Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman explained that the dilemma for the sequel was whether to pit the crew against another villain like in Star Trek (2009), or to have an "exploration science fiction plot, where the unknown and nature itself is somehow an adversary", like on Star Trek (1966).
One of the conditions for Leonard Nimoy to make an appearance as Spock in this film was for J.J. Abrams to make sure coffee ice cream was available at all times on the set. Leonard Nimoy loved coffee ice cream.
An "in joke" reference is made to Simon Pegg when he is trying to open the bay doors during Kirk and Khan's boarding attempt. The security guard asks Scotty to "show his other hand". It is common knowledge to Star Trek fans that James Doohan never intentionally revealed both hands in any of the original series because of the loss of one of his fingers (lost in combat during the D-Day invasion while storming the beach). Mr. Doohan's war wound is visible in several episodes: among them, "The Trouble with Tribbles", in which the scene required Scotty to carry the Tribbles with both arms.
There is an inside joke with Chekov being asked to put on a red shirt by Kirk, and Chekov's less than enthusiastic reaction. In a famous interview, Walter Koenig stated that being a part of Star Trek all of these years was fantastic, as long as you didn't wear a red shirt, since most of those who wore the red shirts in the Original Series were almost always killed. This had led to the infamous theory of the "Red Shirt Curse", which was debunked somewhat, when a thorough investigation showed that only ten percent of red shirt crew members, seen in the Original Series, died (although they still comprised about seventy-three percent of all on-screen deaths).
Scotty refers to McCoy as "Bones". This is the only instance in the history of Star Trek (1966) where someone, other than Kirk, refers to him by this nickname. In Star Trek: The Tholian Web (1968), when McCoy gets angry, Spock tells him that Kirk would have said "Forget it, Bones."
Paramount Pictures requested that J.J. Abrams make the film in 3-D. However, Abrams wanted to shoot it two-dimensionally on film, using IMAX cameras. The two compromised, making this the first feature film to be shot in IMAX, and converted to 3-D in post-production.
The warp core pictured in the film is actually Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's largest and most energetic laser system. Real-life scientists are attempting to create nuclear fusion. In 2012, with the approval of the Department of Energy, NIF was utilized for the first time as a film set during a normal maintenance cycle for the facility. All additive costs were completely reimbursed by the film company so as to have no impact on NIF's experimental plan.
According to J.J. Abrams, the time travel-alternate reality concept used in the previous film, was a deliberate ploy to enable a clean slate for new films: "The idea, now that we are in an independent timeline, allows us to use any of the ingredients from the past, or come up with brand-new ones, to make potential stories."
Chekov's temporary posting to Chief Engineer in this film is based on a long running backstory and fan joke. When he was recognized by Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), this was long considered to be a goof, since the two were never seen meeting on-screen in Star Trek: Space Seed (1967) (as Walter Koenig had not yet joined the cast). Fans conceived of an explanation to this inconsistency by speculating that Chekov was assigned in the security department during the Space Seed incident, and attempted to seal off engineering to stop Khan from taking over the ship. Kirk was so impressed by his bravery, that he subsequently moved Chekov to bridge navigation. This also explained why Chekov was a weapons and tactical officer on the bridge in the first three films.
After the attack on the Kelvin Memorial Archive, all top brass is summoned to the Daystrom Conference Room at Starfleet Headquarters. The conference room name is in reference to Richard Daystrom who invented the duotronic processor, the basis for the Enterprise's computer.
During the opening sequence, McCoy says "Shut up, Spock, we're trying to save you, damn it!". McCoy spoke a very similar line in the original series episode Star Trek: The Immunity Syndrome (1968), when he states, "Shut up, Spock! We're rescuing you!".
In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Uhura (to Nichelle Nichols' objections) was unfamiliar with Klingonese during their covert mission into Klingon territory. However, the alternate reality-Uhura is fluent in the language, and able to use the skill while in Klingon space.
In the scene where Bones and Carol are about to open one of the seventy-two missiles to prove Khan's claim that there's more then just a missile inside, Bones mentions that he once performed a emergency C-Section on a pregnant Gorn, noting "those little bastards bite!" This is reference to an off-screen event in the video game tie-in Star Trek (2013), where Sulu stuns a pregnant Gorn, and Bones performs said C-Section.
When Kirk is in sick bay, the screen displaying information on Kirk's vital conditions includes a notation for "Dr. Boyce". Dr. Boyce was the name of the ship's doctor in the original series pilot Star Trek: The Cage (1986).
At the end of the sequence where Kirk and Khan make the jump to the Vengeance, and Scotty is being detained by a guard, notice just before Scotty hits the airlock button, he is seen taking and holding a large breath, which is exactly the wrong thing to do when experiencing the vacuum of space. Scotty should have exhaled and kept his mouth open, so that there would be no differential pressure in his lungs, and therefore, he could survive with little injury.
During the scene when Kirk wakes up in bed with two cat-like alien girls, the tails on them are not computer graphics. They are actually remote controlled animatronic tails attached to the costumes. Chris Pine stated that the tails creeped him out, as they reminded him of spider legs, and he hates spiders.
Chekov spends much of the film in engineering rather than the bridge, so that he does not interact with Khan. This is in keeping with Star Trek: Space Seed (1967), which aired before Chekov was added to the main cast. Ironically, Chekov is the only Enterprise crew member Khan interacted with directly in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) (every other contact was through a view-screen). Khan's face-to-face interaction with the rest of the crew on board the Enterprise is a first since "Space Seed".
In the opening sequence on Nibiru, as Kirk and Bones are running, the ground looks artificially hexagonal, almost as though the ground were paved with hexagonal slabs. However, this pattern can happen in nature, as it has in the "Giants Causeway" in Northern Ireland.
When calling down to the shuttle bay, Sulu commands the crew to prepare the transport captured during the "Mudd incident last month", a reference to the same character who appeared in Star Trek: Mudd's Women (1966) and Star Trek: I, Mudd (1967) as a rogue trader. He also appeared in the comic prequel "Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness".
During Spock's fight with Khan, a six-note musical cue can be heard which is strongly reminiscent of the score from an episode of the original series, "Amok Time", during a scene where Kirk and Spock are fighting to the death. This can be heard on the score in the track called "The San Fran Hustle" at approximately 1:58.
In the first draft of Star Trek: Space Seed (1967), the villain's name was Harold Ericsson. In reference to this, in the screenplay for this film, Khan's false identity was originally John Ericsson. This was changed to Harrison in post-production, as it sounds similar enough to Ericsson that this could easily match the actors' lip movements.
When Kirk, Spock, and Uhura meet with the two security guards at Mudd's spaceship (on the Enterprise), Kirk addresses the security guard on the left as Hendorff. In the original series episode Star Trek: The Apple (1967), the first security officer to die was also Ensign Hendorff.
The San Francisco memorial monument in the film's ending is strongly inspired by the U.S.S. Arizona memorial in Hawaii, the most significant change being the building is a dark color, instead of white.
Michael Dorn, who had played the Klingon Starfleet Lieutenant Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993), was contacted for a role during the start of filming, and was asked to play an officer. Eventually, the filmmakers decided that "they didn't want to mix the old with the new", and cut him out. The exception was the inclusion of Section 31 (referenced throughout Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) and Star Trek: Enterprise (2001)) as part of the film's plot, which Admiral Marcus is a leading member.
Only the second time in the history of the franchise, where Scotty calls Kirk by "Jim" (during the loading of the seventy-two torpedoes on board the Enterprise). The other being the original series episode Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror (1967), when James Doohan offers to stay behind and operate the transporter.
Contains three references to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). Uhura uses her fluency in Klingon, quite contrary to her fumbling through a dictionary in the previous film. During Kirk and Spock's absence, Sulu is given command of the Enterprise. In the earlier film, he commands his own ship. Dr. McCoy complains that he is a doctor, "not a torpedo technician". In the earlier film, he and Spock together modify a torpedo.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(J.J. Abrams): [mission]: The film is dedicated to post-9/11 veterans. This is due to Abrams' connection to The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that serves as a framework for U.S. military veterans to do community service work when they return home from overseas. The organization's founder and CEO Eric Greitens makes a cameo appearance alongside other veterans in the film's ending as one of the flag folders. A section of the film's official website is dedicated to The Mission Continues.
Like the previous movie, this one also contains a reference to Nurse Chapel of the original series (played by Majel Barrett). Interestingly, this callback breaks continuity with Star Trek (2009), as in that movie, McCoy is heard addressing a "Nurse Chapel" (who replies from off-screen), whereas in this one, we get the impression that Christine Chapel became a nurse following an encounter with Kirk in the interim between the two movies (since Kirk and Uhura did not know each other before Star Trek (2009), the reference to a common acquaintance is unlikely to refer to someone from before that point in time).
(At around ten minutes) A view of the London skyline in 2259, the cluttered view of skyscrapers is not at all unrealistic. At the time of writing (2016), there are seventy new skyscrapers being built in London, with another two hundred at the planning and proposal stages.
There are several bar code scanners incorporated into design of various stations manned by the Enterprise crew. All scanners have the red reflective glass in the upper section. Most noticeable are two white-beige scanners between Sulu's and Chekov's stations on the bridge, two black ones in the middle of Science Officer 0718's station, that is to the right of the Captain's chair, and one small scanner that looks like a beige pyramid with a sphere on top, which is located on Chekov's station near the warp drive.
In an episode of Sherlock (2010), Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) jokingly calls Holmes "Spock", after Sherlock goes on a rant about divorcing himself from his emotions. Benedict Cumberbatch appears alongside Spock (Zachary Quinto) in this film.
The second of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek films, wherein two female characters are seen in their underwear. In this film: one of the women in bed with Kirk, and Carol Marcus. In the previous film Star Trek (2009): Uhura and Gaila.
As Spock witnesses Kirk's supposed death, he is overcome by rage. This is only the second time in the character's screen history where unprovoked emotion has ever overcome his logic. The first time was in the original series episode "Amok Time," when Spock was momentarily overcome with happiness at seeing Kirk was alive. (While Spock HAS displayed emotion at other times, it was due to outside effects causing it.)
When Kirk gets his first look inside the torpedo, Bones is wearing the lighter blue doctor's smock version of the Starfleet uniform (wide collar, short sleeves), a nod to the one DeForest Kelley wore regularly on the original series. While Kelley's version of the smock featured his normal Starfleet insignia, the Starfleet insignia on this updated uniform is uniquely white with a Red Cross. It is the first time we see Karl Urban's version wear this variation of the uniform.
The scene which Batman interrogates the Joker in the Gotham Police Department interview room in The Dark Knight (2008), is considered a strong influence behind the scenes which Kirk and Spock interrogates Harrison a.k.a. Khan.
Peter Weller played Terra Prime leader John Frederick Paxton in the episodes Star Trek: Enterprise: Demons (2005) and Star Trek: Enterprise: Terra Prime (2005). He also played Admiral Alexander Marcus in this movie. The 2013 virtual collectible card battle game "Star Trek: Rivals" uses pictures of him for card #81 "Admiral A. Marcus" and card #106 "Rogue Admiral A. Marcus".
When Captain Kirk lies dying in the warp core chamber, before he reaches his hand up toward Spock, touching the glass door, there is sparse piano music playing softly and slowly. As Jim reaches up his hand to the glass, the music changes to orchestra strings, louder, and the melody plays the well-known and obvious 5 notes from the song, "Unchained Melody," that go under the lyrics, "Hun-ger for your touch." And then the orchestra music gets softer and changes away from that tune.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Near the film's ending, when Khan sent the U.S.S. Vengeance on a collision course with San Francisco, it crushes Alcatraz on it's way towards the city. According to J.J. Abrams, this was a sly nod to the fact that the series Alcatraz (2012) (which he Executively Produced) was cancelled after only one season.
At around one hour and seventeen minutes) When the Vengeance fires on the Enterprise when they are both at warp, one can fleetingly see an R2-D2 being sucked out into space along with various debris, tools, and Enterprise crewmen.
The collection of models on Admiral Marcus' (Peter Weller) desk resembles the gallery of old ships named "Enterprise" as seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). The ships and aircraft, all class-pathfinders, that can be seen are: The "Wright Flyer" (1903) First craft to achieve controlled, heavier-than-air flight. The "Spirit of St. Louis", in which Charles A. Lindbergh became the first man to fly a solo, non-stop flight from New York City to Paris. V2. X-15. A Gemini Capsule, from which the first American spacewalks occurred. A Soyuz Spacecraft, the mainstay Russian Space Agency spacecraft. The NASA space shuttle "Enterprise". The "XCV 330 U.S.S. Enterprise" (the ship with the rings around its hull). Zefram Cochrane's warp ship, the Phoenix, from Star Trek: First Contact (1996). The Enterprise NX-01 from Star Trek: Enterprise (2001). The U.S.S. Vengeance, foreshadowing its appearance and Marcus' villainy.
In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Spock sacrifices his life to restore the Enterprise's warp drive and dies of radiation poisoning as Kirk watches from outside. In this film, the roles are reversed, and Kirk gives his life to restore the warp drive, as Spock looks on. Spock's subsequent line, "KHAAAAAN!" was spoken by Kirk in the original, but in a different context, in a different part of the story.
Writer Damon Lindelof apologized on Twitter for the seemingly gratuitous and much criticized scene where Alice Eve strips down to her underwear. J.J. Abrams would counter the criticism later when he appeared on Conan O'Brien's talk show and premiered a deleted scene featuring Benedict Cumberbatch showering. For her part, Eve staunchly defended the scene, and stated that she was very proud to show her body after working out intensely for the shot. She has maintained that doing the scene was not forced upon her, and that in no way she felt exploited by this.
Khan and Spock's climactic battle on a hovering garbage cruiser was shot over a period of four days. Much of the cruiser was actually made of rubber, due to the extreme physical nature of the fight between the two characters.
When Kirk recovers from radiation poisoning and returns to the bridge, Sulu offers him back his Captain's chair and says, "'Captain' does have a nice ring to it." In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Sulu was the Captain of the U.S.S. Excelsior.
During the first shot of Khan running through the city streets, after having crashed the U.S.S. Vengeance (right before Spock is beamed down in pursuit), you can hear the sound of sirens of what seem to be emergency responders arriving to the scene (off-screen). The sound effect used is the same as the sound effect for the police hovercrafts in Minority Report (2002), which was directed by Steven Spielberg, and was also set in the future. J.J. Abrams is a known Spielberg fan.
After watching the Enterprise emerge from the sea and take off into space at the beginning of the movie, one of the Nibiru tribesmen draws an outline of the ship in the sand. According to Zecharia Sitchin's book "The 12th Planet", extraterrestrials from the planet Nibiru were the true origin of Babylonian religion, art, and mythology.
Two of J.J. Abrams' children appear in the film during the scene when Khan crashes the Vengeance into San Francisco. His son Henry appears as a member of the crowd that first notices the ship crashing down (he is directly behind the woman in front). Abrams' daughter Gracie appears as a Starfleet cadet a few moments later in another shot.
According to Writer Damon Lindelof, the story began with deciding whether Khan Noonien Singh would be the villain, and then weighed the pros and cons of him appearing. J.J. Abrams felt it would "be fun to hear what Alex and Bob are thinking about Khan. The fun of this timeline is arguing that different stories, with the same characters, could be equally, if not more compelling than what's been told before. Certain people are destined to cross paths and come together, and Khan is out there, even if he doesn't have the same issues."
The time period between Star Trek (2009) and this film is covered by a comic book series published by IDW. The stories have all been retellings of episodes from the original series, but placed into the new timeline and circumstances created by the events of the first film. Two of those stories concerned the crew's encounter with Tribbles, and their encounter with Harcourt Mudd, or in the new timeline, his daughter. Both of these stories were not only told on the original series, but were revisited on the animated series. Both stories are also references here (the "Mudd Incident" and the Tribbles in Dr. McCoy's medical bay), this foreshadowing that this film would also revisit a story from the original series: Khan. In Star Trek: Mudd's Women (1966), Mudd originally uses a false identity, just as Khan does here.
When Carol Marcus boards the Enterprise, she gives her name as Wallace. In an early draft of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), the character of Janet Wallace was going to be used before they decided to create a new character: Carol Marcus. Janet Wallace first appeared in Star Trek: The Deadly Years (1967).
Several changes to the Enterprise's design are visible after it is rechristened. The impulse engines at the aft of the saucer section are much wider, and the warp engine nacelles have been slightly modified.
When the producers decided to have Khan Noonien Singh surgically altered to disguise his Sikh ethnicity, part of the reason was to avoid the complaint of racial connotations. However, the producers found themselves unexpectedly subject to complaints in the Sikh community, who were disappointed that an actor from their community was cheated of a golden opportunity for a major role. Furthermore, the problem that the role was for a villain was brushed off with the observation that Khan is a classic tragic character with considerable nuance, while outclassing most of the heroes in physical power.
Captain Kirk crying when Admiral Pike dies, almost mirrors a similar scene in Skyfall (2012) which James Bond (Daniel Craig) cries when M (Judi Dench) dies. In Skyfall, James Bond goes after Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a renegade MI6 operative when he destroys MI6 headquarters. In this film, Captain Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise crew go after John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) a rogue Starfleet Agent when Harrison attacks Starfleet headquarters, at which time, Admiral Pike is killed.
The 2nd Star Trek film which Kirk dies. The William Shatner incarnation of the character died in Star Trek Generations (1994) 4 years earlier. Unlike Star Trek: Generations (1994) and like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) Kirk dies but is resurrected when McCoy injects his body with Khan's blood.