The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have revealed details of their canceled Star Trek 4 script, which would have been like “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in space.”
Following the finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Payne and McKay sat down with Esquire to discuss the Prime Video show, but they also shared a few exciting details on what could have been if their Star Trek project had actually seen the light of day.
It had been previously reported that Star Trek 4 was going to somehow bring together Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk and his father George Kirk, played by Chris Hemsworth, but Payne and McKay gave us a much clear picture of the story that never was.
“The conceit was that through a cosmic quirk in the Star Trek world, [Pine and Hemsworth’s characters] were the same age,” McKay said. “It was going to be a grand father-son space adventure—think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in space. We were really thrilled about it. We had an original villain and a really cool 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque sci-fi idea at the core.”
While this concept would have potentially been great to see on the big screen, its cancellation may just have led to McKay and Payne finding their way to the Rings of Power.
“We worked on it for two and half years with Lindsey Weber, our non-writing executive producer on Rings of Power, and an amazing director, SJ Clarkson,” McKay continued. “The movie eventually fell apart and it really was a heartbreak for us. It’s part of what led us here, because it got us thinking, ‘Gosh, with a big IP title, big movie stars, and a story that we all felt had the chance to be terrific, it couldn’t come together.’ We felt the winds were shifting against big movies, which is part of what made us start taking TV seriously. That led us to Rings of Power. But we would have loved to make that movie.”
The pair didn’t stop there, however, as Payne then gave more details on how exactly this film would have played out.
“There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called ‘Relics’ where they find Scotty, who’s been trapped in a transporter for a couple of decades, and they’re able to have cool adventures with him,” Payne said. “Our conscience was, ‘What if right before the Kelvin impacted with that huge mining ship, George Kirk had tried to beam himself over to his wife’s shuttle where his son, Jim Kirk, had just been born? And what if the ship hadn’t’ t completely exploded—what if it left some space junk?’
“Think about when you send a text message and you’ve typed it out, but you haven’t quite hit send. On the other hand, they see those three little dots that someone has typed. It’s like the transporter had absorbed his pattern up into the pattern buffer, but hadn’t spit him out on the other side. It was actually a saved copy of him that was in the computer.”
In closing, McKay shared how Pine’s James T. Kirk and his crew would have found his father’s pattern.
“So the adventure is that Chris Pine and the crew of the Enterprise have to seek out the wreckage of the ship that his father died on because of a mystery and a new villain,” McKay said. “In the ship, they stumble across his father’s pattern. They beam him out and he has no idea that no time has passed at all, and that he’s looking at his son. Then the adventure goes from there.”
Star Trek 4 was officially announced in 2017, and it’s had a bit of a bumpy ride since then. It was reportedly canceled in 2019, but it was given new life when it was announced that WandaVision director Matt Shakman would be directing this next installment. Unfortunately, Shakman recently dropped the project to focus on directing Marvel’s Fantastic Four.
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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.