For 35 years, we've had to put up with friends' impersonations of Shatner's "Khaaaaan!" above.
But the legacy of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is more than that; it's been the best Star Trek movie ever for more than three decades due to its thematically rich and character-driven plot and director (and un-credited writer) Nicholas Meyer's choice to ground "Khan's" 23rd century everything in real, relatable, emotional stakes. Oh, and the starships going "pew pew!" kicks ass, too.
As the movie that killed Spock celebrates its 35th birthday, here are a few behind-the-secrets you probably never knew. (Thanks to BirthMoviesDeath for a few of these facts!)
1. Fans have covered every inch of this movie, but they may not know that the film's original/"official" title is actually "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan."
2. Several versions of the film went through script development, before Meyer pinched the best parts of each into a new draft in 12 days. The aborted storylines included Jack Sowards' "The Omega System," where Spock died abut 45 pages into the film. Another treatment, from the late producer Harve Bennett, centered on Vice Admiral Kirk -- bound to a desk on Earth -- learning of a rebellion on a far-off planet, one seemingly sparked by the Admiral's estranged son, David. Kirk and crew would venture to this planet and discover, about halfway through the movie, that Khan was pulling David and the rebellion's strings. (Along the way, Kirk would discover an adrift spaceship, aboard which was the woman he loved.)
3. Yup, that's a space baby on Khan's stolen starship, the Reliant. How'd it get there? In a deleted scene -- of which no known footage currently exists -- we would have first met Khan's baby in the cargo container home to Khan's followers on Ceti Alpha V. Chekov, with Captain Terrell, would have encountered the small boy as he looked out the window of the container. Then, the boy's second and final appearance would occur in Reliant's transporter room as he is drawn to the flashing lights of the Genesis torpedo building up to detonation.
4. Another deleted scene featured Dr. McCoy operating on Chekov in Enterprise's sickbay, after a Ceti Eel crawled out of Chekov's ear. 5. Aaaand two more deleted scenes -- one revealing that Kristie Alley's character, Lt. Saavik, is half-Romulan. The other involves Kirk introducing Saavik to his son, David. Watch them above.
6. Saavik's half-Romulan heritage is never revealed in-canon via the films; it's always been something fans have understood in large part due to expanded universe novels.
7. Ever wonder why Scotty is crying over the death of mid-shipman Preston? That's because Preston is Scotty's nephew. Deleted footage -- incorporated into the Director's Cut -- would have revealed that info, as well as fleshed out the officer's screentime in a way to better justify Scotty's tears over Preston's deathbed.
8. There are three versions of the movie: The Director's (expanded) cut, which is finally on Blu, the theatrical cut, and the ABC TV version. The latter is filled with mostly alternative takes, most notably in the scene between Saavik and Kirk on the turbolift. Unlike the theatrical cut's use of a wide shot for this sequence, the TV cut plays out in mostly tight close-ups. And Alley's line deliveries are more seductive. 9. Khan's right-hand man, Joachim (Judson Scott, right), was supposed to be named Joaquin, a character that appeared in the original series episode "Space Seed," which introduced Khan. Due to a production issue -- and possibly the fact that the studio would have had to pay royalties to the original episode's writer for using his character in the feature film -- the character's name was changed.
10. Judson Scott's name does not appear credited in the film, however. His agent messed that up by trying (and failing) to negotiate a bigger credit for his client from Paramount.
11. Producer Robert Sallin, at a recent LA screening of the film, revealed that he was responsible for executing the final shot of Spock's photon torpedo coffin on the Genesis Planet's surface.
12. Director Meyer was against the reshoot, as he was not a fan of hinting to the Vulcan's resurrection, but Salin went up to a park in San Francisco with a limited budget in the low six-figures and, using his commercial production background, directed the final shot.
13. Shatner originally rejected Meyer's rewrite; Meyer realized that the actor's main concern was that Kirk was "not the first through the door." That he wasn't at the level of big-screen hero that the actor wanted to play. So Meyer made some tweaks, sent a new draft to Shatner, and -- soon after -- the actor called and, in a message on Meyer's answering machine, gushes about the script. He went so far to call Meyer a "genius," according to the filmmaker, who -- to this day -- claims to still have that tape.
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