At Least One Chris (Preferably Pine)
So, we have to address the elephant in the room up front. Last month brought the surprising and disappointing news that both Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth had dropped out of Star Trek 4 due to a payment dispute with Paramount. As things stand, that leaves the movie not just without its two most bankable stars, but also its whole point of being, as it was meant to be a father/son story about the Kirk boys.
Naturally, then, every Trek fan is wishing for at least one Chris to come back. Seeing as he’s busy with both Marvel and the rebooted Men in Black franchise, we’re not sure he’d find the time, but even just Hemsworth on his own as a time-displaced George Kirk who has to take over the Enterprise and his son’s crew could be a fun set-up for the movie. After all, we know from Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War that the actor can play “hero forcibly teamed up with unlikely allies” really well.
Of course, the best scenario would be for Paramount to sort out their beef with Pine and bring him back on board as James T. Kirk. Not to dismiss the strong supporting cast of the franchise, but Pine’s the figurehead of these movies and he’s managed to do the impossible by endearing himself to fans despite being a rebooted, recast version of a classic character. He’s the heart of the modern Trek films and we’re not sure what a fourth outing would be like without him.
If Not, Then Bring In A New Captain
All that said, sometimes these conflicts happen between actors and studios and they can’t be resolved. In this case, Pine has every right to step away from the franchise as Paramount are allegedly refusing to pay him the previously agreed amount. If there really is no way for Kirk to return in Star Trek 4, it may be time for a new captain of the Enterprise to come forward.
There’s only one obvious choice to take over, then: following the template of previous films rebooting the continuity of TOS, why not do the same for The Next Generation and have the Enterprise taken over by a new Jean-Luc Picard? Nostalgia for TNG is at an all-time high among the fandom at the moment thanks to Patrick Stewart reprising the part for a new CBS All-Access TV show, so it’s not like audiences would be left too confused by the change.
Much like 2009’s Star Trek did with Kirk, this hypothetical Picard-headed Star Trek 4 could introduce a Kelvin timeline version who’s very different from the character we know and love from the original canon. This younger Picard would effectively be captain before his time, so it would be interesting to explore him out of his depth and insecure in the role.
As for who could play him, there’s either James McAvoy – famous for portraying a young Stewart in the X-Men movies – or maybe even Tom Hardy – Picard’s young clone in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis.