Many fans of “Star Trek” struggle to embrace the second film in the so-called “Kelvin Trilogy.” This was J.J. Abrams’ most controversial entry into the “Star Trek” canon, and fans are still upset about what he did with “Into Darkness.”
The most glaring and perhaps most significant problem fans had with “Into Darkness” was the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan — who was initially portrayed by Ricardo Montalban. Some call it “whitewashing,” while others claim that Cumberbatch’s character was not the real Khan. They allege that since the ‘real Khan’ was supposed to be of South Asian descent, Cumberbatch’s character (John Harrison) was lying to protect the actual dictator. This is just a fan theory.
The Infamous ‘Carol Marcus Scene’
Then there was the uproar over the scene where Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) stood in front of Kirk (Chris Pine) in nothing but her underwear. Producer Damon Lindelof said they had Kirk “shirt and pantless” in the films but promised to do better. Eve has said that she was “part of it” and defended the scene, saying that “[Marcus] has a lot of attributes.”
Others pointed out similarities between action sequences in “Into Darkness” and those from “Empire Strikes Back.” These accusations are not very different from when Abrams had to defend himself against “Star Wars” fans who said he “ripped off” scenes from the classic trilogy for the 2016 film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Reviews like Charlie Jane Anders’ assessment that “Into Darkness” was “let down by its nonsensical plot and pulled punches” was quite common. Those who enjoyed “Into Darkness,” like Prof. Arnold Blumberg of the University of Baltimore, were far less common.
But one thing that Abrams and his fellow “Into Darkness” writers (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Lindelof) inserted into the film was a scene that appears to be a lock-stock-and-barrel recreation of an opening scene from the 1970s documentary, “Chariot of the Gods.”
For those fans who are not familiar with “Chariot of the Gods,” the film was based on a book by the Swiss writer Erich Von Daniken, who theorized that aliens had visited Earth in the past and that many religions were based on these interactions. For those who enjoy The History Channel’s “Ancient Alien” series, “Chariot” was the foundation for many of those ideas.
In fact, “Chariots of the Gods” stimulated more than just documentaries and shows on The History Channel. The entire “Stargate” franchise was based upon the “Chariots” film. “Stargate” co-creator Roland Emmerich told Variety that he was inspired by “Chariots” and said after watching it that he “could make a movie about that.”
The Start of ‘Into Darkness’
At the start of “Into Darkness,” Kirk and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) are on the planet Nibiru, attempting to save this primitive humanoid species. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is lowered into an active volcano with a device that will freeze molten rock before it erupts. As Sulu (John Cho) pilots a shuttlecraft, realizes he cannot remain over the volcano due to the heat and soot, Sulu leaves Spock for dead inside. Kirk orders that the Enterprise intervene and launch out of the water (where it had been hidden) and save Spock by beaming him aboard.
These actions clearly go against the Prime Directive, as Kirk and Spock both learn later in the film. But it does serve as a fun way to get the characters into a tough spot, which calls for immediate blockbuster-movie action.
As the Enterprise launched away (with Spock aboard), the natives look above to see this massive starship escape their atmosphere. This leads them to draw an outline of the ship in the sand and begin immediate worship of their new “god.”
Chariots of the Gods
This is precisely what happened in “Chariots of the Gods.” The film’s narrator described that soldiers from the United States encountered tribes in the South Pacific during World War II who had not seen airplanes before. When the Americans built runways and other buildings to support the war effort against Imperial Japan, these tribes witnessed aircraft flying for the very first time.
Much like on “Into Darkness,” these Stone Age-era tribes made straw and bamboo “fetishes,” or models of the airplanes, to “tempt the visitors back.” The film documents members of the tribes falling and worshiping a passing aircraft, just like the humanoids worshiped the Enterprise.
This similarity — if they were even aware of it — did not seem to bother fans as much as the film’s theme, which appeared to be a reboot of the classic “Wrath of Khan.”
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