Lately, it seems Star Trek 4 (or Star Trek 14, depending on how one calculates), is cursed. The fourth film in the rebooted “Kelvin Timeline” of films, which began with J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot, can’t catch a break. Paramount has announced several writers and directors over the past few years, including, most recently WandaVision’s Matt Shakman. But before his involvement, The Rings of Power’s J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay were working on a script. One that would have seen Chris Pine’s Kirk reunite with his father from the first film, played by a young Chris Hemsworth.
And now, thanks to an interview with Payne and McKay in Esquire, we finally have some details on how that father/son reunion would have happened. Because as you might recall from Star Trek 2009, George Kirk died heroically on board the U.S.S. Kelvin. So would time travel have been involved? No, not exactly. An old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Relics” inspired them. That story had the crew of the Enterprise-D finding Scotty from The Original Series, trapped in a transporter buffer for 75 years. This allowed him to walk into the TNG era without having aged a day. They were going to use the same plot device for George Kirk.
Essentially, Kirk and crew would have had reason to explore the wreckage of the Kelvin, only to find that before the final explosion, George Kirk tried to beam himself off the ship. That transport would have been unsuccessful, as we saw. They would have found the transporter pattern still intact, however, allowing a young George Kirk to reemerge. Then he and his son Jim would have had a father and son adventure. Similar to what we saw in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, according to Payne and McKay.
As for the villain, Payne and McKay said it would have been an original foe, not a rehash like Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. The pair described the years working on a film that never came to be as “heartbreaking.” Ultimately though, we think it was for the best. Star Trek needs to move beyond Kirk’s daddy issues. And the whole idea felt a little gimmicky, and they only considered it because Hemsworth had become a bankable star after Thor.
Whatever the next Trek film with this cast winds up being, it shouldn’t lean into a gimmick like that. Just give us a solid Star Trek adventure without relying on bringing back old villains or blowing up the Enterprise yet again.