Star Trek 4 was at one point going to feature Chris Hemsworth returning to the franchise.
Once upon a time, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine, stars of Marvel and DC franchises respectively, both sat on the Captain’s Chair of the Starfleet starship. Hemsworth played George Kirk, James Kirk’s doomed father who captained the USS Kelvin in its final minutes. His sacrifice allowed his wife and son to survive the arrival of Nero and the Romulans from the future.
Star Trek 4 was going to bring George Kirk back, to capitalize on Hemsworth’s popularity thanks to his turn as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Hemsworth has been a major leading man for a decade now, his turn as George Kirk was a bit part that did little to move his popularity much.
Star Trek gave him his push, and the idea was that Hemsworth could give Trek a similar push this time around. That may never be, as Star Trek 4 has been shelved for the foreseeable future.
How were they going to bring back George Kirk for Star Trek 4?
Star Trek 4’s Patrick McKay, who is now the lead writer on Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power, spoke to Esquire (via TrekMovie) and they revealed that Kirk would be brought back in a similar method to Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Relics”.
"Patrick McKay: The conceit was that through a cosmic quirk in the Star Trek world, [Pine and Hemsworth’s characters] were the same age. 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. 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, S.J. Clarkson. 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. I want to spoil a piece of it that’s exciting—how they end up together. Can we do that, JD?J.D. Payne: Sure, why not? There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Relics” where they find Scotty, who’s been trapped a transporter for a couple of decades, and they’re able to have cool adventure with him. Our conceit 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 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 side, 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.Patrick McKay: 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. 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."
It’s not a loose re-telling of TNG’s “Relics”, it is “Relics” entire story arc. Talk about lazy and sloppy storytelling. It’s understandable to want to capitalize on Hemsworth’s new star power but there have got to be other ways. Alternate realities, the Mirror Universe, a different timeline, anything besides the same old “stuck in the transporter” trope.
For a Star Trek episode with a limited budget, sure, something that cliche makes sense, but for a movie with a $100 million payroll? Are we just phoning it in? If this was the pitch that won, no wonder Paramounts shut it down.