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Little is known about the next film set in the “Kelvin timeline” created by J.J. Abrams when he released Star Trek in 2009. Abrams has his hands full not just with that other massive sci-fi franchise, but in developing the rumored Quentin Tarantino Star Trek film that Paramount wants to see. Outside of rumors of a time travel story featuring Chris Pine’s James Kirk crossing paths with his father George Kirk played by Chris Hemsworth (fresh off his successes from that other other massive comic book franchise), Paramount hasn’t let much slip. That changed recently when Variety reported that SJ Clarkson was hired as the director for the new film. While Clarkson isn’t a household name like Tarantino, genre fans are likely to have seen her work. Although she has only one film credit to her name, 2011’s Toast, she has an extensive background in direction of TV shows.
Clarkson created the series Mistresses for BBC in 2008. The show explored the complicated relationships of four women each carrying on illicit affairs of some sort in their lives. The show was the basis for the American version in 2012. Clarkson also directed a few episodes of cult time-travel show Life on Mars, which may give some credence to the rumor that the next script features some classic Star Trek time hijinx. She then took a hand in some famous franchises over the past decade including Heroes, Dexter, Jessica Jones and was an executive producer and director on The Defenders crossover series for Netflix.
Does that mean Star Trek 4 will feature superheroes, seductresses and serial killers? Probably not, but it does show that Clarkson has a grasp on characters and their relationships, which is a very important part of Star Trek. The dynamic between Kirk, Spock, and Bones is the beating heart of the films. Clarkson has plenty of experience with central relationships and her work on Marvel showed Paramount she’s excellent at playing in other people’s sandboxes. Jessica Jones went from comic obscurity to fan favorite because of her series, and Clarkson was a huge part of that success.
Star Trek as a franchise has also often taken the lead on progressive issues in the past. From the first interracial kiss on TV in “Plato’s Stepchildren” to the Trill often being used as a way to explore sexual identity before open discussions of such topics were widespread, Star Trek has pushed the envelope on these topics. As more minority and marginalized voices look to be part of big-screen dreams, Clarkson’s choice seems like a step in that direction. Big franchises are slowly coming around to putting non-white males in the director’s chair, but it makes sense that Star Trek would be one of the first. They made history with it in the past, and directors like Clarkson represent the future.
What do you think Star Trek 4 will be about? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to tune into our Star Trek RPG show, Shield of Tomorrow on Geek & Sundry Twitch and Alpha every Friday starting at 4 PM PT, followed by our aftershow on Alpha, Behind The Shield, where the crew discusses the episode and other Star Trek topics.
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Image Credits: Paramount, BBC, Netflix
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is here, where he is currently reviewing classic Star Wars RPG adventures. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.