JJ Abrams says Benicio Del Toro is not playing Khan in ‘Star Trek’ sequel

There are two things you should know before you read this.

First, El Mayimbe of Latino Review has a very, very high accuracy rate with the scoops he breaks.  No one is perfect, but he’s got a track record that demands that you pay attention when he runs something.

Second, JJ Abrams has never directly lied to me about something.  He’s demurred when asked some questions, and he’s played coy about some things, but outright fabrication does not appear to be his bag.

So… take those two things into account when I tell you that Latino Review is reporting that Benicio Del Toro will be playing Khan Noonien Singh in the upcoming sequel to 2009’s successful reboot of “Star Trek.”

And when asked to comment on the report, Abrams responded with two very direct words:  “Not true.”

There’s been this overwhelming belief in the film nerd world since the first film came out that any sequel to the Abrams “Trek” would have to introduce Khan, and that he would have to be the bad guy.  I’m not sure how Khan became the default Joker to Kirk’s Batman, and I’m not sure I buy that we need to see that story told again.  You’d have to somehow deal with all the “Space Seed” stuff that didn’t happen in this timeline, and without that, there’s no reason for Khan to be seeking personal revenge on Kirk.

More importantly, it seems like such a simple choice that I have to believe the guys making this film have something more interesting in store.  Now, that’s not to say that it’s impossible they’d use Khan, but why just tell the same story with him?  What clearer way could there be to show that this is a new timeline than to find the Botany Bay, thaw out Khan and his soldiers, and have them end up becoming allies to the Federation?  You could make a powerful film about the assumptions we have about people that would really play with an audience’s expectations if you wanted to, and it would make it very clear that just because a familiar name or face shows up in this continuity, there’s no guarantee that you know what’s going to happen.

Then again, Abrams didn’t play coy or dance around it.  He just plain said, “Not true.”  So that seems pretty firm as a denial.

We’re not going to know for sure until they make some official announcements, and until then, all I can do is print both sides of this one.  I have no real feelings about this one way or another until the film starts to come into focus.  Until then, it’s all speculation.  I will say that if this turns out to be true, it seems to be further support for the theory I had at the start of the week.

Whatever the case, “Star Trek 2” is headed to theaters May 17, 2013.