Did A Star Trek Comic Reveal Benedict Cumberbatch’s Real Into Darkness Identity?

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The biggest point of contention since damn near the moment Star Trek Into Darkness was greenlit has been the identity of the villain. When Benicio del Toro and Javier Bardem were rumored for the role, many believed the villain would be Khan, and that idea has never really died, even with the casting of a very British Benedict Cumberbatch. The other big clue, assuming it’s true, was screenwriter Robert Orci’s claim that he would be playing an existing character. That led to speculations about Gary Mitchell, even though that character had already been introduced (and killed) in IDW’s in-canon comicbook series. Many thought the reveal of Cumberbatch’s character as “John Harrison” was just further misdirection to keep us off the scent.

But now, the first issue of IDW’s Star Trek Into Darkness prequel may have finally revealed the truth. And if it is the truth…it’s kind of bloody brilliant.



So who is it?

Robert April, first captain of the Enterprise, before Christopher Pike and James T. Kirk. He is revealed on the last page of the prequel comic’s first issue (see below), so it’s clear that April is involved in these events somehow, even if he doesn’t show up in the movie. But it makes a brilliant sort of sense.

April appeared in the Star Trek animated series, and his appearances in some of the tie-in novels have described him as British. As Orci claimed, April is an existing character. We all assumed that meant “an existing villain,” but Orci never actually said that. Cumberbatch’s character is a former Starfleet officer with a grudge, so April could easily fit that description. And whatever his plan against Starfleet, it would lend itself to operating under a pseudonym.

But here’s the real kicker. During a December visit to the Bad Robot offices, Hit Fix’s Drew McWeeny spotted a bit of concept art for the big-ass cannon Cumberbatch is seen using in the trailers. The name of that gun, as noted in the art?

“April’s Gatling Gun.”

If true, April would make perfect sense as a formidable villain, one with ties to Starfleet, and one who would serve as a perfect foil for a young Kirk still struggling to prove he deserves that promotion to Captain of the Enterprise.


In that same article, McWeeny proposes the April theory, as well as an idea of why Cumberbatch appears younger than April as drawn in the Trek comic. April’s original appearance in the animated series involved him aging backwards. Couldn’t that same concept be applied or modified to Cumberbatch’s April? That would explain why the comic art looks considerably older than Cumberbatch in the film. Could that mysterious ability also be why Cumberbatch tells the parents of a dying child that he can help them, as seen in the IMAX preview footage? That could also suggest that April is using the John Harrison name to prevent Starfleet from seeing him coming until it’s too late.

We’ll have to see what further issues of the comic reveal, but for now? Consider us sold. Benedict Cumberbatch is Robert April.


One of our readers, Colin, suggested a variant on the theory, that the April pictured in the comic could instead be designed to resemble Peter Weller, whose role in Into Darkness has been even more hush-hush than Cumberbatch’s. That would track with the apparent age of April in the comic, but then who is Cumberbatch playing? Perhaps April’s right-hand man of some sort, but that doesn’t fit with Orci saying the British actor was playing an existing, iconic character (we can argue about how iconic April may or may not be, but whatever).

But here’s a thought…if the “de-aging” thing is indeed going to factor in…could Weller and Cumberbatch both be playing April? All I know is, I’m not looking forward to May 17th more now than I have been in a while.


  1. Sorry. Captain Robert April was NOT created for the animated series. He was among the first names that Gene Roddenberry came up with for the captain of the ship for his new show. It was changed to Pike. Pike was traded in for Kirk, but April is acknowledged as the first captain of the Enterprise in the 23rd Century.
    It is in Stephen Whitfield’s “The Making of Star Trek” from 1968.
    Sorry. You know how we geeks get when we see minutiae misidentified.
    🙂 In the animated series, April was about to be forced into mandatory retirement at age 75. After he saved the Enterprise from a parallell universe, that order was rescinded. He is pictured in the history of Star Trek as Gene Roddenberry in a starfleet captain’s uniform.

    • JT says:

      Point of order. The NAME was created before the animated series episode, but it was just a random name floating around, it was what they were going to call Captain Kirk. They then took that name and created the animated series episode character, so technically you are incorrect. The character was created for the animated series. The name was invented to be used on some other character.

  2. not so much “created for”, but “appearing on-screen”. And don’t even get me started about the “many names of Spock” memo in that same book.

  3. John Henschen says:

    I would be very surprised if this is the direction the movies takes.

  4. Pie Maker says:

    Then wouldn’t Captain April have come after Captain Archer? I still think it’s Gary Mitchel

    • Mitchel was a part of the crew with Kirk. There really isnt anything to back up him being Mitchel beyond wishful thinking. However they have made a lot of hints to it being khan or him at least being in the film. His name escapes me but the guy who played Robocop is in the movie and so far we havent seen anything with him in it so maybe he is kahn, but Mitchel it cannot be.

      • Jon Davis says:

        Yah, I can see the Khan appearance now. “Captain’s Log: Upon the discovery of an ancient Earth ship, we were ordered to return to Earth due to a planetary emergency. Unfortunately, we’ve had to tractor the ship into a geo-synchronous orbit around a nearby planet, Ceti Alpha Six. It is my hope to return to the ship as soon as the emergency on Earth has passed.”
        And then the planet exploded! End of story. 😛

    • Andrew Reese says:

      Curious how this fits into the new timeline. He would have had to have been Captain of the Enterprise after Archer because the 1701 is brand new with Pike in charge. Read the comic today. We’ll see what #2 says next month. The series really gave a lot of backstory for the first movie, so hopefully this will play out well.

    • JT says:

      Archer captained the NX Enterprise. Different ship. April was the first captain of Kirk’s Enterprise, the NCC-1701.

      • Jon Davis says:

        Which was captained by Pike right after it was built in the new timeline. So somewhere along the way, Robert April got left out. (Which makes the end of the prequel comic REALLY confusing).

  5. Nospam Rodriguez says:

    Thanks for the half images, web site “gurus”. Fix your mobile layout.

  6. Chris Healey says:

    Is it me or does it seem that this alternate timeline is evolving into a mirror universe?

  7. Rachel Smith says:

    I really love this new theory about the character Benedict
    Cumberbatch will be playing; it is such a great storyline. A coworker at DISH and
    I have been discussing how all of the details surrounding the theory fit,
    though we still don’t understand his reason behind the revenge. I can’t wait to
    find out more, and during the wait, I will be coping by watching everything Star
    Trek, using Blockbuster @Home from DISH. It is so easy to just update my cue
    online, and then get my movies delivered in the mail a couple days later. I
    also love that when I forget to return a movie, I don’t have to wait, and can
    exchange it in a Blockbuster store. It’s nice that even though I have a busy
    schedule, I can still come home at the end of the day and refresh on my Star
    Trek knowledge. So far this sequel is shaping up to be great, I can’t wait to
    see Benedict in action, regardless of the villain he turns out to be playing.

  8. Carnot Antonio Romero says:

    Could April have been passed over for command of Enterprise? and that’s the source of the grudge?

    Also, the whole “April aging backwards like in the animated series etc.” thing is so… insider. I think this would all be lost on most people in the audience. You can spend all your time and energy doing a love letter to the fans… and make a film that goes nowhere. This franchise is too valuable to the studio for that.

  9. DAVE says:


  10. DAVE says:


  11. DAVE says:


  12. Doolezah says:

    Perhaps John Harrison was either a member of Robert April’s crew or Robert April’s son (and Starfleet refused to help one or both, leading to the revenge). After all, the trailer features Harrison asking what one would not do for family. I still think the theory that John Harrison releases Khan from cryogenic stasis is the most clever one to take advantage of telling how Khan was freed, while focusing on Harrison as the villain. Perhaps John Harrison is a member of Khan’s “family.” Still, it’s anyone’s guess at this point because none of these theories may be true. I guess, like a poor marksman, we keep…missing the target. 😉

  13. I still think it’s Gary Mitchell from “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Comburbatch always play characters that feel godlike and the random blonde girl that in almost every scene of the commercial looks just like the girls that leaves with Mitchell.

  14. zaggs says:

    I don’t think the movies could have Mitchell as the first Captain of the Enterprise. The Enterprise is being built under Pike’s command in the first movie (this is why he is as the bar when Kirk gets beaten up). At the end of the first movie Kirk relieves Pike of command of the Enterprise. So the only time Mitchell could be in command of Enterprise is when the “keel” was laid (or whatever they call it) but before the ship was completed. That doesn’t lend itself to him saying he was captain of the Enterprise.
    Though has anyone thought that Weller will be playing a decedent of his Enterprise (TV) character Paxton? That Cumberpatch plays a member of Terra Prime? Or Weller’s character after an extreme reconstruction to avoid detection? That would fit family and the attack from within. Keep in mind in the first movie Scotty teleported Admiral Archer’s prized Beagle. So Terra prime could still be around if Jonathan Archer is still alive.
    Or it could be that the Enterprise in question in the comic is not that same as the one seen in the movie but more like the NX-01, an earlier ship that carried the same name (in real like there might only be a decade between Enterprises being active in the US Navy).

  15. rickj says:

    Hell people, the baddie is going to be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

  16. Ian says:

    Note the comic quote says “Former Captain of *A* ship called Enterprise.” Which means it could be NX-01, NCC-1701, or some other designation in between. Lest we forget there are a number of decades between the launch of NX-01 and NCC-1701, it is entirely possible NX-01 was destroyed/retired and another Enterprise built. April may have commanded NX-01 after Archer – or an entirely new ship of the same name – and when Starfleet was building the Constitution class NCC-1701 iteration, April may have thought he was in line to captain it but got passed over for Pike. That certainly would be a motive for revenge. My biggest question of course is, is it May 17 yet?

  17. trek man says:

    In one of the first Star Trek Novels Robert April is the captain of a prototype Constitution class starship that was unnamed until the end of the novel. According to the story the name Enterprise was the suggestion of his first officer who was also the father of its most famous captain James T Kirk .Also at the end of the novel the ship was turned over to Captain Pike with name and registration number.Trekers do your homework (Final Frontier by Diane Carey )