To boldly go where no one has gone before…….that’s the essence of Star Trek. But the franchise is headed into uncharted territory even for them – an Enterprise without Captain James T. Kirk at the helm for Star Trek 4.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, contract negotiations have fallen through with actor Chris Pine, who portrays the brave but reckless young captain. And he’s not the only one – Chris Hemsworth is also said to be out of the picture.
Star Trek took Pine from working actor to movie star in 2009. His portrayal of the younger version of the iconic character (originated by William Shatner in the 1960s) saw the cocky ladies’ man at his origins. This Kirk stole cars, got into barfights, was kicked off the ship, then marooned off the ship, before saving the day, becoming captain, and setting off on the Enterprise’s legendary five-year mission into deep space.
But he always lived in the shadow of his famous father, George Kirk. George had heroically saved thousands of lives when he bravely sacrificed himself to save his crew on the day his son was born. He appeared in just one five-minute scene, but it was so heartbreaking that it was no wonder he became a legend.
At the time he portrayed George Kirk, Chris Hemsworth was appearing in his first major American film. The small part was just the big break he needed. Fast forward a few years, and he’s a superstar thanks to his role as Thor Odinson in Marvel’s Avengers movies.
Since the stock of both actors has risen considerably in the interim, it’s no great surprise that they would try to renegotiate their contracts for something more lucrative. That’s what actors pay their agents for, after all. But I don’t think any of us ever imagined that talks could fall apart so spectacularly.
Apparently, the issue is that Paramount doesn’t want to spend Marvel money when they’re not making Marvel profits. It makes sense – the Star Trek films are certainly successful, but not guaranteed-billions successful. But when an actor gets to the point in their career where they can command a certain salary per picture, stepping back from that number and accepting less can hamstring them in future negotiations.
While all of us average joes sit here pondering just how many millions one person could possibly need, remember that this is simply the way of things in Hollywood. It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s just the way it is.
So now, the obvious question remains. Where does the Enterprise go without her captain? And how do you work it into the film’s narrative in a believable way? Because Paramount is adamant that Star Trek 4 is still happening.
Let’s look at a few scenarios. The first is recasting. In Kirk Senior’s case, it’s wouldn’t be a jarring shift. Although his scene was quite memorable, it was still just one scene, three films ago. Audiences probably wouldn’t have much of a backlash in response. But Jim Kirk? He’s been front and center in all three movies. It’s an ensemble cast, but he’s still decidedly the lead. Seeing someone else play him, while everyone around him was still the same, might just be too big of a change for fans to get past.
Another possibility is writing him out. Killing off Captain Kirk is highly unlikely, but he could be assigned to another ship easily enough. Who would be captain at that point? First Officer Spock is the obvious choice, but he’s not nearly as compelling of a character. (That’s not a knock on Zachary Quinto, it’s just the way Spock is.) A more interesting choice would be Commander Hikaru Sulu, who proved his mettle as acting captain in Into Darkness. (The Prime Universe version of Sulu also became captain of the Excelsior after his tenure on the Enterprise.)
I have one other theory. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but bear with me. This first occurred to me after Anton Yelchin’s tragic death two years ago. I wondered how the next film would handle his absence. I’m sure it will be done with sensitivity and compassion, as he was beloved by the entire cast and crew. In my opinion, this rules out killing him offscreen, or dismissing him with an offhanded comment.
I’m a lifelong Trekkie, so I’ve seen enough time travel/wormhole/transporter accident/Q continuum/alternate reality fuckery to know that it’s all a perfectly reasonable possibility. So my theory was this: what if a transporter incident occurred *in* a wormhole? Young Chekov beams down to the planet……but Walter Koenig beams back. It’s a respectful way to explain Yelchin’s absence, and would be a lovely nod to Koenig’s legacy as well.
So if we need to write out Kirk, simply put him on the same away team. Kirk, Chekov, and a few redshirts. God knows Shatner’s ego wouldn’t let him say no. Simply put the scene at the beginning of the film. Both actors’ absences are explained, the old guys beam back to Starfleet Command, and the show must go on, whoever the new captain may be.
What do you think is the most likely scenario? Will you still watch a Star Trek film without these two actors? Tell us in the comments!