Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne went from writers with no official credits to the duo in charge of Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, but they also penned a version of Star Trek 4 for The Defenders director S.J. Clarkson. Similar to seemingly every other iteration of that sequel, it never became a reality, though losing this one hurt.
Why? Well, it would have seen Thor: Love and Thunder star Chris Hemsworth return as George Kirk, the father of Chris Pine's James Kirk. The team-up is one that left fans salivating over the storytelling possibilities, though it's believed Paramount Pictures not paying key cast members what they wanted posed the biggest issue here.
"I would love to tell you about it," McKay told Esquire. "We worked on a couple of ‘Star Trek’ movies. The one you’re asking about would have been the fourth in the franchise, reuniting Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine."
"The conceit was that through a cosmic quirk in the ‘Star Trek’ world, they were the same age. It was going to be a grand father-son space adventure - think 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' in space. We were really thrilled about it."
McKay added that they had created an "original villain" for Star Trek 4, saying the script had "a really cool '2001: A Space Odyssey'-esque sci-fi idea at the core."
"We worked on it for two and half years with Lindsey Weber, our non-writing executive producer on 'Rings of Power,' and an amazing director, S.J. Clarkson," he continues. "The movie eventually fell apart and it really was a heartbreak for us...we would have loved to make that movie."
Of course, we're sure many of you are curious how this team-up happened when George's death in Star Trek was definitive and a huge part of James' journey. Well, it wouldn't have broken canon!
Payne explains, "There’s an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' called 'Relics; where they find Scotty, who’s been trapped a transporter for a couple of decades, and they’re able to have cool adventure with him. Our conceit was, 'What if right before the Kelvin impacted with that huge mining ship, George Kirk had tried to beam himself over to his wife’s shuttle where his son, Jim Kirk, had just been born? And what if the ship hadn’t completely exploded - what if it left some space junk?'"
"Think about when you send a text message and you’ve typed it out, but you haven’t quite hit send. On the other side, they see those three little dots that someone has typed. It’s like the transporter had absorbed his pattern up into the pattern buffer, but hadn’t spit him out on the other side. It was actually a saved copy of him that was in the computer."
"So the adventure is that Chris Pine and the crew of the Enterprise have to seek out the wreckage of the ship that his father died on because of a mystery and a new villain. In the ship, they stumble across his father’s pattern," Payne concluded. "They beam him out and he has no idea that no time has passed at all, and that he’s looking at his son. Then the adventure goes from there."
That sounds awesome, and we can't quite believe it didn't happen. Since then, Paramount has considered versions of the movie from Quentin Tarantino and Noah Hawley, while it looked like WandaVision director Matt Shakman would be the one to helm the project for a time.
Then, he jumped ship to Marvel Studios to direct Fantastic Four. As a result, Star Trek 4 still has no release date.