Benicio Del Toro is out, but reports still have Khan in ‘Star Trek 2’

Ahhh, the fine art of rumormongering.

Over the weekend, we got involved in a bit of a friendly back and forth with Latino Review over “Star Trek 2,” or whatever the film’s finally going to be called.  They published the news that Benicio Del Toro was playing Khan Noonien Singh in the new sequel that is set to start shooting just after the start of the year, and we contacted JJ Abrams directly to ask him to comment.  “Not true,” he said.

Now it seems that Del Toro dropped out of negotiations to star in the film last Wednesday, and according to Vulture, Abrams is now looking to cast someone else as Khan.  They claim they have a very highly-placed source and that, like Latino Review, they’re hearing Khan is indeed the bad guy.

Technically, if negotiations broke down on Wednesday, then when I asked Abrams if Del Toro was playing the part on Friday, his “not true” is accurate no matter what the part is.  After all, he didn’t send a giant response detailing who is or isn’t the bad guy he’s using in the film, so he could very well have been playing by the rules, answering the question he was asked while volunteering nothing else.

At this point, I’m just curious to see how this one’s going to come together.  Maybe if they’re using Khan after all, Abrams can reach out to “Lost” alumni Naveen Andrews and actually cast an Indian actor in this Indian role instead of playing so closely to the idea of Ricardo Montalban.  I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around what story they’d be telling if this is a Khan film, since at this point in the timeline, Kirk hasn’t even met Carol Marcus, and he certainly hasn’t had a son, and you can’t just jump over all of that and crank up a conflict that has no set-up.   If they do any Khan related storyline, it would have to be a riff off of “Space Seed,” not the feature film “Wrath Of Khan.”

As we reported earlier today, it appears that Peter Weller is also joining the cast, and I would expect they’ll have to move quickly to find someone to step into whatever role Del Toro was set to play.

“Star Trek 2” beams into theaters in IMAX and 3D on May 17, 2013.