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Damon Lindelof explains why it is vital that Benedict Cumberbatch's identity in Star Trek Into Darkness not be spoiled

Mar. 12, 2013by: Alex Maidy

Damon Lindelof is a complete and total disciple of J.J. Abrams' school of marketing. His days on LOST were marked by the slow reveal of what the island actually was. But, Lindelof has burned several bridges with fans who disliked the ending of that series as well as those who were left underwhelmed by PROMETHEUS last year (I fall into neither category, having loved LOST and PROMETHEUS quite a bit). His involvement with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS has thus far not been called into question and I think his latest quotes regarding Cumberbatch-Gate (copyright me, bitches!) are exactly on the spot.

Lindelof was interviewed by Hero Complex about the secrecy surrounding Benedict Cumberbatch's mysterious villain, John Harrison:

“The audience needs to have the same experience that the crew is having. You're Kirk, you’re Spock, you’re McCoy, so if they don’t know who the bad guy is going to be in the movie, then you shouldn’t know. It’s not just keeping the secret for secrecy’s sake. It’s not giving the audience information that the characters don’t have.”

Bravo, Mr. Lindelof! I love that we still don't know who John Harrison is. It is so rare since the advent of the Internet that we can get this close to a movie release and still not know some vital plot details. Once the novelizations and soundtracks and toys begin to hit shelves, I can imagine more will leak out, but if the Bad Robot crew can keep this under wraps until the movie hits release, it will boost the box office significantly. Lindelof explains why this secret is so vital in the best way I have ever heard it explained.

“[If I tell people who Cumberbatch plays, they know that they] would have a five-second rush of exhilaration followed by four months of being completely and totally bummed out that they can’t tell anybody else and that when it gets revealed in the movie, it will have been spoiled for them. That’s why they’re called ‘spoilers,’ they’re not called ‘awesomes.’”

For me, I have become so desensitized to spoilers that they don't really bother me, but if I can go to a movie this big and sit down and find out the big reveal along with everyone else, it would be an experience I have not had in well over a decade, especially since I began working for this site where learning movie secrets is part of our everyday job.

The marketing of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is going to go down in the books as one of the best campaigns in a long while. I just hope the payoff lives up to the hype. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS hits theaters on May 17th.

Extra Tidbit: He is Khan. At this point, why are we even debating it? Here's a little theory: in the original treatment for the character that became Khan, the name of the character was John Ericcsen...not a far stretch to John Harrison. A stretch, I know, but still..
Source: Hero Complex

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8:26AM on 03/14/2013
I'm kind of digging adaifallah's on the thread here about it being Data/Lore. I would have sworn it was going to be Mitchell a few months ago. I never bought into the Khan theory, what little we know about Harrison, doesn;t fit Khan at all. Lindelof and company had said it was a 1st season villain, maybe they conveniently neglected to say it was a Next Gen 1st series villain. I think if he turned out to be either Data or Lore it would be a damn brilliant move out of left field. When it
I'm kind of digging adaifallah's on the thread here about it being Data/Lore. I would have sworn it was going to be Mitchell a few months ago. I never bought into the Khan theory, what little we know about Harrison, doesn;t fit Khan at all. Lindelof and company had said it was a 1st season villain, maybe they conveniently neglected to say it was a Next Gen 1st series villain. I think if he turned out to be either Data or Lore it would be a damn brilliant move out of left field. When it comes down to it, I haven't the foggiest idea who Harrison is and I'm guessing we won't till probably right up until release. At this point I think Im going to be pissed if I find out before I actually see the film.

I know what the EW article supposedly said. But the piece never says the character was directly this person. I kind of read it as they are saying this new Star Trek's Kirk has met his new main antagonist, being the person they named in the piece.
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4:18PM on 03/13/2013
i don't wanna know who he's playing i wanna find out on May 17th but who's not to say if he's playing an original character or not
i don't wanna know who he's playing i wanna find out on May 17th but who's not to say if he's playing an original character or not
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10:38AM on 03/13/2013
I agree with you, I loved how Lost ended, and loved Prometheus. I think people hate on it because it's left open ended, and lots of things were not explained. I like those things because it develops philosophy.
I agree with you, I loved how Lost ended, and loved Prometheus. I think people hate on it because it's left open ended, and lots of things were not explained. I like those things because it develops philosophy.
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+1
10:26AM on 03/13/2013

What about.......

if he is an android? He kinda has a Data's evil twin Lore look about him. Definitely wouldn't fit into the original series as well as a TNG film, but it would be a huge surprise to many who are simply expecting Khan.
if he is an android? He kinda has a Data's evil twin Lore look about him. Definitely wouldn't fit into the original series as well as a TNG film, but it would be a huge surprise to many who are simply expecting Khan.
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10:07AM on 03/13/2013

SPOILERS BECAUSE THEY ARE.

I totally agree with this article. Giving bits of information away about a film is wrong other than maybe the actors or character names that will appear in the movie. It seems to weigh in the balance of marketing for a movie. I mean now we have teasers for teasers and trailers that basically tell you the film in 2 minutes. However films have suffered from a lack of marketing or bad marketing, perfect example DREDD, awesome movie that didnt do too well. But as a viewer I would still like to be
I totally agree with this article. Giving bits of information away about a film is wrong other than maybe the actors or character names that will appear in the movie. It seems to weigh in the balance of marketing for a movie. I mean now we have teasers for teasers and trailers that basically tell you the film in 2 minutes. However films have suffered from a lack of marketing or bad marketing, perfect example DREDD, awesome movie that didnt do too well. But as a viewer I would still like to be surprised as the adventure and story unfolds in front of me It adds to the viewing experience. I think my pleasure at discovering the end of INCEPTION would had been greatly reduced had I known about it by some guy who thought he was the greatest being in the universe because he had managed to get into the cinema earlier that day because he sits on his arse all day while I have to wait until after work to get a cinema showing. I guess thats why good Directors like to keep a tight lid on their movies so that they can give the viewer the experience that the director intended.
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9:06AM on 03/13/2013

In the theme of Next Generation speculation:

How about Q? Or even the Squire of Gothos?
How about Q? Or even the Squire of Gothos?
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7:35AM on 03/13/2013
It is vital because it is the only thing that keeps people talking about the movie.
It is vital because it is the only thing that keeps people talking about the movie.
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+3
12:14AM on 03/13/2013

Spoilers

"For me, I have become so desensitized to spoilers that they don't really bother me, but if I can go to a movie this big and sit down and find out the big reveal along with everyone else, it would be an experience I have not had in well over a decade, especially since I began working for this site where learning movie secrets is part of our everyday job."

The downside for working for a movie news site, eh? :) I feel bad for you bro. Thanks for guarding the spoilers from us. :)
"For me, I have become so desensitized to spoilers that they don't really bother me, but if I can go to a movie this big and sit down and find out the big reveal along with everyone else, it would be an experience I have not had in well over a decade, especially since I began working for this site where learning movie secrets is part of our everyday job."

The downside for working for a movie news site, eh? :) I feel bad for you bro. Thanks for guarding the spoilers from us. :)
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11:00PM on 03/12/2013

Harcourt Fenton Mudd!

He's still pissed about the tribbles...
He's still pissed about the tribbles...
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7:31PM on 03/13/2013
Doh! It's so obvious. How did I not see this before?
Doh! It's so obvious. How did I not see this before?
9:59PM on 03/12/2013
Maybe he's playing a version of Gary Mitchell from the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (with what look like superhuman powers). It's a thought.
Maybe he's playing a version of Gary Mitchell from the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (with what look like superhuman powers). It's a thought.
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8:17PM on 03/12/2013
I've been really into this movie until EW gave away the character. I would be so more ready for it if he wasn't a remake of Khan. People say it doesn't matter because he's going to be so different it might as well be a new character but to that I say, well, then why not make a new character? Is it just name recognition? Why then all the tight-lipped secrecy if he is indeed a Khan version? Oh, I'm going to be massively eye-rolling if that's the truth and all this blather about spoilers went on
I've been really into this movie until EW gave away the character. I would be so more ready for it if he wasn't a remake of Khan. People say it doesn't matter because he's going to be so different it might as well be a new character but to that I say, well, then why not make a new character? Is it just name recognition? Why then all the tight-lipped secrecy if he is indeed a Khan version? Oh, I'm going to be massively eye-rolling if that's the truth and all this blather about spoilers went on for ages when, as Alex rightly points out, EVERYONE has a substantial if not full belief that he's playing the character. Now if he isn't Khan well bravo and well done to everyone involved.
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+1
7:48PM on 03/12/2013

To Khan or not to Khan

I'll go with the Khan theory...bc it's like instead of the muscled super soldier from the first incarnation...we have an updated, cerebral, cunning modern day take on the same idea of a warrior of that caliber that can still hold his own physically...and be imposing...but is a little less the brute the original khan was, and more like, dare i say it a sly ruthless terrorist, rather than a bombastic gregarious brawler...i wouldnt be surprised to see other Trek villains personalities kinda
I'll go with the Khan theory...bc it's like instead of the muscled super soldier from the first incarnation...we have an updated, cerebral, cunning modern day take on the same idea of a warrior of that caliber that can still hold his own physically...and be imposing...but is a little less the brute the original khan was, and more like, dare i say it a sly ruthless terrorist, rather than a bombastic gregarious brawler...i wouldnt be surprised to see other Trek villains personalities kinda blended into this new Khan too...villians that may never make the cut themselves...but have cool idiosyncracies that can accent this new Khan performance.
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6:26PM on 03/12/2013
I like the guys writing. I loved the ending of Lost. I thought it was brilliant and was a very satisfying way to end the series. Prometheus was a movie I was very excited for, but somewhere towards the middle or the beginning of the end of the film something just felt off and the movie just lost its narrative that it set up in the beginning of the film. But who knows. Maybe he was just holding back for the sequel. I do think the finish of the film could have been better. It felt very rushed.
I like the guys writing. I loved the ending of Lost. I thought it was brilliant and was a very satisfying way to end the series. Prometheus was a movie I was very excited for, but somewhere towards the middle or the beginning of the end of the film something just felt off and the movie just lost its narrative that it set up in the beginning of the film. But who knows. Maybe he was just holding back for the sequel. I do think the finish of the film could have been better. It felt very rushed. But none the less I enjoyed the film.

The man knows his writing and his Sci-Fi. I have no doubt that this film will deliver on all cylinders and I think Cumberbatch will deliver a performance for the ages that will rank with Ledgers's Joker.
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-1
5:41PM on 03/12/2013
I am always thankful when I can avoid spoilers. I have a habit of finding them out, but it's always better when I can be surprised. This is especially true for a movie as big as this and one that, hopefully, is as entertaining and fantastic as this will be.
I am always thankful when I can avoid spoilers. I have a habit of finding them out, but it's always better when I can be surprised. This is especially true for a movie as big as this and one that, hopefully, is as entertaining and fantastic as this will be.
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5:39PM on 03/12/2013

I don't think he's Khan

If I remember right, and I haven't seen the TOS intro of Khan in years, wasn't he frozen aboard a spaceship adrift from the late 1990s or something? Then Kirk and crew found him, battled, and marooned him and his crew on that planet setting up ST2: WOK. Since the time change from ST (2009) happened in our future, Khan's ship would still be out there waiting. I remember reading that John Harrison was in the 9-minute preview and there was no finding of a ship. I could be way off, so please
If I remember right, and I haven't seen the TOS intro of Khan in years, wasn't he frozen aboard a spaceship adrift from the late 1990s or something? Then Kirk and crew found him, battled, and marooned him and his crew on that planet setting up ST2: WOK. Since the time change from ST (2009) happened in our future, Khan's ship would still be out there waiting. I remember reading that John Harrison was in the 9-minute preview and there was no finding of a ship. I could be way off, so please correct me.
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5:32PM on 03/12/2013
At this point, I don't care if he's a character that already exist in the Star Trek universe; he seems like an intriguing character anyway. However, this news does make me want to see the film early in IMAX--the anticipation is killing me.
At this point, I don't care if he's a character that already exist in the Star Trek universe; he seems like an intriguing character anyway. However, this news does make me want to see the film early in IMAX--the anticipation is killing me.
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5:13PM on 03/12/2013
He's not Khan, if for no other reason than you could not have picked a pastier actor on Earth to play a Sikh Indian supersoldier.
He's not Khan, if for no other reason than you could not have picked a pastier actor on Earth to play a Sikh Indian supersoldier.
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+2
5:04PM on 03/12/2013
Maybe he'll turn out to be the evil Kirk from the "Mirror, Mirror" episode? The big reveal will be when we see him finally grow in that goatee.
Maybe he'll turn out to be the evil Kirk from the "Mirror, Mirror" episode? The big reveal will be when we see him finally grow in that goatee.
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4:55PM on 03/12/2013

I'm not a Trekkie

Don't know a lot about Star Trek, barely watched the TV series, but I did enjoy the last movie that came out. Like I said though, not gonna act like a Star Trek expert or anything...but was Data featured in the last movie? Whenever I see Cumberbatch in that suit he is wearing, I think of Data...maybe JJ Abrams take on an evil version of Data that they may or may not bring back to the good side? I dunno...

Of course, I probably have no fucking idea what I'm talking about, so please try not to
Don't know a lot about Star Trek, barely watched the TV series, but I did enjoy the last movie that came out. Like I said though, not gonna act like a Star Trek expert or anything...but was Data featured in the last movie? Whenever I see Cumberbatch in that suit he is wearing, I think of Data...maybe JJ Abrams take on an evil version of Data that they may or may not bring back to the good side? I dunno...

Of course, I probably have no fucking idea what I'm talking about, so please try not to flood me with negativity about my post, just wondering if that could at all be a possibility?
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5:18PM on 03/12/2013
I guess anything is a possibility at this point but Data was part of the Next Generation series that took place about 100 years after the first series. So he didn't show up with the original cast although since he is an android I guess age is not a factor for him. He did appear (sort of) in the prequel series Enterprise that took place pre-Kirk in the last episode of the series so canonically he was around. You may be on to something.
I guess anything is a possibility at this point but Data was part of the Next Generation series that took place about 100 years after the first series. So he didn't show up with the original cast although since he is an android I guess age is not a factor for him. He did appear (sort of) in the prequel series Enterprise that took place pre-Kirk in the last episode of the series so canonically he was around. You may be on to something.
5:35PM on 03/12/2013
I don't know what it is, but in the trailer or in any pictures I see of Cumberbatch standing there behind the glass wall, it just makes sense to me. That he is Data, he's been corrupted. Or he's a different version. Extremely intelligent, extremely strong, just looks like a robot would look like with emotions programmed into his system. I think I kind of want it to be Data...because Data was one of my favorite characters from the 20-30 Star Trek episodes I've watched in my life.
I don't know what it is, but in the trailer or in any pictures I see of Cumberbatch standing there behind the glass wall, it just makes sense to me. That he is Data, he's been corrupted. Or he's a different version. Extremely intelligent, extremely strong, just looks like a robot would look like with emotions programmed into his system. I think I kind of want it to be Data...because Data was one of my favorite characters from the 20-30 Star Trek episodes I've watched in my life.
6:30PM on 03/12/2013
Data also had an "evil twin" named Lore...
Data also had an "evil twin" named Lore...
6:43PM on 03/12/2013
Yeah, but do you think they would bring in Lore and not Data?
Yeah, but do you think they would bring in Lore and not Data?
4:24PM on 03/12/2013

I have to respect his answer.

I actually do not like Damon Lindelof's writing style. I didn't like Lost, Prometheus was okay and some of his other projects like the comic Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk were frustrating. I feel like his writing style is too ambiguous and he never finishes the tangents that he takes. Don't get me wrong, I like movies that make you think and don't outline every step but some of his arcs are too far out and this is coming from the person that can usually predict a movie's flow and major events in
I actually do not like Damon Lindelof's writing style. I didn't like Lost, Prometheus was okay and some of his other projects like the comic Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk were frustrating. I feel like his writing style is too ambiguous and he never finishes the tangents that he takes. Don't get me wrong, I like movies that make you think and don't outline every step but some of his arcs are too far out and this is coming from the person that can usually predict a movie's flow and major events in the first 20 minutes or less. Having said that I know that I am going to get a huge amount of thumbs down for not blindly supporting Lost but despite my dislike of his work I can respect his reason for keeping the villain a secret. In fact, I rather like his reason that the audience needs to find out like the characters do (although I am pretty sure I have this one pegged already). It reminds me of a certain "I am your Father" scene that would have been ruined had you known it beforehand. It just doesn't have the same impact.
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4:27PM on 03/12/2013
At this point I'd be more excited if he wasn't Khan and they threw us a really cool curveball and he was someone else we never would have guessed.
At this point I'd be more excited if he wasn't Khan and they threw us a really cool curveball and he was someone else we never would have guessed.
4:49PM on 03/12/2013
At the risk of being spoiler-ish I will only say that I'm not entirely convinced that there is only one enemy.
At the risk of being spoiler-ish I will only say that I'm not entirely convinced that there is only one enemy.
4:13PM on 03/12/2013

Whether he's Khan or not...

...he doesn't give off a very Khan-vibe. I know we're seeing him as a young man but the Khan we all know and love was the charismatic, muscular, badass Khan from Star Trek II with nothing but revenge on his mind. I don't believe we're going to get the Khan we want so I don't know why it matters who he really is in the movie. He may as well just be playing a new character.
...he doesn't give off a very Khan-vibe. I know we're seeing him as a young man but the Khan we all know and love was the charismatic, muscular, badass Khan from Star Trek II with nothing but revenge on his mind. I don't believe we're going to get the Khan we want so I don't know why it matters who he really is in the movie. He may as well just be playing a new character.
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4:06PM on 03/12/2013
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