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.
HUGE POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW!
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.