Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) More at IMDbPro »Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (original title)

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FAQ Contents


A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan can be found here.

While on a routine training mission on the Enterprise, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) receives a frantic message from an old flame, Dr Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch), currently stationed on Regula 1, blaming him for issuing an order to take away Project Genesis, a device she has developed to terraform dead planets into lush new worlds capable of supporting life. Concerned because he has issued no such order, Kirk diverts the Enterprise to Regula 1, only to find that it is a trick perpetrated by Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), a 20th century, genetically-engineered "superman" who Kirk marooned on the planet Ceti Alpha VI 15 years before. Khan wants revenge on Kirk and plans to use the Genesis device as a terrorist weapon to get what he wants.

They're almost all here, including Admiral James T Kirk, Dr Leonard 'Bones' McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Vulcan science officer (now Captain) Spock (Leonard Nimoy), chief engineer Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott (James Doohan), communications officer Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), first officer Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), and helmsman Hikaru Sulu (George Takei). Absent only are Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett) and Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney).

2285 A.D.(12 years after the first movie)

Ensign Chekov made his first appearance as a bridge officer in Star Trek: The Original Series in season two, while Space Seed was a season one episode. Even though Chekov was absent in the first season, he could have easily been stationed elsewhere on the ship in another rank and met Khan in an encounter not seen in the episode. The novelization states that Chekov was on night watch when Khan was on board and that he had a crush on Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue), who later became Khan's wife. No reference was made to Chekov serving on another ship prior to season two. Walter Koenig jokingly suggested that Chekov kept Khan waiting at a toilet once, which would explain why Khan recognized him so quickly.

According to the novelization, "lifelessness" wasn't the only requirement for a Genesis testbed. If so, the Reliant's mission wouldn't have been necessary; lifeless planets are far more numerous than life-supporting ones. However, the planet in question has to be of a certain mass, within the Goldilocks zone of a star system, orbiting the right type of star, and meet many other requirements. Basically, it has to be a planet where life *could* exist if not for some underlying factor like, say, the horrifying atmosphere of Ceti Alpha V-- but yet it doesn't exist. The so called Goldilocks zone is basically not too close to the systems sun nor too far. Our Solar system is the perfect example. It has a friendly Main sequence g class star. Mercury is outside the zone and burnt to a crisp and could not be terraformed. Venus is in the Zone but something went very wrong there, possibly the fact it rotates backwards. Mars is the most interesting of all. Probably lifeless, but it is in the Goldilocks zone. Mars was too small to hold onto to its early atmosphere and keep a core molten enough to create plate tectonics. If Mars was terraformed, it would remain terraformed for a long time but, because of its small size and mass, the atmosphere would again slowly escape into space.

The movie focuses on the Genesis project mostly for terraforming, modifying an existing planet to suit the new matrix. But when Genesis is used it creates a planet from a nebula cloud with the cloud shown disappearing and the planet appearing as if from nowhere. In the proposal video, Carol Marcus does say that terraforming is only a fraction of what Genesis can accomplish implying that it can do much more. Characters talk about creation but never to what extent it can create. The novelization explains that given sufficient mass and proper programming Genesis could create an entire system. This means that it doesn't matter where exactly the matter comes from, just that enough is there in whatever form to create a planet (an existing planet simply makes this step easier). In essence, Genesis absorbed all the mass of the spread out nebula and condensed it into a single planet. It is likely not the Regula planetoid, since the planet formed where Reliant exploded (deep within the nebula) while Regula was far beyond the edge.

Terrell was commanded to kill Kirk while the eel was in his brain, but he visibly struggled against the command, ultimately killing himself instead. Chekov merely passed out due to the pain the eel was causing, at which point the creature came out of his head via his ear. As to why the eel apparently chose to exit Chekov's body, presumably it somehow sensed the death of its sibling and left the body in an attempt to save itself before Chekov also committed suicide, only to meet its end at the hands of Kirk's phaser. Alternatively, what we witnessed may have been the natural end of the Ceti Eel infestation, which proved fatal to Khan's infected followers due to a lack of medical supplies (and possibly medical training), but which Chekov was able to survive thanks to Dr. McCoy's presence.

While Vulcans are normally good at repressing their emotions, the novelization explains that Saavik (Kirstie Alley) is half Vulcan and half Romulan and not as in control as Spock or as full-blooded Vulcans. It states that Vulcan-Romulan hybrids are not respected by either culture and that she faced a difficult life, first at a Romulan colony then on Vulcan, giving her anger issues. The book also explained that she considered Scotty's nephew, Peter Preston (Ike Eisenmann), one of her few actual friends, that she had been tutoring him, and that seeing him injured greatly affected her. It also has her throwing a chair in anger and crying as well as mourning during the funeral vigil.

Remember the phrase, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." As Spock points out during the Enterprise's initial encounter with the Reliant, the prefix code can be changed. On that occasion Khan hadn't changed it, likely because he either didn't know what it was or hadn't considered the possibility of Kirk using it to override the Reliant's systems. After that however, he would almost certainly have taken steps to find out exactly what Kirk did and changed the code. In "Space Seed" Khan was able to quickly and easily memorize a great deal of information about the Enterprise. He would have used the same skills to learn about Reliant and prevent other tricks.

Right before that line of dialog, Spock also says that Khan lacks the experience of a battle-hardened starship commander like Kirk. Therefore, when Spock mentions "two-dimensional thinking" Kirk realizes that he can drop the Enterprise below Reliant to evade a frontal or rearward attack from Khan. Khan, despite being a genius, floats past the Enterprise, leaving himself vulnerable to a rearward attack once Kirk orders the Enterprise to ascend behind Reliant. The tactic goes back to submarine warfare, where captains would try to evade each other underwater in much the same fashion.

How does the movie end?

Knowing that, without the warp drive, the Enterprise will not be able to escape from the Genesis wave unleashed by Khan in a last-ditch effort to destroy Kirk, Spock attempts to enter the warp drive chamber to repair the core. McCoy attempts to stop him, but Spock nerve-pinches McCoy then mindmelds with him, saying only 'Remember.' He then enters the chamber and repairs the core, at the same time contaminating himself with a lethal dose of radiation. On the bridge, Kirk is elated that the warp drive is back online and orders that the ship quickly get out of there. The Genesis wave detonates, destroying the Reliant and causing the Mutara Nebula to condense around the explosion and form a new planet. When Kirk contacts engineering to congratulate Scotty for getting the warp drive back online, McCoy suggests that he get down there immediately. Spock, still inside the warp chamber, is dying. He has time only to say that he did what he did because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one and that he has been and always will be Kirk's friend. Spock's body is laid to rest in a photon tube, given a ritual send-off, and jettisoned down to the newly-created Genesis planet. Later, as Kirk sits in his quarters trying to read, David Marcus (Merritt Butrick) enters, apologizes for his previous actions, and says that he's proud to be Kirk's son. Kirk is touched, and they embrace each other. On the bridge, Carol and the bridge officers admire the Genesis planet. The Enterprise sets a course for Earth, planning to stop along the way to pick up the crew of the Reliant left on Ceti Alpha V. After some panning shots of the planet and Spock's coffin, Spock recites in an voiceover the Star Trek mission statement '...to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new lifeforms and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before.'

Yes. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a novelization of the movie by American science fiction writer Vonda N. McIntyre, was released in 1982.

So far, there are 12. Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn was preceded by Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and followed by Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), all of which featured the Enterprise captained by James T Kirk. Star Trek: Generations (1994) united Kirk's crew with the crew of the Enterprise captained by Jean-Luc Picard. The Star Trek movies featuring Picard as captain include: Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) harken to an alternate reality in which Kirk was just beginning his career with Starfleet Academy.

According to writer/director Nicholas Meyer, no. He kept himself in remarkable shape for his age, and so his costume was designed to show that off. Whether Meyer was joking or not has never been clear. At the same time, however, no-one involved with the production has come forward to claim that Montalban DID wear any form of prosthesis.

The Director's Edition is the Director's Cut of the movie but cut differently than the ABC-TV version. The Director's Edition contains numerous additional scenes as well as extended and alternative shots deepening the character's relationships. Violence was not extended. A detailed comparison between both versions can be found here.

Actress Bibi Besch decided not to return to the franchise, which is why in subsequent films Kirk is the one narrating the Genesis video. However, the novelizations of the films continue her story. In The Search for Spock, after a wake held for those who died Kirk attempts to reconnect with Carol. She gets upset since one of the scientists killed was her lover, and did not like that Starfleet was silencing information on Genesis. She leaves when the ship returns to Earth. In The Voyage Home, she was visiting Delta IV to inform family about their dead loved ones when she finds out about David before the Whale Probe attacks Earth. In The Undiscovered Country, Kirk and Carol did reconnect shortly following the events of The Final Frontier. They stayed in contact over the ten years between films and he intended to stay with her after he retired. Unfortunately she was in a facility that was attacked by Chang's experimental Bird of Prey. Kirk visited her before he was called away for the peace talks. She eventually wakes when he is captured. In Generations in an epilogue to The Undiscovered Country, Kirk contacts Carol following the mission before leaving the Enterprise-A for good learning she is okay. He tells her he wants to marry her, but they both recognize that she would be too involved in her work and he would get restless. During the christening of Enterprise-B, Kirk comments that he met with Carol a few times since retiring but they had drifted apart. The character would not reappear until Star Trek Into Darkness, set in an alternate timeline chronologically set earlier, played by Alice Eve.

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