Wrath of Khan is one of the best Star Trek films of all time.
If you’re a fan of Star Trek, you have probably heard of and seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It’s one of the few movies in the Trek canon to be a sequel of any kind to a television episode; following the story set forth in the original series episode “Space Seed”. That episode introduced Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh, the villainous warlord from Earth, who was a part of a group of people who had their bodies and minds augmented in order to reach perfection.
While Montalban was popular at the time of the series, his return in Wrath of Khan wasn’t some Marvel Cinematic Universe-sized return. He had only had one episode to his name prior and while a good one, it wasn’t like there were legions of fans clamoring for more. Instead, it was Wrath of Khan that made Montalban’s character the icon that he now is.
Besieged by a troupe of good-looking stunt performers, his rag-tag group of augments looked to destroy James Kirk and all that he loved. The buff nature of his group, and in turn their leader Montalban/Khan, lead many to believe that not all was what it appeared.
That uncertainty led many to believe that Montalban couldn’t have been in that good of shape, as the actor would’ve been around 61-62 years old depending on the filming schedule. So when Khan strolled out with his chest bare, many thought for sure that he was in fact wearing some sort of prosthetic chest piece, to better fit in with the younger, buffer members of his crew.
This Ricardo Montalban rumor from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is false
Some Star Trek fans may know this by now but others may not, but the rumor of Montalban wearing a chest piece during Wrath of Khan is just that; a rumor. At no point did Montalban wear anything to help accentuate his physique.
This was revealed in the Wrath of Khan’s DVD release, where director Nicholas Meyer put those rumors to bed. He stated that Montaban worked out very rigorously and kept to a regimen to maintain his physique.
He would even acknowledge that despite his age, Montalban was incredibly strong. So it made sense that so many actors that worked with him as members of his augmented crew looked the way they did. They had to live up to the standards of their leader.