Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in 'Star Trek Into Darkness' (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
Benedict Cumberbatch won't be the only one performing dastardly deeds in the "Star Trek" sequel. In fact, while Cumberbatch's character's identity remains a mystery, audiences will find another threat to the crew of the Enterprise to be very familiar.
The Klingons, arguably the most popular villains (and, later, allies to the Federation, but what's the fun in that?) in all of "Star Trek" canon, will make an appearance on the big screen for the first time in over ten years in "Star Trek Into Darkness" -- according to, somewhat surprisingly, the notoriously secretive "Trek" captain himself, J.J. Abrams.
Abrams spoke with MTV about the return of the alien race to "Star Trek" lore -- after they were cut from the 2009 film.
"We shot some stuff that had some Klingons in it and we ended up cutting the scene ... it's a deleted scene on the DVD," said Abrams. "But they are back in this one."
And as the new "Star Trek" films revolve around the characters of the original television series, peace between the Federation and the Klingons is still a long ways off -- in other words, don't expect them to be friendly.
"They're role in [the 'Star Trek' sequel] is definitely that of adversary," said the ever-savvy Abrams, carefully choosing his words. "And you'll see how that plays out. But you don't have to know about any pre-existing stories to watch this film."
The Klingons have a long and intricate history in those "pre-existing stories." They were originally developed by screenwriter Gene L. Coon as darkly-colored humanoids that represented the Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. With the considerable increase in budget for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979), the Klingons were rebooted as hulking warriors with a strict honor code ... and rather distinct foreheads.
The Klingons also gained an entire original language, developed by Marc Okrand and based on babble-speak suggested by, of all people, actor James Doohan (who played Chief Engineer Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott). Parts of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare have been translated into Klingon, the latter of which was slyly meta-referenced in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991) when Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) says, "You haven't heard Shakespeare until you've heard it in the original Klingon."
The Klingons aren't the only familiar faces to return to the "Trek" universe in "Star Trek Into Darkness." Abrams revealed a few tidbits about Dr. Carol Marcus (played by Alice Eve in the sequel), who first appeared in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982) as a love interest for James T. Kirk (and the mother of his son, David) -- a role she'll probably fill at least to some extent in "Star Trek Into Darkness."
"[Kirk] meets her fairly early on ... she plays a science officer, she's part of the adventure," said Abrams. "It's a hard thing to do ... it's very much an action adventure movie and once that gets going it's a difficult thing to sort of park the story and say, 'Let's do a romantic interlude.' But her role is important; she wouldn't be in the movie otherwise."
There you have it. Now, back to the question at hand: Do you think Benedict Cumberbatch is Khan?
"Star Trek Into Darkness" opens in IMAX on May 15 and expands to non-IMAX theaters on May 17.
See director JJ Abrams in a first look featurette for 'Star Trek Into Darkness':