J.J. Abrams Regrets Khan Secrecy in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

The director reflects on Benedict Cumberbatch's role in this sequel. He goes onto blame the Studio for keeping the secret.
J.J. Abrams regrets Khan secrecy in Star Trek Into Darkness
J.J. Abrams regrets Khan secrecy in Star Trek Into Darkness
One of the biggest complains about J.J. Abrams, and one of fans biggest fears heading into Star Wars: Episode VII, is the director's propensity for secrecy. His 'mystery box' way of producing a film reached ridiculous heights with Star Trek Into Darkness, as he adamantly refused to reveal whom Benedict Cumberbatch was actually playing, referring to him only as the terrorist John Harrison.

This has lead to plenty of backlash in the months since the sequel debuted this summer. Many, including the director himself, think the movie might have been better received if the advertising had been trueful about the inclusion of iconic villain Khan in this sequel that has gone onto been called the worst Star Trek movie of all time (which including all entries in the franchise including the reboots, the originals and Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Speaking with MTV, the director goes onto place almost all the blame on the studio for this decision, which has been called 'pointless' by some of the franchise's most offended fans (and there are plenty of Trekkies out there that absolutely abhor this particular adventure).

Here's what J.J. Abrams had to say, revealing that he had to keep the villain secret so that non-fans didn't feel alienated by the movie.

"The truth is because it was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you've really got to know what 'Star Trek' is about to see this movie. That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it."


While J.J. Abrams makes no secret that he wants audiences to enjoy a movie to its full potential when first seeing it, thus his love of the so-called 'mystery box', he does admit that being upfront about Kahn would have been the smarter move. The director knew before hand that the revelation that Benedict Cumberbatch was Kahn wouldn't have spoiled anything about the plot of the movie itself.

Do you think this will change the way he approaches certain reveals for Star Wars: Episode VII? Or do you think he's still trying to cover his ass with fans that may not hold him in the same kind of esteem?

Star Trek Into Darkness was released May 17th, 2013 and stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anton Yelchin. The film is directed by J.J. Abrams.



Sources: MTV

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Comments (22)

  1. gumperman

    @Michael-Kolesik Haha, I get you. I do the same thing with Nemisis, pretend it wasn't made. Actually it may be that I forget it was made altogether. I think I've only seen it one time, admittingly, and don't remember it being that intereting or involving. I do need to see it again, and I will one day. Insurrection though, is all about the music for me. That had one of the best musical themes from Jerry Goldsmith for any Star Trek film every made and thus has a special place in my heart.

    9 months agoby @gumpermanFlag

  2. Michael Kolesik

    @gumperman Thanks. And actually, I liked Nemesis way more than Insurrection. I feel that Nemesis is greatly underrated, mostly caused by flak from "killing" Data. Fanboy butthurt, right there. Even though Data didn't die at all. He just transferred to a new body.

    But I felt Insurrection was so convoluted, backwards, poorly written and fanfic-ish that I refuse to acknowledge it as canon. "Insurrection? What Star Trek Insurrection? That movie was never made." Screw that.

    9 months agoby @Michael-KolesikFlag

  3. gumperman

    @Michael-Kolesik Don't for get about Nemesis, RT: 37% MV: 2.5. :) I actually liked Insurrection, but agree with Nemesis being that low. And you can write to Orange by using this tag @balanorange.

    10 months agoby @gumpermanFlag

  4. Michael Kolesik

    @undeadslayer4 Honestly, I don't know how

    10 months agoby @Michael-KolesikFlag

  5. undeadslayer4

    @skywise i dont mind unless he does the same thing with star wars 7

    10 months agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  6. undeadslayer4

    @writer220 idk secrecy sometimes can be a bad thing

    10 months agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  7. undeadslayer4

    @gumperman into the darkness is a weird film

    10 months agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  8. undeadslayer4

    @Michael-Kolesik i agree with u and dont just complain to the page tell that to orange

    10 months agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  9. Michael Kolesik

    Holy sh*t, Movieweb, you did it again. Into Darkness IS NOT what people think is the "worst Star Trek movie of all time." That award goes to either The Final Frontier or Insurrection. Let's look at the numbers, shall we?
    Final Frontier... Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Movieweb: 2.7
    Insurrection... Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Movieweb: 2.9
    Into Darkness... Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Movieweb: 4.4

    SO SHUT THE HELL UP. You constantly trying to drill it into our heads that Into Darkness is "the worst Trek movie of all time" is NOT going to change our minds. SO QUIT IT. This is bad reporting at it's worst.

    10 months agoby @Michael-KolesikFlag

  10. Manuel Granados Vargas

    So there were people who didn't know he was Khan?
    I think the movie is ok, a good summer blockbuster, nothing more and nothing less.
    The Star Wars universe has been sh*t all over by the man who created it, so I can't see Abrams doing a worse job with that. Of course, he could go the Super 8 route and make a super corny homage entry and be worse than Lucas.

    10 months agoby @Manuel-Granados-VargasFlag

  11. ed_wood

    I like all the secrecy, it gives you something to look forward to. Trailers give away too much as it is.

    10 months agoby @ed-woodFlag

  12. Zak Lee Ferguson

    Didnt ruin any aspect of the film for me

    10 months agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  13. gumperman

    Weird, I guess I never realized this film had "plenty of backlash in the months since the sequel debuted this summer" nor knew it has "been called the worst Star Trek movie of all time". I haven't heard anyone say a bad thing about it nor read it on here or anywhere. I've come to the conclusion that movieweb just likes to make stuff up just to get a reaction. It's fine, but just because the writers on this site have an opinion about something doesn't mean WE all feel the same way as them as they like to assume from time to time. The Khan reveal wasn't a surprise to me though because I have been reading about it being the case pretty much since the movie went into production, as most probably have done. I for one liked Into Darkness. I didn't like it as much as the first one of course, but it was entertaining.

    10 months agoby @gumpermanFlag

  14. The Real Goku

    Well good! If you feel so bad let us know the back story behind Star Wars. Let's see if he's secretive with that!

    10 months agoby @therealGokuFlag

  15. Writer220

    I like the way both directors do things, the only flaw they both have is the plot holes. Otherwise I really liked what I saw.

    10 months agoby @writer220Flag

  16. skywise

    Having said all that below...C*mby did a fantastic job given the script issues. It wasn't C*mberbatch I find issue with, that man is a brilliant actor. It was the writers lack of originality.

    10 months agoby @skywiseFlag

  17. skywise

    If, instead of being so secretive about it...it might have been better to let us know it was khan so we would have time to wrap our minds around it. As it stands it was so over the top in the reveal for the audience while having no real meaning for the crew.

    and further more Kahn was written in a way that was completely unrecognizable to the old Trek heads.

    So it was meaningless to those who hadn't seen the original ST2 and far from the character in ST2 for the old heads.

    I know I have gone on and on here but these are things that after watching it 4-5 times are really on my mind.

    10 months agoby @skywiseFlag

  18. skywise

    I think that using Khan was a miss-step. Had they just stuck with John Harrison...perhaps making him a renegade section 31 character with an axe to grind would have been much more interesting. It was a good movie IMO but the fact that he was khan ...and the big reveal, the way he said "My name ...is Khan" was obviously for the audience since the Enterprise characters STILL had no idea who Khan was. It was not very effective.

    SPOILERS BELOW

    And Bones injecting the Tribble with his blood was absolutely ridiculous. Injecting a dead creature with blood just would not work..at all. As far as sci-fi goes, I tend to appreciate REAL science and that particular scene was nowhere near scientific. In fact it goes against science in a big way.

    And keeping Khan a secret (and like @MillerFarrow said, we all pretty much knew) made it impossible to NOT compare to the original Khan stories. The problem is that those who were not familiar with those stories would have been indifferent while those who did probably felt very lack luster.

    I enjoyed the movie...plot holes and ridiculous conveniences lead me to believe that the issue was in the scripting. They rebooted the whole universe and had a clean slate to tell new stories...but instead they were like kids opening a ST toy box and taking this and that (the best pieces) and cramming them together.

    10 months agoby @skywiseFlag

  19. m00reman

    I enjoy the mystery and speculating. Then the surprise when I go see the movie.
    Mystery and rumours is pretty much what movieweb is all about???

    10 months agoby @m00remanFlag

  20. Sean

    @MillerFarrow Exactly.

    10 months agoby @themoviefanaticFlag

  21. MillerFarrow

    What secrecy? We knew he was Khan.

    10 months agoby @MillerFarrowFlag

  22. CoreyB

    Meh I dunno I think we r losing the sense of secrecy now days and directors like Abrams and Chris Nolan are doing us some good by doing this! It certainly makes for a fun time at the movies

    10 months agoby @CoreyBFlag