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Star Trek Into Darkness' Alice Eve Controversy Explained

Alice Eve's underwear scene in Star Trek Into Darkness remains controversial nearly a decade after the blockbuster film was released. Directed by J.J. Abrams, Star Trek Into Darkness continued the voyages of the young crew of the Starship Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). Abrams' sequel revealed itself as a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and reintroduced some key characters from the 1982 film, including a young version of Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), into the rebooted Kelvin alternate timeline.

J.J. Abrams' attempt to obfuscate the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness left a bad impression on many Trekkers but a scene where Carol Marcus strips down to her underwear was also poorly received and remains an issue with fans. In context, Kirk followed Carol into a shuttlecraft as she prepared it for launch. Marcus also asked the Captain to "turn around" while she changed into a flight suit, but Kirk ignored her request and got an eye full of Carol in her underwear. The scene is clearly gratuitous and only exists to establish Alice Eve's sex appeal as Carol Marcus, just as J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies reveled in the attractiveness of the reboot's entire cast.

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Soon after Star Trek Into Darkness was released in the summer of 2013, J.J. Abrams and his team found themselves defending Alice Eve stripping to their underwear. Co-writer Damon Lindelof tweeted an "apology" for why Carol Marcus appeared "gratuitously and unnecessarily" in her undies, and his justification was, "Because... uh... MYSTERY?" (This was a tongue-in-cheek reference to J.J. Abrams' infamous "mystery box" style of filmmaking.) Co-writer Alex Kurtzman explained that Abrams' and his collective of writers "thought about" the ramifications of Carol's Star Trek Into Darkness underwear scene: "It's not something that we went into blindly and certainly we all sat in a room going, okay, we're going to be criticized for this, but how do we justify this...?" Yet many fans don't believe Kirk ogling Carol in her underwear is justifiable. Rather, it comes off as a gratuitous example of the male gaze obviously intended to titillate the audience.

For her part, Alice Eve doesn't understand why her Star Trek Into Darkness underwear scene is controversial. The actress is proud of "the work" that went into preparing for her scene as Eve trained to get into incredible shape. Alice explained, "The feeling I shouldn’t have done it, or that it was exploitation, was confusing to me." Eve also isn't the only character who strips down in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies; Kirk himself appears in his underwear during his Star Trek Into Darkness threesome with two alien women. However, fans point out that Kirk's revealing moment is justifiable because it's a love scene whereas Carol takes off her clothes in the shuttlecraft just because.

Star Trek Into Darkness was released in 2013 just as the "Me Too" movement began to take hold and forced Hollywood to hold those who have abused their power and victimized women accountable. Alice Eve's underwear scene was one example of the audience pushing back against Star Trek gratuitously exploiting a female character. The argument was also made that the overall female characters in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies aren't as well-written as the men. Thus, Carol Marcus' character in Star Trek Into Darkness was so underdeveloped, Alice Eve stripping to her nethers ended up as the only thing the audience remembers about her role in the film.

However, Trekkers who don't take issue with Carol Marcus stripping cite that Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek: The Original Series was also sexually charged and that J.J. Abrams' movie was merely honoring an aspect of the franchise that has been prevalent since the 1960s. Ultimately, whether or not Alice Eve appearing in her underwear in Star Trek Into Darkness is controversial is left to the eye of the beholder. Encouragingly, Star Trek has learned its lesson from Carol Marcus' underwear scene and the franchise has not placed its female characters in a similarly compromising position since.

Next: Why Alice Eve's Carol Marcus Didn't Return For Star Trek Beyond

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