The Time 'Star Trek' Made A 9/11 Truther Movie
The Star Trek movies have gone to some pretty out there places, from "What if Captain Kirk fought God?" to "What if we pretended Patrick Stewart and Tom Hardy look like each other?" to "What if Bush did 9/11 ... in space?" That last one is perhaps the most bizarre of all because it also happens to be the highest-grossing movie in the entire franchise. It could be argued that Star Trek Into Darkness is the most successful 9/11 Truther propaganda movie ever made.
How is this a "Truther" movie? Well, let's look at the plot. Into Darkness starts with a mysterious terrorist (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) bombing a Starfleet archival building and then attacking the Starfleet Headquarters, in the process killing Admiral Christopher "Unluckiest Man In The Alternate Universe" Pike. The terrorist goes into hiding in Klingon territory, so Captain Kirk and the Enterprise gang are sent to kill him by launching precisely 72 experimental torpedos at his ass. Instead, Kirk decides to arrest the man and hear him out, and that's how they discover the movie's shocking plot twist: Benedict Cumberbatch is Indian??
But not only is Cumberbatch's character revealed to be Khan from the original series, he's also part of a conspiracy by the head of Starfleet, Admiral George W. Robocop (or something), to start a war with the Klingons under false pretenses. So when the promo materials called him "a one-man weapon of mass destruction," they meant it in the "he's gonna be used to start a BS war" sense. Eventually, Cumberbatch/Khan/Paler Osama bin Laden hijacks the giant, evil Enterprise spaceship created by the Deep Space State and crashes it into some buildings on Earth.
Side note: were Hollywood studios in the 2010s running a competition to find the most inventive way to give the audience 9/11 PTSD?
Anyway, you know that seemingly innocent archive building Khan bombed at the start? That turned out to be the secret black ops base where he worked with Starfleet agents to prepare weapons for the war with the Klingons -- a ploy that literally blew up in their faces. At the very least, Khan is a stand-in for the real-world Afghan "freedom fighters" who were trained by the CIA to fight the Soviet Union (the original inspiration for the Klingons, by the way) in the '80s, only to end up using that training against the U.S., but that's not all. It's also been pointed out that the archive building is probably a reference to 7 World Trade Center, the building conspiracy theorists believe was blown up because it contained CIA files proving 9/11 was an inside job (presumably, pay stubs and tax information for the hundreds of workers required to fill two massive buildings with explosives).
Khan's weirdly ineffective, single-casualty hit on Starfleet Headquarters, meanwhile, is clearly meant to stand for the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon (Truthers believe that there's no way two planes made the Twin Towers collapse, but one plane should have made the Pentagon explode like the Death Star). Presumably, they were going to reveal that the Starfleet building was only hit by a hologram missile, but that idea was deemed too silly even for a franchise with pointy-eared aliens in it.
If you think these are all coincidences ... well, maybe. Despite what conspiracy theorists say, not everything that happens in the universe has to have a sinister meaning behind it (or, you know, any meaning). That said, we're pretty sure this isn't one of those cases because this movie happened to be written by one of those conspiracy theorists. In fact, we know the exact mindset co-writer Roberto Orci was in while writing this movie because he left dozens of posts arguing about conspiracies on the comments section of TrekMovie.com right before turning in a draft in 2011.
Aside from implying that bin Laden was framed for 9/11, Orci also used his now-deleted Twitter page to do tasteful stuff like looking for conspiracies about the Boston Marathon bombings right after they happened or informing random people that they're slaves to the military-industrial complex. He was your typical "just asking questions" poster who gets aggravated when he doesn't like the answers. Orci was even more insufferable on the TrekMovie.com comments, where he ended up telling fans to eff off because they dared to dislike his movies (worth noting that he also co-wrote gems like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Cowboys & Aliens).
The weirdest part of all this is that Star Trek Into Darkness was dedicated to "our post-9/11 veterans" when it came out in cinemas. The dedication seems to have disappeared from home video releases ... much like Orci's screenwriting career. In 2014 it was announced, to the frustration of many fans, that he would write and direct the next Star Trek movie, but that never happened. Since then, he has produced a few shows (nothing since Hawaii Five-O ended in 2020), but the last movie he worked on is apparently Tom Cruise's bafflingly horrible The Mummy from 2017, where he was an executive producer and uncredited writer. Did the Deep State get him? Maybe he's been ghostwriting for the Alex Jones show since then?
Orci's former writing partner Alex Kurtzman is still involved with the franchise as writer and producer in Discovery, Short Treks, Picard, and even the new Strange New Worlds, but Orci himself doesn't appear in the credits for any of those. Did the studio cut ties after realizing they let him make Loose Change in Space? Stuff like 9/11 Trutherism almost seemed like a quaint pastime at one point, but the pandemic has driven home the reality that spreading easily debunked misinformation under the guise of "just asking questions" can have costly consequences -- in terms of human lives and, perhaps more pressingly for the studio, of financial liabilities, as the Alex Jones/Sandy Hook trial demonstrates.
Anyway, now that Chris Pine and the rest of the cast have been confirmed to be in negotiations to come back for at least one more movie in this timeline, maybe they'll start it with a 10 minute PSA on why you can't trust what any random blog on the internet says about world events (and why cussing out fans on comments sections for no reason is bad for your movie career).
Top image: Paramount Pictures