When Benedict Cumberbatch met with J.J. Abrams about playing the bad guy in Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams pitched the role with a very teasing description. Cumberbatch said, “JJ described the role in movie terms as a mixture of Hannibal Lector, Jack in the Shining and The Joker in Batman. There are sorts of levels to pitch in, amongst quite a high bar as well, to succeed in comparison to. It was a framework to understand this character before I saw the whole script.”
The character Cumberbatch is playing is officially being called ‘John Harrison’ but many fans are thinking that this name is a Red Herring, or an alias that the character is using. Perhaps the people behind the film want to keep fans from guessing who the character really is. There has been a great deal of speculation that the Harrison character will turn out to be the evil Khan, who was played by Ricardo Montalban in the classic Star Trek series and in the film, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Why do so many people think this? Firstly, because the character in the upcoming film is described in the promotional material as “a one-man weapon of mass destruction”, which would fit the genetically engineered Khan. Also, since Khan was the main villain in the second film of the original movie series, Abrams might be paying homage to the classic franchise by having the same villain for the second film in the reboot franchise.
Cumberbatch describes his character as being a major threat who will really push Captain Kirk and his crew to their limits. “He’s someone who has extraordinary physical strength. He is someone who is incredibly dangerous as both a physical entity and as a user of various technologies and weapons. He performs acts of terrorism but he’s also a psychological master. He manipulates the minds of those around him to do his bidding in a very, very subtle way. It was a wonderful game of mental chess.”
Cumberbatch does not confirm the Khan rumors or even mention the name Khan, but his description of “John Harrison” certainly does fit with the theory of the return of Khan. Time will tell.