Memory Alpha

Star Trek Into Darkness

39,321pages on
this wiki
Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Star Trek Into Darkness
Release date: 16 May 2013
12th of 12 Star Trek films
728th of 728 released in all  
STID domestic poster.jpg
Written By
Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof

Directed By
J.J. Abrams

Produced by
J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
2259.55 (2259)
  Arc: {{{wsArc0Desc}}} ({{{nArc0PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc0PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc1Desc}}} ({{{nArc1PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc1PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc2Desc}}} ({{{nArc2PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc2PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc3Desc}}} ({{{nArc3PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc3PartCount}}})  
  Arc: {{{wsArc4Desc}}} ({{{nArc4PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc4PartCount}}})  

Beyond the darkness, lies greatness.

A series of terrorist attacks on Earth places Captain James T. Kirk on a mission to deal with the culprit. Nothing is as it seems, as the Starship Enterprise is entangled in covert machinations to ignite war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, with an ancient enemy in the mix. With alliances tested, relationships strained and differing motives clashing, how costly will the thirst for vengeance prove?



Nibiru village

The temple raided by Kirk and McCoy

During early 2259, on the Class M planet of Nibiru, Captain James T. Kirk is being chased away from a temple located at the base of an active volcano by native Nibirans. He is startled by an animal, and stuns it with his phaser. Behind the animal is an upset Leonard McCoy; the beast Kirk has just stunned was to have been their "ride", leaving the two of them with no option but to flee on foot. Kirk has stolen a scroll sacred to the Nibirans.

Meanwhile, Hikaru Sulu is piloting a shuttlecraft into the volcano, with Spock and Nyota Uhura on board. Spock, protected by an environmental suit, is preparing to detonate a cold fusion device inside the volcano that would stop a cataclysmic eruption from extinguishing life on the planet. Kirk tells them of their plight, using the communicator. Spock reminds Kirk about the Prime Directive, as the Nibirans are a primitive civilization. Kirk assures his first officer that he and Dr. McCoy were disguised; they were merely leading the natives further away from the volcano. With the shuttlecraft's thruster being choked by ash, Spock has to act fast. After a kiss from Uhura, he is lowered by cable into the volcano. During the descent, the shuttlecraft takes too much damage, and Sulu attempts to abort the drop. The cable Spock is hanging by abruptly snaps, dropping him into the volcano. Surprisingly, he survives the fall in his protective suit, and the cold fusion device is still operational. Sulu and Uhura are forced to abandon the shuttle; Uhura promises they will get Spock out.

Nibiru volcano

Harbinger of death

Satisfied they were far enough from the volcano, Kirk hangs the scroll he stole off a tree. The Nibirans cease their pursuit, allowing Kirk and McCoy to get away, jumping off a cliff into the ocean. Using miniprops and breathing apparatuses, they swim to the Enterprise and board through an airlock. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott is still not happy that they are hiding at the bottom of an ocean, complaining that the salt water may impede their ability to launch. The officers return to the bridge. Spock arms the cold fusion device, which has a three-minute timer. The volcano has a small eruption, with pyroclastic ejecta destroying the temple in which the group of Nibirans had been worshiping. Nibiru has a very strong magnetic field that was jamming their transporters; the only way they can save Spock is by revealing themselves to fly above the volcano, which would violate the Prime Directive. Kirk asks Dr. McCoy what Spock would do if Kirk were the one deploying the device; Bones replies that Spock would let him die. Spock was indeed prepared for that likelihood. The cold fusion device would freeze and kill him, along with freezing the volcano into dormancy.

USS Enterprise resurfacing on Nibiru

The Enterprise surfaces from the sea

The Nibirans are shocked when they see the Enterprise rising out of the ocean and above the volcano. Right before the cold fusion device is activated, Spock is beamed aboard the Enterprise, and they make their getaway. Kirk and McCoy join him in the transporter room. Spock is shocked that Kirk has blatantly violated the Prime Directive. Uhura tells them the cold fusion device has successfully detonated, but the crew is irked by Spock's apparent lack of gratitude. The native Nibirans begin to worship an image of the Enterprise they have drawn in the soil, accepting it as their new deity.

Act One

The stardate is 2259.55. Back on Earth, Thomas Harewood, a Starfleet officer living in London, travels with his wife to Royal Children's Hospital, where their daughter is currently in a coma with a severe illness. After visiting her, Thomas Harewood is stopped by an individual he is unfamiliar with. The newcomer says he can save Harewood's daughter.

Pike dressing down Kirk

Pike dresses down Kirk

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, Kirk is waking up in his apartment after a night spent with a pair of Caitian women. They are annoyed when he answers a call from Starfleet. He and Spock are summoned to the office of Admiral Pike. Kirk is convinced they are going to be given Starfleet's first five-year mission of deep space exploration, though Spock is doubtful. When they arrive, Pike reveals that there are discrepancies between the captain's log on Nibiru, and a report Spock filed about what happened there; namely being, the former said it was "uneventful", while the latter detailed a breaking of the Prime Directive. Kirk is dismayed by Spock's apparent betrayal. After a brief argument, Pike dismisses Spock, and proceeds to dress Kirk down for his lack of humility and respect for the chair. Kirk counters that Pike convinced him to join Starfleet because of his maverick attitude. However, Starfleet Command saw it differently. The head of Starfleet Command, Admiral Alexander Marcus, has formed a tribunal that did not include Admiral Pike. The tribunal has relieved Kirk of his command, ordering him to return to Starfleet Academy. Pike tells Kirk pointedly that, one day, his reckless leadership is going to get his entire crew killed.

Kelvin Memorial Archive

The Kelvin Memorial Archive

Back in London, the unknown man extracts a vial of his own blood, and places it in a package along with a ring. The package goes to Harewood, who adds the vial's contents to his daughter's IV. As it begins to enter her bloodstream, her vitals return to normal. Harewood kisses his daughter's forehead in relief, knowing she will now be all right. Not long after, he goes to work at the Kelvin Memorial Archive, catching sight of the unknown man in the street immediately before entering, and takes a long elevator down below the archive. He goes to his workstation with a glass of water. After sending a message to Admiral Marcus, he drops the ring into the water, which quickly fizzes, then causes a massive explosion at the Kelvin Archive.

Pike and Kirk share a drink STID

Pike and Kirk share a drink

Kirk is drowning his sorrows at a local bar in San Francisco. He is about to talk to another woman when Admiral Pike sits between them. Kirk is surprised he has found him; the admiral simply says he knows Kirk well, recalling a bar fight with Starfleet cadets back in Iowa before Kirk enlisted. Pike reveals Starfleet gave the Enterprise back to him himself. Kirk suggests that keeping Spock as first officer isn't a good idea, but he's been transferred to the USS Bradbury anyway. Pike has pulled some strings, and gotten Kirk assigned to be his first officer on the Enterprise. Kirk is speechless, something Pike says is a first. He then gets a call from Starfleet. They are summoned to a meeting in the Daystrom Conference Room at Starfleet Headquarters.

Admiral Marcus briefing STID

Admiral Alexander Marcus, the head of Starfleet

On their way to the conference room, Kirk meets Spock and tells him about his demotion. Spock is relieved the punishment was not more severe. Kirk is still upset that he was betrayed. Spock admits he should have warned Kirk beforehand that he would file a truthful report about the Nibiru incident. After a brief meeting with Frank Abbott, captain of the USS Bradbury, Kirk admits he'll miss Spock, though is irked when Spock is left speechless. Admiral Marcus opens the meeting. The message he received from Harewood was a confession, and informed him of who put him up to the attack: John Harrison, a Starfleet officer who has gone rogue. The officers present look over images taken of the scene after the attack, where forty-two people were killed. Kirk notices Harrison in the images with a bag, and asks Pike about it. Admiral Marcus notices and asks Kirk what the problem is. Kirk begins to express confusion as to why Harrison would target just an archive. Kirk says Harrison must have known that a terrorist attack on a Starfleet facility would result in this kind of meeting.



Before Kirk can elaborate on his concerns, a jumpship appears outside their conference room, and opens fire, killing Captain Abbott. The officers take cover, and security personnel enter to combat the jumpship. Kirk takes up a phaser rifle and attacks it from the side to little effect. He sees the jumpship's engine intake, and gets an idea. He opens a fire hose unit, in a corridor of the building, and ties the hose around his rifle.

Chris Pike dead

Pike is killed by Harrison

As he works, Admiral Pike is fatally shot, and Spock pulls him to safety. Kirk throws the rifle and fire hose, which get sucked into the jumpship's intake. It takes the entire hose, then yanks its base out of the wall and through the engine, disabling the ship. Kirk gets a look at Harrison as he beams out of the falling jumpship. In the meeting room, Spock forms a mind meld with Pike right before he dies. Kirk then arrives, and breaks down at the death of his mentor.

Meanwhile, Harrison materializes on a completely different planet, lifts up the hood of his longcoat, and walks away.

Act Two

Kirk and Spock meet with Marcus

Kirk and Spock meet with Marcus

Kirk is recovering emotionally from the attack alone in his apartment, when he gets a call from Spock. Scotty was investigating the wreckage of Harrison's jumpship, and found a portable transwarp beaming device on board. Its destination is set somewhere they normally cannot follow. Kirk and Spock head to Starfleet Headquarters, and they tell Admiral Marcus where Harrison ended up: Qo'noS, the homeworld of the Klingon Empire. Marcus was afraid this would happen. Spock notes Harrison materialized on a nominally uninhabited province of the planet, and Kirk says he is not afraid to go after him. Marcus comes clean about the true nature of Harrison and Harewood's target. They bombed a secret facility of Section 31, Starfleet's black ops division, which was researching weapons and tactics for a potential war with the Klingons. As far as he is concerned, the war was already beginning. He has a new variety of advanced long-range torpedoes that Kirk can use to covertly take out Harrison. He gives Kirk back the Enterprise, and Kirk requests Spock be reinstated as his first officer.

Carol Wallace flight suit STID

Dr. "Carol Wallace" joins the crew of the Enterprise

As they prepare to return to the Enterprise, Spock expresses his misgivings with killing Harrison without a trial, and insists Kirk take some of the travel time to reconsider. Dr. McCoy joins them, telling Kirk he missed his check-up, which he does on the shuttlecraft. They are joined by Dr. Carol Wallace, a weapons expert who Admiral Marcus has assigned to the Enterprise as an extra science officer. Spock is alarmed by this turn of events. Kirk is just as surprised, but noticing that Wallace is a very attractive young woman, welcomes the extra help. When they get on board, Spock heads immediately to the bridge, while Kirk talks with Scotty in engineering. Scotty is unwilling to allow the photon torpedoes on-board, because he cannot examine the shielded devices, and the Section 31 personnel refuse to tell him what they are fueled by. He does not want to risk firing unknown weapons around the warp core; any instability could wreck it and kill everyone on board. He is also upset that his transwarp equation was appropriated by Starfleet Command, ending up in Harrison's hands for his crime spree. When Kirk insists the torpedoes be loaded in, Scott resigns, with Keenser following suit. Scotty begs Kirk not to use the torpedoes, before he departs.

Kirk and Uhura in turbolift

"Sometimes I want to rip the... bangs off his head."

Kirk returns to the bridge with Uhura in a turbolift. He tells her of Scotty's resignation, and his recent issues with Spock. She lets on that she and Spock have been having problems recently as well. Before they can discuss it in more detail, they arrive. Kirk promotes Pavel Chekov to chief engineer, since he has been shadowing Scotty recently, and tells him to put on a red shirt and head to engineering. They depart and proceed to Qo'noS. Kirk issues an all-call with his general orders for the mission. When they arrive at the edge of Klingon space, they will take a craft to Qo'noS and apprehend John Harrison on the planet. If he refuses to go quietly, then they will use the missiles. Spock is relieved that Kirk has reconsidered Admiral Marcus' original orders, and suggests he himself could join Kirk on his mission. Spock then goes back to engineering, where he confronts Carol Wallace. The identity she presented Kirk was fake; Admiral Marcus is her father, and "Wallace" is her mother's maiden name. Her real name is Carol Marcus. He demands to know why she is really on the ship.

Before she can give her reasons and before the Enterprise can reach Qo'noS, the ship drops out of warp. Chekov has found a coolant leak in the warp core, and stopped it manually. They are still twenty minutes away from Qo'noS. Kirk recruits Uhura, who knows Klingon, to join him and Spock. He gives Sulu command for the first time, with orders to contact Harrison before they arrive to demand his surrender. Dr. McCoy is concerned, but Kirk is sure Sulu is up to the task. They use a vehicle they confiscated a month before, in the "Mudd Incident". Kirk orders two other officers, including Hendorff, to remove their red shirts and change into more casual clothing; they cannot have any obvious connection to the Federation on this mission, lest they start an interstellar war. Chekov assures Kirk he will try his best to repair the engines before they return.

Spock, Kirk and Uhura in K'normian ship

Spock and Uhura quarrel

As Kirk pilots their vehicle to Harrison's location, Sulu sends his message, giving Harrison two minutes to surrender, or he will be wiped out with new, advanced weapons. His message is assertive enough that it startles the previously skeptical Dr. McCoy. While flying through the atmosphere of Qo'noS, Uhura and Spock begin to argue, much to Kirk's dismay. Uhura is upset at Spock's apparent lack of feelings recently, especially after his rescue at Nibiru. She also tells Spock that Kirk is upset with him too. Though Kirk doesn't want to be dragged into it, he admits that she's right. Spock tries to assure her and Kirk that they are mistaken by his attitude. He recalls his mind meld with Admiral Pike, and how he felt Pike's final emotions before his death. They reminded him of how he felt when Vulcan was destroyed. He assures Uhura that he simply does not want that kind of despair anymore, and that his feelings for her are still as strong as ever.

Qo'noS patrol officer, 2259

"Why should I care about a Human killing Humans?"

Their relief is short-lived, as their ship comes under fire from a D4-class Klingon vessel, apparently on a random patrol. Without any offensive capabilities, Kirk is given access to all the ship's fuel cells to evade the patrol's fire and try to outrun it. He finds a narrow space and squeezes the ship through it, evading capture. Kirk thinks they have escaped, but Uhura suggests the Klingons may be jamming sensors. The Starfleet officers are soon surrounded by three more D4 ships, ordering them to land. Uhura tells her shipmates they will be tortured, interrogated, and killed. She insists she be allowed to try to reason with the Klingons. The trading craft lands, and Uhura leaves the vessel, confronted by about fifteen Klingon warriors in full-face armored helmets. Spock warns Kirk not to interfere, lest he incur their wrath and Uhura's. Still, Kirk gets some phasers ready, just in case. Uhura tells the Klingon patrol that she and her allies are on the planet to arrest a criminal who has put both their planets in danger. The leader of the patrol, who removes his helmet, tells her he has little concern for Humans killing Humans. She counters that the criminal has no honor, hoping to play on the Klingons' strong traditions. However, the unimpressed Klingon leader grabs Uhura and draws a knife, prepared to kill her.

Khan on Kronos

Harrison rescues the Enterprise party

Suddenly, somebody shoots down the Klingon patrol; it's Harrison, armed with a rapid-fire rifle and a larger beam cannon. The Enterprise officers attack, in a mix of phaser fire and hand-to-hand combat. Kirk has little luck physically, but is able to shoot several Klingon warriors armed with disruptors and various blade weapons, including daggers and bat'leths. Harrison proves to be incredibly adept with his phaser cannon as well as hand-to-hand. Other Klingon ships drop reinforcements, but they are killed as well. Harrison kills the last few Klingons with their own knives. He turns his cannon on Kirk, and asks how many of the advanced torpedoes he has. Spock replies after Kirk doesn't, saying that they have seventy-two. Harrison immediately surrenders, unconditionally. Kirk accepts, then attempts to knock Harrison out by punching and beating him repeatedly, none of which has any effect on him whatsoever.

Kirk confronts Harrison in brig

Kirk confronts his mysterious prisoner

Harrison is returned to the Enterprise and taken to the brig. Dr. McCoy takes a blood sample, to try to figure out the prisoner's physiology. Harrison insists that he be allowed to speak with Kirk. Spock thinks he wants to get into Kirk's head, but Kirk agrees. Harrison somehow knows about the damage to the warp core, suggesting something is amiss. He tells Kirk two things. First, Harrison gives Kirk a set of coordinates: 23-17-46-11, a point near Earth. Harrison says Kirk can find some answers there. He then insists they open one of the photon torpedoes to find out exactly what is inside.

Back on Earth, Scotty is at a bar with Keenser, upset that Keenser allowed him to go through with resigning. Kirk contacts Scotty and gives him the coordinates Harrison gave him. He admits Scotty was likely right about the torpedoes, which Scotty accepts as an apology, though he cuts the conversation short. Whereas Scotty is in no mood to do Kirk any favors, Keenser insists they help anyway.

Augment in cryotube

"Why is there a man in that torpedo?"

The Enterprise is still hobbled, but has enough power to go to a nearby planetoid, where they can safely examine one of the photon torpedoes. Kirk assures Chekov that the engine issues are likely not his fault. They have sent a message to Admiral Marcus with news that they have captured Harrison, but have received no reply. Spock reveals the true identity of Carol Marcus, and suggests she and Dr. McCoy can try to open a photon torpedo. Marcus directs the surgeon in cutting a necessary wire. The moment he does, the compartment slams shut on his arm, and the torpedo arms with a thirty-second timer. Marcus disarms it with only 2.57 seconds to spare, and it opens, revealing a cryotube with a frozen person inside.

Khan in brig reveals identity

"My name is... KHAN."

The coordinates take Scotty to Jupiter, where he finds a large shipyard. Following a sortie of similar shuttlecraft, what Scotty (but not the audience) sees alarms him.

Back on the Enterprise, Dr. McCoy examines the cryotube. The body preserved inside is still viable, but Humans have not needed cryogenic technology since they became warp-capable. The person inside is three hundred years old. Kirk and Spock return to Harrison for answers. He says all the torpedoes contain his old crew. He reveals himself to be Khan, a genetically engineered Human. He and his crew were exiled into space at the end of the 20th century. His cryoship was found by Admiral Marcus after the destruction of Vulcan, and he alone was awoken. Marcus wanted his savagery as well as his intellect to prepare for potential war with the Klingons. He also reveals that Marcus wanted Kirk to fire those torpedoes on Qo'noS and purposely sabotaged the Enterprise's warp core, leaving them stranded for the Klingons to find, igniting the war that Marcus desires. Kirk refuses to accept it, but condemns Khan's actions. Khan states that Marcus held his crew hostage to force him to do his bidding. He put his crew in the torpedoes for their protection, but had no idea they would be found. He escaped alone. Khan says he committed his terrorist acts on the assumption that his crew had been killed.

Enterprise and Vengeance face off

The Enterprise is confronted by the USS Vengeance

A ship approaches the Enterprise, but not from Klingon space. Kirk has Khan moved to medbay under heavy guard. The ship is an enormous unmarked Starfleet vessel, the USS Vengeance. Kirk is hailed by Admiral Marcus; he has the communication broadcast throughout the ship and recorded. He tells Admiral Marcus that engine issues had prevented him from killing "Harrison", revealing he knows the man's true identity. He also suggests Marcus knows what's going on. In turn, Marcus accuses Kirk of being affected mentally by Khan, and insists Khan be killed immediately. He then orders Kirk to turn Khan over, but the Enterprise's transporters are down. Kirk falsely tells Marcus that Khan is in engineering, before breaking communication, and asking Chekov if they can go to warp. Chekov says they can, but the warp core is still hobbled, so it's risky. They go to warp anyway, and head to Earth.

USS Vengeance fires on the USS Enterprise

The Vengeance fires on the Enterprise...

The USS Enterprise damaged by the USS Vengeance

...with devastating results

While on their way, Khan reminds Carol Marcus that they are not safe at warp speed. She runs to the bridge, and warns Kirk that the Vengeance has the ability to engage other ships at warp speed. Indeed, the Vengeance catches up with the Enterprise, and proceeds to fire on the other ship; an initial volley from the Vengeance causes a major hull breach in engineering aboard the Enterprise, killing dozens of crew members, before a second volley cripples the Enterprise's starboard warp nacelle, causing it to drop out of warp between Earth and its moon. Carol Marcus tries to contact her father, skeptical he would destroy the Enterprise if he knew she were on-board. He simply beams her aboard the Vengeance. Admiral Marcus then accuses Kirk and his crew of being in league with "Harrison" and sentences them all to death; Kirk attempts to plead for the life of the Enterprise crew, but Marcus admits that he intended to destroy the Enterprise with all hands from the very start, and cuts communications.

Before the Vengeance can destroy the Enterprise, though, the Vengeance's systems are reset. Kirk immediately receives a transmission from Scotty, who has sneaked on-board the Vengeance. It will take time for its systems to restart, so they have an opening to stop Admiral Marcus. Kirk puts Spock in command of the Enterprise. Spock is resistant to this idea, but Kirk insists the Enterprise needs somebody who "knows what they're doing" in command. Kirk heads to sickbay, and asks Khan about the Vengeance's capabilities. It is a Dreadnought-class, twice as big, three times as fast, and far more heavily armed than the Enterprise. At the same time, McCoy injects Khan's blood into a dead tribble to examine his blood's effects. Kirk asks for Khan's help, assuring him this will be his only opportunity to save his crew.

Kirk and Khan in thruster suits

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Kirk and Khan will traverse space to board the Vengeance. The Enterprise maneuvers enough for its waste exhaust to be aligned with one of the Vengeance's airlocks, and Scotty dashes to a station where he can open it manually. Kirk and Khan don thruster-powered spacesuits and navigate the debris field, heading to the Vengeance. During the flight, Kirk's helmet is hit by a piece of debris, knocking out his heads-up display. Khan is also knocked off course, but reestablishes himself and encourages Kirk to align himself with Khan's course and enter the airlock together. Inside the Vengeance, Scotty is caught by a lone security officer, but he is able to actuate the airlock, allowing Khan and Kirk in, while also blowing out the security officer.

Spock 2259 alternate reality

Spock Prime warns his younger self about Khan

Spock asks Uhura to patch him through to New Vulcan and reaches his counterpart from the prime universe, Ambassador Spock. The younger Spock asks about Khan and if his elder self had encountered Khan before. Although Ambassador Spock has not wanted to alter his younger self's destiny, he makes an exception in this case. He reveals that Khan is none other than Khan Noonien Singh, the most dangerous adversary ever faced by the crew of the elder Spock's Enterprise; Khan is, according to Ambassador Spock, brilliant but ruthless. The elder Spock recalls that he and his shipmates defeated Khan, but at a terrible cost.

Act Three

Kirk, Scotty and Khan on the Vengeance

Kirk, Scotty and Khan head to the bridge of the Vengeance

On the bridge of the Vengeance, Admiral Marcus confronts Carol, who simply slaps him, and expresses her shame for being his daughter. Khan, Kirk and Scotty head toward the Bridge on foot, with Khan navigating them through the engine compartments where weapons cannot be safely used. They succeed in one fistfight with Vengeance crew. Khan jumps ahead of them briefly. Kirk tells Scotty to stun Khan the moment they secure the Bridge. Spock orders all his medical personnel to engineering, and asks Dr. McCoy to work on arming the torpedoes. Right when the Vengeance's weapons come back online, Kirk and his crew make it to the bridge, and stun everyone except Admiral Marcus and Carol. Scotty then stuns Khan as ordered. Kirk places Admiral Marcus under arrest, and orders him out of the chair, not wanting to take him by force in front of his daughter. However, Khan is not as stunned as they had hoped – he gets up and attacks Scotty and Kirk. He then breaks Carol's leg, and crushes Admiral Marcus' skull, prompting a horrified scream from Carol.

USS Vengeance detonating

The Vengeance detonating

Khan hails the Enterprise, and orders Spock to give him the photon torpedoes. Spock refuses, but Khan says he can get them himself without his help by disabling the Enterprise's life support system and wait for them to suffocate before retrieving them himself. Since his crew is frozen, they don't need the air anyway. Spock complies, and assists Khan in locating the torpedoes. He beams them safely aboard, then beams Kirk, Scotty, and Carol Marcus onto the Enterprise, before attacking it again. However, unbeknownst to him, Spock had the photon torpedoes armed before beaming them to the Vengeance. They explode, hopelessly disabling the ship and leaving Khan anguished over the apparent loss of his crew. Dr. McCoy then tells Kirk that Spock had the cryotubes removed, and they are now safely in medbay.

USS Enterprise falling to Earth

The Enterprise begins to spiral down to Earth

At that point, the engines go completely down, and main power fails, with backup power severely crippled. With the ship having been station keeping over Earth, it promptly begins to fall toward the planet. Spock orders all personnel to abandon ship, but the crew refuses, willing to go down with him. Kirk and Scotty make their way to engineering, a difficult trip with the ship tumbling. While there, they end up hanging from the walkways when the ship is upside down, but are saved by Chekov. When they reach the warp core, they find the injectors broken. Kirk decides to fix it himself. However, the chamber is loaded with lethal radiation. Kirk overrides Scotty's objections by knocking him out, then enters the warp core chamber. He manages to knock the dislocated side of the injector back into place, and it fires back up. The ship enters Earth's atmosphere, but stops falling just below a layer of clouds, and stabilizes.

Kirk's hand on glass, Spock salutes

"I'm scared, Spock..."

Spock screaming Khan


The Enterprise's systems gradually return online. When he wakes up, Scotty calls Spock urgently to engineering. He goes to the door to the chamber, where Kirk is lying against it. They cannot open the chamber until it is decontaminated. Spock tells Kirk he saved the ship. Kirk commends Spock's action of using what Khan wanted against him; Spock replies that it's what the captain would have done. Kirk offers that sacrificing himself to save the crew is what Spock would have done. Knowing he's going to die, Kirk tells Spock he's scared, and asks him how he is able to not feel. Spock, himself in tears, admits he doesn't know, and is failing to hold back his emotions. Kirk then begins to tell Spock why he saved his life on Nibiru, but Spock knows – "because you are my friend." Kirk reaches out to Spock as the Vulcan presses his hand against the partition in the salute of his world. Kirk then succumbs to radiation poisoning and dies. In Spock, all the rage and hate felt towards the man he now blames for his friend's death erupts to the surface in a primal scream of Khan's name.

Khan sets Vengeance on collision course


Vengeance comes to San Francisco

The Vengeance crashing into San Francisco

The Vengeance falls past the Enterprise, out of control. Khan, now bent on revenge for his crew, targets his ship on a suicide run at Starfleet Headquarters. The Vengeance crushes Alcatraz and skims across San Francisco Bay and through the city, leveling everything in its path. Spock, returning to the bridge, orders Sulu and Chekov to find Khan, believing him to be capable of surviving the crash. Sensors locate him, but. there is too much interference to beam him up to the Enterprise. Instead, Spock elects to beam down to Earth and take Khan out. After a chase through the chaos that has now engulfed the heart of Starfleet, Spock catches up with Khan on top of a moving garbage barge. Khan quickly relieves Spock of his phaser, leaving the two to struggle hand-to-hand.

In the Enterprise's medbay, Kirk's body lies in an open body bag, surrounded by Dr. McCoy, Carol Marcus, and Scotty. Feeling deeply the loss of his friend, McCoy dejectedly resigns to his desk... only to notice the dead tribble he tested Khan's blood on beginning to purr. Realizing the effects of the genetically enhanced blood, he orders one of Khan's people removed from its cryotube, reanimated, and held in a medically induced coma. He freezes Kirk to preserve his brain function, but he doesn't have any more of Khan's blood – he needs Khan back alive.

Spock neckpinches Khan

Khan proves to be Spock's physical equal

Spock continues to fight with Khan in an evenly matched battle. Khan tries to jump to another garbage barge, but the Vulcan follows, proving physically to be Khan's equal. The crew cannot make contact with him, so Uhura beams to the transport vehicle. As the battle intensifies and Khan becomes dangerously close to killing Spock, she opens fire on Khan with a phaser set to stun. Although he is not knocked out, he is distracted enough for Spock to turn the tide. He breaks Khan's arm and starts to beat on him in a rage. Uhura screams for Spock not to kill Khan, that they need him to save Kirk. Upon realizing that Kirk can be saved, Spock regains his emotional control and finishes Khan with an uppercut, knocking him out.

Khan in cryotube

Khan is returned to stasis

Two weeks later, Kirk wakes up in a hospital bed in San Francisco. Dr. McCoy has created a serum from Khan's blood to revive the captain. Kirk thanks Spock for saving his life. In turn, Spock expresses gratitude that Jim is alive. Elsewhere, Khan has been returned to his cryotube, and he and his crew lay frozen in a darkened room.

Kirk and Spock embark on five year mission

The five-year mission begins

Nearly a year after the events, Kirk addresses a gathering at the rechristening ceremony for the rebuilt USS Enterprise. He says that Starfleet should not let enemies pull them away from their true mission of exploration. Soon after, Kirk returns to the Enterprise, where all is in order to begin their five-year mission in deep space. He relieves Sulu from the captain's chair; Sulu admits he finds the power of command to be addictive. Dr. McCoy is dismayed by the length of their mission. Scotty, who has returned as chief engineer with Keenser, reports the engines are "purring like a kitten." Kirk welcomes Carol Marcus aboard as part of their crew and family. Spock expresses his trust in Kirk's "good judgment" on where to begin their exploration. With that, Kirk orders Sulu to take the ship out.

Memorable quotes

"If Spock were here, and I were there, what would he do?"
"He'd let you die."

- Kirk and McCoy, prior to rescuing Spock from the volcano on Nibiru

"Oh, come on Spock. They saw us. Big deal."

- Kirk, on his decision to save Spock and violate the Prime Directive

"Tell me more about this volcano. The data says it was highly volatile and if it were to erupt it would wipe out the planet."
"Let's hope it doesn't, sir."
"Something tells me it won't."

- Pike and Kirk

"Had the mission gone according to plan, Admiral, the indigenous species would never have been aware of our interference."
"That's a technicality."
"I am Vulcan, sir, we embrace technicality."
"Are you giving me attitude, Spock?"
"I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously. To which are you referring?"

- Spock and Pike, discussing the Nibiru mission

"Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass you are?"
"I think so, sir."
"So tell what you did wrong. What's the lesson to be learned here?"
"Never trust a Vulcan."

- Pike and Kirk, on Kirk's mistakes during the Nibiru mission

"You think the rules don't apply to you, because you disagree with them."

- Pike, informing Kirk of his demotion

"You don't respect the chair. You know why? Because you're not ready for it."

- Pike to Kirk about his recklessness

"That was an epic beating."
"No, it wasn't."
"You had napkins hanging out of your nose. Did you not?"
"Yeah, that was a good fight."

- Pike and Kirk recalling their first meeting

"What did you tell him?"
"The truth. That I believe in you. That if anybody deserves a second chance, it's Jim Kirk."
"I don't know what to say."
"That IS a first... it's gonna be OK, son."

- Pike, telling Kirk that he has convinced Marcus to let him remain on the Enterprise as his first officer

"You got something to say Kirk, say it. Tomorrow's too late."

- Marcus to Kirk about his outburst


- Kirk, just before Harrison's attack

"All-out war with the Klingons is inevitable, Mr. Kirk. If you ask me, it's already begun. Since we first learned of their existence, the Klingon Empire has conquered and occupied two planets that we know of, fired on our ships half a dozen times. They are coming our way."

- Marcus, to Kirk about the tensions between the Federation and the Klingons

"Jim, for the love of God, do not use those torpedoes."

- Scotty, warning Kirk about the dangerous cargo the Enterprise is taking on

"Wait, are you guys... are you guys fighting?"
"I'd rather not talk about it, sir."
"Oh, my God! What is that even like?"

- Kirk and Uhura discussing Spock

"Ears burning?"

- Kirk, to Spock referring to the conversation between himself and Uhura

"Go put on a red shirt."

- Kirk, promoting Chekov to chief engineer

"Alright, let's go get this son of a bitch. Kirk out."

- Kirk, to the crew of the Enterprise about their mission.

"Mr. Chekov, did you break my ship?"

- Kirk, asking Chekov what happened when the Enterprise violently drops from warp

"Jim, you're not actually going down there are you? You don't rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat-tire."

- McCoy to Kirk about his mission to apprehend John Harrison

"Jim, wait, you just sat that man down a high-stakes poker game with no cards and told him to bluff. Now Sulu's a good man, but he is no captain."
"For the next two hours he is. And enough with the metaphors, all right? That's an order."

- McCoy and Kirk about putting Sulu in charge

"Attention John Harrison. This is Captain Hikaru Sulu of the USS Enterprise. A shuttle of highly trained officers is on its way to your location. If you do not surrender to them immediately, I will unleash the entire payload of advanced long-range torpedoes currently locked on to your location. You have two minutes to confirm your compliance. Refusal to do so will result in your obliteration. If you test me, you will fail."
"Mr. Sulu... remind me never to piss you off."

- Sulu and McCoy on Sulu's speech

"We’re outnumbered, outgunned. There’s no way we survive if we attack first. You brought me here because I speak Klingon. Then let me speak Klingon."

- Uhura to Kirk on Kronos

"I am here to help you. With respect, there is a criminal hiding in these ruins. He has killed many of our people."
"Why should I care about a Human killing humans?"
"Because you care about honor. And this man has none."

- Uhura speaking in Klingon, to the Klingon commander on Kronos

"Let me explain what's happening here. You are a criminal! I watched you murder innocent men and women; I was authorized to end you! And the only reason why you are still alive is because I am allowing it; so shut... your... mouth!"
"Captain, are you going to punch me again over and over till your arm weakens? Clearly you want to so tell me: why did you allow me to live?"

- Kirk and John Harrison

"23-17-46-11, coordinates not far from Earth. If you want to know why I did what I did, go and take a look."
"Give me one reason why I should listen to you"
"I can give you 72. And they're on board your ship, captain. They have been all along."

- John Harrison and Kirk

"Well now, if it isn't Captain James Tiberius... 'Perfect Hair.' Did you hear that? I called him 'Perfect Hair!' Ha!'"

- An intoxicated Scotty, speaking on the communicator to Kirk after his resignation as engineer

"What, you don't think I can remember four numbers? (chuckling) You of little faith! ... What was the third one?"

- Scotty, posturing to Kirk

"'John Harrison' was a fiction created the moment I was awoken by your Admiral Marcus to help him advance his cause - a smoke screen to conceal my true identity. My name is Khan."

- John Harrison, revealing the truth

"My crew is my family, Kirk. Is there anything you would not do for your family?"

- Khan to Kirk on his devotion to his crew

"We both know who it is."

- Khan, to Kirk upon hearing that the Enterprise is being intercepted

"Per Starfleet regulations I'm planning on returning... Khan... to Earth to stand trial."
"Well... shit... you talked to him..."

- Kirk, exposing the plans of Marcus

"Sir, my crew was just following my orders. I take full responsibility for my actions but they were mine and they were mine alone. If I transmit Khan's location to you now, all I ask is that you spare them. Please, sir. I'll do anything you want. Just let them live."
"That's a hell of an apology. But if it's any consolation, I was never gonna spare your crew. Fire when..."

- Kirk and Marcus, with the former pleading for his crew, and the latter coldly refusing

"I'm sorry..."

- Kirk to his crew as the Vengeance prepares to destroy the Enterprise

"You're a miracle worker!"

- Kirk to Scotty as the latter sabotages the Vengeance

"It’s not easy! Will ya give me two seconds, ya mad bastard!"

- Scotty, responding to Kirk’s request to open the USS Vengeance's air lock

"Mr. Spock."
"Mr. Spock."

- Spock Prime and Spock greeting each other on the Enterprise's viewscreen

"I will be brief. In your travels, did you ever encounter a man named Khan?"
"As you know, I have made a vow never to give you information that could potentially alter your destiny. Your path is yours to walk and yours alone. That being said, Khan Noonien Singh is the most dangerous adversary the Enterprise ever faced. He is brilliant, ruthless and he will not hesitate to kill every single one of you."
"Did you defeat him?"
"At great cost, yes."

- Spock asks Spock Prime about Khan

"The minute we get to the bridge, drop him."
"What, stun him? Khan? I thought he was helping us!"
"I'm pretty sure we're helping him."

- Kirk and Scotty on the Vengeance

"You... you should have let me sleep!"

- Khan, crushing Admiral Marcus's skull

"You betrayed us!"
"Oh, you are smart, Mr. Spock."

- Spock and Khan

"Your crew requires oxygen to survive, mine does not. I will target your life support systems located behind the aft nacelle and after every single person aboard your ship suffocates, I will walk over your cold corpses to recover my people. Now... shall we begin?"

- Khan, delivering the Enterprise his ultimatum

"Well Kirk, it seems apt to return you to your crew. After all... no ship should go down without her captain!"

- Khan to Kirk before returning him to the Enterprise

"The ship's dead, sir! She's gone!"
"No, she's not!"

- Scotty and Kirk, on the Enterprise's precarious situation

"I'm scared, Spock. Help me not to be. How do you choose not to feel?"
"I do not know. Right now, I am failing."
"I wanted you to know why I couldn't let you die... why I went back for you..."
"Because you are my friend."

- Kirk and Spock


- Spock, experiencing rage at Kirk's death (In The Wrath of Khan it is Kirk who screams this over being marooned on Regula One)

"Go get him."

- Uhura, to Spock, before he beams down to San Francisco to pursue Khan

"Spock, stop! STOP! He's our only chance to save Kirk!"

- Uhura, trying to stop Spock from killing Khan

"Don't be so melodramatic. You were barely dead."

- McCoy after Kirk regains consciousness

"Are you feeling homicidal, power-mad, or despotic?"
"No more than usual."

- McCoy and Kirk

"Uhura and I had something to do with it, too, you know."

- Kirk (to Spock), with McCoy piping up

"It's hard to get out of it once you've had a taste, isn't that right Mr. Sulu?"
""Captain" does have a nice ring to it. Chair's all yours, sir."

- Kirk and Sulu

"Scotty, how's our core?"
"Purring like a kitten, captain. She's ready for a long journey."

- Kirk and Scotty, as the Enterprise prepares to embark on a five-year mission

"Five years in space... God help me!"

- McCoy

"Where should we go?"
"As a mission of this duration has never been attempted, I defer to your good judgement, captain."

- Kirk and Spock

Background information

Gathering a team

The prospect of working on this film along with J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Bryan Burk originally drew Damon Lindelof to the project. "The idea of doing this job with anyone other than J.J., Bob, Alex and Bryan was not appealing to me," Lindelof admitted. "It's what made me carve out the time necessary to do this movie." Once each of the five cleared their schedules, they began working on this sequel film. The team grew from that point on, Abrams later explaining, "Everyone, with very few exceptions, came back for the sequel." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 72 & 14)

Story and script

The writers of this sequel movie were contemplating it ever since they finished working on the previous film – the first alternate reality movie, Star Trek. "[The sequel] never really left our minds," Roberto Orci noted. "We were doing other things, but Star Trek was always in the backs of our minds." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023)

The team took the responsibility of creating a sequel extremely seriously. Bryan Burk remembered, "We didn't want to go into a sequel just for the sake of doing a sequel [....] We wanted to figure it out." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 6)

Kurtzman, Abrams, and Orci

Alex Kurtzman, J.J. Abrams, and Roberto Orci

The nature of this film as a sequel had to be taken into account by those assigned to write it: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof. Initially, they, together with J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk, gathered to break (a TV writing term for devising the story as a group) the concepts they had to continue from the preceding film. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 72) "The real issue for us," stated Abrams, who was meanwhile assigned to produce the sequel, "was how do we continue a story that stands on its own – you [ideally] never need to have seen the first film – that makes the audience feel and scream and laugh and cry." ("The Voyage Begins... Again!", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features) He also recalled, "The goal we had was to keep all the comedy, humanity and buoyancy while going into more complex and darker territory. For the story to move forward, this had to be a more ambitious movie than the first [....] But at the same time, no matter the scale or the format, the thing that mattered most to everyone was to tell the most exciting and emotional story yet." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023) Burk concurred, "We wanted to [...] hopefully take a step forward with it. How do we make it better, more emotional, and with more drama, action and impossible odds?" (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 6) Kurtzman stated that, even though "going to a darker place" was a target for the writers, "We did not want to violate what we thought was so important about Star Trek at its core either, so we really did try and hold that in balance [....] Despite the fact that we are literally going Into Darkness, I think we all worked very hard to make sure the theme of hope, what hope costs, and what it's really about, was always alive in how we were designing our story." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171, pp. 34 & 35) Speaking about the need to structure this film so it was accessible to viewers, Kurtzman related, "We knew what a weird needle it was going to be to thread, because we wanted to appeal to die-hard fans as much as people who didn't like Star Trek." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023) Another definite aim the writers had in mind was to make the film synchronize with what had gone before. "In the almost fifty years of Star Trek that had existed before we came into it," said Kurtzman, "we wanted to play in harmony with what is known as Star Trek canon, and that meant that we had an enormous amount to draw from. Whereas there was really only one story we felt we could tell in the first one, there were a million in the second." ("The Enemy of My Enemy", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features) The reason this film's narrative was left open for the writers to explore was that the alternate timeline, first established in the previous movie, allowed them that "narrative freedom," so-called by Roberto Orci. [1]

The first question the writing team were faced with was whether there could be a five-year mission following the destruction of Vulcan, as the planet is destroyed in the film Star Trek. Although the writers had discussed the historical ramifications of the planet's destruction during that movie's development, the subject was not yet settled. Later, Damon Lindelof recalled thinking, "That should be the catalyst for everything that happens in the second movie [...] so we need to talk about that and understand what the ramifications are moving forward." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 72) According to Lindelof, deciding whether to dedicate this film entirely to the fallout of Vulcan's destruction, or letting it simmer for another film, was an important decision. [2] He stated the planet's destruction "cast a pallor over this entire Federation that needs to be reconciled. So I think, in a lot of ways, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise is fighting for the soul of Starfleet in this movie." [3]

The development process became a virtually nonstop brainstorming session. "I can't even tell you how many story meetings we had. We were constantly collaborating, making adjustments, figuring out what needed to be set up," reflected J.J. Abrams. "I felt really lucky to be working with Bob, Alex and Damon again. They were tireless, and they created [the] story." [4]

The dynamics between the crew were discussed in the early conversations, with the writers deciding "in the first series of meetings for the second movie," as worded by Damon Lindelof, that they would continue to develop the relationship between Kirk and Spock. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 72) The writers believed it was critical for the film to portray the two characters as markedly different from their older, prime-universe counterparts. "We did not want to make the mistake that our Kirk and Spock were in the same place [as in the preceding film or in, for example, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan] [....] That's part of the fun we got to have, figuring out exactly where they were on the spectrum in their relationship with each other," explained Alex Kurtzman. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 024) Furthermore, the creative staff felt it was highly important that the relationship between Kirk and Spock be portrayed in a realistic way that the audience also understood. Although the cultural significance of Star Trek made it tempting to think of Kirk and Spock as friends, this movie was intended to be set at a time when their relationship was still forming. Defining precisely what stage their connection was at proved controversial, with Editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey having their own perspective on this matter. Brandon remembered, "Mary Jo and I were like, 'But they're friends.' And the writers were like, 'No, they are not friends.'" There had to be friction between the two protagonists, yet without making either person unlikable. As a result, there was ultimately a lot of discussion about how to keep their relationship balanced. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features) Roberto Orci explained, "It also gave us a great opportunity, because the logic versus emotion conflict is such a brilliant and wonderful backdrop against which to pit a huge problem like [...] [Khan] walking into their life." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 33)

In the initial series of talks regarding this movie, the writers additionally conversed about what they wanted to do with the main characters in general. Recollecting how the writers were thinking at that point, Damon Lindelof relayed, "What is the next story that we want to tell in terms of the emotional lives of the characters? Where do we want to take these men and women? What's their arc in the second movie, because we don't want to abandon the characters; the characters are what everybody cares about. We talked about that stuff and then once we decided on what a cool version of that was going to be – which is tied very closely to how everybody feels about what happened in the first movie – then we said what is the plot?" (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 72) Alex Kurtzman felt it was important for the story's protagonists to be tested by an imposing villain, Kurtzman believing "that is always the joy of the best sequels." [5] Bryan Burk observed, "We felt that if the first film was about how this team came together then this story had to be about them really growing up and how they are becoming adults. That idea had tremendous energy and possibility." [6] J.J. Abrams remembered, "We knew there had to be a more complex story, a deeper story, because the first film was sort of gloriously innocent in all these people coming together that didn't know each other. So the second film is really about testing those relationships by default, in that they have to go through something more extreme and more intense [....] We always knew it was going to be more of an extreme story, pushing limits dramatically and emotionally. There would be more questions of who to trust, and of manipulation and difficulty [....] So we always knew we would go darker, deeper, and really see what it's like for these people to experience that, and can they get through that gauntlet alive." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 15 & 17) Said Kurtzman, "We did not want to make the mistake of assuming that because everybody had gotten together at the end of the first movie that they were the Bridge crew that you know from the original series. It felt like that would have been a hugely missed opportunity." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 33)

Other questions the writers had to consider, during the initial story meetings, included, in Damon Lindelof's words, "Who is the force of antagonism? How are they going to illuminate this character story that we want to tell?" (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 72) Roberto Orci similarly attested, "We started with, 'What's a good movie? What's a good villain? What's a good motivation? We cannot rely on what's happened before.'" [7] J.J. Abrams recollected, "We needed someone who would get under their skin and challenge them in a way they could have never survived when they first came together [....] We were going to have someone who could push the buttons of the crew, and test the mettle of their relationships." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, p. 17)

This film's development was first declared on 30 March 2009, over a month before the first alternate-reality Star Trek movie was released. At that time, the narrative of the sequel was "still in the embryonic stage." Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof were meanwhile waiting to receive feedback from the earlier Star Trek film and were aiming to deliver this movie's script to Paramount by December 2009 for a possible summer 2011 release. [8] "The studio [Paramount Pictures] understandably wanted the next movie to come out two summers later [than the previous film]," Kurtzman noted. (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 35)

The writing staffers, influenced by high expectations, felt it was crucial for them to do this film well. Alex Kurtzman said, "We felt an enormous amount of internal and external pressure to get it right. We all felt very vigilant about protecting this thing that meant a lot to all of us." (Empire, issue 287, p. 86) One thing the writers learned from the response to the previous movie and were influenced by in conceiving this film was that the audience seemed mostly pleased with all the decisions they had made. The writers regarded that reaction as something they needed to "honor and stay true to," in Kurtzman's words. (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 35) In fact, because the first film was generally met with immediately positive reactions, the pressure increased. "[It] meant an even stronger sense of protecting it the second time around," Kurtzman went on. "And that responsibility never stopped being daunting. The minute it does, we have no right to be doing it any more." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023)

J.J. Abrams believed the planning of this movie benefited from the fact he and his colleagues had a wide range of different levels of experience with Star Trek, he and Bryan Burk not having known much about the franchise before working on it, whereas the film's writers were more directly aware of what opinions the fans had about this film. "I think the great thing about that was that we were able to be aware of the chatter, just like in the first movie, hearing what people might want, or not want, or expect or resent, or have to be concerned about," Abrams considered. "At the same time, Bryan (who had never seen an episode) and I were able to approach this with a spectrum of points of view. While people were [suggesting] things, none of that really mattered much to me, because I felt like I was coming from the point of the moviegoer who just wants to be entertained, understand, and care about the world and the characters." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 15 & 14)

While devising this film, the writers took notice of apparently relentless fan speculation and questions, both prior to the release of the first film and in the interim between the two movies, over whether the alternate reality version of Khan Noonien Singh would appear. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features) Damon Lindelof said the jumping off point for the story was deciding whether Khan would be the villain, and they weighed the pros and cons of him appearing. [9] "In a way, Damon and I were the biggest debaters about this," recollected Roberto Orci. "He argued for Khan from the beginning and I argued against it." [10] The writers knew that including Khan would be extremely risky. (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 040) On 15 May 2009 (precisely a week after the release of the previous film), J.J. Abrams expressed, "It'll be fun to hear what Alex and Bob are thinking about Khan. The fun of this timeline is arguing that different stories, with the same characters, could be equally if not more compelling than what's been told before [....] Certain people are destined to cross paths and come together, and Khan is out there... even if he doesn't have the same issues." [11] In retrospect, Abrams noted, "There are a number of characters we could have used, and there are a number of issues that we talked about in terms of Khan, and one of them was, 'Why do that? Why bring him back?' We've established a brand new sort of timeline, we could do anything we want, let's just do something brand new." ("The Enemy of My Enemy", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

A compromise Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof reached, in their debate about Khan, was to devise the story in such a way that it didn't rely on Star Trek canon. Consequently, the antagonist's motives were initially "based on his [use] by a corrupted system of power that held the things he held dear against him and tried to manipulate him. That story stands alone with or without Star Trek history. That's how we approached it, and God bless Damon for going down that road," Orci gratefully said. [12]

The writers included multiple adversaries in this film in an attempt to make it essentially action-packed. Though Klingons had been featured in an ultimately deleted scene from the film Star Trek, J.J. Abrams and the staff of writers were careful to give them more purpose in this movie. "Plus we couldn't do two movies and not have the Klingons," said Abrams, chuckling. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 17)

In September 2009, J.J. Abrams and Roberto Orci told the Los Angeles Times they had heard that fans would like modern, relevant issues to be explored in the sequel. [13] At a Blu-ray/DVD release party for the film Star Trek in November 2009, Orci told Anthony Pascale he was seeking inspiration in novels by Arthur C. Clarke and by rewatching all of Star Trek: The Original Series, examining how TOS installments would unfold in the alternate reality. [14] He also looked for Star Trek novels he hadn't read yet for further inspiration. [15]

The writers wanted to explore the concept of the Star Trek universe being presented as a future utopia, which is how it had very often been established before. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023) "We wanted to go the other way, and explore Star Trek very much with conflict, very much with an unperfected humanity," admitted Roberto Orci, "and therefore felt a duty somewhat to reflect the world that we live in. Now, that's not just as simple as it being a terrorist allegory – it's a flavor of the movie, it's an element, but it's certainly not at the center of its plot. It does speak to the fact that we wanted to embed in our universe events that are recognizable to an audience today [....] [Our reality] has ugly things in it, and we wanted to reflect that." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171, pp. 33 & 34) Moreover, the creative staff thought it was realistic for an advanced organization such as the Federation to be faced with oppositional forces that occasionally intruded. The writers were interested, too, in integrating a contemporary political reality into the film. "We wanted to extrapolate from the situation, at least in America, these days where it's the best of times and the worst of times," Orci observed. "We're the most advanced nation, we are prosperous, powerful and plentiful, and yet there is a lot of darkness and things we have to overcome [...] [such as] real barriers, both from within and externally." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023) Although Orci was fascinated by conspiracy theories, this movie wasn't specifically about any conspiracy theory in particular. They inspired Orci simply to keep in mind that, if the writers wanted the film and its characters to seem realistic, even the film's villains had to have understable motives. (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 34)

J.J. Abrams on Vengeance Bridge

J.J. Abrams on the set of the Vengeance's Bridge

One of the first concepts J.J. Abrams came up with, regarding the prospect of doing this film, was that there be a ship which was basically a stealth version of the Enterprise. The film's writers then adopted this notion. "The thing that interested us about the design of the Vengeance," stated Alex Kurtzman, "was that Marcus has taken the ideals of the Starfleet and he's perverted them." In agreement with Kurtzman, Abrams professed, "It's very anti-Roddenberry." ("Vengeance is Coming", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

Alex Kurtzman once stated that – because the alternate reality version of Kirk had, at least in Kurtzman's opinion, never been shown sending men and women to their deaths – this film posed the question of what would happen if he was confronted with the dilemma of having to do so. [16] Kurtzman referred to the way the film depicts Kirk maturing into a man as "the fun of the game we're playing and the story we're telling." (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 044) He specified, "Particularly the idea of having Kirk face his first real challenge as captain was exciting for us." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 024)

When the initial target of December 2009 neared, no script had been written for this movie, so the film's release was changed to 2012. [17] The movie's writers felt it was very important not to rush the making of the film, fearing that for them to do so might result in a film they themselves weren't proud of. "Ultimately, that would have been devastating for us and for people who loved the first movie," Alex Kurtzman remarked. "So, we collectively decided, let's put our chips on the table, and ask them to give us the time to make the movie that we felt was worthy of being a sequel." Even though the postponement didn't conform to Paramount's wishes, the organization didn't dismiss the writers in favor of hiring someone else to write the sequel. Kurtzman considered the fact Paramount refrained from this alternative as "a testament to how much the studio want to protect Star Trek as well." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 35) Roberto Orci attributed the initial delay to: other projects they wanted to do; then deciding if the initial story they thought of was the best one; and the "scary" notion of a new timeline where they had absolute freedom. [18] The creative team used the waiting period to discuss how they could learn from the reactions to the preceding film, what they would like to see next, as well as "what to draw from the canon and pay homage to or reinvent," in Kurtzman's words. "Part of why we took the time," he continued, "was to make sure we were picking what we felt needed to happen – and that ended up proscribing a lot of choices about who the bridge crew comes into contact with, and what were the dilemmas between them." Orci explained, "The freedom to do anything now, even if canon prohibited it before, was terrifying [....] We had to be rigorous so we had to make sure that a) we all liked it and b) it passed the test of sitting on a shelf for a while." (Empire, issue 287, pp. 86 & 87) He additionally commented, "It gave us the chance to not have a time constraint force us into doing something that we weren't sure about. So it was quite a luxury to be able to think about a story that we'd talked about through the entire time. We got to wake up morning after morning thinking, 'I do think we have the right story' [....] With time comes a perspective that I hope will serve the movie well." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 35) The waiting period ultimately took longer than two years, approximately half of which was spent debating whether to feature Khan. (Empire, issue 287, p. 86; SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 040) Kurtzman recollected, "It took us literally a year of debate, about how to proceed, whether or not it was the right thing to do, what it would mean to do that and what the expectations would be by taking that on." (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 040) Upon revisiting the story they had invented, the writers were happy to proceed with the development process. "We took it down, looked at it again and said, 'Okay, this still holds up,'" related Orci. (Empire, issue 287, p. 87)

With the writers having reached the compromise of making the film's principal villain be motivated by revenge against a manipulative and corrupted "system of power," Damon Lindelof was instrumental in influencing the plot's direction. "That's when Damon came back and reared his ugly head and said, 'OK, now that we have that, is there any reason why we cannot bring Star Trek history into this?' And he was right," Roberto Orci conceded. It was only afterwards that the creative group finally tailored the antagonist into Khan. [19]

One reason why the writers chose to have this film feature Khan was so he could be put in conflict with a yet-to-mature, inexperienced James T. Kirk. Alex Kurtzman explained that this clash resulted in Khan being "so exciting to us, and that's why we ultimately chose Khan, because Khan is the perfect foil for that arc [of Kirk maturing into adulthood]." (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 044) In their decision to include Khan, the writers were also compelled by the persistent fan queries about the possibility of the character appearing. "We felt like we couldn't avoid Khan," explained Damon Lindelof. "And in the act of avoiding him, it would be more difficult than just basically doing it and finally freeing our franchise of the only question that was really plaguing it [....] Until we did our version of Khan, we really felt like we could not move past it." Lindelof likened the seemingly unavoidable prospect of portraying the Khan of the alternate reality to the basically inescapable effect of gravity on a ship that was falling to Earth. He also drew a parallel between the possibility of not depicting Khan as being similar to "Batman not doing the Joker." Added Lindelof, "So, the question just became, 'How could we do it in a slightly different way?' But we had to acknowledge the way it had been done before [....] That's what we did and we stand by it. But ultimately, our version of Trek is the same as the original version of Trek." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features) J.J. Abrams admitted, "The truth is that no one resonated like Khan. There was such a personal connection between Khan and Kirk. To me, it was the combination of the opportunity of taking something that was extraordinarily rich and mythic, and also update it, not only with a new actor, but to take the character and to use that character in a way that hadn't been used before." No other characters were seriously considered for updating in that way. ("The Enemy of My Enemy", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

The priority Khan gives to his crew, which he refers to as his "family," was inspired by a monologue Khan voices in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan about having lost twenty members of his crew, including his wife. Khan's dedication to his "family" and to their protection, as an understandable motive for the character, "was something we felt we could not change about Khan on any level [....] That was going to perfectly mirror in our minds Kirk's arc, and the idea that he doesn't quite understand what it means to be a captain yet," said Alex Kurtzman. (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 043)

The writing of the film's script was initiated in October 2010. [20] The screenplay was driven by the notion that the members of the Enterprise's senior staff were slowly becoming an inseparable, if occasionally unruly, team of friends. Bryan Burk observed, "The script for Into Darkness started with one question: how can we put the Enterprise team into the greatest jeopardy and conflict?" [21]

In February 2011, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof announced they were in the process of writing the script for the film and had relocated themselves to a hotel room for five weeks in order to better do it without any distractions. [22] "We locked ourselves in a room and started trying to figure out a story," Orci remembered. ("The Voyage Begins... Again!", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features) He and Lindelof also asked for fan input on what the general consensus is for the "proper" name of the main deflector dish that has been an integral part of starship design throughout Star Trek. [23] Orci indicated that filming would begin in fall 2011. He added the film would build on the previous one, but it still had to attract new fans and stand by itself without relying on its predecessor. [24]

If the writers were going to include Khan in the film, they had to write the movie in such a way that it established his personality and backstory; they needed to write dialogue in which he spoke about himself and his past, for the benefit of both viewers who were massive fans of Star Trek, who the writers hoped would take enjoyment from the canonical references, and newcomers to the franchise. ("The Enemy of My Enemy", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features) In fact, the writers felt it was vital to avoid the pitfall of assuming the audience was already familiar with Khan, even though he was a pre-established character, which was one reason they felt the story had to "stand on its own." (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 040) J.J. Abrams was of the opinion that he and his creative associates needed to write Khan as a melodramatic, "hyper real" character, who also was very relatable. ("The Enemy of My Enemy", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

James T. Kirk and Christopher Pike in deleted scene

Kirk and Pike in a deleted scene from the film

Conveying the bond between Pike and Kirk to the audience was considered very important. "Although we establish in the first film that [Pike] was a father figure to [Kirk], as we all know, you rely on what people's impression of the first film was, so we had to re-establish the father-son aspect of it," explained Maryann Brandon. "So, we had to create dialogue between them and a dynamic between them where you felt like [Pike] was stern and he's still [Kirk's] admiral, but that [Pike] also believes in this young captain, and he's terribly disappointed that [Kirk] chose to break the Prime Directive. [Pike] takes the ship away, but he also needs to give him hope that he personally will take [Kirk] under his belt [...] and that he still believes in him." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The film's pre-production or "prep" began in April 2011, based on a detailed seventy-page outline of the story. Roberto Orci stated they were awaiting J.J. Abrams' approval on a completed script, as he was preoccupied with completing the movie Super 8. [25] After that film's release, Abrams estimated that making Super 8 had put the Star Trek sequel "probably six months behind." [26]

In June 2011, Damon Lindelof explained that – although he, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci had been collaborating on the film's script since October 2010 – their work on it had been intermittent, as they had taken time for a variety of other projects. Orci added, "We haven't had a deadline yet, and that is why we keep not finishing it. Give us a deadline and we'll finish it. We only closed our deal with Paramount two or three months ago. So it is not just doing other things, it is 'let’s find out when we are really going to go and then we will really get to work.'" All five members of the creative team, though, were now ready to devote their attention to the new movie without distractions. Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindelof, despite speculating that Abrams could begin filming that September and have the film out the following June (as he did on Super 8), still advocated not rushing the film's schedule.

The film's three writers meanwhile envisioned this movie as being akin to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as regards the characters. "Now we have the opportunity to do something that Star Trek II did, which is recognize them more fully and have them be more in the places where you expect and hope if you are a fan," Roberto Orci mused. "And if you are not a fan and [have] never seen them in that position, hopefully you get to enjoy that for the first time, the way Wrath of Khan was an entry point for many, including some of us." Conversely, there was no question of the creative staff simply remaking that film. "We hold it in such high esteem ourselves that it would be creative suicide to put the bar up there and say 'that's what we are going for.' We are in an entirely different paradigm with our second movie," Damon Lindelof stressed. [27]

The writers had been working on this film extensively by the time it came to cast the movie, for example having put a lot of effort, before an actor had to be chosen to play the role of Khan, into determining how they wanted that character to be portrayed. Alex Kurtzman clarified that, by the time that part was cast, "we all felt pretty good about where we were at." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 32)

Since J.J. Abrams wanted the script of this movie kept secret as much as possible, the film's screenplay was released to the cast very soon before the film was to enter production, the start date being in January 2012. (Star Trek Magazine Special 2015, pp. 20-21) [28] Whereas a writers' strike had prevented the cast members collaborating with the writers on the previous Star Trek film, this movie was significantly modified by the cast. "The script really changed in the weeks leading up to the shoot," Spock actor Zachary Quinto recalled. "We worked on it, talked about it, and rehearsed it, so things came out of that process that we weren't able to [add] the first time." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 39)

The writing continued even while the movie was being shot. On Monday 30 January 2012, Alex Kurtzman at one point made changes to a "Yellow Revision" of the script on the set of the Enterprise's bridge, using a laptop running the computer program Final Draft. Damon Lindelof acknowledged, "We've rewritten this thing fifty different times, trying to find it." ("The Voyage Begins... Again!", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features) The final shooting draft of the film's script was issued on 8 May 2012. [29] In retrospect, Kurtzman observed that, while taking the main characters into darker territory, exploring the theme of hope had been "the thing that's been interesting to us." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 34)

Scene development

A shot depicting Scotty reacting in surprise to a view of a Nibiran fish was invented "just to reinforce the idea you're underwater," Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett mentioned. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The storyline involving the Harewood family evolved from the writers being interested in triggering human emotions in the audience shortly after the movie starts. "We discussed wanting to have something that was an emotional opening," observed J.J. Abrams. "And so the idea was to try and find ways to make human drama, a family with a sick child, not trite, but to make it something that was surprising and to an end [....] It ended up being not only a sort of unexpected way in to meet our bad guy, but also a critical setup for the end of the movie. So, this little girl, who you meet at the beginning, who is unconscious and dying, and these wildly depressed parents, who are so sad, end up really being kind of the setup for our bad guy in the film." ("Introducing the Villain", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

Owing to the significance of establishing the connection between Kirk and Pike, the film's first scene that features them, in which Pike reprimands Kirk, was heavily rewritten. "There were many incarnations of that scene," Maryann Brandon recalled. In the scene's original version, Pike himself took the Enterprise away from Kirk and then tried to be fatherly to him. This was rewritten, so that Pike relays orders from Starfleet to reassign Kirk off the ship and then implies he is unable to do anything to circumvent those instructions. The rewrite only happened after the creative personnel struck upon the thought of writing a new scene, set in a bar, later in the plot. They realized they had to split Pike's actions of firstly relaying news to Kirk that he was to be transferred off the vessel and secondly being fatherly to Kirk into two separate scenes, with the bar scene serving the latter purpose. Admiral Marcus was deliberately referenced in the debriefing scene, in order to establish the character at a relatively early point in the film. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features) The reason Kirk is judged as not being ready for captaincy, an opinion expressed directly by Pike in this scene (as well as indirectly by Admiral Marcus), was that the writers were inspired by fans repeatedly criticizing Kirk as having become captain terribly quickly in the previous film. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 024)

A scripted scene straight after the one in which Pike scolds Kirk featured the introduction of Carol Marcus, with Kirk meeting her for the first time. J.J. Abrams and the film's writers, with some convincing by Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, decided the scene wasn't necessary and took it out. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The only reason the bar scene featuring Pike and Kirk was set in a bar was to remind the audience that the two officers first met in a bar, in the film Star Trek. Having Pike console Kirk in the bar scene additionally served to make Pike's death more emotionally affecting. Mary Jo Markey stated, "As a group, we weren't feeling very much about Pike's death, when it happened, and came to feel that part of the problem with it was that there was never a point in the movie where we were really on Pike's side, and this scene was kind of designed to make you feel like, 'I really care about Pike. And I remember what a great guy he is, and what a great influence he's been on Kirk, and how he's really the guy that changed Kirk's life. He's a true father figure to him.'" Maryann Brandon agreed, "We deliberately had Admiral Pike say, 'I believe in you,' so that, you know, when he gets killed, really Kirk is alone. And we really needed Kirk to go to a dark place, so that you would believe that he would risk the life of his crew to [...] go into Klingon space and take revenge." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features) In Maryann Brandon's opinion, the addition of the bar scene made "a huge difference in the film." ("Unlocking the Cut", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

In the first scene that Admiral Marcus appears in, a speech delivered by him was rewritten several times. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features) As for the rationale behind the death of Admiral Pike, later in that sequence, Bruce Greenwood recalled something J.J. Abrams once told him; "He said, 'We felt the relationship was so strong that we decided to hang Kirk's quest on the end of that relationship.'" (Star Trek Magazine Special 2015, p. 21)

An initial shot of Khan on Kronos was originally not written into the film, nor was an immediately subsequent scene in which a reflective Kirk, sitting in a room at Starfleet Headquarters, answers a call from Spock. "We didn't have a moment where Kirk just lost all hope, and we felt we needed it right before he gets called to action," Maryann Brandon remembered. There was some debate over who the caller should be. It was originally Scott before it changed to Spock. However, a scene immediately thereafter, in which Kirk is told that "Harrison" used a portable transwarp beaming device to escape, then had to be rewritten so that it's Scott who gives him that news. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

A later scene – wherein Kirk and Spock notify Admiral Marcus that "Harrison" has fled to Kronos, Marcus tells them that Starfleet is on the verge of war with the Klingons, and he finally then sends them to kill "Harrison" – was worked on a lot and was added to with some additional dialogue. "It was a question just of what it was gonna be, exactly," Maryann Brandon recollected, "and how to show Kirk's drive for revenge without making him seem like he was only about revenge and that his feelings about Pike had been entirely pushed to the side. It was just a balancing act to try to keep all those things. We ended up writing some new dialogue that's placed on a shot that, for the most part, it was a matter of sort of shading performance and cutting some of the scene out." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The shuttlecraft journey that takes Kirk, Spock and Carol Marcus to the Enterprise was rewritten a few times. Objections voiced by Spock to Kirk, regarding their mission, were reworked. "Although this stuff was in the original scene," stated Maryann Brandon, "they were more implied and referred to than just boldly stated [in the way they ended up being] [....] But I think it was really important, because it's where, again, [...] we're really making clear what the themes are of the film, this idea of personal goals versus universal goals, and universal principles versus taking things into your own hands and deciding that your principles are the ones that are important." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Some new dialogue might have been created for the scene showing Sulu, in command of the Enterprise, transmitting threats to "Harrison". "The dialogue, I think, was essentially the same. I mean, we might have given him a few new lines in there," reckoned Mary Jo Markey. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

More definite is that the journey to Kronos in a K'normian trading ship was revised. Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon felt the original scene didn't work so well for Uhura and Kirk, being less informative for them as well as the audience, regarding Spock's emotional well being. "It became a scene that was really designed to help Uhura more fully understand Spock, and then, you know, of course by extension to help us [the audience] understand Spock better," commented Markey. "And we ended up feeling that it needed to be more about a much deeper understanding of Spock's emotional make-up, or un-emotional make-up, or whatever it is exactly that a Vulcan has, where he talks about the experience of seeing his whole planet die and the existential experience of that, and how it has made him feel even more committed to the Vulcan way." New dialogue was written for the revised version of this scene. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

J.J. Abrams was determined to include the battle sequence between the Starfleet landing party and the Klingons. "The idea of an action sequence that is harrowing, exciting, and scary, involving Klingons and our characters, was too delicious to pass up," he remarked. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 17)

A subsequent scene in which Khan, held in the Enterprise's brig, tells Kirk and Spock about his past, revealing his name for the first time, was a result of the desire to include, in the film, exposition regarding Khan. The writers knew the line "My name is Khan" was not only a significant line in the film, but also that, if the production staff were able to get that moment right, it would elicit a mix of reactions from the audience, such as gasps, applause, and boos. A line from this scene – in which Khan asks Kirk, "Is there anything you wouldn't do for your family?" – was inspired by the motive of trying to make Khan relatable. ("The Enemy of My Enemy", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

Having Khan, essentially a murderous prisoner, assist Kirk was intended to be a way to make viewers feel uncertain about the character, as the writers knew the audience would have preconceived ideas about him. Despite Khan's villainy, the writers were fascinated by the idea of Kirk having no option but to partner with Khan, who Alex Kurtzman likened to Hannibal Lecter. "That was the fun of it for us; just moving right in to what the audience's expectations were with Khan, because those expectations were our expectations," explained Kurtzman, "and if we can get ourselves to feel, to be asking those questions and to be unsure of the outcome, which was the whole point of creating an alternative timeline, then I felt we were making the right choices." Roberto Orci added, "That's for fans. If you're not a fan, it doesn't matter; you're just watching a story of, 'Can I trust this man or can't I?', and that works on its own. But for fans, using Khan gives it a whole other layer, and we thought it was not just a homage to The Wrath of Khan, but also something for fans to play with, as evidenced by the fact that we are fans and this just tickled us." (SciFiNow, issue 84, pp. 042 & 043)

Devising how to quickly and covertly transfer Kirk and Khan from the Enterprise to the Vengeance turned out to be an enjoyable challenge. "So, that was one of the most, sort of, fun puzzles to put together in the movie, because we always loved the notion of their having to secretly get onto the [Vengeance]," J.J. Abrams explained. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Damon Lindelof suggested that, in the resultant sequence depicting Kirk and Khan flying through space from the Enterprise to the Vengeance, the glass in Kirk's helmet would get struck by a piece of debris. Originally, Kirk was imagined as not using a guidance system in his helmet, though this idea was altered, as was much of the sequence. "The ship-to-ship sequence [...] was a constantly evolving sequence," remarked J.J. Abrams. "There were many iterations of it [....] It felt like we needed to add some elements of tension [...] [and] the story needed to be a little bit more complicated." For instance, new dialogue was written for the start of a shot in which Spock warns Kirk that there is a debris field between the two craft. The newly added dialogue allowed for the scene to be moved from during the flight to just before it. Another added concept was the idea of Sulu advising Kirk to use the compass display in his helmet. The creative team also tried to add drama to the sequence by having Kirk's guidance system break due to a bit of debris, an idea influenced by Lindelof's earlier suggestion of having the glass break. Uhura wasn't as featured in the original version of this sequence as she ended up being, as Abrams decided to focus more time on the character in these shots. He added the story point of her struggling to contact Scott. "I just knew it was crazy not to have her be a part of it," he admitted. Kirk was originally to have been less clearly put in jeopardy. "The new idea being that if Khan gets hit and is seemingly taken out, and then Kirk's helmet goes dead, he'd be screwed, that there would be no way for him to get to the ship. And then when Khan returns and ends up helping him out, there's this weird thing that we're going for, which is what would happen if your life was in the hands of your worst enemy? And that question of, 'How do I deal with that, and do I trust him if he ends up saving my life?' It's what we were trying to add to the sequence." Other late additions to the sequence included such moments as Spock asking Sulu if they had lost Khan, and Sulu replying with uncertainty due to the debris, as well as Sulu later advising Spock that Kirk wasn't going to make it to the Vengeance safely. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The conclusion of "the ship-to-ship sequence," where a Vengeance security guard gets blown out an airlock that Kirk and Khan fly through to gain access to the ship, was thought up by J.J. Abrams. "We were actually location scouting, and we're at a restaurant, and I remember I just doodled this idea on a napkin," he recalled. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The writers had Spock Prime make a cameo appearance, midway through the sequence in which Khan and Kirk collaborate, as a reminder to the audience that Khan is incontrovertibly evil and untrustworthy. The writers intended for the scene to lead the audience into questioning, even more, how the alternate reality version of Khan would turn out. Alex Kurtzman referred to this scene by saying, "The bomb is symbolically put under the table." (SciFiNow, issue 84, pp. 042 & 043)

The idea of Khan commandeering the Vengeance was thought up as a way of heightening the jeopardy which the protagonists were put in. As Alex Kurtzman expressed it, "The last thing you would want would be for a ship like that to fall into the hands of someone like Khan." ("Vengeance is Coming", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Roberto Orci conceived the line in which McCoy refers to the members of Khan's genetically altered, cryogenically frozen crew as "Human popsicles." Remembered Damon Lindelof, "When he first pitched it, we all got quite a laugh." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

According to Damon Lindelof, the writers had the Enterprise fall towards Earth in order to demonstrate that gravity "can be very dangerous." A section of the Enterprise's bridge was depicted cracking, during the ship's fall, because J.J. Abrams "loves it when the hull cracks," in Lindelof's words. Later in the sequence, Chekov was tasked with running up a flight of stairs and switching a manual override, which Lindelof referred to as "some doodad," because the writing team felt they needed to give all members of the Enterprise's senior staff something practical to do. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Kirk sacrificing his own life in order to save the Enterprise and, in his final moments, speaking with Spock while they are on either side of a glass window was written as an homage to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It was inspired by the compulsion that the writers felt to acknowledge how the Enterprise crew had previously defeated Khan. Although referencing The Wrath of Khan in such a way was thought to be risky, the writers decided to make a big effort to do so. There was consequently a lot of discussion about Kirk going into the warp core area where he saves the ship but receives a lethal dose of radiation. "We talked a lot about the climb and wanting to make it sort of excruciating," recollected Damon Lindelof, "and the idea that a character is sacrificing his own life for his crew, etcetera, to make it as dramatic as possible." Thus, there was also deliberation over what obstacles Kirk had to overcome in the area. "One of the things we talked about was how can we illustrate the idea that there's lots of radiation here?" continued Lindelof. "We talked about the idea that there were sort of like heat waves that Kirk was going through, etcetera, etcetera [....] I think we had no less than fifty meetings about how we could visually describe what was wrong with the core and how Kirk was gonna set it right. And then it was just simply like, 'Oh, he's just gonna kick the thing so it lines up with the other thing.' But it took about fifty meetings to get to that point." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Despite the fact Kirk's climb inside the warp core chamber was obviously intended to be concurrent with the Enterprise freefalling towards Earth, the writers opted for Kirk's movements in the chamber not to reflect the turbulent motions of the vessel. "I do think that one of the things that we talked about," Damon Lindelof stated, "was making sure that Kirk's travel here was fixed, that, at this point, he couldn't be spinning and sort of bonking around, even though the Enterprise was, and that's one of those little cheats that you do, filmically, to get past it." Lindelof accounted for this by saying, "Kirk is, you know, fixed in a gravitational field, here." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The scene in which Kirk dies was deliberately concocted to feature resonances with canon. Not only was it obviously meant to reference Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but it was also "in service of" what Damon Lindelof referred to as "the most, sort of, resonant aspect" of both the alternate reality version of Star Trek and the "prime" version, which was "the love story and friendship between Kirk and Spock." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features) While writing the scene, the creative team even reused lines of dialogue from The Wrath of Khan, such as the question, "Ship, out of danger?" Commented Roberto Orci, "It feels dumb not to use the lines that apply specifically to that scenario, so instead of saying 'I'm trying to save the ship, did it work or not?' we said, 'Hey man, let's just pay homage to it and use Star Trek' [....] So sure, we debated it, and sure it was something to think about." (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 042) The scene also underwent some revision, Bryan Burk noting, "[It] took a while to kind of find its rhythm and really work for us emotionally." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

According to Damon Lindelof, the climax of this movie always highlighted a confrontation between Khan and Spock, with the stakes being Kirk's life. However, there originally would have been a simultaneous subplot about a Klingon fleet heading to Earth, "only to be turned around via diplomatic intervention by Uhura," Lindelof said. "We dropped it pretty early on, as it didn’t feel intimate, cool, or earned." [30]

In fact, the climax was originally far different from what it became. "The original idea of the third act didn't have us landing on Earth," explained Executive Producer Jeffrey Chernov. "J.J. said, 'Now this really excites me.'" ("Brawl by the Bay", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium special features) J.J. Abrams had the Vengeance, as it crashlands on Earth, destroying Alcatraz as an in-joke; he used this moment to reference the fact his production company, Bad Robot Productions, previously had a TV series called Alcatraz which had ended up being cancelled. "So, I destroyed Alcatraz, even though I love it," he conceded. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The climatic chase sequence, with Spock pursuing Khan through the streets of San Francisco, was inspired by a shot from the film Star Trek, showing a group of shuttles leave the city. Because the footage provoked J.J. Abrams into becoming extremely interested in seeing what it would be like in the city, this film's chase sequence was put together. "The fight was originally conceived as a fight between two guys on a street, essentially," recalled Abrams. "To make it into a fight on the garbage barge traveling through the city upped the stakes of the whole thing. It gave the thing a kind of an energy that it wouldn't have had otherwise." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Whether to have the chase involve one or two garbage barges was the subject of considerable debate. It was finally decided that, although only one barge was necessary, two would be more exciting. "It just felt like a fun way to add another layer of, sort of, Saturday-morning-cereal-now-what-ness to it," J.J. Abrams remarked. ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

The creative team chose to factor Uhura into the end of the garbage-barge sequence. "One of the ideas that I thought, you know, was sort of fun was, how do you end the sequence?" J.J. Abrams related. "We wanted to give Uhura something great [....] The idea [was] of giving her a beat that was really tough, and badass, and saving the day. There was always something Barbarella about this moment too, the way she sort of shows up wearing that uniform." ("enhanced commentary", Star Trek Into Darkness (digital) & Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Having Kahn be returned to cryogenic freeze, alive, in the final moments of the film was done as a conclusion that was meant to be internally consistent with the rest of the plot; the writers felt this story point was "the logical and moral conclusion of the movie" and meant for Khan to be put on trial thereafter, rather than be immediately executed. The writers have been less forthcoming about whether they actually kept Khan alive as a convenient way to resolve any future narratives, Roberto Orci stating only that this "could be." (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 044)

Cast and characters

Principal cast

All of the major actors in the first film – namely, those portraying the command officers of the USS Enterprise (John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, and Anton Yelchin) – returned for the sequel. [31]

Kirk actor Chris Pine observed it was important to make this film "as good as the first one" and ensure it lived up to the expectations of the viewers. He was aware of those expectations being higher than when the previous movie had been made. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 022) As a result, Pine thought this film was slightly more nerve-wracking and therefore difficult than its immediate predecessor. As for how he followed the film's development, Pine recalled, "There were a couple years when [J.J. Abrams] went off and did other things. I would hear trickles through the information grapevine, through [writers] Damon (Lindelof) or Alex (Kurtzman), what they were thinking about for the second one. But I knew nothing until I got to read the script, under lock and key, in one of the producer's offices." Pine felt that, once he was handed the movie's screenplay, he completely understood what it required of him. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 23 & 21)

Chris Pine was impressed by the amount of variety in this film. He remarked that the facet which initially struck him about the film was "The sheer scale of it," and went on to comment, "It's really exciting, because in any great epic story, you want it to go from A-Z and back again, and this has so many different colors. It has the excitement, it has moments of levity, it has the romance. A big, steaming apple pie of all sorts of great things." Pine admitted that, having seen the completed movie, what surprised him most was "probably that this film manages to fulfill people's expectations of what a tent-pole summer movie should be, which in the past five years has become quite a feat in terms of spectacle. There are certain things we had to do to satisfy a modern audience's craving for that." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 23)

Chris Pine was consequently wowed by the action sequences in this film. "There's a lot of destruction, and a lot of explosions [....] I think we hit it out of the park," he remarked. "The action sequences are spectacular. People can expect to see something fantastic." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 23)

Chris Pine also pointed out that the creators of the film "married" the action sequences with "what people love about Star Trek, which are complex, human dramas. I think we have that going for us." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 23) He elaborated, "This film deals with really archetypal, huge things about growing up, and life and death, so the characters go on an extraordinary journey." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 028) Pine said, too, that he believed the maturing of the characters "makes for an interesting story" and that he was hopeful the "friendship," "bond," and "love" between the cast members, which was genuine, came across on screen. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 23)

Chris Pine additionally approved of this film as a sequel. Regarding how it measured up to the previous film, he noted, "I'd say the threat is even greater in this one. The force [the crew] are met with is much more frightening." [32] He said further, "There's been a lot of talk about the darkness of it, which is there, but the levity from the first one is certainly there, too. I would say the scope, in terms of the visuals and the action beats, and also the characters' journeys, are much, much bigger than the first film." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 028)

Spock actor Zachary Quinto felt likewise; differences between this film and its predecessor were apparent to him as early as when he first read the script for this movie. "It was very clear to me from the beginning that it was a bigger story, there was more at stake, and there was more action," he expressed. "You could tell from the get-go it was just bigger [....] There are some huge sequences that he [Spock] is a part of, that were really exciting and challenging for me [....] This movie has everybody in different situations and scenarios, on their own, in a way that the first movie didn't. We're all scattered and spread out in different places, yet all working together. We're not such a unified front, and we have to break into factions to get things done [....] We do spend a fair amount of time together for the big action set pieces [though]." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 39) As another highlight of the film, Quinto cited the scene in which – on the way through Kronos' atmosphere – Spock concludes an argument with Uhura by expressing how he feels about death, Quinto describing it as "a really nice moment." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 027) He was also happy the cast were able to modify the script, describing this process as "great" and "exciting." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 39)

McCoy actor Karl Urban enthused, "All of the characters are really pushed to the very limit in this film, and the relationships are strained and fractured. To me, that's always the mark of a great Star Trek series or film, when these characters who love each other – sometimes hate each other – have to work together to overcome a common adversary." (Empire, issue 287, p. 92) Urban also felt the common Star Trek dynamic of Kirk having to find the middle ground between Spock, representing logic, and McCoy, representing humanism, "definitely comes into play here." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 027)

Scott actor Simon Pegg appreciated the opportunity this film gave him and the other main cast members to once again collaborate. "Having kind of eased into the roles, and all got to know each other as actors, and become friends, it was actually something we all really relished and were excited about doing," Pegg related. "It was like a school reunion [...] so to get to do it [...] was a great joy [....] It's most fun when we're all together, cause it's a very familiar environment." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 80 & 82)

Simon Pegg first read the script of this movie while he was with a friend in New York, shortly before Christmas 2011. "I said [to the friend], 'Listen, I'm going to quickly go up to my room. I've got the script, I might read the first couple of pages, then I'll come down and we'll go Christmas shopping.' About five minutes later, I rang him and said I'm not coming down," Pegg explained, laughing. "'cause I was so gripped by the script. I remember literally leaping up and down in my hotel room at certain plot twists and revelations that were just so exciting, and so cool." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 83) Pegg also recalled squealing in delight as he read through the screenplay. (Empire, issue 287, p. 92)

Clearly, Simon Pegg considered this "a great story." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 83) He mused, "It's a modern take on terrorism, in a way [....] It's not dark in the sense that it's po-faced; it still has the lightness of the first film. It just kicks off and doesn't stop for the whole movie." (Empire, issue 287, p. 92) Pegg commented further, "The story goes all over the place. It hits the ground running; it starts fast-paced and doesn't strop through the whole thing. I think it will be joyously exhausting to watch, but at the heart of it, it's a very human story about looking after the people you love [....] and this is among all the pyrotechnics, and I'm sure all the groundbreaking special effects. At the very heart of it, it's something far more human, which is a testament to the writers." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 028)

In fact, Simon Pegg related his satisfaction with the script directly to Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof. "I wrote to them after I read the script, because there are bits in there that I really got," Pegg reasoned, "I could see what they were doing, and there were really smart little touches that I wanted them to know that I'd got [....] It's a hell of a task they've got on their hands. They've got to juggle a lot of things – they've got to please fans and entertain the uninitiated – but I think this film has all that." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 83)

Simon Pegg suspected the "very human story" at the center of this film would "resonate with the audience." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 028) Contemplating more about how viewers might react to the movie, he offered, "There are so many rewards in it if you're a fan of Star Trek. You could watch this movie completely uninitiated and be thrilled by it, you don't need prior knowledge, but if you do have that prior knowledge then it's like it unlocks a whole other dimension of connection with Star Trek that you'll feel very privileged to have." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 83)

Witnessing this film come to fruition delighted Simon Pegg. "To get to shoot that, and see what J.J. came up with, the amazing work that's done by costume and props and makeup – it was all really exciting," he reminisced. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 83)

Simon Pegg considered levity to be essential to the scene in which Scotty needs to open an airlock door and does a lot of running. "If there wasn't some lightheartedness, it would probably be quite uncomfortable to watch," Pegg reckoned, "as there's a lot riding on that moment." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 82)

Chekov actor Anton Yelchin opined, "Even though it's been four years between films, you can quickly see why. You see all of the work that's been put into it, you see the complexity of the relationships; building on what was discovered in the first one, which makes it that much more interesting. You get much more insight into these people, and then the world that you're in, the scope and the scale of the film is that much bigger." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023)

Sulu actor John Cho mused, "I [...] felt pretty confident about the script – by the time we started shooting it was in amazing shape, and the story was really fascinating. To me, the story does what all great sequels do, which is to bring back things and then complicate and darken them. I was just really excited about telling that story [....] You can almost feel sorry for Sulu and all of the characters because they have to mature so quickly. They feel like children who had to take care of the house in mum and dad's absence or something. It's the crises that are so enormous, and they're so young and have had to shoulder so much. To me it feels like all the characters in this one are prematurely-mature." (SciFiNow, issue 80, pp. 022 & 026)

Uhura actress Zoë Saldana appreciated the way the film portrays Uhura's relationship with Spock being tested, enthusing, "The way it happens in this movie is one of those great twists that you love JJ for." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 027) Of the main characters in general, Saldana additionally stated, "I guess because we were going back to a familiar environment, where we knew each other, and had been through it already, we didn't waste time breaking ice. It was already melted [....] It definitely felt more intense. There was a great deal of suspense and uncertainty, not as actors but for our characters. There's such an attack and infiltration into Starfleet, it makes us question how safe we really are." Concerning the cast members who portrayed those protagonists, Saldana noted, "For this experience with Star Trek, we were very fortunate [....] We're so excited to be there, and we shared that mood with each other." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 45)

Their interaction with J.J. Abrams was largely enjoyable for the main cast members. Chris Pine remarked, "There is a great amount of pressure to live up to expectations and to do justice to these characters and what was done before. But I think because of J.J.'s great skill in casting – and this goes for the newest members [of the cast] [...] – it becomes so easy so quickly, and you enjoy each other's company, that you enjoy the day of work." John Cho reflected, "I would say J.J. was a little bit more intimate with us as people this time [....] I think he was more comfortable with us as people, and we were more comfortable with one another in general. You spend enough time together, I guess...." (Empire, issue 287, pp. 90 & 91) Cho also felt he wasn't overwhelmed by expectations, mainly because of Abrams shouldering the responsibility. "I never sweated it," related Cho. "I realised that we would have to meet certain expectations or exceed them, but I didn't emotionally sweat it, so to speak, because I felt very confident in our captain." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 022) The cast found Abrams' unpredictability and the amount of freedom he was allowed to make modifications in the production, which was a high degree of independence, to be impressive but daunting. "So even though it's scary for us to work with him, in some ways it's also a real opportunity," stated Zachary Quinto. (Empire, issue 287, p. 90) For example, the cast found Abrams was willing to allow them a lot of input. "I think a lot of us had a couple observations and notes, and J.J. was really open and encouraging for us to speak up, because we incarnated these characters in the first installment," pondered Zoë Saldana. "Coming back to it, there were remnants of our characters in us, so if something felt unnatural or a little off, we definitely voiced it, and J.J. definitely considered it." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 45) Both the cast and their director also felt it was important to maintain humor in the script. "It was something in this new incarnation that we all talked with J.J. about, the use of levity and the fact that, as dark as some of our stuff is in this new film, we always have time to smile and make people laugh," noted Chris Pine. It was also Abrams who gave the cast members the film's script. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 20 & 21)

One of the ways J.J. Abrams' erraticness affected the cast was in lines given to Uhura. Zoë Saldana explained, "He writes these mouthfuls of dialogue, and it's hard for me because Spanish is my first language. So there were moments, at least once a day, where we'd have to cut and he was like, 'Zoe, it's not traject-ory. It's traj-ECT-ory,' or, 'That was great, but this next take, say it all 30 per cent faster.'" Saldana laughed, then concluded, "It was a trip." (Empire, issue 287, p. 92)

Returning guest stars

Like Chris Pine, Bruce Greenwood could hardly wait, prior to this movie entering production, to be reunited with the Star Trek cast and crew who had worked on the previous film. In this movie, Greenwood reprised his role as Admiral Christopher Pike. He referred to the movie's script as "good." [33] Having initially hoped this film would continue the evolution of the relationship between Pike and Kirk, Greenwood was glad it does. He was also intrigued by the movie's depiction of Kirk maturing; Greenwood remarked that – because the film depicts, at least in his viewpoint, Kirk facing "a major existential crisis" – the film was more interesting for himself as an actor as well as "hopefully, for the audience." (SciFiNow, issue 80, pp. 024 & 026)

Leonard Nimoy initially expressed that he did not expect to return as the original Spock in this movie, even going so far as to state, "I definitely will not be in Star Trek 2," and, "I think I can be definitive about the fact that I will not be in it." (SFX, issue #200, p. 68) However, alongside the Khan report, it was confirmed that he would indeed be returning for the sequel. [34] [35] Concerning how J.J. Abrams asked him to appear for his cameo in this film, Nimoy remembered, "He just said, 'Would you come in for a couple of days and do me a favor.'" Even though the actor had turned down an invite to make a cameo appearance in Star Trek Generations because he felt what had been written for him to play in that film was too general, Nimoy was convinced that this movie was sufficiently specific about the inclusion of Spock that he was willing to participate. Addressing why he had claimed not to be in the film, Nimoy, who was very pleased that the truth of his involvement was kept secret, initially said, "I was asked time and time again if I was in the movie, and I managed to avoid answering without lying." He laughed, but was then reminded that he had flat-out denied being in the film and replied, "Maybe I was confused. Of course, speaking, if you’ll pardon me, logically, I wouldn’t know if I was in the movie until I saw the movie." Nimoy enthused about the film itself, "It’s hard not to enjoy this movie. There’s so much of a thrill ride happening. The relationships between the characters are terrific. The actors are all wonderful." [36] His cameo here marked Nimoy's final appearance as Spock and his final role overall prior to his death in February 2015.

With the announcement of the sequel, fans once again began a campaign to bring Christopher Doohan back to the Enterprise, stating that the Enterprise needed a Doohan. Christopher Doohan did indeed receive a role in this film, appearing as a Transport Officer. Chris noted on his twitter page, @chrisdoohan, that he would not have got the part without the help of Simon Pegg and thanked fans on their Facebook page. [37]

New guest stars

On 4 November 2011, Variety reported that Academy Award-winning actor Benicio del Toro would be offered the role of the villain in the sequel. [38] Latino Review reported that Del Toro would play Khan Noonien Singh, a report which Abrams said was "not true." [39] Soon thereafter, it was revealed that del Toro's deal had fallen through and that he would not be appearing in the film. [40] Edgar Ramirez and Jordi Molla were named as possible replacements. [41] It was just prior to Christmas 2011 when actor Benedict Cumberbatch recorded and submitted an audition video, on an iPhone he owned, showing himself performing two or three scenes, after which, on the evening of New Years Day, he received a call to say the part was his if he wanted it. Though Cumberbatch accepted, he was yet to see a full script of the movie. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 24 & 26) The movie's screenplay did appeal to him, though. It, along with the opportunity to work with J.J. Abrams, primarily motivated Cumberbatch into agreeing to appear in this production, though he had seen the previous film as well. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023) "It's very beautifully crafted," he critiqued of this movie, "so you have a proper, character-driven drama that happens to have all the lure and excitement of Star Trek added with the amazing possibilities of modern film-making [....] [It's] a big film but based on a very detailed, good script, with good ideas." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 27) On 4 January 2012, Variety announced Cumberbatch would be playing the villain. [42] Regarding how Cumberbatch interpreted the part, Alex Kurtzman opined, "He brought a whole new life to it." With a laugh, Roberto Orci added, "He was so good that we didn't have to change much." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171, pp. 32 & 33)

On 30 November 2011, it was announced that Alice Eve had been selected for a lead role in the film. [43] She suspected she was cast because she "naturally speaks very fast," which matched the fact J.J. Abrams has a "very quick" mind, Eve noting, "Certainly in this one it's the universe racing against the clock." (Empire, issue 287, p. 92) She also remembered, "The cast and crew were incredibly welcoming and gracious. And it was great for me to step on the bridge." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023)

On 5 December 2011, Peter Weller was announced as having joined the cast in an unknown role. [44] Weller previously played John Frederick Paxton on Star Trek: Enterprise. Following press screenings of the film's first half hour in Brazil, it was confirmed he was playing Admiral Marcus. [45] On 4 January 2012, Variety reported British actor Noel Clarke would be joining the cast as a family man with a wife and young daughter. [46] Two days later, Entertainment Weekly announced that Nazneen Contractor would be playing the wife of Clarke's character. On 10 December 2012, it was reported by that Alice Eve's character would be Carol Marcus. [47]

Khan in brig

Benedict Cumberbatch as "John Harrison"

On 30 April 2012, it was reported that Benedict Cumberbatch's role in the film was that of Khan Noonien Singh. [48] [49] Simon Pegg shot down this report, though, calling it "a myth." [50] Karl Urban stated, "He's awesome, he's a great addition, and I think his Gary Mitchell is going to be exemplary." [51] However, he later said, "I did that interview after a 22-hour flight from New Zealand. I literally hopped off the plane into the interview." [52] Roberto Orci reiterated Urban's latter statement, while confirming Cumberbatch and Alice Eve's characters had appeared in Star Trek canon. [53] When interviewed himself, Cumberbatch continued the secrecy by merely pointing to a promotional image and stating he played "that person there." (The One Show BBC One, broadcast 24th August, 2012) On 10 December 2012, released a photo featuring Cumberbatch's character in a holding cell, with Spock and Kirk looking on from the other side. The site also reported that Cumberbatch's character was named "John Harrison", in apparent contrast to Orci's previous comment that his character had previously appeared in Star Trek canon. [54] The real identity of Cumberbatch's character was revealed in late April 2013. [55]

Michael Dorn was contacted for a role during the start of filming, and was asked to play "an officer – a soldier." Eventually, it was decided that "they didn’t want to mix the old with the new": Dorn had appeared in some of the previous Star Trek films and television series, playing Worf and his grandfather. [56]


The scene where Kirk delivers a speech features some real-life war veterans, from a non-profit organization called The Mission Continues, which tries to help soldiers return to life after having been deployed. "When the sequel was being planned," recalled Katie McGrath, J.J. Abrams' wife, "we thought about how to make it meaningful beyond the experience of doing it all together again. We were thinking about the themes of the film and what would resonate. And also maybe help alleviate the sort of values of the Starfleet cadets... of sacrifice, bravery and friendship." Eric Greitens, who works as the company's CEO and makes a cameo appearance in the film himself, referred to the group cameo as "A real thrill. And it was meaningful, too." One of the veterans who appears, Adam McCann, had been hit by a bomb exactly seven years, to the day, before participating in the scene. (Empire, issue 287, p. 91)

On Thursday 2 February 2012 and Tuesday 7 February 2012, Headquarters Casting, owned by Carla Lewis, sought background performers for the Star Trek sequel. According to a relevant casting note, they were searching for "attractive / refined / upscale or exotic talent ages 35-55 who are well postured / athletic to thin. Men should be in good shape, ladies must not be overly busty or curvy. The wardrobe is fitted so we need performers who are in great shape and/or on the thin side. Seeking a wide array of different ethnicities for this group, including ethnically ambiguous talent. The work date(s) are TBD, but could be numerous depending on the scene you are selected for. Would require at least one wardrobe fitting. We are submitting additional photos and the photos MUST be current and representative of how you look NOW. Some of the spots that will be picture picked will be quite featured. This is background work and we are seeking both SAG & Non-Union talent. It's possible that non-union performers may need to work SAG (depending on the work day(s) they are ultimately fit for and the number of performers working that day)." The open call was held at 3108 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, California 91505. [57]


This film's production mixed the cast members. "I didn't get to work this time around with people I enjoyed [last time]," Zachary Quinto observed. "I didn't get to spend much time with Simon Pegg, or even with Chris Pine this time [....] But what I lost with the familiar, I gained in working with Benedict [Cumberbatch], which was significant. We got along really well, and I liked working with him." Karl Urban enthusiastically noted, "I loved watching Chris and Benedict when they were doing scenes together, because the sparks would literally fly." Pegg enjoyed collaborating with Pine. "We spent a lot of time working on this," noted Pegg, "and we had a hoot [....] Welcoming Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch was great [too], because we wanted them to feel as welcome as we did." John Cho likewise enjoyed getting to know Cumberbatch, whose performance impressed him, and Eve. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 41, 56, 82, 111) Pine was wowed by the work of both Cumberbatch and Eve in this film. Concerning the interaction between Kirk and Carol Marcus, Pine stated, "When there's a beautiful blonde woman around, there's always the potential for love, and we know the story there." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023) During their breaks from filming, the cast often played word-based board game Words with Friends. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 83 & 115)


J.J. Abrams noted that if they made a sequel, "it would have a subtitle instead of a number." [58] At the end of the Star Trek audio commentary, Damon Lindelof jokingly referred to the sequel as "Pineapple". By 2012, the writers had not settled on a title. Lindelof pointed out the title "Star Trek 2" was taken by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and that he did not want a colon in the title. "Not that Star Trek: Insurrection or First Contact aren't good titles," he said, "it's just that everything that people are turned off about when it comes to Trek is represented by the colon." [59] During production, the film was codenamed "Project HH". [60] "Star Trek Vengeance" was considered for the official title of the movie; Abrams vetoed this possibility – due to the release of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – but it was used as the film's title in Russia (translated as "Стартрек: Возмездие"). [61]

On 7 September 2012, it was announced that a title had been chosen for the sequel. [62] Later that day, the title was rumored and then confirmed to be "Star Trek Into Darkness". [63] [64] J.J. Abrams acknowledged the title was "odd," but declared, "It definitely feels like the title's appropriate: this is a story about these characters being challenged and tested and taken to a place that's about sacrifice and life and death." Additionally, Into Darkness was ambiguous enough to not spoil the story. "I remember there was a movie, An Innocent Man, and I was like, doesn't that kinda ruin everything?!?" Abrams joked. [65] On the other hand, according to Roberto Orci, the title of this film likewise refers to a character: namely, Khan. "Some might see part of the title coming from the fact that he's kind of a dark shadow of members of our crew. He too has gone through the process, to some degree, that some of our crew have gone through, and clearly for some reason it's failed to bring him over, so I think he represents that part of our heroes." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171, pp. 30 & 32) The title can also be seen to mirror the character arc of the protagonists themselves in this movie, as Alex Kurtzman pointed out. (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 34)


The making of this film involved Zachary Quinto training with a stunt trainer, "for a couple months before shooting." The training, which Quinto enjoyed, included some wire work and sprinting. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 39)

On 23 November 2011, it was reported that this sequel would be shot in 3D for a 17 May 2013 release. [66] J.J. Abrams later clarified the film would be shot in 2D and converted into 3D during post-production. [67] This was the first official 3D Star Trek production. Damon Lindelof expressed, "It did not impact the writing of the script [....] All of us were a little bit cynical about doing the movie in 3D [....] So the 3D decision was more along the lines of like 'are we going to screw up Trek by doing this movie in 3D or is Trek ready for 3D?' Hopefully it is the latter." Abrams and his allies were persuaded to convert the film to 3D after watching converted footage of a scene in Star Trek where the USS Enterprise arrives at Vulcan. [68] Bryan Burk later noted, "When we looked at what Star Trek is about – epic battles, sweeping planet vistas and nail-biting action – we thought, 'If Star Trek isn't worthy of 3D, then what movie is?'" (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 026) After each angle was shot, the actors had to move out of the camera's perspective, then a pass was filmed with a 3D camera which replicated the original camera moves, to help the conversion process. [69] This was a new technique, which Abrams described as involving "multiple virtual cameras to push the perspective and depth in certain ways, towards how people see in 3D." The new method allowed people who didn't enjoy or perceive 3D to "get it," Abrams counting himself as one of those individuals. "That's not to say the 2D experience wasn't the primary focus," he clarified. "All I wanted to do was make sure I made a movie that was working in 2D, but [that] if you see it in 3D you get a little more bang for your buck." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172, pp. 15 & 17) Lindelof was a supporter of using 3D for this film. In hindsight, he suspected, "I don’t think this is going to hurt the movie. If people want to see it in 3D, they will get their money’s worth [....] Based on the dailies that I have seen, I think JJ pulled it off." [70]

The decision was made to shoot much of the film in IMAX, which proved difficult for the filmmakers. "The idea of throwing the IMAX cameras around was a huge challenge," Cinematographer Dan Mindel recollected. "J.J. stood by his commitment to use that system, but we couldn't operate the cameras the way we do normally." The time needed for shooting in IMAX was especially hard, as IMAX cameras take a very long time to reload and run out of film extremely quickly, which caused frustration for Abrams. "So the biggest challenge for me," continued Mindel, "was just to keep all that going and have him not lose interest in or be disappointed in the decision he made to use the system." (Empire, issue 287, p. 87)

Filmmaker Edgar Wright visited the set and got to direct a shot for the film. [71]

As reported by TrekMovie, shooting of the sequel started on 12 January 2012. [72] The first footage to be shot was on the set of the Enterprise's Bridge. "I was angry at J.J. for throwing us on to what can be a difficult set," Chris Pine laughed. (Empire, issue 287, p. 90) The set indeed proved troublesome, when Alice Eve initially stepped onto it. "I fell on my bum the very first time, which is a testament to how clean and shiny they kept the floors," she reckoned. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023) On 14 January 2012, Paramount officially announced principal photography had begun. [73]

For the filming of the scenes in which the Enterprise is underwater, Dan Mindel softened the lights on the set of the Enterprise, making the ship's interior look "more subdued, cooler or bluer in color," as phrased by Mindel. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 026)

J.J. Abrams came up with a method of shooting the sequence in which the Enterprise falls toward Earth. "JJ got very interested in the idea that if you move the camera in certain ways and if people behaved in certain ways," reported Roger Guyett, "it would really feel like everything on the ship had wrapped around upside down, and he was right." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 026)

In the final week of January 2012, (citation needededit) NASA astronaut and engineer Gregory Chamitoff visited the Enterprise bridge set while the Star Trek sequel was in production. He inspected some of the stations on the bridge, sat in the command chair, was announced as a "guest of honor" by J.J. Abrams, and gave a speech to the shooting company. In his speech, he commended them by saying, "You know, what you guys are doing here, it's not just an incredible, spectacular movie [...] but it's also inspiring a whole new generation of kids." (Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe)

Filming the scene in which Scott runs through a long open area aboard the Vengeance was gruelling for Simon Pegg. "I remember that day very clearly," he explained, "'cause I'd just eaten and I rocked up on set and J.J. said 'You've got to run 100 meters, really fast' [....] I'd been hanging around all day on set, it was a nice shoot, I'd had a big dinner, then they say, 'OK Simon, you're up,' and I had to do this sprint. And I did it as fast as I could. I mean, I really went for it. I did the first take and everyone clapped, because I ran like I hadn't run since I was a kid. It was amazing. And then J.J. said, 'Can we do it again?' and I said, 'Yeah! No problem!' By the third take, I was, like, 'No.' So I went back to my trailer." There, Pegg finally threw up. "Fortunately, my trailer was a simple stumble away," he concluded. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 82)

As evidenced by photographs which were leaked online, the scene in which Spock and Khan jump from one garbage barge onto another was filmed on the garbage barge green-screen set on 23 February 2012. [74]

The volcano sequence was first rehearsed by a stunt double. In front of the set's green screen, Zachary Quinto was then rigged to a pair of wires, lifted to a height of ten stories high, then dropped at a high rate of speed as if he was falling. [75]

As reported by Go for Location on 17 April 2012, the Star Trek sequel filmed exterior and interior scenes all week in Downtown Los Angeles, especially Bunker Hill and the historic core areas [76] [77] and at Flower and Olympic. [78]

On Friday 20 April 2012, production filmed at 710 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles (7:00 am – 10:00 pm). [79] The day after, the cast and crew conducted more filming in Los Angeles. Between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm, they shot footage in the Grand Ave. Crosswalk, between Cal Plaza and Wells Fargo Plaza, as well as at 350 S. Grand Ave., and at 333 S. Grand Ave. Between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm on that same day, the cast and crew filmed at 710 S. Grand Ave., 650 S. Spring St., and 523 W. 6th St. as well as returning to capture some more footage at 710 S. Grand Ave. The shooting company did even more filming at the latter address on the next day, 22 April 2012. During these dates, base camp was set up at Grand and 8th Ave. [80]

According to a crew member, the production would, after the Los Angeles shoot wrapped, head to the San Francisco area for the final week of filming. According to On Location Vacations, there was a radio casting call in San Francisco for a big motion picture and shooting was scheduled to start on 1 May 2012. [81] As reported by On Location Vacations just a few days later, some location filming was done at the National Ignition Facility, prior to the filming in San Francisco. [82] [83] The production unit was also scheduled to film in Pleasanton. [84]

J.J. Abrams discovered that, by attempting to push the limits of what he and the rest of the film's crew was capable of, this movie turned out to be, by far, his hardest directorial effort yet. "I think part of it was the scope of it. The scale of the movie was pretty huge," he offered. "I think that it was also about trying to take what we did before and embrace the things that worked, and try some things that we hadn't done. Part of it was realizing there are always things [in the original] that I look at and wish I had done this or that. It's a little bit of a second chance to try and do some things that didn't quite work the way I wanted them to, and then do some things I didn't get a chance to do before." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 15)

Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto tweeted that filming (of principal photography) wrapped on 8 May 2012. [85] The reason why Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci had advocated not rushing the making of this film was that Star Trek would naturally require intensive post-production, moreso than Super 8. [86] Following the wrap of the movie's principal photography, second unit filming began with the film's Iceland shoot. This marked the first time a Star Trek movie shot outside the United States. [87]

Design, sets, and locations

Following the release of Super 8, it was announced, in September 2011, that J.J. Abrams would direct this film. [88] He had quite a good idea of how he wanted this film to look. Production Designer Scott Chambliss reported about Abrams' design specifications, "On Star Trek Into Darkness he had pretty strong thoughts about more complete concepts of what he wanted than I was accustomed to." (Empire, issue 287, p. 96) On the other hand, the film's creation was obviously reliant on a team effort, Abrams himself remarking, "I think we all felt we have to outdo ourselves not with scale, or bombast, or pyrotechnics, but to maintain the thing we did last time. Despite it being called Star Trek, it had to be real. You had to feel it." (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 14)

J.J. Abrams felt green screen was "obviously" necessary in this film. However, he explained, "One of the things we've continued from the first movie is the idea of finding locations or building sets whenever we could to create a world that isn't synthetic or sterile, but feels very, very real." Dan Mindel agreed, "What we brought to this one was the fact that we went outside more." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 026)

For the Enterprise in this film, the creative team attempted to preserve a look of newness and cleanliness while also giving the vessel a sense of scale. "We wanted to show the audience far more of the ship and to give it more depth," noted J.J. Abrams. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 026) Due to the fact that permanent sets used for NCIS: Los Angeles were on Paramount Stages 8 and 9, this movie was instead scheduled to film at Sony Studios in Culver City. Sony Stage 15, which was the largest stage at Sony and was larger than the Paramount stages, enabled the filmmakers to build interconnected interiors for the Enterprise, similar to the original television show. (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 026; [89]) This time, filming locations chosen to represent Enterprise interiors included not only Budweiser Brewery, which had been used for ship interiors in the previous movie, but also National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. (SciFiNow, p. 026; [90] [91])

For the garbage barge scenes, a green screen set was built in Marina del Rey, California, along Jefferson Blvd. and near Grosvenor Blvd. [92] Also, Hawaii was considered for "jungle scenes" set on Nibiru but a location in Southern California was chosen instead. [93] This was clearly a reuse of the set in Marina del Rey, complete with red prop trees. [94] The set of the Nibiran volcano also made use of a large green screen. [95] Other filming locations included Dodger Stadium, Long Beach City Hall, MCAS Tustin, and Vasquez Rocks [96] as well as Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. [97] For Leonard Nimoy's cameo, the offices of Bad Robot were selected. [98] Dan Mindel observed that the variety of locations used to film the movie "gave the huge scope it has now." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 026)

Iceland was picked for the filming of some visual effects shots. J.J. Abrams had previously considered filming Delta Vega exterior sequences in Iceland for the previous film. [99]

Designer Neville Page said that, if there were Klingons, he would have to explore a rationale for their appearance, such as their long hair, and give their species a varied appearance, perhaps with different races. [100]

Industrial Light & Magic began working on visual effects in November 2011, starting with shots of outer space that would not require live-action elements. [101]


In an October 2012 interview on the talk show Conan, J.J. Abrams stated that this film was in the editing process. [102] Abrams was still involved in editing and tweaking the movie in late March 2013. (Star Trek Magazine issue 172,  p. 6)

Music and sound

Michael Giacchino confirmed he would return to compose the film's music score before filming began. [103] "One of the things I spent a lot of time thinking about on this was [...] the villain, Khan [....] To be able to have music that represents the wrong side of someone's decisions, but also represents sort of the buried goodness in what they want to do." ("The Sound of Music (and FX)", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium special features) Elaborated Giacchino, "It wasn't about writing based on what the character wanted or the things he's doing; it's more about his past and the way his brain works. I found him to be very interesting, especially because it's Benedict [....] I kept looking at him and saying, 'What is he thinking right now?' For me, the music was exploring that idea and the fact that what is going on is based on something that happened a while ago. Again, going to the emotional side of things is what I do. He gave me tons to play with. Hopefully, I came up with something more than just bad guy music for him." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 029) Giacchino composed new themes for not only Khan, but also Admiral Marcus, and the Klingons, as well as a more "personal" arrangement of Kirk's theme. The Klingon music incorporates Klingonese lyrics sung by a choir, which was written by music editor Alex Levy. [104]

Matching the pace and scope of the film wasn't always easy for Michael Giacchino. "There was a point where I said, 'I'm not sure where to go now because the film has reached such heights of drama that I'm like, 'I did that and the next scene is even bigger,'" he laughed. "How do I keep jumping that hurdle each time? That was the architecture of the score, looking at it and going, 'You need to get big in the middle of the movie, but you don't want to get too big, because you know there's going to be something bigger later.' For me, it was about focusing on each character's storyline and making sure that when I'm writing for them it's appropriate, and not just me saying, 'I want to write a big piece of music' [....] Hopefully, the steady ramp up for the audience is exactly that: a steady ramping up to an emotional climax." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 029)

Michael Giacchino also incorporated a theme from the TV show in this film: "I had just finished writing and shut off my computer and said I'm done done. I went downstairs and went on Twitter and someone tweeted to me 'Can you please use one of the themes from one of the old series in the new movie'... and I thought 'OK, OK' and so I went back upstairs and there was one I always particularly loved... so that will be there for you to find." [105] The theme in particular is the "fight to the death" music from TOS: "Amok Time", which can be heard during the climactic fight between Spock and Khan.

At one point, a music cue that Michael Giacchino wrote for one scene had to be changed in order to account for the fact that the relevant scene had recently been edited differently. Whereas the cue may have worked perfectly well during the previous week, it had to be altered to fit with the new edit. Giacchino decided to rewrite the cue on the next morning, unsure how successful it would turn out. Even while played by an orchestra, the score was still evolving, in the concerted attempts to improve the film. ("The Sound of Music (and FX)", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

On another occasion, Orchestrator/Conductor Tim Simonec instructed all musicians who were holding a note at bar twenty-nine in one of the cues to hold the same note for another three bars. ("The Sound of Music (and FX)", "Featurettes", Star Trek: The Compendium special features)

Depending on where the film was screened, a different song was played in the scene with Scotty and Keenser at the bar. For example, the UK edition used "The Rage That's In Us All", by Bo Bruce, while the Australian version was "The Dark Collide" by Penelope Austin. [106]

Business Wire announced that Star Trek Into Darkness would be released with Dolby Atmos "to deliver a more natural and realistic soundtrack that moves sound around and above audiences, transporting them into the outer regions of the universe." [107] [108]


  • The writers of this film have stated it is set roughly six months to a year after the preceding film, Star Trek. Added Roberto Orci, "The idea is they've had at least a tour of duty or two, and every minute of exploring space is like five minutes of regular time here on boring Earth." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 33)
  • In this film, Admiral Pike – last seen in a wheelchair at the end of the film Star Trek, after his ordeal with Nero – is shown to have regained his ability to walk and is represented using a cane.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness continued to use the same stardate system devised by the screenwriters for the film Star Trek. According to Roberto Orci, in that system, stardate 2259.55 would be February 24, 2259. [109]
  • Admiral Marcus' model collection includes the Ares V, the Phoenix, the USS Enterprise XCV 330, Enterprise NX-01, the USS Kelvin, as well as the Vengeance.
  • Spock tells McCoy that "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Spock Prime tells Kirk this in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • Admiral Marcus reveals that the Kelvin Memorial Archive was really a base of Section 31, the Starfleet Black Ops division that existed as early as 2151, when a young Malcolm Reed was recruited by them. Section 31 was first introduced during the later seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but Section 31 agent Luther Sloan claimed that the organization had existed as a secret black ops division of Starfleet Intelligence since the founding of Starfleet. The prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise later established that this did not simply mean the beginning of the "Federation Starfleet", but the foundation of the predecessor United Earth Starfleet, which later grew into the Federation Starfleet after that organization's creation.
  • En route to Kronos (Qo'noS), Spock pronounces Uhura's first name, Nyota, differently than he does in the previous film.
  • Chekov, established as a "whiz kid" at the age of seventeen in the film Star Trek, continues to demonstrate his proficiency by learning enough about Engineering systems to be Kirk's choice to replace Scotty as chief engineer.
  • The dialogue in the scene where Kirk dies in the radiation chamber uses some verbatim quotes from a very similar scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In that film, it is Spock, rather than Kirk, who sacrifices his life, exposing himself to radiation in a chamber of Engineering, in order to save the Enterprise.
  • Likewise, when calling Spock down to engineering after Kirk’'s sacrifice, some of Scotty’s dialogue, such as, "You better get down here, better hurry," "You'll flood the whole compartment," and more, is verbatim dialogue spoken by McCoy in a very similar scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • The number of torpedoes containing Khan's old crew, seventy-two, is the same number of Augments that survived with Khan nearly three centuries of suspended animation when Kirk discovers the SS Botany Bay in TOS: "Space Seed".
  • Starfleet Command meets in the Daystrom Conference Room. Richard Daystrom was introduced in TOS: "The Ultimate Computer" and mentioned in other Star Trek episodes as well.
  • Christine Chapel is mentioned by name as one of Kirk's former conquests, having purportedly told Carol Marcus all about him. In this film, she has apparently transferred and is now working as a nurse. The Prime Universe variant of Chapel appears as a recurring character in TOS and Star Trek: The Animated Series as well as in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • In the previous film, it was revealed that Uhura speaks "all three dialects" of Romulan; in this film, it is revealed that she also speaks Klingon.
  • The Klingon homeworld, Kronos (Qo'noS), features the remains of an exploded moon in its orbit. This may be an homage to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, in which the Klingon moon Praxis was destroyed by over-mining and insufficient safety procedures.
  • "Cupcake" – Security Officer Hendorff – who Kirk met in the bar fight in Iowa, is still serving aboard the Enterprise and accompanies Kirk to Qo'noS.
  • At one point in this movie, Khan is referred to as having sought refuge on Qo'noS in the Ketha Province. As established in DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach", the Ketha lowlands, in the "Prime" reality, were the birthplace of Chancellor Martok.
  • The Vengeance destroys Alcatraz as it crashes to Earth. In VOY: "Endgame", a future version of Kathryn Janeway from the year 2404 told her past self, in 2378, that one could see Alcatraz from USS Voyager's ready room on a clear day, because Voyager was a museum located on the Presidio in that timeline.
  • In this film, McCoy refers to Khan as a superman. In "Space Seed", Spock refers to Khan and his people as supermen.
  • As Kirk wakes from his coma near the end of this film, he can hear his mother and father speaking about him moments after his birth. This dialogue was reused from the film Star Trek.
  • At the San Francisco bar, among the other drinks on Scotty's table is a Budweiser. Uhura orders a Budweiser Classic in the previous film, and both this movie and the previous one used a Budweiser plant for scenes in Engineering.
  • McCoy uses his medical skills to assist Carol Marcus in performing "surgery" on a torpedo, something his Prime Universe counterpart assists Spock with in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
  • Scotty sabotages the Starfleet prototype USS Vengeance to help save the Enterprise. His Prime Universe doppelganger likewise sabotages the prototype USS Excelsior to help the Enterprise escape in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
  • In San Francisco, trolley cars are shown to still be in use. The Star Trek settings they appear in date from as early as 1986, in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • In the film's London scenes, the "London Eye," a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames, built in 1999, is clearly visible and still in use.
  • Among the pedestrians in San Francisco is an Orion woman.
  • Pike tells Kirk that Starfleet Command returned the captaincy of the Enterprise to him by saying, "They gave her back to me," which is also what Kirk tells Scotty when he regains command of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • The Enterprise spiraling down to Earth with the engines off-line is reminiscent of TOS: "The Naked Time", where the prime-universe Enterprise spirals down to Psi 2000 after its engines are turned off.
  • Risking one's life to save the Enterprise is something not only that Kirk does here but also that his prime counterpart does in Star Trek Generations.

Deleted scenes

Khan shower

Khan in a shower

Responding to criticism that the scene in the Enterprise shuttlecraft in which Kirk catches a glimpse of Carol Marcus in her underwear could be viewed as sexist, J.J. Abrams revealed – during an interview on Conan on May 23, 2013 – a segment of a deleted scene from the film in which Khan is seen taking a shower. [110]

Carol Marcus is highlighted in a deleted scene explaining that her parents had separated, thus leaving Carol to be raised by her mother alone in England. The scene thereby addresses why Carol has a different accent from her prime-reality counterpart. [111] The explanatory deleted scene is the only one involving Carol Marcus. [112]

Several deleted, expanded and alternate scenes appear exclusively through the film's Xbox SmartGlass second-screen app. [113] The opening scene at Nibiru originally ended with Kirk recording a captain's log entry on the bridge, untruthfully stating that the crew never set foot on the planet's surface and that the mission was "uneventful." An alternate cut of the scene where Kirk loses his command was the version in which Pike personally demotes him and takes control of the Enterprise, immediately relegating Kirk to first officer.

The scene where Thomas Harewood sits as his station at the Kelvin Memorial Archive originally included a video chat in which Harewood explains to Admiral Marcus, "He [Harrison] said you'd know why he did this," right before activating the explosive device disguised as his Starfleet Academy ring. The sequence where Harrison fires upon several Starfleet officers from a jumpship was recut: in the earlier version, Kirk witnesses Pike get shot and is by his side as Pike dies; Harrison swoops back to the scene and resumes fire, prompting Kirk to take down the ship.

Uhura's exchange with the Klingons originally involved her lying to them by stating that she was seeking out a lone Klingon who was her lover and had stolen from her. Uhura's ruse is interrupted when Kirk decides to exit the K'normian ship and attack the warriors with his crew members. The ensuing fight halts when two Klingons hold Kirk to the ground and put a rifle to his head. As Kirk's crew comes out from behind cover, the Klingon commander shouts an order and a redshirt is shot in the chest. The commander also orders Kirk to be killed, but the Klingons are shot by Harrison as he appears.

The scene where Scotty approaches the secret hangar containing the Vengeance included a sequence where he bluffs his way in by stating he was delivering "hull plating and the coffee cells for the food synthesizers." The end of the film originally contained a scene at the commemoration ceremony, where Kirk speaks with Rima Harewood and her daughter Lucille, the latter of whom appears to have been restored to good health.


The film premiered at the George Street Event Cinema in Sydney, Australia on 23 April 2013. Additional premieres took place in Moscow (25 April), Berlin (29 April), and London (2 May), before wide release in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK on 9 May. It premiered in Los Angeles on 14 May, [114] before its release in the Philippines and North America on 16 May. [115] IMAX 3D preview screenings in North America took place on 15 May. [116] Paramount announced that the film would join its World War Z in a one-week-only "Ultimate Double Feature" from 30 August to 5 September. [117]

Publicity and marketing

Spock in Volcano Suit, silhouette

The first image officially released from the film

Bad Robot Productions made efforts to keep the story of this film secret until its release, for the benefit of the audience. Fan interest in this film, though, meant it was difficult for Bad Robot to keep hiding the plot. (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 6)

At the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, Roberto Orci hinted at changes to the Enterprise design and the opening credits. [118] He commented upon commencement of filming that the engineering designs had been altered. [119]

Several photographs from behind-the-scenes appeared on the web on 24 February 2012, showing Zoë Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch and Zachary Quinto. [120] Another batch of photos were leaked on 29 February, featuring Saldana with Chris Pine. [121] Yet more behind-the-scenes pictures were posted online on 1 March 2012. Those photos depicted stunt work being done on the garbage barge set, involving the characters of Spock and Khan. [122] On 16 April 2012, a new photo from the filming went online, showing Zachary Quinto filming the volcano sequence. [123]

In an October 2012 interview on the talk show Conan, J.J. Abrams debuted a three-frame clip of Spock in the Nibiran volcano. [124]

IDW Publishing solicited a four-issue prequel comic book to the film, titled Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness. Like the previous film's comic book prequel, Star Trek: Countdown, it was written by Mike Johnson and drawn by David Messina. Johnson also wrote the ongoing comic book and said the first, fourth, and twelfth issues contained hints of events in the film. "They are more retroactive, in the sense that after you see the movie you can go back and see where things were set up. Some are very direct; others are more thematic." [125] [126]

Hasbro released Kre-O and Fighter Pods toys to promote the film. Mattel released three new Hot Wheels Star Trek Into Darkness starship models, and Quantum Mechanix announced plans to release a number of prop replicas based on historical flight models that were seen in Admiral Marcus' office. [127]

A video game, Star Trek, was released before this film. Its story and development cycle were independent of the films, but its release was delayed to promote Star Trek Into Darkness.

Alan Dean Foster wrote the novelization of this film.

The movie's soundtrack was released by Varèse Sarabande Records.

The first nine minutes of this film were shown before IMAX 3D screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on 14 December 2012. [128] The first trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness was shown before non-IMAX screenings of An Unexpected Journey. [129]

While showing scenes from this film at CinemaCon on 15 April 2013, members of the cast and crew expressed discomfort at promoting the film just hours after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Chris Pine acknowledged the parallels between the film's plot and the real world; "Terrorism is a huge part of our lives, and we all know the effects of that." [130] Before the film's Australian premiere, J.J. Abrams commented the parallels were "horrible and unfortunate and heartbreaking [...] but I would argue that it is also one of the reasons we go to the movies – to look at our lives, to ask questions about things we are trying to figure out, to find ways to make some sense of these things." [131]


Box office

Within hours of tickets going on sale in the UK on 9 April 2013, the London IMAX's website crashed due to heavy traffic. [132] Following its opening in the UK, Australia, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Austria, and German speaking Switzerland, Star Trek Into Darkness set international records for the series with a gross of approximately $31.7 million. [133] Reports indicated ticket sales were seventy percent higher than for the last film. [134]

After tickets to the US IMAX previews sold out, the film's wide release was moved up a day from its initial 17 May date. [135] The film grossed $81.1 million over its four-day opening, lower than Paramount's expected $100 million, but the film also already outgrossed its predecessor in markets such as Russia, Taiwan and Mexico. [136] The film's North American opening (three-day) weekend was actually less than the $75 million opening of the first film, while attendance by audiences under the age of twenty-five dropped ten percent to twenty-five percent. [137] The film dropped to third place during the subsequent four-day Memorial Day weekend, but grossed $47 million. [138]

The film has grossed a total of $458.7 million worldwide, with a domestic gross of $228.7 million, which places it as the 11th highest-grossing film in North America for 2013; and $231.3 million internationally, ranking it in fourteenth place worldwide, and making it the highest-grossing film of the Star Trek franchise. [139] The film was less successful than its predecessor in North America but exceeded it in other countries such as Russia and China, overall bringing the worldwide total to a larger amount than the first film a month after its release. [140] [141] Forbes argued that Star Trek Into Darkness' disappointing performance in North America was due to J.J. Abrams' refusal to spoil that John Harrison was Khan, so Paramount was "forced to craft a generic campaign based around Benedict Cumberbatch as 'Generic Bad Guy', so the excitement never took hold [....] It made fans and general moviegoers less excited about Star Trek 2 than they were four, three, or even two years ago." [142]


Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were ultimately happy with this film, Kurtzman stating, "We feel, for the most part, that we accomplished everything we really wanted to." (SciFiNow, issue 84, p. 040)

J.J. Abrams was likewise pleased with how the film turned out. "This movie goes further than the first movie in every way," he enthused. "There are volcanic planets, wild spaceship chases and massive effects, but there is also a more nuanced story [....] The action and the scale are light years ahead. Bringing IMAX and 3D technology in gives audiences yet another level of excitement and fun to be had." (SciFiNow, issue 80, p. 023)

Dan Mindel was pleased with the look of this film after working on it as cinematographer. "We walked away with a really great-looking film," he remarked, "which was necessary in order to top the first one." (Empire, issue 287, pp. 87-90)

Early reactions to this film were positive. The day after the end of a two-week international tour promoting this film to the world's media, Bryan Burk divulged, "I'm excited for everyone to jump onboard with this film [....] From the Star Trek fans who have seen it, they all seem significantly more invested than ever," Burk laughed. "It's funny. As I've been going around, preaching that this movie is now more accessible to non-Star Trek fans, the second they come out, I'm hearing from them it feels like it was made more for Star Trek fans, so I think it will be significantly rewarding for Trek fans." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171,  p. 6)

This film has an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 7.5/10. [143] The film has a "generally favorable" score of 72/100 on Metacritic. [144]

Among cinemagoers, the film earned an "A" rating from those polled by CinemaScore. [145] The year after its release, a poll to find the 301 greatest movies of all time by Empire readers ranked the film at #245. [146]

On his twitter account, former Star Trek showrunner Rick Berman reviewed the film, saying, "Very exciting, great production and VFX. Fabulous acting. But is it a Star Trek film? Maybe. Only time will tell." He also contemplated how Gene Roddenberry might have reacted to the film, commenting, "At its soul, is it a movie that Gene would have given his blessings to? He very well might have. I really don't know." [147]

Despite the fact this film turned out to be successful both with critics and at the box office, some fans were disappointed with the movie, finding it too similar to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Abrams conceded, ""We got in trouble on the second Star Trek film with some of the fans: there were too many nods to The Wrath of Khan. I'll cop to that. [148]

Believing they had made this film sufficiently different from the earlier one, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman responded by insisting that this movie is not a remake and that at no point during the lead-up to the film's release did they refer to it as a remake. Kurtzman remarked, "You certainly can't fault us for not taking the time to consider our choice [of whether to include Khan] – some people may disagree with the choices that we made, but we did not go into it blindly [....] And people seem to like it, which is the most gratifying thing, because we made it for people." Added Orci, "I think for some fans their preconceived notions prevented them from evaluating the fact that the movie is actually worthy on its own, and that's why they're having a slight dissonance with people who didn't know Star Trek very well and obviously had a great reaction to it." The recycled dialogue used in this film was perhaps most disconcerting for some fans, to which Orci responded, "Put yourself in that situation [of having to write lines for the scene in question] and try and rewrite good stuff – we'd be equally harassed for, 'Oh, they tried to rewrite that scene and failed!'" Laughing, Orci likened this dilemma to the Kobayashi Maru scenario. Another debate in the fan community was about whether Khan would still have suddenly gone on the offensive if Kirk hadn't had Scott stun him once those three characters have secured the Vengeance. (SciFiNow, issue 84, pp. 040, 041 & 042)

The Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer commented on the film's role reversal of a pivotal scene in that film that "You have to be flattered that somebody wants to sort of try and make your movie again. But the difference [...] between a rip-off and an homage is that you are supposed to add something." [149]

Merchandise gallery

Awards and honors

Star Trek Into Darkness received the following awards and honors.

Year Group Award Nominee(s) Result
2012 California on Location Awards Location Team of the Year - Studio Feature Films Supervising Location Manager: Becky Brake, Location Manager: Steve Woroniecki, Key Assistant Location Managers: Taylor Boyd, Leo Fialho, Peter Gluck, Kathy McCurdy, Golden Robert Swenson, Scott Trimble, Assistant Location Managers: Shelly Armstrong, Christina Otteson Won
2013 Golden Trailer Awards Best Summer 2013 Blockbuster Poster Empire Design, Paramount Pictures Nominated
Best Summer Blockbuster 2013 TV Spot The AV Squad, Paramount Pictures
Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Movie Star: Female Zoe Saldana
Choice Summer Movie Star: Male Chris Pine
Britannia Awards British Artist of the Year Benedict Cumberbatch (For Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) Won
Hollywood Film Festival Hollywood Movie Award J.J. Abrams
Key Art Awards Best Sound Design Paramount Pictures, The AV Squad (For "Return:30 - Superbowl") [150] Nominated
Best Spot
Best Trailer Paramount Pictures, Transit (For "Illusion") [151]
Paramount Pictures, mOcean (For "Moments") [152]
Best Audio/Visual Technique Paramount Pictures, Pusher Media (For "Trailer 2") [153] Won - Silver
Best Trailer - Audio/Visual Paramount Pictures, The AV Squad (For "Destiny Trailer 3"/"Assume the Position") [154] Won - Bronze
Best Innovative Media Paramount Pictures (For the Star Trek App) [155]
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Visual Effects - Nominated
Best Stunts -
BAFTA Children's Awards BAFTA Kids Vote - Feature Film -
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards Best Visual Effects Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton
2014 People's Choice Awards Favorite Movie -
Favorite Movie Duo Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto
Favorite Action Movie -
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards Actor of the Year Benedict Cumberbatch (For Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Visual Effects -
Best Action Movie -
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie -
Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement in Animated Effects in a Live Action Production Industrial Light & Magic: Ben O'Brien, Karin Cooper, Lee Uren, Chris Root
Industrial Light & Magic: Dan Pearson, Jay Cooper, Jeff Grebe, Amelia Chenoweth
ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards Fantasy Feature Film Production Designer: Scott Chambliss, Supervising Art Director: Ramsey Avery, VFX Art Director: James Clyne, Art Directors: Lauren Polizzi, Kasra Farahani, Michael E. Goldman, Harry E. Otto, Andrew E.W. Murdock, On Set Art Director: Jason Baldwin Stewart, Assistant Art Directors: Natasha Gerasimova, Steve Christensen, Illustrators: Andrea Dopaso, John Eaves, Nathan Schroeder, Ryan Church, Christopher Ross, Victor Martinez, Steven Messing, Set Designers: Karl Strahlendorf, John Chichester, Tex Kadonaga, Kevin Cross, Andrew Reeder, Anne Porter, Jane Wuu, Richard F. Mays, Allen Coulter, Karl Martin, Scott Schneider, Lorrie Campbell, Easton Smith, Tammy Lee, Tim Croshaw, Lead Graphic Designer: Clint Schultz, Set Decorator, SDSA: Karen Manthey
VES Awards Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture Roger Guyett, Luke O'Byrne, Ron Ames, Ben Grossmann
Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture Bruce Holcomb, Ron Woodall, John Goodson, Thomas Fejes
BAFTA Film Awards Best Special Visual Effects Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton, Patrick Tubach, Roger Guyett
IFMCA Awards Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film Michael Giacchino
Satellite Awards Best Overall Blu-ray Paramount Home Entertainment Won
Academy Awards Best Achievement in Visual Effects Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton Nominated
Empire Awards Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy -
MTV Movie Awards Best Villain Benedict Cumberbatch
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Film -
Best Director J.J. Abrams
Best Supporting Actor Benedict Cumberbatch
Best Costume Michael Kaplan
Best Special/Visual Effects Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton

Links and references




Stunt performers



Production companies



208; 2259; 2 News; 7 News; advanced long-range torpedo; AF; aircar; Air Defense Team; airlock; Alcatraz; Alpha Quadrant; Andoria Prime; Angel Island; antimatter missile; applied physics; Applied Sciences Division; Arab; Ares V; Armstrong-type; artificial gravity; ash cloud; auxiliary power; Ayt; BA-36; bangs; bank; Bay Area Rapid Transit; beach; Beastie Boys; Beta Quadrant; Biddeford, USS; black hole; block 27; Body Movin'; boolean gun; Boyce, Philip; Bradbury, USS; brig; bus; cable car; Caitian; car; chancellor; Chapel, Christine; Chelsea; Coconut lotion; cold fusion; coma; Confederacy of Surak; Coridan system; corn; Cormier, Roy; Corridor 67; C-section; cryotube; D4-class; DB-5; Dreadnought-class; Daystrom Conference Room; defibrillator; Delta Team; diburnium; Dock Command; Docking clamp; doctorate; dog; dynamite; Enterprise NX-01; Earth Sector 2; Earth Sector 45; Earth Sector 49; Enterprise (OV-101); Enterprise, USS (XCV 330); emergency lockdown; evacuation shuttle; evacuation shuttle bay; Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven; extractor; eye wash; ferry; fire hose; first aid kit; Fisherman's Wharf; Five-year mission; forklift; fuel cell; Galorndon Core; garbage barge; Gemini capsule; genocide; goggles; Golden Gate Bridge; Gorn; Gorn octuplets; grid 09; Grubeco; hole generator; hospital gown; hovercar; ice cube; internal manual override system; Io; Io Facility; Ito, Stephanie; Jumpship; Jupiter; Kelvin Memorial Archive; Kelvin, USS; Ketha Province; King, Albert; Khitomer; kitten; Klingon; Klingon language; K'normian; K'normian trading ship; Kronos; Level 3-B; Life support center; Life support system; lift cable; London; London Eye; Luna; Magustav Pachangara; Menk; manhunt; Mayflower-type; M-class; metaphysic shield; meter maid; military shuttle; mooring; Mudd Incident; multidimensional radar; Nelson's Column; Neutral Zone; New Vulcan; Newton-type; Nibiru; NX Alpha; NX-class; Office of Special Plans; Organia; Organian Peace Treaty; Orion; Orion Union; osmium; oyster; Perspective Study of Mazzocchio; phaser rifle; Phoenix; planetoid; platelet; poker; popsicle; portable transwarp beaming device; Port of San Francisco; Port of San Francisco bar; Powerwall; Praxis; Prime Directive; prince; projection component; proximate coupling beam; proximity alert; proximity detonation; Qo'noS system; quad 68; quadrant; quadrant commander; radiation poisoning; Rapping; rescue shuttle; Rigel Beta; Risa Hedony; robot; Royal Children's Hospital; rust; San Francisco Bay; San Francisco Ferry Building; San Francisco Metropolitan Area; seasickness; seatbelt; Second Street; Section 31; sector; Sector 001; sector 31; sector 34; sector 45; Sector 56; sector 70; sector 89; sector block; sheep; Sherman's Planet; Shuttle 1; Shuttle 7; Sol system; space region observer; Spirit of St. Louis; stabilizer; Starbase 1; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Engineering; Starfleet Headquarters; St Paul's Cathedral; Stuffed animal; Sue Bierman Park; Surak; Takayama; Takayama-type shuttlecraft; The Gateway; Theater Commander; thruster; torpedo technician; traffic light; tram; trash exhaust; transwarp beaming; transwarp equation; transwarp network; tribble; tribunal; Turner, Corey; type 2 phaser; type 3 phaser; UFP News; V-2 rocket; VD; VH-5; Vengeance, USS; volcano; Vostok 1; Vulcan; Vulcan mind meld; warp core; Warrant; weapons bay; weatherman; weather report; Wright Flyer; wormhole; X-15;

External links

Previous film:
Star Trek
Star Trek films Next film:
Star Trek Beyond

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki