Damon Lindelof cops to Star Trek Into Darkness' Khan blunder
Apologizing for the mistakes of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS apparently is in vogue lately. First J.J. Abrams admitted that he may have used a few too many WRATH OF KHAN nods in crafting his sequel. Now Damon Lindelof is getting in on the action, copping to one of the problems fans always seem to take issue with - the Khan reveal itself.
In an interview with Variety, Lindelof explains that they should have been upfront with the fandom as to who Benedict Cumberbatch was going to be playing rather than trying to keep it hidden in the mystery box.
When we did STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS for example, we decided that we weren’t going to tell people that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan. And that was a mistake, because the audience was like, ‘We know he’s playing Khan.’ That was why it was a mistake. But J.J. [Abrams] is telling us nothing about the new Star Wars movie and we love it. I’ve not come across a single person who’s like, ‘I wish I knew a little bit more.’ We are like, ‘Thank God he’s protecting us from all the things that will be revealed in the movie theater.’
The Khan secret was such a weird situation for Abrams to mishandle that badly for a number of reasons. First off, everyone had pretty much pegged Cumberbatch as the character, and yet Abrams (and eevryone else associated with the film) continued to deny, lying to the fan base for really no reason whatsoever. When you take a look at the film, it's not as if that Khan revelation means much. For longtime fans of the series, it's a nice nod that they might squeal about for a second before moving on with the rest of the movie since they kind of knew already - this was simply their confirmation. And for new fans of Abrams' version of STAR TREK, the Khan name didn't really mean much. There was no weight put into Cumberbatch to make that identity feel important at all, so Khan was simply another name, not someone with a lot of history behind him in STAR TREK canon.
Secondly, it was, as Lindelof said, mystery for mystery's sake. It was a secret that existed solely for the purpose of having a secret. Khan being revealed has as much bearing on how INTO DARKNESS plays out as it would have if we knew Cumberbatch's true nature the entire film.
As this all relates back to STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, there's a difference between shielding audiences from knowing too much in advance when they know nothing as it is going in and trying to maintain some manufactured mystery with no real point to it. Hollywood has taken to giving way a lot away in advance of people seeing the finished product as a paying customer, and it's refreshing when someone like Abrams or Nolan try to keep some of the magic intact that comes with seeing a film unfold on the screen in front of you. If only we got more of that when it was actually warranted... and not these attempted swerves just to swerve.
Lindelof also comments on the superb season of THE LEFTOVERS that's going on right now, and what he learned about crafting such mysteries from his experiences with LOST and also INTO DARKNESS. Lindelof is an easy target for some of his past shortcomings, but it's nice to see that some can learn from their mistakes to make something excellent that doesn't hit similar pitfalls.
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