The Star Trek franchise has already shown us the wonders of the final frontier and transported us to strange new worlds over the course of the last 55 years and more. But, were it to truly, boldly go to exciting new heights, the plans for Quentin Tarantino to bring his own style to the saga would come to fruition.
Star Trek is huge, both in terms of popularity and in scale. Within the vastness of the Star Trek timeline, we’ve been spoiled with some of the best science fiction movies of all time, and almost 900 episodes of voyages through space across the various Star Trek series. The crew of the USS Enterprise has pretty much seen it all by now.
What Star Trek is really lacking, however, is the use of the word ‘motherfucker,’ and I’m only half joking. Quentin Tarantino, one of the best directors of the modern era, is famed for his profane and violent films, but he is also a masterful storyteller. He’s made some of the best movies of all time, but still has something on his bucket list that needs ticking off: he needs to make a Star Trek movie.
Tarantino was once in line to turn that dream into a reality. In 2017, it was revealed that Paramount and JJ Abrams were big fans of the filmmaker’s pitch for a new movie in the Kelvin timeline. A writers’ room was assembled, with screenwriter Mark L. Smith – who previously wrote the screenplay for The Revenant – chosen to bring Tarantino’s exciting ideas to the page.
On the Bulletproof Screenwriting podcast, Smith spoke about how Tarantino got him in a room and was feeding him ideas for an “awesome, cool gangster scene” set in the world of Star Trek. The pair would watch classic gangster films together, and figure out how those inspirations could “bleed into” what they wanted to create.
So, what did Tarantino want to create, exactly? Well, imagine Star Trek, but with a similar vibe to his most iconic piece of work and one of the best ‘90s movies, Pulp Fiction. Speculation suggested the end product of Tarantino’s vision would have been given an R-rating, which means all the trademark foul language, uber-violence, and mature themes we’ve come to expect would have been given room to flourish.
Smith described Tarantino’s ideas as “really wild,” and it seems the proposed movie would have utilized Chris Pine to his full potential. Tarantino has previously praised Pine’s performance as one the best Star Trek captains, James T. Kirk, telling MTV that the actor did a “fantastic job” in capturing the essence of William Shatner’s iconic portrayal of the character.
Tarantino’s concept was for a 1930s storyline set largely on Earth, something akin to the brilliant episode from The Original Series, A Piece of the Action. That particular episode sees the best Star Trek characters – Kirk, Spock, and Bones – beamed down to an Earthlike planet called Iotia, which has adopted the ways of 1920s America, full of guns and gangsters and fantastically sharp suits.
With warring factions trying to claim control of Iotia, it’s up to Kirk and his pals to infiltrate all sides of the territorial conflict and bring peace to the planet. It’s an incredibly entertaining episode in one of the best TV series of all time, and it gave Shatner in particular the space to shine as he adopts the persona of a mob boss. Closer to comedy than sci-fi, you have to imagine Pine would absolutely relish such an opportunity to recreate this story.
Tarantino is better known for his penchant for period pieces, so it figures that he would want to explore a more terrestrial story that would allow him to transport audiences back in time, essentially. An adaptation of A Piece of the Action would have given Tarantino the license to turn Trek’s iconic heroes into quippy, gun-toting gangsters who can change the course of history.
If we’ve learned anything from watching Tarantino’s work to date, it’s that all of the above fits firmly into his wheelhouse. Throw in the concept of converging plot threads and intergalactic wanderers disturbing the status quo, and what you’ve essentially got is tantamount to A Fistful of Dollars in space, with a Tarantino twist.
Unfortunately, it seems the idea of that particular concoction is not for everyone. There is talk of a Star Trek 4 release date, but Tarantino’s name is not attached. Tarantino himself even confirmed to Consequence of Sound in 2019 that he was ‘steering away’ from the project, and now, the film remains ‘indefinitely delayed’ without any confirmed names attached either as writer or director.
If Tarantino is truly out of the fold, there is at least one person who may be breathing a sigh of relief. Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene, the legendary creator of Star Trek, has told Forbes previously that he had reservations about Tarantino bringing his style to the saga. Roddenberry wants his Star Trek stories to contain “hope” and “optimism,” and while he insisted he is a big fan of Tarantino’s work, Roddenbery admitted the idea of Tarantino-Trek “doesn’t work,” for him at least.
With Tarantino now preparing for his tenth, and supposedly final feature film, The Movie Critic, it would seem the door to the USS Enterprise has closed forever for the esteemed filmmaker and we are left wondering what could have been. I, for one, would have loved to have seen Samuel L. Jackson yelling expletives and firing bullets at Chris Pine’s Kirk, with the pair both sporting extravagant pinstripe suits and arguing over ‘heaters,’ but alas, that fantasy will have to remain in the confines of my imagination.
If you want to live long and prosper with us, we’ve got guides on the best Star Trek starships and the Star Trek Legacy release date that you simply have to read. You may also be curious as to why we think Kirk and Spock were obviously in love, and how Star Trek’s most creative scene was made possible by Pixar. For a different kind of sci-fi look ahead to Avatar 3 and The Marvels, or get your Tarantino fix with all we know about The Movie Critic release date.