Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan would've changed the franchise forever had William Shatner gotten his way

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was about to be wildly different if William Shatner had his idea approved.

On the set of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
On the set of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan / Sunset Boulevard/GettyImages
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What do Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier have in common? Aside from being in the same franchise, with the same core actors, not much actually. Wrath of Khan is considered to be the best, if not one of the three best Star Trek films ever made, while The Final Frontier is considered one of the worst, if not one of the three worst Star Trek films ever made.

Yet, had William Shatner gotten his way, Star Trek II would've been The Undiscovered Country, and not about the return of his mortal enemy, Khan Noonien Singh. According to Slashfilms, the concept for them to explore the universe for God was already an idea kicking around and Shatner to his own credit has admitted to hating the idea for a return to the Original Series.

He instead wanted to do something new, something different, which he'd end up getting to do with Star Trek V. But before he could make that, he first had to make Wrath of Khan. And while the film that we got for Star Trek V was bad, Slashfilms does point out a fair question; what if it wasn't?

After all, the fifth film suffered due to a lack of time, money and all while coming off a writer's strike that absolutely impacted the film's quality. So it could've been better had it been made in 1982 instead of the Wrath of Khan. It'd have a bigger budget, more execs behind it, and a brand-new original concept worth exploring.

That said, while it would've been better than the version we got, it's hard to say it would've been better than the Star Trek II that we did get. After all, the idea of a higher power was explored somewhat with Star Trek The Motion Picture, and that film didn't resonate with audiences. So it's hard to say that The Final Frontier would've done better had it been made in 1982.

Audiences wanted action and The Wrath of Khan gave them that. It was the kind of film that fans were thirsty for, which is why it's still being credited four decades later for being near the apex of Trek storytelling.

Making a story about the search for God was always going to be a hard sell, as it would likely anger fans somehow. Telling a submarine movie in space between two rivals who have legitimate reasons to hate one another? Now that's a story worth telling that will appeal to far more fans.

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