Classic Trailer Tuesday: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

CLASSIC TRAILER TUESDAY: STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN

In the eyes of many, Star Trek Into Darkness is the second Star Trek film. How little they know. Once upon a time, The Wrath of Khan was the only Star Trek II and for most it remains the definitive Star Trek movie. It’s simply a great film, exploring the themes or growing older, renewal, family and revenge. Without Khan and the ideas of its producers there would be no Star Trek today.

While The Motion Picture was a commercial success, critics felt it somewhat portentous and that it lacked the sense of fun and adventure present in the series and studio executives wanted the budget to be less extravagant. This meant Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was moved from the driving seat and into a ceremonial executive consultant role.

Star Trek newcomer Harve Bennett was brought in to executive produce and create a cheaper and more entertaining film. Working with other writers, Bennett came up with the outline for a screenplay, deciding what was lacking in the first movie was a real villain. Having gone back and watched all the original series episodes, he decided on Khan, a genetically modified superman from season one’s ‘Space Seed’.

There were some issues with the script, and on the suggestion of an executive, Bennett brought in Time After Time director Nicholas Meyer to fix the issues. Impressing producers with his quick rewrite, he was offered the role of director. He altered the look of Starfleet, giving them a more naval appearance, taking inspiration from Hornblower, which had previously inspired Gene Roddenberry in the earliest days of the show.

The film was a creative and financial success and Meyer and Bennett are responsible for the longevity of Star Trek. Every subsequent film has used elements from or tried to emulate The Wrath of Khan, but none have come close and in all probability none ever will.