Why does Benedict Cumberbatch make the perfect Sherlock Holmes? Why was he so hotly tipped to take the place of David Tennant's Time Lord in Doctor Who? And why has he now been cast as an adversary to Captain James T Kirk in JJ Abrams’s Star Trek II?
The words "strange", "enigmatic" and "alien" spring immediately to mind (so do the words "timing" and "sex" – Cumberbatch’s star is definitely in the ascendant and he’s a major geek pin-up).
For me, Cumberbatch has rogue Vulcan (or perhaps Romulan) written all over him. He has the cheekbones, the eyebrows and, as Sherlock, a background in playing the emotionally aloof. He just needs the pointed ears and a set of hair-straighteners (although fans might miss that endearing shock of curls).
Or perhaps his otherworldliness would lend itself to some kind of multi-dimensional, omnipotent being like trickster Q. Definitely, he could be part of the Borg – he’s already interestingly pale enough not to need much make-up.
But even if he turns out to be just a plain old human baddie, Cumberbatch has what it takes. He's British, after all, and for an American audience we are the go-to guys when it comes to villains. Behind those piercing blue eyes and outward reserve could lie barely suppressed rage, ready to burst free in the kind of sudden temper tantrum that defines that screen species.
Another thing to consider is to what degree Abrams’s reboot will follow existing Star Trek canon – and what that might tell us about who Cumberbatch will be playing.
Benicio Del Toro – who Cumberbatch is supposedly replacing as arch-baddie – was rumoured to be taking on the role of Kirk’s nemesis, Khan. On one hand, that would fit, since The Wrath of Khan is the second instalment in the original movie sequence. On the other, Abrams's time line begins much further back than the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which Kirk was already an admiral. Then again, it could be that the new movie will concern Khan's original exile by Kirk, as charted in the TV series. All speculation for now, of course.
Whoever, or whatever, his character turns out to be, one thing seems likely – Cumberbatch will make a great Star Trek villain, and a worthy adversary for James Tiberius Kirk. To me, it seems elementary – let me know whether you agree by voting in our poll below.