Dear J.J. Abrams: I'm a fan of your work. I enjoy your movies. Unlike many nerds, I have no real problem with your Star Trek reboot. I've also enjoyed most, if not all of your TV shows. So it is with all due respect that I humbly request you to stop jerking us around and just tell us who the Star Trek 2 villain is.
I don't know what you think you're doing by simply refusing to tell people, but it's gone from fun and mysterious to kind of annoying to unnecessarily, distractingly infuriating. No matter who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing in this movie, there's no way the character's identity is important enough to justify all this maddening, insane secrecy.
Seriously. Is he Gary Mitchell, Harry Mudd, or one of a hundred other minor original Star Trek characters? No one gives a shit but Trekkers, and they're not going to care any more or less now than they would have six months ago (or six months from now, for that matter). Is he playing Khan? Well, then I could kind of see why you want to keep that a secret, because that's incredibly terrible, but even then it's not going to piss people off any less later. Go ahead and tell us and let us get over it. Is he playing John Harrison, as an official caption indicated earlier this week? Then you're a lunatic for hiding a name that's totally meaningless - but if the name John Harrison is a lie, because you're still hiding the name, then you've gone crazy. Lying in official publicity stills to keep Cumberbatch's name secret? What purpose could that possibly serve?!
As you've said many times, your Trek movies are not for hardcore Trek fans. But what benefit does not revealing the identity of the film's antagonist give? You're aren't hiding an important scene, or even a character's unique design (as you did when you refused to to show the Cloverfield monster and the Super 8 alien). We all know it's Benedict Cumberbatch, and we all know he's the bad guy.
This antagonist is one of a story's most basic, fundamental characteristics. Since we already know who the heroes are at this point — it is a sequel, after all — really, about the only thing you can tell us about the movie is who the heroes are fighting. It's the bad guy we're interested in now, and all you're doing by refusing to tell us who Cumberbatch is playing is keeping us from knowing what the plot of the damn movie.
Think of it this way. These non-fans, the ones who haven't decided whether they're going to see your sequel. What if Regular Joe Non-nerd comes up to me and says, "I liked the first Trek movie all right. What's this new one about?" I DON'T KNOW, REGULAR JOE NON-NERD, BECAUSE J.J. ABRAMS WON'T FUCKING TELL US. This is not something that will tantalize Joe into pre-ordering tickets. He's just going to wait until someone can tell him what the premise is.
We can't do that without a name, and here's the crazy part — the name barely matters! If I could tell Joe "The Enterprise crew fights Gary Mitchell/Harry Mudd/The Mugatu/Whoever" — the actual name barely matters. The names won't mean anything to regular people anyway. But it'll still be a hell of a lot more interesting than "The Enterprise crew fights... somebody."
In fact, this whole "fan tease" phenomen has gotten entirely out of hand, and J.J., you're the worst offender. Look, I understand the desire to keep your audience surprised, and the importance of not revealing everything before people even get to the theater. We've all seen enough trailers that give away the entire movie to know there's a problem with knowing too much in advance.
But this — this is too far in the opposite direction. This is purely about making the fans obsess over which classic character Cumberbatch is reinventing, and not about exciting other random moviegoers who probably don't know Harry Mudd from Gary Mitchell anyway.
Remember how the Avengers movie refused to tell us who the aliens were? As time went on and Marvel refused to tell, we didn't get more excited to see Avengers, we just got annoyed. The obsessive speculation became distracting, which as a filmmaker should be the last thing you want.
Honestly, all you directors and producers, if you're thinking about refusing to tell people about a basic element of your movie, please ask yourself: Does not knowing actually make viewing the film a better experience? Does it actually matter at all? Will not telling people actually give them no fucking clue what the movie is actually about? Think long and hard about these questions.
J.J., we want to see Star Trek Into Darkness. We don't want to know everything that happens in it beforehand, and we certainly want to be surprised to some extent once we park our butts in the theater. But refusing to tell us the film's villain isn't going to make a single extra person buy tickets, and it could actually drive some non-nerds away. More importantly, because there is no possible benefit to not revealing his character, you are seemingly doing it for one reason and one reason alone: To tease the fans. So stop it.