‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ gets an oddly familiar teaser poster

12.03.12 5 years ago 15 Comments

Boy, the Internet is gonna break today.

As if there weren’t already a thousand breathless rants revving up on message boards everywhere about the “Justice League” rumor that broke a few hours ago, there’s also a new “Star Trek Into Darkness” poster that reveals…

… well, I’m still not sure what it reveals.

The people who point out that the poster seems to mimic some of the imagery and layout of the posters for “The Dark Knight” are correct, and that’s really no surprise.  Marketing tends to have one truly new idea in film marketing every few years and then ten thousand echoes of that one new idea.  Marketing is all about successfully selling something, so if there’s a campaign that pushes a film to a billion-dollar worldwide gross, of course the marketing people are going to cannibalize that campaign for years afterwards, as often as they can until it doesn’t work anymore.

The use of the Starfleet Delta emblem suggested by the shape of the destruction is a strong visual element… and definitely calls back those “Dark Knight” posters, which must be frustrating in a way.  After all, if it works, and if that destruction plays a key, iconic part in the story that JJ Abrams and crew are telling in the new “Star Trek,” then that’s a good idea for the poster.  But the comparison is going to dog them no matter what, and in the hour and a half since the poster arrived online, that’s all I’ve seen.

Well, to be fair, it’s not all I’ve seen.  I’ve also seen further conversation about the identity of the villain, and at this point, I’m perfectly happy waiting a week to figure out who it is.  I’m guessing the nine minute presentation and the event I’m attending next week will both conclusively answer that question for us.  Right now, though, I’m pretty sure that’s the bad guy standing there in the middle of the rubble.  Benedict Cumberbatch (credited in the closing titles of “The Hobbit” but pretty much 100% absent from the film itself) is playing the bad guy here, and the set photos we’ve seen of him are in that outfit.  What I don’t get is why he’s in London.  San Francisco was seen to be the main hub for Starfleet on Earth, right? And when I say I’m pretty sure it’s Cumberbatch, I also freely acknowledge it might not be.  He sure is broad based on the way Cumberbatch is built.  Could that be Pine?  Or could it be Greenwood?  Maybe Pike plays a different role here than he ever played in another timeline.

Here, check out the synopsis for the film again:

In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness.
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.
With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

The phrase “detonated the fleet” stands out there, and certainly the poster evokes images of destruction.  But… in London.  I’m sure it’s explained in the film.  It’s just one more question the poster raises instead of answering, and that’s fine.  This is a teaser, after all.  And “from within their own organization” is interesting as a clue about the villain.  Devin Faraci still seems sure it’s Khan.  Was Khan Starfleet?  Does it even matter, since anything it up for grabs in terms of making this match any “Trek” that has come before?

I guess more than my question about London, I am baffled about why it’s Earthbound at all.  One of the greatest things about “Star Trek” is the notion of exploration.  Once you get the band back together at the end of 2009’s “Star Trek,” the joy and excitement comes from charting a course out there, away from what we already know and into the future we know nothing about yet.  By resetting everything via the time travel storyline, Abrams gave himself a big universe-sized blank slate to tell stories on, and I’m a little surprised to see Earth on the poster instead of stars and space and the unknown.

Now, I’m confused by the fact that in the synopsis, our world is in crisis and then Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world.  Is that our world that Kirk is returning to, or does it start on our planet and go to another world, and that is also in a war zone?  Or is our planet only in crisis and not quite all the way to war yet?

I am kidding, more than anything, about the way we microanalyze each piece of marketing these days.  It’s one of the reasons you see campaigns that mirror other campaigns, and it’s one of the reasons they work.  Most people will not have a complicated relationship with this image.  They’ll see it in a movie theater at some point and either say, “Oh, wow, that’s a ‘Star Trek’ movie!” or “Oh, ‘Star Trek’? Yeah, that’s not for me.”  Fans are going to tie themselves in figurative knots for months now trying to parse every single bit of meaning out of this, reading the tea leaves that will basically always say, “THEY ARE GOING TO RUIN THIS THING THAT YOU LOVE BECAUSE THEY ARE FOOLS! THEY ARE ALL FOOLS!” For most normal audience members and ticket buyers, this is something they’ll see once or twice that will remind them that it exists.

And in a year, it’ll be a DVD that sits on your shelf that you occasionally think about.  No matter what.

And it is gonna get people talking, so I’d say that’s one point for “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

“Star Trek Into Darkness,” which I’ll probably type 10,000 times this year, will be in theaters May 17, 2013.

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