The ‘Star Trek’ Khan-spiracy: Does It Matter?

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto weigh in on 'Wrath of Khan' similarities in 'Star Trek Into Darkness.'

OK. Enough with the games, everybody. Let’s just get right down to it … is Benedict Cumberbatch playing Khan, or isn’t he?

That question has been on the mind of every single “Star Trek” fan since Cumberbatch’s “Into Darkness” casting was announced. Those associated with the project have been referring to the character as “John Harrison,” widely theorized to be an alias for a well-known nemesis in “Star Trek” lore. Entertainment Weekly further fueled the rumor-filled fire last week with a headline identifying Cumberbatch’s role as Khan; the jury is still out on whether or not this was a simple error on the magazine’s behalf, or an accidental revelation of the J.J. Abrams sequel’s biggest secret.

It’s unlikely that anyone will know who Cumberbatch is really playing until “Star Trek Into Darkness” officially arrives in May. But the British actor’s co-stars, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, are more than happy to admit right now that there are plenty of references to “Star Trek” stories of yesteryear in their second voyage aboard the Enterprise.

“We never deny where we’ve come from in terms of the history of the franchise and the history of these characters, and there are amazing ways in which they’re able to fold in different kinds of homage throughout,” Quinto told MTV News in a December 2012 interview. “I think one of the exciting things about what we’re able to do with [the franchise] under J.J.’s direction is honor the past, honor the history and what people love about these characters and how they interact with each other — and yet, we can take it in entirely new directions. Both of those things happen, whether it’s evocative of ‘Wrath of Khan,’ or if it’s evocative of one of the other films in the franchise or an episode of the show.”

In other words, Quinto and Pine believe it doesn’t matter whether or not “Into Darkness” evokes “Wrath of Khan” or another iconic “Star Trek” tale. From Pine’s perspective, there’s enough fan-service to please long-time “Trek” lovers — but just as importantly, the sequel hosts a bounty of brand-new ideas, themes, stories and characters to keep new adopters of the historic sci-fi series on an even playing field with veteran fans.

“‘Trek’ fans can thank god for Bob Orci and Damon Lindelof. All non-’Trek’ fans will be happy for J.J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman,” said Pine. “There’s enough balance in the creative nucleus that ‘Star Trek’ fans will love the minutia in the new film; and those who aren’t ‘Star Trek’ fans but just want a good story, there’s plenty of good story in this one, besides all the [deep-cut] ‘Trek’ stuff.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

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