Roberto Orci is no longer directing Star Trek 3, meaning Paramount is no longer letting a guy with no experience directing anything ever handle the Star Trek film currently scheduled to arrive sometime during the franchise’s 50th anniversary in 2016. Initially, it was unknown why Orci had stepped down, but now it is believed it’s because Paramount hated his script. He apparently wanted to use time travel to potentially undo the destruction of the planet Vulcan in the 2009 Star Trek, J.J. Abrams’ franchise reboot which operated from a script co-written by Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Huh. It occurs to me that I know of at least one person who would adore that plot. Allow me to explain.
My best friend used to go to Star Trek conventions, which was a bit odd for me since I’ve been a near-lifelong fan and never felt the need to go to a convention whereas she was flying up to Chicago to meet Leonard Nimoy and the rest at a convention less than a year after she became a fan. The result is that she has actually met far more actual Star Trek fans in person than I have at this point, and one of them really, really, really hated the J.J. Abrams version of Star Trek. Of course, this guy wasn’t unique since conference attendees in Las Vegas voted Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness the worst Star Trek film of all time last year. However, one of the main points of contention for this true, hardcore Trekkie my friend encountered was that he simply could not, in good conscience, accept the idea that 2009’s Star Trek reboot/sequel freakin’ blew up the planet Vulcan, pushing Spock somewhere close to “last of my race” territory. Spock and Uhura kissing was bad enough as was an Enterprise bridge coming off as a tired recreation of an Apple store or an Enterprise engineering section pulled straight out of a manufacturing plant. That all paled in comparison, though, to the high crime of killing all the Vulcan homeworld. For that, there could be no forgiveness!
The oft-maligned Damen Lindelof was also involved with Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, and in an interview with Collider he explained that the decision to destroy Vulcan was done to knowingly evoke 9/11 and increase the dramatic stakes for the new versions of these old characters. He claimed that they were all very aware that many fans wanted to see more of the fallout from that destruction in Star Trek Into Darkness.
I had no idea that anyone cared that much about the Vulcans. Love Spock? Sure; that’s a given among Star Trek fans. You might even find those enamored with Jolene Blalock’s T’Pol from Star Trek: Enterprise, who was basically Spock with rather pointy breasts (a Vulcan striving to understand humanity and bickering with her ship’s Captain as prelude to a lasting friendship). However, to me the Vulcans were never anything more than the originator of the Star Trek stock character type of the outsider struggling to understand humanity, a lineage beginning with Spock and extending to Data (an android) on Next Generation, Odo (a changeling) on Deep Space Nine, Seven of Nine (ex-Borg) on Voyager, and finally T’Pol. That’s not to say that all of those characters were always attempting to become more human or even wanted to, but they all served a similar function. Prior to Enterprise, actual Vulcan society, however, was mostly relegated to the random TV episode dealing, such as Next Generation’s multi-parter depicting some kind of political uprising on Vulcan, ultimately involving Spock and his dad, or any number of episodes involving Voyager’s resident Vulcan, Tuvok. Still, to me the Vulcans were mostly the people whose especially stern faces formed the background for why it was such a big deal whenever the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock came close to cracking a smile.
What I failed to see is that many people responded to the notion of the Vulcans basically being a highly evolved version of us, containing all of the same baser impulses and anger issues as humanity but tenfold. Their serene nature was a result of a people constantly suppressing their natural instincts, thus preaching a message of self-discipline and self-meditation. So, if I thought the Vulcans were maybe a tad boring others thought they were immensely noble with a kick-ass go-to move in hand-to-hand combat what with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. A similar dynamic occurred when Russel T. Davies killed off the Time Lords when he revived Doctor Who, pleasing those who never cared for autocratic, d-bag aliens who wore funny hats but annoying those who found the Time Lords to be an entertaining and fundamental element of Doctor Who.
The Vulcans clearly have their fans. After all, everyone who sports Vulcan ears at Star Trek and similar nerd conventions can’t simply be dressing up as Spock, right?
Interestingly, among the trio mostly commonly credited as being responsible for the new Star Trek – Abrams, Kurtzman, and Orci – Orci is the one believed to have been a huge Star Trek fan prior to his involvement with the films. So, the exact plot he had put together with Star Trek 3’s two screenwriters was apparently going to do what Star Trek does best: Time Travel. According to BadAssDigest:
My sources tell me that the script Orci was working on saw the Enterprise, the Vulcans and a new alien race competing to get a time travel device. The Vulcans want to go back and stop the destruction of their planet, and the time travel schtick is what would allow Chris Pine and William Shatner to share the screen […] I’ve been in touch with some folks and it seems like the script was one of the problem factors. Paramount shut the production down last month, sending home all the design people while they battled over the direction of the screenplay. I imagine all this stuff is gone now.
Orci will still officially be involved with Star Trek 3 as a producer, but the industry scuttlebutt is that Paramount is now targeting Edgar Wright or Joe Cornish to direct. Whoever they hire will likely get to start with a story from scratch, which honestly sounds like the best idea. If Devin at BadAss is right, the script Orci had whipped up sounds like a story worth telling in maybe an officially sanctioned tie-in novel but not in an actual movie. Star Trek purists might even quibble over whether or not the high and mighty Vulcans, their lives forever ruled by logic, would even want to bend all of time and space to erase history, and anyone who remembers Star Trek Into Darkness could argue, “Wait, that movie was all about the impending war with the Klingons. So, how in the world does Star Trek 3 not finally involve the Federation Vs. The Klingons?” Plus, they spent two freakin’ movies finally getting around to sending our new Enterprise crew out on their 5-year mission. Can we finally get to that, please?
I say all of that, though, as someone who does not particularly care for the Vulcans, but I know there are those who adore them. Does Orci’s plot focusing on the Vulcans and a mystery alien race actually intrigue you? Or should we simply be rejoicing that Paramount has apparently scrapped all of this before this craziness went any further? And are you even looking forward to a Star Trek 3 at this point? Let me know in the comments.