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William Shatner fought to make Kirk more “vulnerable” in Star Trek 2

When it came to Captain Kirk's characterization in Star Trek 2, William Shatner was determined for these specific changes to be made to our favorite captain.


Captain Kirk’s physical and emotional journey through the galaxy is the very heart and soul of Star Trek, and by the time Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was made, William Shatner had already been playing the iconic character for a while. And it was because he spent so long with Kirk that he had a specific idea for his character arc going into The Wrath of Khan.

In a 1982 interview with Bobbie Wygant, Shatner described the essence of  Star Trek II as being “youth, and old age, and death, and love.” If you’ve seen all the Star Trek movies in order, you’d know that The Wrath of Khan kicked off a three-movie story arc that concluded with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. But why do fans consider Star Trek II as being one of the best movies in the franchise? Well, it all has to do with the film’s treatment of the best Star Trek character, Captain Kirk.

During the interview, Wygant noted how the picture had an “emphasis on the middle age,” which led to Shatner making a surprising confession about the best science fiction movie.

“It was suggested not to do it at one point,” he said. “By some people that had my best interests at heart. [But] my feeling has always been that the more human you can make a character, the more vulnerable, the more identifiable, the better it is. So we saw all means possible to do that.”

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The Wrath of Khan chiefly dealt with the Star Trek captain and his crew facing off with the titular Star Trek villain once again, this time stopping him from using the life-generating Genesis Device.

But the film also addressed the decade-long time jump between the end of the original Star Trek series and films— a fact that was somewhat glossed over in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

In fact, Captain Kirk, who by Star Trek II had been promoted to Starfleet Admiral, was presented as experiencing something of a mid-life crisis during the film.

For more on Star Trek, check out our guides to the Star Trek timeline, the best Star Trek starships, and the Star Trek Legacy release date. Or, if you’re after something a bit different, here’s what we know about new movie Avatar 3.