With Star Wars: The Force Awakens receiving rave reviews from critics, you may be wondering why J.J. Abrams won’t be returning to helm Episode VII. There are actually a number of reasons, though one of them is no doubt the backlash the filmmaker received the last time he attempted a sequel with the divisive Star Trek Into Darkness.
Many Star Trek fans were disappointed with the 2013 follow-up, and Abrams said in a recent interview that that’s something he “takes full responsibility” for. Acknowledging that they began shooting without the story fully locked in, the director mentioned that he believes one of its biggest issues was that Star Trek Into Darkness was lacking a “fundamental argument” and “central question.” However, he doesn’t blame the movie’s writers.
“It was a little bit lightweight, ultimately, that Kirk was disappointed that Spock didn’t feel that their friendship was as meaningful to him as it did to Kirk, which is sort of what we’re saying. And that Spock’s arc is coming to unabashedly love his friend Kirk. I would never say that I don’t think that the movie ended up working. But I feel like it didn’t work as well as it could have had I made some better decisions before we started shooting.”
One of his most controversial decisions was, of course, the decision to not reveal that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan despite fans figuring it out long before Star Trek Into Darkness was released:
“At the end of the day, while I agree with Damon Lindelof that withholding the Khan thing ended up seeming like we were lying to people, I was trying to preserve the fun for the audience, and not just tell them something that the characters don’t learn for 45 minutes into the movie, so the audience wouldn’t be so ahead of it.”
Justin Lin is directing the next Star Trek movie, but what’s next for Abrams remains to be seen. Regardless, his work on Star Wars: The Force Awakens should more than redeem him for any past mistakes he made with Star Trek.