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Why Star Trek 4 Shouldn't Directly Follow Beyond | Screen Rant

Though Star Trek 4 will likely pick up the story from where Star Trek Beyond left off, it would be far better for the sequel not to directly follow the events of its predecessor. After the alternate continuity was established in 2009 with J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek, the movies of the franchise’s Kelvin Timeline have proved to be largely successful with critics and audiences alike. Taking the iconic characters of Star Trek: The Original Series and moving them into an alternate timeline not only facilitates their recasting but also the exploration of new and exciting alternate stories that aren’t bound by decades of Star Trek canon.

After Star Trek Into Darkness reimagined stories from the Prime Universe (namely that of “Space Seed” from TOS and Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek Beyond delivered a truly original story unique to Star Trek‘s Kelvin Timeline. Focusing on the Enterprise’s exploration of an uncharted nebula on a rescue mission and its crew’s subsequent stranding on the planet Alramid, Star Trek Beyond considered by some to be the best of the Kelvin Timeline’s movies. However, despite its critical success, there have been significant delays in the making of its sequel, and Star Trek 4 has yet to materialize.

Related: Star Trek Into Darkness’ Chekov Trick Is A Perfect TOS Reference

Though there are a few ways in which Star Trek 4 could immediately follow on from Star Trek Beyond, it would be far better if the upcoming sequel went in another direction. Instead of carrying on from Beyond, the sequel should jump ahead a little further in the timeline, as this would prove an interesting and innovative way to continue the Kelvin Timeline’s narrative. As Star Trek 4 delays killed the franchise’s momentum, a story set a little later in Kirk’s career may be the perfect way to negate the impact the film’s troubled production could have on the franchise itself.

One of the biggest considerations for making Star Trek 4 must be that Star Trek Beyond‘s story was so well-received. Not only did it move away from previously-established elements of Star Trek canon, but it delivered an adventure that felt like a lost episode of The Original Series, and it worked perfectly. Although Star Trek Beyond started to open up a number of narrative avenues for subsequent films in the Kelvin Timeline, it’s actually vital that Star Trek 4 doesn’t follow on too closely. This is partly because it runs a higher risk of unfavorable comparisons, but also because it would take away from what made Star Trek Beyond’s story so great.

A significant part of Star Trek Beyond‘s charm was how independent it was from other Star Trek movies and media. This made for a cohesive standalone story that hearkened back to the episodic nature of The Original Series, but its big-budget effects and impressive set pieces also gave it blockbuster appeal. Keeping a degree of separation between Beyond and Star Trek 4 is important, and it would allow for that atmosphere to carry over. By not directly linking the two movies, Star Trek 4 actually has a far greater chance to recapture what made Beyond so great in the first place.

After Star Trek Beyond was released in 2016, it was expected that a sequel would be forthcoming. There was a gap of four years between Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, then a gap of three before Beyond‘s release. Star Trek 4 taking so long means that the film is currently scheduled for release in late 2023, but this could change drastically if there are any scheduling issues or further delays with pre-production. This means that there will be a minimum gap of approximately seven years between Beyond and Star Trek 4 – something which could affect the sequel’s ability to effectively continue the story.

Related: Star Trek Beyond Almost Fixed A Plot Hole With A Wrath Of Khan Reference

However, by jumping ahead a decade or so along the timeline, Star Trek 4 could explain away any potential issues caused by the sequel’s delays. The cast will likely be visibly older, but a time jump would cover this, and it would also provide an organic explanation for why Anton Yelchin’s Chekov cannot return (as it’s been stated that the role will not be recast after Yelchin’s tragic death in 2016). Though there is a conceivable replacement for Chekov in Star Trek 4 in Jaylah, doing so without any intervening period between the two narratives would make very little sense. This makes a Star Trek time jump the best way to handle the issues presented by the real-world delays in Star Trek 4‘s production, and would also serve as a small meta nod to the time it has taken to get the sequel underway.

Star Trek Beyond ended with a few major considerations for the story of its sequel. Though it may seem odd, making use of a time jump between the two films is the actually best way for Star Trek 4 to pay these teases off. It’s important not only for Star Trek 4 to pay off these teases, but for it to do so in a way that feels organic and logical, and a time jump allows for much more narrative flexibility in how to handle that.

Beyond ended with Jaylah being accepted into Starfleet academy and with Kirk turning down the position of Vice Admiral in order to remain the Enterprise’s captain. The latter directly sets up further adventures in an obvious way, but it also hints at Kirk’s importance to Starfleet, which isn’t something that’s likely to go away. Jumping ahead in the timeline could see Kirk facing an impending unwanted promotion around the time that Jaylah graduates from Starfleet Academy – meaning that a time jump might actually be the best way to pay off Star Trek Beyond‘s subtle sequel teases.

Though there are many important factors to consider regarding the sequel, it’s key that Star Trek 4 breaks Kelvin Timeline habits before the franchise becomes overly predictable. So far, the movies of the Kelvin Timeline have seen no recurring villains (or even supporting characters) – something which ultimately hurts the connectivity and wider continuity of the alternate timeline’s stories. By having an established threat resurface, Star Trek 4 could subvert expectations and deliver a powerful story at the same time.

Related: The Kelvin Timeline’s Cast Is Star Trek 4’s Secret Weapon

Star Trek 4 could see the return of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan – one of the franchise’s most iconic villains – or a conflict with the Romulan Empire (as teased in Star Trek). By jumping ahead, it could also explore Kirk’s role within Starfleet, and his coming to terms with the responsibility that comes with his inevitable advancement. The specifics of Star Trek 4‘s story remain largely unknown, but there are a number of interesting avenues that the Kelvin Timeline could take after Star Trek Beyond – and jumping a few years ahead in the timeline would afford even more scope for creative freedom.

Next: Star Trek’s Kelvin Timeline Movies, Ranked

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