WARNING: CRAZY SPOILERS HEREIN.
It's become a bit of a tradition in Hollywood for the creators of pop culture-friendly franchises to hide a few Easter eggs in the film for hardcore fans to find and get giggly over. "Iron Man 3" did it just this month while Marvel's other giant blockbuster, "The Avengers," perfected the art last year.
But while those movies were at least sometimes subtle about their references and in-jokes, "Star Trek Into Darkness" has taken a somewhat different approach: smacking you right in the face with them at every single opportunity.
Of course, that's bound to happen when your whole film is taken part and parcel from the most beloved "Star Trek" installment of all time, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." But since not everyone going to see "Star Trek Into Darkness" has a Ph.D. in Trekkery ("Wrath of Khan" did come out over 30 years ago, after all), we thought we'd go ahead and break things down for the rest of you.
So check out our handy guide to 8 Things You May Have Missed the First Time Around. And who knows? Even if you're a hardcore "Star Trek" fan, there might be something in here you somehow missed as well. Enjoy!
1. The Needs of the Many
During the high-octane opening sequence of the film, Spock (Zachary Quinto) finds himself seemingly abandoned to certain death inside an active volcano. But does he want to be saved? No he does not, in part because trying to rescue him would endanger to0 many other people. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one," he explains calmly — using the same phrase that Leonard Nimoy's original Spock used during his infamous death scene at the end of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."
So just how legendary is Spock's death scene in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"? So legendary that they reused the entire sequence in "Star Trek Into Darkness," only with the roles of Spock and Kirk reversed! Yeah, that whole thing where Kirk went into the radiation chamber to save the ship and then died heroically while his best friend helplessly groped at the glass between them? All of it was taken right from "The Wrath of Khan." As was the epic scream "KHAAAAAAAAN!!!," which was originally delivered by William Shatner's Captain Kirk in arguably the most famous moment in "Star Trek" history. Behold the wonder:
3. The Mudd Incident
When Captain Kirk (Chris Pine, naturally) heads down to the Klingon homeworld to capture Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), he disguises the expedition by using a non-Federation shuttle they confiscated during "the Mudd incident." That's actually a double Easter egg: Harry Mudd was a fan favorite recurring villain during the original "Star Trek" TV series, but publishing company IDW also recently put out a special "Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness" tie-in comic book setting up ... well, that one scene. Cool either way.
4. Nurse Chapel
During Kirk's initial flirtation with new hottie Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), she mentions that he has a reputation. How bad is it? So bad that her good friend, Christine Chapel, transferred off planet to get away from him and become a nurse. Which is a reference to original "Star Trek" crew member Nurse Chapel, who was played by "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett. There was also a brief reference to Nurse Chapel in the 2009 "Star Trek" film, so maybe at some point she'll actually, you know, appear on screen or something.
5. Dr. Carol Marcus
Speaking of science officer Carol Marcus and her flirtation with Kirk, hopefully you liked her, because chances are you're going to see a lot more of her ... and not just because Eve has already signed on to appear in "Star Trek 3." Dr. Carol Marcus, you see, was a major character in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," where it was revealed that she secretly had a son with Kirk when they were both younger, i.e. the age they are in the reboot. So that line she delivers at the end of the movie where she says to Kirk that "It's good to have a family?" Yeah, those googly bedroom eyes were totally foreshadowing.
6. The Trouble With Tribbles
If you were wondering about that undead ball of fur that Karl Urban's Dr. McCoy performs medical experiments on in his attempts to revive Kirk, then you clearly aren't a fan of the '60s TV show ... because "The Trouble with Tribbles," where that cute monster came from, is arguably the most popular episode of the entire series. In the show, the Tribbles seem harmless — and are harmless, except for the fact that they multiply at such an ungodly rate that they endanger every other species around by eating them out of house and home like a plague of Furbies. Maybe McCoy should have left that one dead.
7. Kobayashi Maru
Referenced both in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and in the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot, the Kobayashi Maru is a simulation that cadets at Starfleet Academy have to attempt as part of their training. One problem: it's a no-win situation, with Kirk only beating it thanks to some ingenious cheating. So what does it have to do with "Star Trek: Into Darkness"? Well, the Kobayashi Maru scenario involves being stranded on the edge of Klingon space due to a warp core malfunction — which is exactly what happens to the actual Enterprise in "Into Darkness." Well played.
8. The Undiscovered Country
Finally, we have to also give props to J.J. Abrams and company for branching out a little with their references beyond just "The Wrath of Khan," which they did with the entire non-Khan half of the plot. You know that whole thing where Starfleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) tries to stage an incident in order to create a war with the Klingon Empire, going so far as to attack and kill Starfleet officers as part of his plan? Yeah, that's the plot of "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," which many critics consider the second-best of the original "Star Trek" movies — right behind "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Hey, if you're going to steal, steal from the best.