It seems like divine intervention is the only thing which stopped the first Star Trek movie from borrowing the image of Jesus Christ. As the franchise celebrates 50th anniversary this year, fans are all for reminiscing over its historic run, but some things might be better left forgotten. In an excerpt from The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek - The First 25 Years, Edward Gross and Mark Altman describe the aborted script which almost quite literally alienated the franchise.
The writers collected interviews from dozens of Star Trek creators like Gene Roddenberry to piece together a picture of how the first film's script started. Eager to prove himself after Star Trek’s end, the book describes how Roddenberry wanted to branch out from sci-fi. However, the creator found himself sucked back into the Star Trek universe when Paramount began discussing whether a feature-length film could revive the franchise.
In an interview, William Shatner recalls how he ran into Roddenberry typing up the script which initially intrigued him. Shatner recollects that the film would be about a powerful force which comes to Earth, may it be God or the Devil, and essentially causes total chaos to erupt.
Roddenberry's premise describes a story now known as The God Thing which featured Captain Kirk and his crew fighting an all-powerful entity who fancied himself as God. The script, however, was considered too controversial for religious conservatives who feared the depiction of an alien who shape-shifted into Jesus Christ would anger audiences. And, as one of Paramount’s head honchos was a devout Catholic then, the script wouldn't have even gotten approved.
Since then, different attempts have been made to repackage The God Thing, and Michael Jan Friedman spoke about his work on the porject. He said, “Naturally I jumped at the chance to translate and expand it. Gene was — and still is — one of my heroes, for God’s sake, no pun intended. As he had already left the land of the living, this was a unique opportunity to collaborate with him. But when I read the material, I was dismayed. I hadn’t seen other samples of Gene’s unvarnished writing, but what I saw this time could not possibly have been his best work...In [its] climactic scene, Kirk had a fistfight with an alien who had assumed the image of Jesus Christ.”
Well, surely a story can’t get more melodramatic than that. While Captain Kirk is well-known for his passionate antics, having him go toe-to-toe with some sort of wannabe deity could raise some eyebrows.
Would you all like to have seen the original script as it is? And, more importantly, who do you think would've won?