11:41am PT by Aaron Couch
'Star Trek': How Is Chris Hemsworth's Character Coming Back from the Dead?
Chris Hemsworth's George Kirk is returning from the dead in an upcoming Star Trek film — but how?
Paramount announced Monday that Hemsworth's character — the father of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), who died in the early minutes of J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek — will be returning for an untitled sequel to Star Trek Beyond.
George Kirk's death has loomed large over the series, with it defining how Pine's Kirk differs from William Shatner's (other than that classic Shatner voice inflection, of course). As Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) tells Kirk in the 2009 film, Shatner's Kirk was close to his father. Pine's Kirk, on the other hand, grew up very differently from Shatner's, and when we meet him in the 2009 film, he's a man with no direction and who only joins Starfleet on a dare.
Star Trek Beyond further explores Kirk's complicated relationship with his father's legacy, as he attempts to discover what it means to be his own man.
Hemsworth's return to Star Trek makes sense for the star, who is well-liked by the fan community but has had trouble opening films that don't feature a certain Norse god. From a story perspective, one could argue Hemsworth's return diminishes the impact of the loss of Kirk's father, which came in what many consider to be the greatest opening scene of a Star Trek movie ever. And that's a fair argument.
But George's return is very much in line with Star Trek lore, where death is often not quite the final frontier. The Next Generation cast managed to meet Scotty (James Doohan) long after he was presumed dead, and Picard (Patrick Stewart) starred in an entire film with Shatner's Kirk. Remember Tasha Yar's (Denise Crosby) daughter … who was the same age as Tasha and looked exactly like her (give or take some pointy Romulan ears)?
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) forced Kirk to confront being a father; the new film will force Kirk to explore what it means to be a son to the man whose shadow has been cast over his whole life.
So how could George Kirk, who was famously a captain for just 12 minutes, work his way into the new movie?
Time travel: This would seem to be a likely option — though the Kelvin Universe has established that time travel creates alternate universes, making this option a potentially messy one. But if time travel is on the table, could this also be a way to finally give Shatner the cameo he's always wanted?
Suspended animation: Scotty survived for decades suspended in a transporter cycle, Khan (Ricardo Montalban) survived centuries in suspended animation, and Shatner's Kirk entered the Nexus, keeping him the same age until Picard could come find him in Star Trek: Generations (1994). Given that it's unlikely Hemsworth is going to play a 60-something George Kirk, this seems like a strong contender.
Artificial intelligence: How weird (and sort of depressing) would it be if George Kirk's consciousness had been saved and placed into an android or hologram of some sort? Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) got a final goodbye from his father via a holodeck message from Jack Crusher (Doug Wert) in the classic TNG episode "Family," and Data (Brent Spiner) lived on after his death (sort of) in Star Trek: Nemesis (2003) thanks to an android "sibling."
Cloning: With the memory of Picard's clone (Tom Hardy in 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis) still divisive among fans, this one isn't likely. There's always the case of Thomas Riker (Jonathan Frakes) — a William Riker clone who was created by a transporter accident, but again, if that's how George returns, he would be in his 60s now, so its unlikely.
What are your theories for how George Kirk will appear in the movie? Is it a good idea? Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet to @Heatvisionblog.