When it was decided during post production that the prison escape scene near the beginning of 2009’s Star Trek film didn’t need to be in the final cut, we lost the opportunity to see J. J. Abrams’ redesigned Klingons.
The scene - which includes a cameo from Michael Dorn, playing the ancestor of the character he played on Star Trek: TNG - appears on the DVD, however, so we can see them now.
They’re not forgotten, however. The race plays a role in the new comics series that serves as a narrative bridge between the first film and the new one, Star Trek into Darkness, and thus may also appear in the film itself. The design doesn’t seem to have changed since the concept planned to be presented in the first film, as we can see from the cover of Star Trek Countdown to Darkness #4.
We still haven’t seen one without a helmet, however, which leads one to wonder about the rest of the design for the race. Abrams could have gone with the classic series design, which consisted mostly just of distinctive beards, or the later design which saw the introduction of the ridged forehead and furled nose bridge. It seems likely that he may have gone with a combination of the two, making the Klingons themselves rather human-like, and then represent the later design elements in the helmet only. Perhaps, we’ll never even get to see what they look like under those helmets.
The television shows featured a somewhat tongue-in-cheek explanation of the make-up change between the series. A failure of genetic engineering led the Klingons to go without their prominent forehead ridges for a number of generations - from 2154 to sometime in the mid 23rd century - which intersects with the timeline of the new films. The event is mostly unobserved, with various Klingons across the shows indicating that it’s not something they discuss with outsiders. There is so much about the lore of Star Trek that Abrams has changed in his new films, however, that there is no way of knowing if any part of that aspect of Klingon history is being used.
Perhaps we’ll find out in April, when Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 hits shelves, along with a graphic novel which collects all four parts, just before the release of the film. Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 is out now.