Update On Star Trek: Captain Worf From Michael Dorn

By David Wharton | Published

Whether you like J.J. Abrams’ bigscreen Star Trek reboot or not, there’s no question that it’s garnered the floundering franchise more attention than it had received in at least a decade. And while Abrams’ movies will likely continue for as long as they keep making money and he stays interested, it seems inevitable that other Trek projects will eventually come down the pike. Former Trek actor Michael Dorn has some ideas about how to give the Abrams’ films some friendly competition. This past May he spoke about wanting to pitch a “Captain Worf” project that could be either a TV movie or direct-to-DVD release, and Dorn says the project has “gotten traction.” Does this mean we might really see Worf back on a Starfleet bridge at some point?

The last we’d heard of this theoretical Worf movie was this past May, during an interview with TrekMovie. Dorn described his Captain Worf idea as being less ambitious and on a smaller budget than a bigscreen goliath like Abrams’ Trek movies. His project would have the Klingon commanding a Starfleet vessel, “out there in the front lines basically chasing terrorists.” While he said that other well-known Trek characters could do cameos, it would mostly focus on new characters, which would help keep the budget under control.

Speaking to TrekNews last week, Dorn was optimistic but vague:

I had come up with the idea because I love the character and I think he’s a character that hasn’t been fully developed and hasn’t been fully realized. Once I started thinking about it, it became obvious to me that I wanted to at least put it out there, which I have, and the response has been pretty amazing. We’ve been contacted by different individuals–I can’t say who and all that–about wanting to come on board and be part of this. Also, there’s all the political stuff going on with the new movies, with J.J. Abrams and Paramount and all that stuff, which I have no clue about and what it all entails, but that’s where it is right now.

So, he’s talked to people and there has been some positive response to the idea…but that’s a long, long way from actually getting a green light. Dorn’s comments are the same sort of noncommittal language you hear constantly about hypothetical Hollywood projects, the vast majority of which simply never happen or wind up mired in development hell. Could a Captain Worf movie happen? Sure. Is it going to? I doubt it.

It reminds me of the long-running “Captain Sulu movie” rumors that floated around for years after the original series cast had wrapped up their bigscreen adventures. While both ideas definitely have potential, they also are more likely never going to be more than a pleasant “what if” scenario. While Sulu and Worf are both interesting characters, neither of them were the “stars” of their respective Trek eras. Like it or not, Trek is a moneymaking franchise first and foremost, and that means the people with the purse strings want every project to bring in as many eyeballs and as ticket sales/purchases as possible. That usually means making sure your headlining actors are top-tier proven commodities. Sure, the Next Generation movies starred all the primary actors from the series, but if the films’ budgets required them to cut back on who was included, you can bet your bottom dollar Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner would have been the last ones walking the plank.

But even there is some interest in a Captain Worf project, it’s got one gigantic obstacle standing in the way, and that’s J.J. Abrams. We can argue about the reboot’s quality all day long, but the simple truth is that it made $383 million, more than twice its estimated budget, worldwide. Paramount has spent a lot of time and effort and money making the new movies the official modern “face” of the Star Trek franchise right now, and it seems highly likely that if they did green light another Trek TV series, it would be within the new continuity of Abrams’ movies. That’s where the hype and attention, both good and bad, is focused right now.

That being said, I’d love to be proven wrong. While I’m not convinced that a Worf spinoff is the ideal way to rejuvenate Trek on the small screen, that’s not to say that the idea doesn’t have merit. And in a rapidly changing media landscape where Arrested Development, a show that’s been dead since 2006, is about to start airing new episodes on freakin’ Netflix, anything is possible.