Roberto Orci, my part-time sparring partner on Twitter, has revealed a list of five Star Trek characters we will NOT see in the next JJ Abrams film. And they are:
First things first: what the fuck is it with no Janice Rand? I'm so hugely disappointed that one of my first ever TV crushes is not being allowed to make the leap to the movies, especially because her semi-relationship with Captain Kirk would be excellent fodder on the big screen. Also, I wanted to see her enormous bee-hive, woven-basket hairdo in 3D IMAX.
Second things second: A couple of those names are no-brainers. I believe that Gary Mitchell was originally intended to be in this film, but JJ Abrams decided against that story. Mitchell instead wound up in a canonical tie-in comic from IDW.
Third things third: Khan is not on that list. I don't know if Orci is fucking with us or he's just being honest (Simon Pegg has gone on the record saying Khan is not the villain). I think he's being honest - and so is Pegg. Here's my pet theory:
Khan is in the movie, but is dispatched rather early on, perhaps by Klingons that stumble upon the Botany Bay (this is a lot like what happened in Abrams' Star Trek... but it was all stuff that was cut out of the movie, so they may feel comfortable reusing it). Benedict Cumberbatch, then, is playing not Khan but one of the other genetically-enhanced supermen who are in cryosleep on the Botany Bay.
Mostly I'm spitballing here. I could tell you the rumors I've heard from decent sources, but they're so crazy (and so contradictory) that I don't feel comfortable. I suspect that Abrams and crew leak false information. I've also heard that only some scripts have the name Khan in them; if your character doesn't have a scene with that character, you would never know it's him. I can't vouch for that being true, it's just some of the really strange information that has come my way.
When he denied Khan was the villain, Pegg said this:
I think people just want to have a scoop. It annoys me – it’s beyond the point to just ferret around for spoilers all the time to try to be the first to break them.
The irony here is that if the villain's identity wasn't a huge secret we wouldn't be spending so much time wondering about it. Most other films based on existing franchises are happy to announce their villains in advance - we knew about Bane and Catwoman and the Joker, etc in advance. The secretive aspect of Abrams' films - where he wouldn't even show the costumes in the first movie - is what drives people to dig, because they think something spectacular is being hidden. And then you find out it's an angry Romulan who traveled from the future and you're like 'Oh.'