No doubt one of the coolest things about the rebooted Star Trek franchise is that rather than scrapping everything that came before to start afresh, it actually takes place in an entirely new timeline. In previous instalments of the trilogy, that meant Leonard Nimoy was able to reprise his role as the original Spock in order to guide the younger versions of these classic characters, but many fans have wondered whether or not other familiar faces could follow him, including franchise mainstay William Shatner.
The problem is that his Captain Kirk actually died in Star Trek: Generations, something which obviously complicates a return. Talking in a recent interview to promote the release of Star Trek: Beyond, producer J.J. Abrams weighed in on why he can’t picture Shatner ever getting the chance to show up in these new movies.
“Obviously it’s Star Trek, nearly anything is possible. There’s the fairly simple notion that on the day Kirk was born another timeline began. But in the other timeline, Kirk died onscreen (in Generations). I don’t know how he would come back unless we went into this other reality and we did a timeline and reality jump. In all the years we’ve been working on this, I’ve yet to hear a pitch that didn’t sound too contorted and contrived for an audience to swallow. And I’ve talked to him (Shatner) about it. If Kirk had lived there’d be an answer. But there’s something about his having died that makes it impossible.”
So, while it sounds like there are ways to force this to happen, it seems like Abrams would thankfully prefer not to go down that route. After all, we already know that Chris Hemsworth is somehow going to return for Star Trek 4 as Kirk’s dead father, and that’s complicated enough without throwing a resurrected doppelganger from an alternate timeline into the mix.
Still, this is Star Trek, and stranger things have happened.