning to the Enterprise, Kirk attempted to dissuade Commander Spock from a rendezvous with the rest of Starfleet at the Laurentian system. He urged him to go after the Narada as the ship left for Earth rather than waste time trying to gather additional forces in the opposite direction, but Spock was relentless. When Kirk became more and more heated in his objections, Spock finally ordered Kirk's removal from the bridge, knocked him out and threw him off the ship in an escape pod.
Marooned on Delta Vega
Kirk landed on Delta Vega, some kilometers away from a Starfleet outpost. Despite an inhospitable environment, he left his escape pod and soon was chased into a cave by a predatory creature. Just as he was about to be eaten, the creature was was scared off by an elderly Vulcan man, who revealed himself to be Spock from a future time, which Kirk dismissed as "bullshit" – but changed his mind when the old man mentioned Nero. Spock revealed to Kirk through a mind meld Nero's intentions, also telling him that in his timeline, Kirk was the captain of the Enterprise. Understanding that their only hope was to have the Enterprise pursue the Narada instead of returning to the fleet, they realized that they had to get the other Spock to step down from command. Fortunately, while the Enterprise had long since left the system, Spock was aware that one of the officers at the nearby outpost was Montgomery Scott, who in his universe had devised a way to transport onto a ship at warp speeds. Giving Scotty his own equations a century ahead of schedule, before beaming the pair onto the Enterprise, Spock advised Kirk to elicit an emotional reaction from the young Spock so that everyone could see that he was emotionally compromised and not fit for command, stating that the only way to defeat Nero was for Kirk to take command of the ship himself.
Following the advice of Ambassador Spock, Kirk goaded Spock with assertions that Spock cared nothing for what had happened to Vulcan or the death of his mother, whom he accused Spock of never having loved. The last remark did the job and Spock violently attacked Kirk before Spock's father stepped in and stopped him. Spock immediately relinquished command. Kirk, as acting first officer, took command and ordered pursuit course of the Narada to Earth.
Spock, deferring to Kirk as captain, successfully beamed onto the Narada with Kirk. After an intense firefight in which they killed several Romulans, they made it to the elder Spock's ship. Upon being identified as its pilot, Spock quickly realized exactly who Kirk's unknown benefactor had been. Leaving Spock to secure the ship, Kirk went to retrieve Captain Pike. In searching for the captain he encountered Nero and his first officer Ayel. The pair easily overpowered him, but when Nero, after boasting that he would kill Kirk just like his father, discovered that Spock had destroyed the drill, he furiously returned to the bridge. Initially, Kirk was no match for Ayel either, but the overconfident Romulan was too busy mocking his "weak" victim to notice the theft of his disruptor. Offered the chance to speak, Kirk's "last words" were "I got your gun!". After retrieving Pike – who repaid his defenseless savior by grabbing the stolen disruptor and gunning down two Romulans walking in on the escape – and against Spock's advice once again, Kirk decided to give Nero and his remaining crew a chance to beam to the Enterprise and surrender. After Nero strongly declined, Kirk decided to fire all weapons and the Narada was finally destroyed.
Captain of the USS Enterprise
Upon his return to Earth, Kirk was commended and officially appointed as Captain of the Enterprise by Admiral Richard Barnett for his actions, which demonstrated his ability as an extremely able commanding officer fully capable of leading a Federation starship crew in the most dire of situations.
Dressed in his new captain's uniform, Kirk took command of the Enterprise. Commander Spock arrived and requested the permanent post as Kirk's first officer, which Kirk was honored to accept. (Star Trek)
Nibiru and Demotion
A year later, Kirk violated the Prime Directive on Nibiru, saving Spock's life while exposing the Enterprise to the primitive Nibirans, who began worshipping the ship as a god. Returning to Earth, Pike informed Kirk the Admiralty headed by Alexander Marcus would be sending him back to the Academy, and that perhaps he had been promoted too soon. That night, Kirk drowned his sorrows in a bar, when Pike appeared to inform he had convinced Marcus to let him appoint Kirk his first officer, because he still had faith in the young man.
The two then attended a summit in the Daystrom Conference Room at Starfleet Headquarters regarding the bombing of the Kelvin Memorial Archive in London. Marcus ordered a manhunt for the perpetrator, a rogue Commander named John Harrison. Kirk analyzed surveillance of Harrison at the debris site, and questioned why Harrison bombed a public library for the information he needed. He then realized Harrison would be aware protocol dictated such an attack would precipitate meetings like these: Harrison showed up in an attack vehicle and opened fire.
Kirk attached a fire hose to a rifle and threw it into the fighter's engine, causing it to crash. Before it did, Harrison glared at Kirk and beamed himself away. Kirk returned to the conference room to find Spock with Pike, who had died of a chest wound, and mourned. The next morning, Scott informed Kirk that Harrison had used the confiscated transwarp beaming formula to escape to Qo'noS, heart of the Klingon Empire. Kirk informed Marcus, who gave him permission to hunt down and execute Harrison.
To do so, Marcus gave the Enterprise 72 experimental photon torpedoes to bombard Harrison's location from orbit, and assigned weapons expert Carol Wallace to the Enterprise. At a hangar, McCoy expressed his belief that Harrison was out of Kirk's league, while Spock protested executing Harrison without trial was immoral. Aboard the ship, Scott protested about not being allowed to examine the torpedoes, and not having time to examine the faulty new warp core. Kirk accepted Scott and Keenser's resignation, and appointed Chekov to replace them. Dejected, Kirk decided to listen to his crew's advice and announced they would find Harrison and bring him back for a tribunal.
Before reaching Qo'noS, the Enterprise's warp core broke down, so Kirk took an away team with Spock, Uhura and Hendorff to find Harrison. Acting captain Sulu broadcasted a message to Harrison. Kirk's ship was attacked by a Klingon patrol, and despite maneuvering it through a narrowing gate, they found themselves surrounded. Kirk allowed Uhura to exit the ship and negotiate with the Klingons, but they refused to listen and tried to kill her. Kirk and Spock came out firing phasers, but Harrison appeared and singlehandedly killed all the Klingons. Kirk accepted Harrison's surrender, but spitefully punched him, only to find his continuous blows had no effect on him.
Khan revealed and encounter with Alexander Marcus
In the ship's brig, Kirk and Spock interrogated Harrison while McCoy took a blood sample, which he studied by injecting into a dead tribble. Harrison only responded by giving them a set of coordinates, and advised Kirk to open one of the torpedoes. Spock informed Kirk that Carol could examine the torpedoes, and also informed the captain that he had learned she was actually Admiral Marcus's daughter, because he felt the information had just become relevant. Kirk also called Scotty and asked him to investigate the coordinates.
McCoy and Marcus took a shuttle to a meteor to examine a torpedo, but McCoy accidentally activated the countdown and trapped his hand in the device. Kirk ordered to beam them up, but was warned beaming up McCoy would also beam up an exploding torpedo. Fortunately, Kirk avoided losing his friend when Marcus deactivated the device in time. The torpedo finally opened up, and the two officers found it contained a man in cryogenic stasis.
Kirk interrogated Harrison again, who explained he had placed people in torpedoes to smuggle them before he was caught. He revealed he was actually the infamous Khan Noonien Singh, recruited by Admiral Marcus under a new identity to design weaponry and ships for war against the Klingons, and that the frozen people were his fellow Augments whom the admiral had held hostage. Marcus suddenly showed up in the Dreadnought-class ship the USS Vengeance, demanding Kirk hand over Harrison. Kirk revealed he knew the truth, and defied the admiral by warping the Enterprise to Earth, where Khan would stand trial and expose the conspiracy. However, the Vengeance was capable of catching up with the Enterprise in subspace and fired on the ship, halting it as it arrived outside Earth.
Carol tried to bargain with her father, who simply beamed her over to his ship, and then Kirk tried to hand himself over to protect his crew, but Marcus explained he had no intention of letting anyone in on the plot survive. Before the Vengeance could finish off the Enterprise, its weaponry suddenly deactivated. Scott called Kirk, explaining he had stowed away aboard the Vengeance at the coordinates given by Khan, buying them some time. Kirk, realizing Khan designed the ship, allied himself with him, and the two donned thruster suits to fly over and commandeer the vessel. Khan's formidable strength was an asset in dispatching any guards they encountered, but Kirk was suspicious of Khan and ordered Scott to shoot to stun him later.
When they reached the bridge, Scott stunned Khan while Kirk confronted Marcus over his betrayal of Starfleet's ideals. However, stunning Khan did not affect him, and the Augment tackled Scott and Kirk before proceeding to kill Marcus and take the command chair. Khan ordered Spock to hand over the torpedoes, which he complied with, and in return he beamed Kirk, Scott and Carol into the Enterprise brig. Khan then turned on Spock, bombarding the Enterprise once more. Spock, who had the cryo pods removed from the torpedoes, ordered them to be detonated, crippling the Vengeance: the shockwave caused both ships to be pulled by Earth's gravity. Kirk and Scott ran to the warp core, trying to avoid falling to their deaths due to the failing artificial gravity.
Death and Resurrection
Once they reached the warp core, Scott warned entering it would flood the chamber with radiation, but as there was no time to put on a containment suit, Kirk knocked out Scott and secured him with a seatbelt before entering the warp core. Kirk knocked the central component back in place, restoring power to the engines and preventing the Enterprise from crashing. Meanwhile, Khan crashed the Vengeance into San Francisco. Scott woke up and called Spock to come down, and saw Kirk dying from radiation poisoning. Kirk bid goodbye to his friend, then died. James heard the voices of his father, mother and Pike as he lay in the border between the world of the living and the dead.
He was taken to sickbay after decontamination, where McCoy and others silently mourned the loss of their captain. McCoy noticed the tribble he had injected with Khan's blood had come back to life, and realizing how to save Kirk's life, ordered his body be placed in a cryotube to preserve his brain. Spock and Uhura beamed down and apprehended Khan, using him to perform a blood transfusion before putting him on ice once more. Kirk awoke two weeks later in a hospital in San Francisco, with McCoy and Spock present.
The USS Enterprise and her five-year mission
Kirk initially had a largely antagonistic relationship with Spock, mainly due to their vastly different philosophies and approaches to command. The frictions began first at Starfleet Academy when Kirk cheated on the Kobayashi Maru test Spock had designed, and then later continued when the disparate pair worked side by side on the USS Enterprise and Kirk was put in charge as second in command by Captain Pike. Tensions between the two culminated in Spock throwing Kirk off the ship altogether. However, their attitudes towards each other softened after an encounter with an older version of Spock from an alternate future, who revealed that in fact the two had shared a great friendship in his timeline. After Kirk goaded Spock into revealing his emotional instability, Spock defered to Kirk's command and the two worked as a team to stop Nero and rescue Pike. After learning how important their friendship was from Spock Prime, Spock offered to be Kirk's first officer which he happily accepted. (Star Trek)
A year later, Kirk fell out with Spock because Spock filed the mission report that caused Kirk's demotion, although Kirk's actions leading to this disciplinary were done to save Spock's life: Spock was more concerned with fulfilling Starfleet regulations than with sentimental notions. However, Kirk wanted Spock reinstated as his first officer after Pike's death. Kirk later explained to Spock that the reason he saved Spock's life was because he had come to see Spock as a friend. By this point, Spock had come to return the sentiment and was so upset by Kirk's impending death that he lost his temper and nearly killed Khan in revenge until he learned that Khan's blood would save Kirk. Spock and Kirk also realize that they each had handled the situation in the way the other would: Kirk sacrificed himself for the greater good, whereas Spock used unorthodox tactics to defeat the enemy. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Kirk and McCoy met on a transport shuttle to Starfleet Academy. The pair found themselves in adjacent seats where a slightly neurotic McCoy instantly opened up to the rebellious and somewhat incredulous Kirk. The two remained good friends throughout their time together at the Academy. When the time came, McCoy always had Kirk's back, such as helping him get aboard the Enterprise after his suspension and berating Spock for throwing Kirk off the ship and marooning him on Delta Vega. Despite this, McCoy berated him for forcing Spock to resign command and responded with "you gotta be kidding me!" when he learned Kirk was first officer and thus the one to take command. (Star Trek)
Kirk first met Nyota Uhura at a bar in Iowa in 2255, audaciously flirting with her while intoxicated, angering some other Starfleet cadet patrons of the bar, resulting in a fight. He met her again when the two studied at Starfleet Academy, although she preferred to keep a distance from him - not even ever telling him her first name - as she saw him as brash and uncouth. The pair ended up serving together aboard the Enterprise, but she continued to maintain her distance from him. It was Kirk and his need for a xenolinguist that got her stationed on the bridge. When Kirk was granted permanent command of the Enterprise, he chose Uhura as one of his senior officers. (Star Trek)
Over time, her discomfort vanished and she began to show unwavering loyalty to her new captain. The two developed a friendship to the point that Uhura confided in him her relationship troubles with Spock. When Pike was killed, Uhura sincerely offered her condolences and concern for the captain. When Kirk died, Uhura cried and helped Spock bring Khan down while preventing him from killing him so they could save Kirk. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Kirk and Christopher Pike almost had a father–son relationship: Pike was the one who convinced Kirk to enlist in Starfleet and to make something of himself, and even after Pike had to demote Kirk for contravening regulations, Pike wanted Kirk as his own first officer and did his best to encourage Kirk despite this setback. Kirk was later informed that Pike had done a lot to speak in Kirk's favour during the disciplinary hearing. When Khan Noonien Singh attacked the meeting of senior staff of Starfleet in San Francisco, Pike was killed, and Kirk was distraught, weeping at the loss of his mentor and becoming consumed with vengeance. (Star Trek; Star Trek Into Darkness)
Kirk seemed to have been surprised at Hikaru Sulu's special training in close-hand combat, specializing in fencing. Kirk committed a selfless act when he dove off the drill platform to save Hikaru Sulu from death on Vulcan. When Kirk appointed himself as acting captain, Sulu reminded everyone that he was already first officer and therefore was was able to take over the Captain's position on the Enterprise. Following the defeat of Nero, Sulu was assigned to the Enterprise as Helmsman under Kirk's command. A year later, Kirk showed confidence in Sulu's leadership skills and left him in command of the Enterprise while Kirk led an away team to apprehend John Harrison. (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness)
Nero killed Kirk's father George in 2233. Despite this, Kirk was willing to offer assistance to his father's killer when his ship was caught in between a black hole created by the remaining red matter. However, the Romulan refused his assistance and stated that he'd "rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times" and "die in agony". Kirk obliged him by completing the destruction of the Narada as it was consumed by the black hole.
Khan Noonien Singh
Under the identity of John Harrison, Khan killed Christopher Pike and other members of Starfleet in 2259, causing Kirk to seek revenge. Eventually capturing Khan, they soon learned of his true identity and the fact that he had aided Admiral Marcus in the building of Starfleet weapons. Teaming with Khan to stop Marcus, Khan eventually betrayed Kirk to overtake the USS Vengeance. Khan killed Marcus and attacked the Enterprise, leading to Kirk's sacrifice to save the crew. Khan was eventually captured due to efforts by Spock and Uhura and put back into suspended animation. Kirk was soon revived by McCoy with Khan's blood.
Kirk also had a relationship with Christine Chapel, a human nurse. After it ended, she moved from the Enterprise to nurse on the outer frontier. When Carol Marcus brought her up in a conversation, he did not seem to remember her. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
- 2233: Born on Medical shuttle 37 that was attached to the late USS Kelvin
- 2233-2255: Raised in Iowa
- 2255-2258: Cadet/Lieutenant at Starfleet Academy
- Appointed acting first officer of the USS Enterprise
- Elevated to acting captain of the USS Enterprise
- Appointed captain of the USS Enterprise
"Citizen, what is your name?"
"My name is James Tiberius Kirk!"
- - Iowa cop and a young Kirk (Star Trek)
"If you don't give me a name, I'm gonna have to make one up."
"Uhura? No way! That's the name I was gonna make up for you!"
- - James Kirk and Nyota Uhura (Star Trek)
"I'm impressed. For a moment there, I thought you were just a dumb hick who only had sex with farm animals."
"Well, not only..."
- - Nyota Uhura and James Kirk (Star Trek)
"Do you like being the only genius-level repeat offender in the Midwest?"
"Maybe I love it."
- - Captain Pike and Kirk (Star Trek)
"Two Klingon vessels have entered the Neutral zone and are locking weapons on us."
"Yeah, don't worry about it."
"I don't believe in no-win scenarios."
- - James Kirk (Star Trek)
"Who was that pointy-eared bastard anyway?"
"I don't know. But I like him."
- - Kirk and McCoy, after meeting Spock for the first time (Star Trek)
"I am Spock."
- - Spock Prime and James Kirk (Star Trek)
"Well congratulations Jim. Now we've got no Captain and no goddam first officer to replace him."
"Yeah we do."
"Pike made him first officer."
"You gotta be kidding!"
"Thanks for the support."
- - Leonard McCoy, James Kirk and Hikaru Sulu (Star Trek)
"Attention crew of the Enterprise, this is James Kirk. Mr. Spock has resigned commission and advanced me to acting captain. I know you are all expecting to regroup with the fleet, but I'm ordering a pursuit course of the enemy ship to Earth. I want all departments at battle stations and ready in ten minutes. Either we're going down... or they are. Kirk out." (Star Trek)
- - James Kirk to the crew of the Enterprise after he becomes Acting Captain.(Star Trek)
"What're you doin' here?"
"Just following orders."
- - Captains Pike and Kirk, as the latter (recalling an order to "come and get me") rescues the former. (Star Trek)
"I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times. I would rather die in agony, than accept assistance from you."
"You got it. Arm phasers, fire everything we've got."
- - Kirk's response to Nero, after suggesting Nero to surrender peacefully (Star Trek)
- - James Kirk to Leonard McCoy, as his first words on the bridge of the Enterprise as its assigned captain (Star Trek)
"Where I come from, if someone saves your life, you don't stab them in the back."
- - James Kirk to Spock (Star Trek Into Darkness)
"Attention crew of the Enterprise. As most of you know, Christopher Pike, former captain of this ship and our friend, is dead. The man who killed him has fled our system and is hiding on the Klingon homeworld. Somewhere he believes we are unwilling to go. We are on our way there now. Per Admiral Marcus, it is essential that our presence go undetected. Tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire have been high and any provocation could lead to an all-out war...I will personally lead a landing party to an abandoned city on the surface of Qo'noS where we will capture the fugitive John Harrison and return him to Earth so he can face judgment for his actions. Alright, Let's go get this son of a bitch. Kirk out."
- - James Kirk to the crew of the Enterprise about their mission. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
"On behalf of Christopher Pike - my friend - I accept your surrender."
- - James Kirk to John Harrison before hitting him. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
"Let's get one thing straight here. You are a criminal. I was authorized to end you...and the only reason you are still alive, is because I am allowing it. So...SHUT....YOUR....MOUTH!"
- - James Kirk to John Harrison, in the Enterprise brig. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
- - James Kirk to the Enterprise bridge crew after failing to convince Marcus not to destroy them. (Star Trek Into Darkness
"I'm scared, Spock. Help me not be."
- - James Kirk to Spock as he is dying. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
"There will always be those who mean to do us harm. To stop them, we risk awakening the same evil within ourselves. Our first instinct is to seek revenge when those we love are taken from us. But that’s not who we are. When Christopher Pike first gave me his ship, he had me recite the Captain's Oath. Words I didn’t appreciate at the time. But now I see them as a call for us to remember who we once were and who we must be again. And those words..."
- - James Kirk, as he is giving a speech at a memorial. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new lifeforms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before."
- - Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek Into Darkness)
James T. Kirk was portrayed by Chris Pine. Younger versions were portrayed by Jimmy Bennett and an infant performer. For the scene in which Kirk is running into a cave on Delta Vega, child actor Joshua Greene served as body double for Pine. The producers did this to let the entrance of the cave look bigger.
Originally, Winona would not have remarried, but left her boys to be cared for by her brother (or brother-in-law) Frank (Brad William Henke), who was abusive to them whenever she was off-world. This forced George Samuel Kirk to run away from home, and Jim, who was a good pupil who always obeyed orders, to steal George's antique car that Frank treated as if it was his own.
The novelization of 2009's Star Trek by Alan Dean Foster states that Winona Kirk was given an inhibitor that would help slow the birth of James until the Kelvin's return to Earth. However, the impacts to the ship by the Narada's attack cause her to go into early labor. Screenwriter Roberto Orci joked in a message board post that the radiation from Kirk's premature birth in space caused his eyes to go blue.  The prime Kirk has hazel eyes. The novelization also merges the conflicting abusive-adult characters, making "Frank" the boys' step-father, and revealing that he wanted the car washed because he planned to sell it behind Winona's back, which is what truly drives Jim to steal it.
One influence on which Orci and Kurtzman based Kirk and Spock's relationship was the friendship between Paul McCartney and John Lennon, two very different musicians who bonded early in life, partly because they both suffered through the loss of a parent (in Kirk's case, his father, and in Spock's, his mother). 
Kirk's demotion at the start of Into Darkness was prompted by fan criticism that the character had been promoted too quickly at the end of Star Trek.  Orci and Kurtzman described the second film as being about Kirk earning the captain's chair, and proving that by sacrificing himself.