From the opening moments to the final sequence it oozes nods, winks and outright head-turns to Trek canon. The net result of this is that neophytes to the franchise may well find themselves sat next to a giggling geek in a cinema, wondering what’s so funny.
Fortunately we’re here to help, with our Star Trek Into Darkness primer.
At this point it’s worth giving a warning of possible minor spoilers. There are no plot details below, but if you do know the difference between a plasma conduit and a photon torpedo, you may want to delay reading this article until after you’ve seen the movie so that you get to enjoy the jokes for yourself.
- An alien race of reptilian humanoids that look a little like a clumsy child’s rendering of a dinosaur. In the original series, Kirk had a fight with one.
- Small, furry aliens that reproduce like rabbits on Viagra. Sufficiently cute to inspire noises of adoration from even non-Trekkies; expect the ‘LOL-Tribblz’ meme to kick off in the next few weeks.
- Trek’s most well-known baddies. A society of fierce warriors who value honour above everything else, they are often cosplayed by people who have the same regard for pizza. They also consider Tribbles to be mortal enemies of their Empire, and tend to use bizarrely shaped swords called “Bat’leths” to fight enemies wielding guns.
- In the second Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan, we were introduced to Dr Marcus: a molecular biologist trying to make lifeless planets habitable. Also, the mother of Kirk’s son, David. Of course, that’s set in the year 2285, and Star Trek Into Darkness is set in 2259, so none of that has happened yet.
- Another one of Kirk’s conquests. Mentioned in passing in Star Trek Into Darkness; creepily enough as Carol Marcus’ mother.
- Doctor McCoy’s chief nurse. Initially joined the Enterprise crew to facilitate her search for her fiancé, who was lost in deep space. This didn’t end well as he turned out to have been replaced by a robot. She also had an unrequited romantic interest in Spock that was, to be frank, a little bit stalker-ish
- In one scene in Star Trek Into Darkness we see an array of model spacecraft on a desk. Amongst them is The Phoenix, which as any Star Trek geek will tell you, is Earth’s first warp capable starship. It first appeared in Star Trek: First Contact which, incidentally, is one of the finest sci-fi zombie movies ever made.
THE PRIME DIRECTIVE
- The oft’ referred to ‘Prime Directive’ served as a handy plot device for Star Trek writers that needed to add conflict to inherently un-dramatic situations. A doctrine of non-interference with alien societies, it essentially meant starship captains couldn’t storm in with all guns blazing when discussions with less advanced societies weren’t going their way.
- In The Original Series Kirk and the other regular crew members often beamed down to alien planets with a support team consisting of extras who could serve as cannon fodder. That way we could see the danger these places posed, without series regulars being killed off. Most of the cannon fodder were ship’s security, whose uniform was a red shirt. Consequently the idea that red shirts posed a risk to those wearing them has entered Star Trek pop culture, as demonstrated in this video:
- One for the real Trek fans here. First introduced in Deep Space 9, Section 31 are the Federation’s equivalent of the CIA. Except more secretive, and much less pleasant. They do the dirty work that allows everyone else to stay safe and maintain a veneer of respectability.
“THE NEEDS OF THE MANY OUTWEIGH THE NEEDS OF THE FEW”
- Non-Trekkies might associate the Vulcan greeting “Live long and prosper” with Mr Spock, but true fans of Kirk’s best buddy know that this idiom optimises the Vulcan’s selfless, noble nature. First spoken at the end of The Wrath of Khan, it’s subsequently cropped up in several episodes of the Star Trek spin-off series, as well as depressingly, Lenoard Nimoy’s character in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
“THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND “
- This concept, crops up over and over again in Star Trek series, as does the specific line of dialogue. So much so that it’s become rather tiresome. It’s not just Star Trek, either. Nearly every sci-fi screenwriter has fallen back on this tired cliché when they couldn’t be bothered to come up with a more witty line. Fortunately, Star Trek Into Darkness may have finally put it to bed.
KELVIN MEMORIAL ARCHIVE
- Named after the USS Kelvin (NCC-0514), the ship that first encountered Nero in 2009’s Star Trek movie. Destroyed when George Kirk made a kamikaze run that provided cover for its crew to escape in what was probably the best ten minute sequence to have ever featured in a Star Trek movie. Also Kelvin is the name of JJ Abrams’ grandfather, and a reference to the name can be found in many of his films.
- Pronounced ‘Kronos’, Qo’nos is the homeworld of the Klingon Empire.
- A province of the planet Qo’nos. If you want to win real geek points, you’ll want to know that the impoverished lowlands region of the Ketha province were the birthplace of General, later Chancellor, Martok, who turned out to be the most interesting Klingons in Star Trek cannon (or maybe it was just that he usually shared scenes with the ever-tedious Worf).
- One of the two moons of Qo’nos, in the original Star Trek timeline, Praxis was destroyed in 2293 which the keen-eyed will have noticed is 34 years after the events of Star Trek Into Darkness. Apparently the people who rendered the planet in the movie didn’t.
There may be more references and easter eggs hidden in the film, let us know if you find any. Check out our review of Star Trek Into Darkness right here.