Director Noah Hawley (Legion, Fargo) has given fans an update on Star Trek 4, and if you read between the lines it sounds like his idea for the film could be a sharp departure from anything else we’ve seen in the franchise by, ironically, hewing closer to Star Trek’s roots.
Speaking to Deadline, the Legion creator said he’s still talking to Paramount and has yet to write script, but his pitch has definitely settled on a vision. “I have my own take on Star Trek,” he told the publication, “and going back to what I loved about the series Next Generation, when a lot of franchises focus on ‘might makes right’, Star Trek is about exploration and humanity at its best, and diversity and creative problem solving. There’s nothing better than that moment when William Shatner puts on his reading glasses and lowers Khan’s shields. It doesn’t cost anything. But it’s that triumphant feeling about smarting your enemy. For me it’s about to getting to those elements of the show. I don’t necessarily find action in and of itself interesting unless it’s story.”
He added that while he “should” be connecting with Alex Kurtzman’s take on Star Trek, which he knows well, “There isn’t a mandate from Paramount to connect it. And on some levels, there’s a bit of the wall, the TV version and the film version.”
“I have my own story and want to make sure as I did with Fargo and Legion that I’m respectful to the underlying material,” he continued. “That I’m not unintentionally changing things that people love or feel passionate about. So, it’s important to do that research as I go.”
This is the latest in a series of Star Trek 4 iterations that have been floated around since 2016, when the project was first greenlit before the release of Star Trek Beyond, with J.J. Abrams set to produce through Bad Robot. At the time, Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth were supposed to reprise their roles as Captain Kirk and George Kirk, respectively. There was more or less radio silence until April 2018, when Spock actor Zachary Quinto said that there were three scripts for Star Trek 4 in development, with Jessica Jones S.J. Clarkson being tapped to direct. Then, later that August, both Pine and Hemsworth reportedly departed from the project. And in January 2019, as Clarkson took on directing and executive producing duties for what would become a shelved Game of Thrones prequel, Deadline reported that Star Trek 4 had been shelved. (Throughout all this, Abrams was juggling all of his work with Star Wars.)
Fast-forward to November 2019, when Deadline reported that the project had been resurrected, with Hawley in talks to direct with J.J. Abrams still producing via Bad Robot, and Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and Karl Urban set to return. While Hawley has yet to confirm the return of any previous Star Trek cast members, it looks like he and Abrams are both moving forward with Star Trek 4.
If everything pans out, then Hawley’s film could be the only Star Trek movie we have for a while. While Quentin Tarantino was reportedly enthused about his Star Trek film idea back in 2017, pitching successfully to execs and later revealing in June 2019 that a script had been penned, this no longer seems to be the case. Speaking to Consequence of Sound last December, Tarantino said: “I think I’m steering away from Star Trek, but I haven’t had an official conversation with [executives] yet.”
That said, in the aftermath of the merger between CBS (the home to various Star Trek shows) and Viacom (who owned the film franchise), all the Star Trek properties will now be in the same place. What this could entail for the future of the franchise, and whether it means transitioning some of the shows to film, remains up in the air.
In the meantime, season 1 of Star Trek: Picard arrives on CBS All Access January 23, and fans can expect a second season sometime in the foreseeable future.
Photo of Noah Hawley by Gage Skidmore licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0