At a recent press event JJ Abrams bemoaned the fact that fans are pre-emptively bemoaning how dark the new Star Trek movies. He claims it's all a misunderstanding, that Star Trek Into Darkness, in which Earth is attacked by a terrorist and Kirk tries to get vengeance, only looks dark from the outside. And then they release these Empire covers, with their dark n' gritty leather coats, and JJ will be forced to bemoan some more.
The accompanying Empire article offers very little by way of information about the film, although it does tell us why we've seen so little of Captain Kirk in Starfleet gold: he's gone rogue this film! Yes, that old chestnut already.
With Earth under terrorist attack from Benedict Cumberbatch’s ex-Starfleet employee John Harrison, Kirk is this time forced into a rash decision that breaks a critical Starfleet command, puts his crew in danger & costs him his captain’s chair. Now out of uniform and dressed down in space civvies of black leather jackets and boots, our three heroes have separated from the Enterprise and headed off on a mission to try and rectify his mistake.
I'll wait and see the film before bitching too much (remember, I bitched a lot about 2009's Star Trek and ended up quite liking it), but I will offer a small amount of exasperation: why is this new series of films hellbent on proving how useless Starfleet is? I miss Gene Roddenberry's optimism about the future of humanity, a vision of the world where people worked together to do some common good. It was a rare occassion where someone went rogue on the original Trek, and it was often a sign of madness. Of course this new Trek is seemingly based only on Star Wars and the second, third and fourth Trek movies, so going rogue is a big part of all that.
I wonder how much of Starfleet's apparent uselessness - running the whole fucking fleet into an ambush in the last movie, being caught pants down this movie - stems from JJ Abrams' lazy, poor storytelling and how much stems from writer Roberto Orci's worldview, which is heavily painted by conspiracy theory and paranoia. There's a real argument that these could be the first auterist Star Trek stories post-Roddenberry*, if they do in fact mirror Orci's strange, distrustful view of institutions.
* Main crew stories. I know Deep Space Nine touched on this stuff, in a cute high school production sort of way.