This article was originally published on Atomic Geekdom on March 22, 2022. Click here to read the original: 

Leaked photos of Paul Wesley on the set of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 are now out there. The internet was interested in who this new character could be. Trek Culture even speculated that this could be Matt Decker, the character made famous by the late William Windom in the original Star Trek season 2 episode The Doomsday Machine. But Paramount+ has now gone ahead and exclusively revealed that Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley is playing none other than Captain James T. Kirk. 

Wesley is the third actor to play Captain Kirk after William Shatner’s iconic character and Chris Pine in the later rebooted franchise. Curiously, his uniform suggests that he’s already been promoted to Captain. There’s been no canonical reference to when Kirk was promoted, but it’s been assumed for some time that it was when he took command of the Enterprise. Since it’s unlikely he’s taking over the Enterprise from Captain Pike this early, could they be introducing him as the captain of the USS Farragut? The set images show him with a different badge than the ones worn by the Enterprise crew. This could indicate they’re returning to a scrapped Star Trek: The Original Series idea where each ship had its own special badge.

At any rate, it’s unlikely Paramount+ would have announced this role so early before season 1 has even aired if the photos hadn’t been leaked. Surely Captain Kirk was so far from everyone’s minds, that they could have kept this a secret a little longer. It’s not like many people were going to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in the hopes of seeing Captain Kirk. The benefit of a show like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is that there has been so little in canon about Captain Pike, and this was the chance for audiences to see what adventures he went on before his accident.

In Star Trek, few characters are as famous as Captain James T. Kirk. Between William Shatner and Chris Pine, the character has starred in two TV shows (Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series) and ten movies (Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Star Trek: Generations and the three reboot movies). So for a new Star Trek series to return to the Captain Kirk character, even briefly, on the surface feels unnecessary. After all, are fans really that hungry for the early adventures of James T. Kirk?

Captain Kirk is such a powerful figure in Star Trek, that his presence could overshadow Pike and his crew, in the same way, that Anson Mount overshadowed the cast of Star Trek: Discovery. Questions still remain, though, since Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is said to be more episodic than the other current Star Trek shows, how much of a role will Paul Wesley play in the series? It’s unclear how long the show-runners envision the show lasting, but if this is them introducing Kirk to replace Pike, then it would be a shame.

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