I enjoyed the recent Star Trek reboot movie despite two glaring shortcomings. The first is that J.J. Abrams showed no interest in exploring themes of the human condition such as overcoming prejudice or the corrupting influence of power, which is what separates Star Trek from other science fiction franchises.
But that is not the reason for this article. The second shortcoming — which is the reason for this article — is that the movie created a new villain out of thin air, instead of pulling from the wealth of material that has already been developed within the franchise. Don’t get me wrong, Eric Bana as Nero had a great performance. But we already have so many awesome villains in the Star Trek universe. Can’t we explore them on the big screen?
Here is the list of top villains to consider for the next Star Trek movie, and possible casting ideas.
1. Harcourt Fenton Mudd
Originally Played By: Roger C. Camel
First Appeared In: Star Trek: The Original Series – “Mudd’s Women,” “I, Mudd”
Suggested Casting: Jack Black, Tim Roth
Points in Favor: Mudd is an iconic character from the original series, and seeing him reinterpreted on the big screen would be a big thrill for TOS fans. If cast correctly, his panache and get-rich-quick scams could provide an excellent foil to Kirk’s emotional over-the-top leadership style. Mudd could continually flummox Kirk and Spock in a way that further develops the bond of friendship that was introduced in the first film.
Points Against: Although it would be great to see what a well-cast actor could do with this character, Mudd was originally written as comic relief. The danger of turning him into a Star Trek version of Jar Jar probably makes it not worth the effort, especially with Abrams still trying to get the hang of what exactly differentiates Star Trek as a science fiction franchise from, say… Star Wars.
2. General Chang
Originally Played By: Christopher Plummer
First Appeared In: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Suggested Casting: Hugh Jackman, Sam Worthington
Points in Favor: there are two fundamental elements to Kirk’s personality: (1) he likes women, and (2) he hates Klingons. That second part has never been fully explored, so it would present a rare opportunity to break new ground, and figure out what cataclysmic event made hatred of Klingons Kirk’s number two personality trait.
General Chang would be a good choice as that catalyst because, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Kirk ironically brings an end to the hostilities between the Federation and the Klingon empire (giving rise to one of the classic Star Trek lines: “there is an ancient Vulcan saying: only Nixon can go to China.”).
In the new V2 timeline, it would be a nice touch if the Klingon that engenders Kirk’s hatred of the entire race in the beginning of his career were the same person he confronts at the end of his career to bring the two superpowers together. Furthermore, Christopher Plummer portrayed the character with original style: Shakespeare quotes in the middle of battle, an overblown ego, bald head, and he’s even got an eye patch. Throw in the Klingon brow ridges, and you’ve got a villain with real charm.
Points Against: In Star Trek VI, Kirk and Chang meet each other for the first time when they are at the twilight of their careers, which makes a difficult plot hole if he’s in this movie. Of course, this could be explained away with the alternate time line that has been created by the V2 universe. Additionally, the character is so over-the-top that Abrams would have to expend a lot of energy making sure Chang is the definitive Klingon, instead of simply a parody of Klingons.
Originally Played By: William Campbell
First Appeared In: Star Trek: TOS – “The Squire of Gothos”
Suggested Casting: Johnny Depp or Tim Roth
Points in Favor: A favorite theme of Star Trek (especially under creator Gene Roddenberry’s influence) is omnipotent beings behaving badly, so it would make sense to treat this plot device in at least one Star Trek V2 movie. Trelane is a good choice because of his combination of power, obsession, and youthful petulance. It would be interesting to see a youthful Kirk in the beginning stages of his career take on a youthful omnipotent being that needs to be taught a lesson.
Points Against: The original episode used a Deus ex Machina plot resolution, which always spells doom for a movie. The writers would have to find a new way for Kirk and the crew to save the day that involves the skills of the Enterprise crew instead of some random all-powerful space gods. Also, an impish all-powerful being, while good for a TV episode, might not be able to support an entire movie.
4. John Frederick Paxton
Originally Played By: Peter Weller
First Appeared In: Star Trek: Enterprise – “Terra Prime”
Suggested Casting: Peter Weller, Edward Norton, or Gary Oldman
Points in Favor: Prejudice is the number one human shortcoming that the Star Trek franchise has tried to confront over the years. If, like me, you have read creator Gene Roddenberry’s authorized biography, then you’ll know it was the reason he created Star Trek in the first place. Paxton, as founder of the bigoted human-centric group Terra Prime, is the perfect metaphor for the destructive forces of this human shortcoming, and therefore an excellent villain for any hero in the Star Trek universe.
In his Star Trek: Enterprise appearance, Paxton nearly derails the negotiations that led to the formulation of the Federation, because he and his followers hate anyone who is not human. His combination of an army of brainwashed followers and being on a personal mission to purify Earth would make him quite formidable. Plus, it gives Abrams an easy way to get back to Star Trek‘s tradition of exploring the human condition which he pretty much ignored in the first movie.
Points Against: Paxton first appears in Star Trek: Enterprise, which means he would be well into his 100s in Kirk’s time. This could be explained away with one or two lines regarding cryogenics or time travel or reverse aging technology or something similar, but it would have to be done carefully.
5. Khan Noonien Singh
Originally Played By: Ricardo Montalbán
First Appeared In: Star Trek: TOS – “Space Seed,” Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Suggested Casting: Javier Bardem
Points in Favor: Khan is perhaps the most significant villain in the Star Trek universe — definitely the most significant of The Original Series. Khan is a very athletic, physical character, so any fight scene between Khan and Kirk could be quite interesting, especially as a climactic end of movie hand-to-hand brawl. But he is also Kirk’s foil. Kirk is a normal person with a talent for leadership who worked his way to the top through brash assertiveness and hard work (and a little charm), while Khan is a genetically engineered super human who believes power and success are his birthright. The dynamic between the two characters is compelling, and the final confrontation of the movie would provide an excellent climactic moment. There’s also this to consider: KHHHAAAANNNN!!!!!!
Points Against: Khan has already been featured in a Star Trek movie, so comparisons to that movie will be inevitable. Plus, part of the successful drama behind the movie was that Kirk and Khan had history based on Khan’s original appearance in the first season of the TV show. This movie would run the danger of simply being a redo of that TOS episode. The script would have to be carefully written to present Khan for the first time to the V2 Kirk, but also show how he is Kirk’s definitive nemesis.
1. Romulan Commander Sela
Originally Played By: Denise Crosby
First Appeared In: Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Unification 1 and 2” and “Redemption”
Suggested Casting: Lucy Lawless, Monica Belluci, Amanda Tapping, or Denise Crosby
2. Gul Dukat, Cardassian 4th Order Commander
Originally Played By: Marc Alaimo
First Appeared In: Multiple episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Suggested Casting: Marc Alaimo, Jason Statham, or Robert Davi
3. Gary Seven
Originally Played By: Robert Lansing
First Appeared In: Star Trek: TOS – “Assignment Earth”
Suggested Casting: Jeffrey Donovan
Screencaps from TrekCore.com
Why not “Q”?
Marc Alaimo – definitely! Fantastic actor.
Bring back Cardassians! The best Star Trek characters ever! Bring back Gul Dukat! Free Gul Dukat now! The Best ever Star Trek character/villain! You love him! You hate him! He is the very best!
Gul Dukat in 3D, wow!
Wow, all of these villains are fine, for the most part though in todays world a few would be just too goofy (the way they are shown from the original shows).
But I can’t believe that for one minute it did not even cross your mind to mention Q.
I know he may not be 100% evil, but he is a villain none the less, & he is a formidable foe, one who would be aware of the time shift between the original time line & this new one formed by the events caused by Nero.
He is able to travel through time and space & has almost certainly been a stone in Piccard’s shoe for numerous episodes.
Not even a honorable mention…shame on you.
I have to admit that “Q” popped to mind immediately. Followed by Gul Dukat and strangely Trelane. Trelane couold be really interesting as his array of powers would make a wide open plot.
It was refreshing to have a new evil character as Nero. Why does anyone want to stay “Stuck” on the old villians. Is there no imagination anymore? I love all the new younger character’s & hope that my grnadchildren will enjoy this as I have enjoyed the original Star Trek. But its time to move on into the future & not to get stuck on the past.