While the reviews of Star Trek Beyond have been overwhelmingly positive, and have been praising the movie for its return to the original series’ classic values of fun and adventure, that’s not to say that there isn’t a dark cloud over the movie too. Star Trek Beyond will pay tribute to two passings in the film, the first being Leonard Nimoy, who died before production on the film began in February 2015, and the second being the unexpected passing of co-star Anton Yelchin just a few weeks ago. The untimely death of Yelchin in particular opens the door to a difficult question: what are future Trek movies going to do without Chekov?
Its seems like bad form to discuss such a thing right now, but the subject of Star Trek 4 has already been in the news after J.J. Abrams announced that a) there will be a Star Trek 4 and b) that Thor actor Chris Hemsworth will co-star as Captain Kirk’s dear-departed father. While talking to Postmedia, Abrams said it’s “too early” to know what they’re going to do about the Chekov character, but Abrams has already ruled out recasting. “I would say there’s no replacing him,” Abrams explained. “There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.” Does that involve killing the character? “I have thought about it, we’re working on it, and it’s too early to talk about it,” he added.
Perhaps Abrams and Co. can look to the animated series as an option. When the Filmation-produced series launched in 1973, it couldn’t afford all the original actors, and Walter Koenig was the odd man out. So Chekov was replaced on the bridge of the Enterprise by two characters: the three-armed, three-legged Lt. Arex, and Lt. M’Ress, the member of a feline-like race. Bother characters would be easy to realize with modern effects technology, but like the man said, Too soon.
Either way, Abrams acknowledges that with production bookended by two tragedies, the making of Star Trek Beyond was a hard one to through. “We knew going into this movie it would be a bit of a heartbreak just because of Leonard,” said Abrams. “We had no idea just how devastating events would become.”
Star Trek Beyond opens this Friday in theaters everywhere.