The Black Glove Mystery: Are Some Khan Secrets Best Left Unrevealed?

Ricardo Montalbán as Khan

Paramount Ricardo Montalbán as Khan

For those around at the time, the premiere of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” was a big deal. For those who did not like the galactic pacing of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” the next attempt at a Trek film was much better. Rather than an evolutionary-themed mystery, fans got action akin to the most significant episodes in the three-season history of “The Original Series.” “The Wrath of Khan” was much more like “The Doomsday Machine” than “2001.”

But as great as William Shatner was as Admiral James T. Kirk, many think that the villain made the movie. The villain for “Star Trek II” was portrayed by Ricardo Montalbán, who reprised his role from the TOS episode “Space Seed.” He was back for revenge against Kirk, who marooned the crew of the S.S. Botany Bay on the doomed planet Ceti Alpha V. 

As Lloyd Farley wrote for Collider, Khan stands above all other villains in “Star Trek” lore.

“His humanness is relatable,” Farley wrote. “His charisma draws you in. His thirst for vengeance a cause for fear. Khan is irredeemable, but you believe in his desire to better the situation for those in his care.”

This is why fans of “Star Trek” keep getting new bits and pieces of Khan Noonien Singh. “Star Trek: Enterprise” used his story to explore the past Eugenics Wars and explain why some Klingons did not have ridges on their foreheads. J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof created a sequel to the popular “Star Trek (2009)” film and found a way to bring Khan back (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). 

Christina Chong on La’an Noonien-Singh

Now, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” has a Khan-descendant on board the Enterprise. La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) has already confided in Una (Rebecca Romijn) about her augmented past. That will undoubtedly play into “Strange New Worlds” plots for future episodes. 

And there’s also the possible Khan series, which is said to have already been written by Nicholas Meyer, the director of “Star Trek II.”

While the character of Khan is fantastic, what he represents might be even more compelling. As Tom Joudrey wrote for the Boston Globe, Khan’s attempt at genetic failure was a cautionary tale both for Kirk and for the humans who watch “Star Trek” on Earth.

“What has never been fully appreciated is that the film widely agreed to be the best in the entire franchise — 1982′s ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ — performs an internal insurrection against the core ethos of ‘Star Trek,’” Joudrey wrote. “The film’s unmistakable theme is the dangerousness of the quest for the perfection of human societies.”

Funko Pop Khan

Funko Pop Khan figures

StarTrek.comFunko Pop Khan figures

As Heavy noted before, some fans tire of seeing the same characters repeatedly — even Spock. Writer Caesar Torres opined that this sort of “overuse” is happening with “Star Wars” own Dark Lord of the Sith — Darth Vader. Could Khan be going down that path as well? 

Perhaps. But for now, Khan seems to be as popular as ever. Fans can choose the next Funko Pop figure for the character — Battle Ready or Post-Battle

If a fan examines the two figures, they’ll notice that Khan’s right hand is gloved. This is how Montalbán appeared in the film also. This glove has never been explained in canon. But, thanks to the behind-the-scenes commentary from the “Wrath of Khan” director, fans know why Khan never took off that second glove. 

Khan’s Reveal

“Khan removes one glove, and I gave him an entrance,” said Meyer on the “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” Blu-ray disc director’s commentary. “I’m a big opera fan. So this movie is very operatic, dramatic and theatrical and slowly, slowly, slowly, he reveals himself, but never removes the other glove.” 

“I said don’t take off the other glove,” Meyer said during the commentary. “And people have always said, ‘Why doesn’t he take off the other glove’ And I always turn the question around and say, ‘Why do you think he doesn’t take off the other glove?’” 

“It’s not my job to supply answers,” said Meyer. “It’s your job as the audience to supply answers.”

So, unlike Michael Jackson, Khan wore the glove for no real reason other than to make the audience imagine.

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