He may be basking in the reported glow of Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ awesomeness (I say reported because some of us haven’t seen it yet), but J.J. Abrams is still having trouble living down the ghosts of sci-fi movies past. Previous to Star Wars, Abrams made Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness; one of those was by and large well received, the other was not. In true confession mode in a recent interview, Abrams confirmed that, yes, mistakes were made in the making of Into Darkness, and a lot of that had to do with him boldly trying to keep a lid on his infamous mystery box.
White talking to Buzzfeed, Abrams discussed the reasons why, in his opinion, Into Darkness needed work, and the one point in promoting the film his attention to secrecy ended up working against him.
At the end of the day, while I agree with Damon Lindelof that withholding the Khan thing ended up seeming like we were lying to people, I was trying to preserve the fun for the audience, and not just tell them something that the characters don’t learn for 45 minutes into the movie, so the audience wouldn’t be so ahead of it. I felt like, in a weird way, it was a little bit of a collection of scenes that were written by my friends — brilliantly talented writers — who I somehow misled in trying to do certain things. And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices, and unable to hang my hat on an undeniable thread of the main story. So then I found myself on that movie basically tap-dancing as well as I could to try and make the sequences as entertaining as possible. Thank god I had the cast that we have, who are so unbelievably fun to watch. And an incredible new villain in Benedict Cumberbatch… I would never say that I don’t think that the movie ended up working. But I feel like it didn’t work as well as it could have had I made some better decisions before we started shooting.
You may recall the Lindelof, who co-wrote Into Darkness, said on the subject of Cumberbatch and Khan a couple of weeks ago:
“When we did Star Trek Into Darkness for example, we decided that we weren’t going to tell people that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan. And that was a mistake, because the audience was like, ‘We know he’s playing Khan.’”
There’s been a line-up people anxious to apologize for the misstep of Into Darkness in the last couple of weeks, and Justin Lin, director of the next Trek film, Star Trek Beyond, said that his movie will more or less pull a Jurassic World and just ignore the events of Into Darkness like transporting across light years, and magic resurrection blood. I guess the old saying is true: it’s easier to apologize than ask permission. At least in the case of Star Trek Into Darkness.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens wide tonight: Star Trek Beyond is in theaters everywhere in July.