What's the bigger challenge: rebooting an iconic sci-fi franchise that had lapsed into disrepair, like an interstellar spacecraft whose warp drive missed a couple of tune-ups and could no longer handle faster-than-light-speed travel? Or following up that triumphant reboot with a flick that not only proves to be a worthy successor, but which sets fanboys' geek phasers on "Oh, hell yeah!"?
Such is the conundrum facing "Star Trek" director J.J. Abrams and his creative team as they begin to brainstorm ideas for a sequel to May's $258 million-grossing hit. "The first one did what it was required to do, which was bring the family together and reset," Abrams explained in an interview with MTV News. "It was a bridge, no pun intended, between what came before, what the 'Star Trek' people knew and the 'Star Trek' of now. And that was the heavy lifting of the first film."
Now that they've reset franchise mythology (thanks to a clever time-travel loophole) and successfully introduced a new set of castmembers (including Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock), the filmmakers will begin to mine the new creative terrain they've laid out. "The second one has an obligation to go deeper and maintain the fun and adventure in the sense of optimism and scale that ['Trek' originator Gene] Roddenberry created," Abrams said. "But I do think it has to evolve and not become some polemic over-the-top, on-the-nose allegory. It needs to be something that is not just about the characters meeting each other and having their first adventure; it needs to be about having their most meaningful one."
These are the wide-ranging concepts that Abrams and writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof are starting to explore. "We're literally just beginning discussions about the story and where we want to go," Abrams said. "We have some very broad stroke ideas that are very exciting. We're obviously going to do the best we can in terms of rewarding an audience."
One thing they likely won't do, according to Abrams, is call the sequel "Star Trek 2." The second film in the original franchise — 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" — already slapped a number onto its title.
"I think we can't really do that, right?" Abrams laughed. "I don't know what you'd call it. It's a good question. I'm not sure."
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