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Kirk's Death: That's The Best They Could Come Up With?

Hero-killer Malcolm McDowell says demise of Enterprise captain could've been handled better

For years, fans behind the Bring Back Kirk campaign have argued the way Capt. James T. Kirk died in the 1994 film "Star Trek Generations" was undignified.

Well now, those fans are getting a little support from the man who pulled the trigger in the first place.

Malcolm McDowell, who played the desperately lovesick El-Aurian wanting to get back to his family, says the scene he shot more than 17 years ago just didn't do justice to one of science-fiction's biggest legends.

"It was a paltry screen moment in a situation that called for something dramatic and inspired, something spectacular even," McDowell recently told The Los Angeles Times.

McDowell jokes that whenever he runs into William Shatner, he jokes that he's the one who shot him in the back (referring to the original scene in "Generations" that was later reshot). Yet, it was hard to get such a scene to resonate with fans.

"They gave [Kirk] such a lousy sendoff," McDowell said. "I mean, what a cheesy move. He falls off a bridge. I shoot the bridge and he falls. That's the best thing they could come up with?"

The film was written by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, based on a story the two developed with then franchise torchbearer Rick Berman.

Moore and Braga had originally tried to write Kirk's death where it would take place on the battle bridge of the Enterprise-D, thus he would die on the Enterprise. Instead, they wrote a scene where he was shot in the back on the planet Soran was trying to lure the Nexus ribbon.

Both writers later said that while the new scene was better than the shooting-Kirk-in-the-back, both remained unhappy with what they came up with. Moore later would become well-known and respected for his revival of Syfy's "Battlestar Galactica" while Braga is the showrunner for Fox's big-ticket "Terra Nova" that is premiering this fall.

The Bring Back Kirk campaign was active for many years in Trek fandom, simply asking Paramount Pictures to undo what they felt was an unjust death of a hero. The group wanted Kirk to be somehow resurrected, and to never have Kirk's death featured on screen, believing such a hero should never die.

Sadly some fans took that anguish over Kirk's death too far, something McDowell now makes light of.

"I killed Capt. Kirk, and I got death threats," he said. "And some of them were in Klingon."

McDowell's recent comments aren't exactly new. The actor, who has since made appearances in genre shows like the failed reboot of "Fantasy Island" as well as NBC's "Heroes," have shared sentiments similar to this for years. He most recently made news with comments along the same line in 2009 with the Daily Telegraph.

While Paramount never did resurrect Kirk, they did create an alternate version of Kirk that is now played by Chris Pine and is alive and well in the rebooted Star Trek movie franchise. Because the events of Kirk's life is on a different timeline than the original franchise, it is likely that he will avoid an untimely encounter with the Nexus.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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