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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who Is Khan? 8 Things You (Might) Not Know About Star Trek’s Villain

(Left) Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS,
(Right) Ricardo Montalbán as Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Ever since news first broke that actor Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s “Sherlock”) was cast as the notorious "Star Trek" villain, Khan, in the upcoming film STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (in theaters today), speculations have ran wild regarding where the filmmakers would take his story.

But many are still in the dark about who Khan really is. After all, it has been more than thirty years since we last saw him stirring up trouble in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Here are eight things you may not know about the man Trekkies love to hate:

8. He looks really good for his age: By my estimation, Khan should be about 300 years old by now. He was introduced in 1967 in the first season of the TV series, “Star Trek,” in an episode titled “Space Seed.” At the time, his body had been cryogenically frozen for more than 200 years. His second appearance in 1982’s “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” was set fifteen years after that.

7. He has unfinished business with Captain Kirk: Khan has had beef with Captain Kirk ever since he made his first appearance on the TV series. In “Space Seed,” the Enterprise discovers his frozen body and takes him in. When Khan awakens and finds himself on the starship in the 23rd century, he tries to infiltrate the crew and manipulate the ship, which leads to an epic battle between him and Captain Kirk. This ends with Khan being exiled to Ceti Alpha V. In his second appearance in the 1982 movie “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan,” Khan tried to exact revenge on Kirk after the Ceti Alpha V exploded, virtually wiping out the planet and killing many of Khan’s followers and almost Khan himself. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS will be his third attempt to destroy Captain Kirk and his crew.

6. He is extremely dangerous: Khan is one in a group of genetically enhanced superhumans, whose power is said to be five times that of regular humans. Khan was a successful conqueror and 20th century warlord who ruled more than a quarter of the Earth during the Eugenics Wars in the 1990s. After later being deposed, he narrowly escaped his death sentence on board the SS Botany.

And has since then been pissed off. 
5. He goes by the name John Harrison in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS: Cumberbatch has remarkably kept mum about the true identity of his character (though much of the Internet is already convinced he’s Kahn). Instead, he has revealed his character to be John Harrison, a rogue Starfleet commander and terrorist who has it out for Kirk. Cumberbatch describes him as a “one man weapon of mass destruction,” which actually sounds very similar to Khan, so…..?

We're on to you, Cumberbatch. 
4. He has never been played by an Indian actor: Khan was first written as a superhuman from India (with the full name Khan Noonien Singh), yet he has only been portrayed by non-Indian actors on screen. The late Mexican actor Ricardo Montalbán originated the role in in the TV series in 1967 (and again in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), and now Cumberbatch, who is English. Before Cumberbatch signed on, it was even rumored that Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro was considered for the role. No shade to Cumberbatch or Montalbán, but this could have been a great role for an Indian actor like Irrfan Khan, who wouldn't have even had to change his name…

But we still love you, Cumberbatch. No need to cry about it. 

3. He was once written as a Nordic superman: Though the idea never saw the light of day, Khan was originally conceived as a Nordic superman by scriptwriter Carey Wilber before that was eventually changed in the final script. This character was said to be even more violent than Khan.

But maybe not as scary as this guy. 
2. He’s had a makeover: If you look back at the older clips of Montalbán as Khan in the series or Wrath of Khan, you may have noticed that he isn’t particularly fashion forward. To keep the authenticity of him living on a wasteland with few supplies, Khan’s original costume was supposed to look like a composite of several items (including electrical equipment and furniture upholstery from the ship) that he was able to scrounge together in his exiled surroundings. The filmmakers also wanted to show off his masculine physique with revealing attire. Most of the images from STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS showed Khan a little better groomed donning a sleeker wardrobe.

1.He is a widower: Khan was once married to the Enterprise ship’s historian, Marla McGivers (with whom he flirted in order to try to manipulate the ship in “Space Seed”). She died after the Ceti Alpha VI explosion in Wrath of Khan caused a disaster on Ceti Alpha V, turning it into a vast wasteland. She was killed by one of the few remaining animal species on the planet.

Montalbán and Madly Rhue as Marla McGivers in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is in theaters today.

This post was originally published by The Urban Daily.


Daniel said...

Wonderful bits of information Candice, even a few I didn't know as a fan of the series!

Brittani Burnham said...

Great post! I didn't know some of these. And that gif of Cumberbatch crying! *sigh* I'm in full Cumberbitches territory.

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