KHHHHAAAANNNN!!!! A name we all will not soon forget…no matter who is yelling it. Heralded as one of the most notable villains on the big screens, Khan plays a pivotal role in both Star Trek movies, the Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness. As a result, some have speculated as to whether or not Into Darkness is really a remake of Wrath of Khan. I decided to compare the two to see what I could find out. Here’s what I came up with.
The Relationship between Kirk and Spock:
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, differences in the Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness is in the way that Kirk and Spock interact with each other. In Wrath of Khan, Kirk, who by the way had worked to achieve the level of Admiral, and Spock were truly friends, not just the kind that keep saying that they are with little to no proof. The near end of the movie after Spock has committed the heroic act of repairing the engine in the dangerously radiated warp core, the exchange between him and Kirk is truly genuine and I believed that they were truly friends as they talked.
In Into Darkness, however, the relationship between Kirk, who is still a Captain, and Spock is much more contentious. The word friend is used, but to be honest, I didn’t believe that there really was as much respect between them as in Wrath of Khan, let alone an actual friendship.
It was interesting how both movies differed in theme. Going back to Wrath of Khan, the theme was more philosophical and the plot dealt heavily with the idea of Genesis. Every subplot of the movie dealt with the theme in some fashion or another from Khan’s pursuit of revenge for the death of his wife to Admiral Kirk facing issues of his own mortality. In Into Darkness, however, the theme was more political, making for a completely different movie. While the main plot focused on Khan being a terrorist, the many subplots kind of took the story on quite a few tangents. With a huge difference in theme, it’s safe to say we’re talking about two different movies.
The villain always needs a motivation, or how else would they justify the means to their ends? In Wrath of Khan, Khan was purely motivated by the death of his wife, supposedly as a result of the Kirk’s actions. He was mostly maniacal and pursued his revenge on Admiral Kirk with razor focus, to the extent of which he underestimated his adversary. Khan as a character was not particularly well developed and aside from his mentioning that Kirk contributed to the untimely death of his wife, no real proof was offered to support his rants, which left the question in my mind: how much of his story was true?
In Into Darkness, however, Khan’s motivation for revenge was against the entire Federation for using him for his knowledge and skill in an effort to build weapons and an army to wage war against the Klingons. As a result, Khan had no personal vendetta against Kirk that is only until he stood in his way in attempt to accomplish his goal to free his people from the Federation. As a result, I felt Khan was a much more developed character, with a story that was identifiable. Yes, in theory he was a terrorist, but then again, so was Admiral Marcus.
Who Saves the Day:
In Wrath of Khan, Spock was the one that saved the day by going into the deadly radiated warp core to repair the severely damaged engine; ultimately saving the USS Enterprise and the entire crew, including Admiral Kirk, from an untimely demise; yet causing his own. While his actions were a reflection of the strength of his character, it also demonstrated his unwavering allegiance to and friendship with Kirk.
In Into Darkness, however, Kirk is the one who saves the day by going into the warp core and meets an early demise only to be resurrected later. The funny thing about both movies is that while Spock saves the day in Wrath of Khan, the movie is Kirk-centric and the opposite is true in Into Darkness.
As you can clearly see, Into Darkness is no remake of the Wrath of Khan. From the beginning of the “reboot” series featuring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, it was made clear that not only were the writers attempting to explore a slightly different angle with the characters that we were all familiar with, but it became apparent by the second Star Trek reboot that this storyline was more like a prequel to the original TV show.
The fundamental changes in the storyline, including the relationship between Kirk and Spock, the theme, Khan’s motivation and who saved the day that all made it clear that you weren’t watching the old Star Trek movies any more.