Tһe “Bаd Wаy” Wrаtһ Of Kһаn Cһаnɡed Stаr Trek Movies, Sаys First Contасt Writer

Star Trek writer Ronald D. Moore points out one bad way Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan impacted the Star Trek movies that followed.

Khan, Sybok, and Krall in Star Trek


  • “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” set the gold standard for every Star Trek movie villain to follow, with Ricardo Montalbán’s menacing performance as Khan.
  • The success of “The Wrath of Khan” led Paramount to demand that every Star Trek film have a villain like Khan, which limited the creativity of subsequent movies.
  • Many Star Trek movie villains and storylines have been remade or modeled after Khan, demonstrating the lasting impact of the character on the franchise.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, Star Trek movie of all, but Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact co-writer Ronald D. Moore also points out the “bad way” Star Trek II impacted the movie franchise. Ricardo Montalbán played the titular, genetically engineered villain, and his menacing, scenery-chewing performance set the gold standard for every Star Trek movie villain to follow. But as Moore assesses, Khan became a double-edged sword for the Star Trek movies.

In the oral history “The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek” by Peter Holmstrom, Ronald D. Moore hailed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as “a classic” and “a fan’s dream” that “works on every level.” However, Moore also describes the negative impact Wrath of Khan made on every Star Trek movie that followed, as Paramount continually demanded that each film had a villain like Khan. Read his quote below:

It’s the one that’s referenced over and over again. In some ways, in a bad way. Because I could easily make the argument that what Wrath of Khan did was it permanently sent every Star Trek film down the same path. They all then, with the exception of IV, went, “We need a villain like Khan.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard that. “We need a Khan. Who’s the Khan in this movie?” It all became about emulating that story.

As co-writers of Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact, Moore and Brannon Braga indeed had “Khans” for both films in Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell) and the Borg Queen (Alice Krige).

Star Trek Movies & TV Have Continually Remade Wrath of Khan

Most Star Trek movie villains are made in Khan’s mold.

Along with nearly every Star Trek movie villain being modeled after Khan, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has also been remade twice. 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis mimicked The Wrath of Khan‘s big story beats; the Khan-like villain Shinzon (Tom Hardy) sought revenge on Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) sacrificed himself to save the USS Enterprise-E from Shinzon’s doomsday weapon, just like Spock (Leonard Nimoy) did in Star Trek II. 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness was like a funhouse mirror remake of The Wrath of Khan, as Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) sacrificed himself while Spock (Zachary Quinto) stopped Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Other Khan-like Star Trek movie villains who followed Ricardo Montalbán’s seminal heavy were Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) in Star Trek III: The Seach for Spock, Sybok (Lawrence Luckinbill) in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, General Chang (Christopher Plummer) in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Dr. Tolian Soran in Star Trek Generations, The Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact, Ru’afo (F. Murray Abraham) in Star Trek: Insurrection, Nero (Eric Bana) in Star Trek 2009, and Krall (Idris Elba) in Star Trek Beyond. Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer) in Star Trek: Picard season 3 was also quite Khan-like, while Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4’s finale was a loving homage to The Wrath of Khan with the villainous Nicholas Locarno (Robert Duncan McNeill). Khan (Desmond Sivan) even reappears as a young boy in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2, proving Star Trek is still fixated on Khan 41 years after his movie debut.

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