This is a photo of an otter. Otters starred in the most internet meme of all time, “Otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch”
Benedict Cumberbatch is an otter-looking English actor of great skill who has played Stephen Hawking and Sherlock Holmes, but you would never confuse him with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis, say, or with a regimental sergeant-major, or Attila the Hun.
Yet in the most spectacular piece of mis-casting I can ever remember, somebody thought it would be a great idea to give Benedict Cumberbatch the role of Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Khan. As classically played by Ricardo Montalban, a man so hard, he flosses his teeth with diamonds. A man modeled on Genghis Khan. Who, to lead you round in alpha male circles, is the origin of Schwarzenegger’s deathless Conan the Barbarian line: “What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.” The last bit was censored; Genghis’ original was “and use their women as a nightshirt”.
Despite an acclaimed script and direction by J J Abrams, the Star Trek movie was a disappointment at the box office compared to the gigantic blockbuster it was expected to be. It did fine, but it was supposed to be the overwhelming hit of the year and it just wasn’t, with an opening weekend $25 mil below expectations.
I don’t give a stuff what they say over at Metacritic, Khan is meant to be a warrior, a genius, yes, but a warrior, all the same. He who in the original says of the swooning history professor who casts herself at his feet, so great is her longing for a real man, “a superior woman. I will take her.”
It is impossible to imagine this line being uttered by Benedict Cumberbatch. His cerebral Khan is about as scary as imagining your geography tutor getting really cross. And because every movie needs a great villain, this one tailed off as soon as Cumberbatch says the name “Khan”. I hadn’t read any reviews and could not suppress an open groan in the cinema.
Look, guys, I’m as enlightened as the next chick but there really is a need for dominant males in the world. For your alphas, your muscular, ambitious, driven, ass-kicking commandos who play rugby and/or drive Hummers and manage metal bands (OK I’m biased). For Darth Vader. For Klingons. For Terminators. For Khan.
I’m not saying I could take him in the weight room but nobody that looks like an otter should be playing one of the greatest, baddest, sexiest villains in space.
Alpha males don’t have to be all muscles, although it certainly helps. Indeed I have met many muscular males who I’d say were more gentle and beta-ish. I go back to my first crush Avon from Blake’s Seven, played by Paul Darrow. What a cynical, clever bastard that character was. An equal-opportunity offender. Sexist, unrepentant, marvelously foiled by Servalan (incredible sexual chemistry). Darrow was not a he-man but he was most definitely an alpha male.
Now the Doctor is different, and interesting, but he should be male, because sex is a defining part of who we are, and males and females are different, and the Doctor is a male. (small note: I detest the use of “gender” when people mean “sex”, and am guilty of it myself, but that’s just weakness because everybody else does it. I will man up.) He should not only be a male, but he should be a male with a sense of massive power behind him, not some befuddled teenager or student beta type as of late. Tom Baker [edited: not Colin Baker ffs, posting late at night) was somebody whom you never quite understood; he was mysterious; he knew far more than you did; he gave the sense of being extraordinarily strong, and born from darkness, and of having battled impossible terrors. That was why Dr. Who was so frightening; and I would love to see the BBC cast an actor who could take viewers back to that sense of power. It has gone missing from our screens, replaced with heroes and villains with interesting backstories and “childhood issues” that made them what they are. I don’t give a monkeys about Anakin Skywalker’s pod-racing; I do like “I find your lack of faith disturbing”.
If you’re feeling your hand is being forced by the commentariat into a female Doctor, BBC, just remember: Star Trek: Into Darkness = Star Trek: Could Do Better.
No women. No Matt Smiths. No Sylvester McCoys. No Peter Davidsons. No David Tennants. More Tom Baker, Christopher Eccelston and Patrick Troughton. TIA.
photo by pixel addict