After sitting on the shelf since 2018, Star Trek 4 is now in the hands of writer and director, Noah Hawley. Hawley is known as the showrunner for the popular TV series Legion and Fargo. Hawley also directed the feature film Lucy in the Sky, starring Natalie Portman. What fans of those hit series may not know about Hawley is his self-proclaimed love for the Star Trek franchise.
A New Prime Directive
Since J.J. Abrams revamped the franchise in 2009, the recent Star Trek movies have been known for their nonstop action and awesome special effects. Hawley may have a different vision in mind that holds more true to the original Star Trek Enterprise television series.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hawley referenced a Start Trek Enterprise scene that evokes the same spirit he hopes to convey in the new Star Trek movie:
“It’s William Shatner putting on his reading glasses and lowering Khan’s shields, which cost like $9.50. There’s no big action sequence. He’s just more clever, there’s something really uplifting about that feeling.”
Wanting to go back to the Star Trek roots is appealing to Trekkies, as well as appealing to the studio’s budget. After all, budgetary issues are the reason the fourth Star Trek movie was shelved.
Star Trek 4 is dead, Jim
Paramount studios had been developing Star Trek 4 after another box office hit in the series, Star Trek Beyond. They developed a time travel theme for the fourth installment that would reunite Captain James Kirk and his father, Captain George Kirk.
In the first movie of this series, Star Trek (2009), Captain George Kirk (played by Chris Hemsworth) sacrificed his life so that his crew and newborn son could escape. The audiences were in tears in the first few minutes of the movie. His son grew up to become the rebellious Captain James Kirk, played by Chris Pine.
Writers thought seeing the two Captain Kirks reunited would once again bring audiences to tears, and to the movie theaters. Uniting the two Chris’s, however, left the project dead in its tracks.
No Vulcan Mindmeld for the Chris’s
The initial contracts with the actors playing the Enterprise crew had expired. To no surprise, due to the movies’ successes, the actors’ new contracts were asking for more money. The studio was trying to contain costs while still appealing to their star actors, but to no avail. During negotiations, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine were unable to get on the same page with the studio’s budget.
Ultimately, Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth’s resistance to counteroffers was futile, and the project was shelved indefinitely.
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Before being shelved for budgetary reasons, Paramount had chosen S.J. Clarkson to direct Star Trek 4. Clarkson would have gone where no woman has gone before by becoming the first woman in the history of the franchise to direct a Star Trek film. But unfortunately, that directing opportunity was shelved alongside the movie. It is unknown whether S.J. Clarkson was offered the directing position again before taking it off the shelf and handing it to Hawley.
Whether or not she was offered the job, S.J. Clarkson likely had scheduling conflicts. Clarkson is a British director who has become one of the most sought after directors in recent years. She established her directing careers with iconic British TV series including Doctors, Eastenders, and Life on Mars. Though rooted in drama, Clarkson has experience directing other genres as well, including episodes of Smash, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and The Defenders.
Before the fourth Star Trek movie was brought back to life, S.J. Clarkson was selected to direct what is being called the prequel to Game of Thrones. Whether or not the GOT prequel will make it beyond the pilot episode is still up in the air.
Make It So
While longtime Trekkies are excited Hawley is reevoking the Star Trek Enterprise spirit, new Star Trek fans are concerned about his new, or rather, old vision for the fourth movie. J.J. Abrams set the tone for the new movies series with the first installment, Star Trek. The nonstop action and top-of-the-line special effects rivalled the Marvel franchise. Young or previously disinterested audiences quickly became new fans of the Star Trek franchise.
Some are worried that these new fans will lose interest if Hawley takes the fourth installment in a different direction than the first three movies. However, losing what J.J. Abrams started shouldn’t be a concern because J.J. Abrams is still in the picture. In fact, he is on board to produce Star Trek 4, and likely gave the “make it so” command to bring Hawley on as director.
Beam Me Up, Scotty
So, will the original actors be beamed up alongside the new director? Probably not. But that’s because fans shouldn’t expect the original characters either. Hawley explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “To call it Star Trek IV [the placeholder the trades have been using] is kind of a misnomer. I have my own take on the franchise as a lifelong fan.”
And when asked if fans should expect a new cast, he responded, “Yeah, I think so. Yeah. It’s early days. I don’t know. But new characters often involve new cast.”
Set Phasers to Stun
No matter what, Star Trek fans new and old should still expect stunning special effects, top-notch actors, and an exciting plot from the fourth installment. Even if Hawley has a new vision for the fourth movie, he still intends to honor the previous movies in this series, and the Star Trek franchise as a whole.
Hawley told Deadline, “I have my own story and want to make sure as I did with Fargo and Legion that I’m respectful to the underlying material. That I’m not unintentionally changing things that people love or feel passionate about. So, it’s important to do that research as I go.”
Work on the screenplay is expected to begin this spring or early summer, with production following soon after.