While it certainly split fan opinion, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek was a solid hit for Paramount, having gone on to earn $383 million worldwide and put Trek back in the pop-culture conversation in a big way. But for all the flick’s action and drama, the film felt a little thin when it came to the villain, Nero (Eric Bana). While Eric Bana was okay as the evil Romulan hellbent on revenge, he definitely wasn’t the main draw of the movie. Conversely, in the film’s sequel — Star Trek Into Darkness — the villain John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) seems to be the only thing people are talking about.
In an interview with Comic Book Movie, Chris Pine spoke about how John Harrison is a smarter and more menacing villain than Nero. Here’s Pine:
He is Kirk’s shadow of death, his Achilles’ heel. He is a big mirror reflecting all of Kirk’s insecurities back at him. He is just as intelligent and logical as Spock, but is also one very very bad motherfucker. He’s sort of superhuman, pretty much unbeatable. Brainy and brawny. He manipulates situations. He’s incarcerated when Kirk is talking to him and yet he still gets Kirk to do his work for him. He pushes him into a corner where the only route to salvation is cooperation. There is a real Hannibal Lecter quality to him.
On a purely physical level, Chris Pine and Benedict Cumberbatch look similar, as if Cumberbatch’s appearance was one of the factors for casting him in the role. Despite the mystery surrounding the film’s villain, John Harrison is already emerging as a stronger villain than Nero. Abrams particularly praises Cumberbatch for the complexity he brings to the role of Harrison.
In Benedict Cumberbatch we have a much more emotionally and intellectually challenging villain than we had in the last film. Eric Bana did a great job, but Nero was a much simpler, raving sort of furious dude. The first movie was an origin story. The characters were all new to each other, so all they needed was a scary threat to face. It didn’t need to be complex or nuanced. Just by default, given the number of characters and the structure of it, we could only go so deep. By necessity, it had to stop at a certain level. It had a ceiling. And now there is no ceiling. He was within Starfleet and has now turned against the organisation and is hell-bent on revenge.
As frustrated as most people might feel about the mystery of the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness, it sounds like the character will definitely be memorable. The comparisons to Hannibal Lecter, Jack Torrance in The Shining, and Heath Ledger’s Joker has raised John Harrison’s stock as a movie villain. Hopefully when the film is finally released, John Harrison will live up to the hype.
Star Trek Into Darkness will hit theaters everywhere on May 17, 2013 in IMAX 3D.