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Movie Villain Monday: Khan - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan & Star Trek: Into Darkness

It’s Movie Villain Monday and this week is kind of a double feature.

Both incarnations of this character have been suggested in the comments on Facebook so I thought I’d feature them both in one post.

It’s Khan from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) - and also Star Trek into Darkness (2013)

Who is Khan?

Played originally by Ricardo Montalban and more recently by Benedict Cumberbatch, Khan Noonien Singh is the infamous villain from the Star Trek franchise. A genetic superhuman who, along with his people are products of 20th Century selective breeding designed to create “perfect humans”.

He once controlled a quarter of planet Earth during the Eugenics wars of the late 20th Century.


Khan first appeared in the 22nd episode of the original tv show back in 1967 titled “Space Seed”.

His ship, The Botany Bay was discovered adrift in space by Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. Khan and the surviving members of his crew had been in suspended animation for 200 years.

After being awakened, Khan attempted to take control of the Enterprise, but failed. He and 71 of his people were exiled on the harsh world, Ceti Alpha V.

Fifteen years later Khan would return in the second of the Star Trek feature films, “The Wrath of Khan” when he manages to escape his exile and sets out to exact revenge on his old enemy Kirk.

Star Trek: Into Darkness:

In the second of the recently rebooted Star Trek films, Star Trek: Into Darkness, a younger Khan was played by Benedict Cumberbach.

Cleverly, to avoid upsetting fans, the new films follow an alternate timeline after the events of the first film. This means that everything from the original series and movies still took place.


Ricardo Montalban who played the original Khan said that the role was his personal favourite, although after playing Mr Roarke on Fantasy Island for so long he felt “stuck” in the character and was worried he’d sound too much like him. After being cast in the movie, he requested a tape of his 1967 episode from Paramount and watched it repeatedly to recapture the essence of the character.

For Star Trek: Into Darkness Benedict Cumberbach was recommended to J.J. Abrams (director) by Steven Spielberg after he’d worked with him on War Horse (2011).

He recorded his screen test in his friend’s kitchen on an iPhone and his role apparently wasn’t revealed to him until a week after he was cast.

The Wrath of Khan is generally regarded as the best film in the Star Trek series and is often credited with renewing substantial interest in the franchise.

Star Trek: Into Darkness however is the highest grossing Star Trek movie to date.

"To the last I grapple with thee; from Hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee." (Khan quoting Moby Dick).

Which is your favourite portrayal of the character and who should I feature next week? 🤔

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