To no one’s surprise, “Star Trek” opened huge this weekend, beaming in more than $72 million at the box office since it hit theaters on Thursday evening. Now a second “Trek” courtesy of director J.J. Abrams—what would be the twelfth film in the sci-fi franchise—seems all but assured. Where do we go from here? For devoted Trekkers, the hands-down #1 film of all-time in the canon is 1982’s “The Wrath of Khan,” starring Ricardo Montalbán (who passed away in January) as the superhuman title villain. Indeed, even before this newest “Trek” came out, speculation was rampant about the possibility of a new Khan making an appearance in a future "Trek."
“The honest answer is if you're a ‘Trek’ fan, there's no way Khan isn't at the top of the list of things you want to play with, right?” co-screenwriter Roberto Orci told Ain’t It Cool News earlier this month. With that idea in mind, MTV News has taken on the role of casting director to select five people we think would make worthy successors to Montalbán’s Khan.
Tom Cruise: He’s a good friend of Abrams. He’s a model of physical perfection (except for the whole barely-5-feet-tall thing). He rocked a Khan-ish ponytail as the motivational sexpert in “Magnolia.” And who else can pull off an a-hole swagger like Cruise? Only problem is that with his “Trek,” Abrams has shown a penchant for casting little-known actors. Could Cruise’s outsized persona take a backseat to Khan’s cool, calm and collected tyranny?
Javier Bardem: Anyone who’s seen “No Country for Old Men” knows that Bardem can play a superfreaky villain, and play it frighteningly well. And like his predecessor, Bardem would deliver lines like “Let them eat static!” and “It is very cold in space!” in accented English—it’d almost be as if Montalbán never left us. But Bardem’s an Academy Award winner and again, Abrams might favor an unknown.
Kirk Acevedo: You might not know Acevedo, but you should. He has a sparkling supporting role as a tightly wound, authoritative FBI agent in Fox’s mindbender, “Fringe.” Who created that show? J.J. Abrams. So Acevedo’s got an in with the “Trek” head honcho, and his growly, do-not-cross-me quality would be a perfect fit for Khan.
Matt Damon: To begin, Damon was rumored to have been in the running to play the new James T. Kirk. What’s more, Khan is genetically perfect and insanely intelligent. Who better to take on the role than the man behind “Good Will Hunting” and the Jason Bourne trilogy?
Angelina Jolie: Khan as a woman—heresy or brilliance? Let’s face it, no man can possibly out-Khan Khan. It might be wise for Abrams to go in a completely different direction and cast Jolie. She’s got serious acting chops (see “Girl, Interrupted”) and can do badass convincingly (see “Lara Croft” and “Wanted”). And with his subtle tweaking of “Trek” lore, Abrams has shown he can make changes to the franchise and not incur the unmitigated wrath of the Trekker community.
Like our picks or hate ‘em? Who do you think could play Khan? Sound off in the comments below.