Geeky Parent Guide: ‘The Wrath of Khan’ Teaches About the Greater Good

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan represents an iconic class of storytelling within all movie-going worlds. Star Trek is a beloved franchise and many will debate their favorite TV series or movies, but The Wrath of Khan is a film that defies time. It represents a clear message to all viewers that being in charge of others (like a parent) is not always a clear path. The decisions Captain Kirk and Spock make have an overarching goal to benefit the many, while Khan’s path is distinct in who it benefits.

The Wrath of Khan is celebrating its 40th anniversary after originally being released in theaters on June 4, 1982. After so many years, it’s still amazing to see the cunning back and forth between Kirk and Khan. Both of them lead a group of people, but each one has their own reasoning for how they choose to move forward in life. Star Trek as a whole presents a universe where we hope for a brighter future, which is a significant correlation to parenting and what we hope for our own kids.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Khan Protects Only His Vision

Ricardo Montalban’s portrayal of Khan Noonian Singh dates back to his appearance in the original series’ episode, “Space Seed.” Much like this TV episode, Khan and his compatriots are accidentally found in The Wrath of Khan. Being abandoned on a planet long ago has given Khan all the drive to strike back at those who wronged him when the opportunity arises.

“Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold?”

The destruction of Khan’s path does not mean his aim is strictly isolated to one person. It doesn’t matter how he serves his revenge to Kirk, as long as he kills or leaves Kirk abandoned like Khan was so long ago. This also means he doesn’t care what happens to the crew of the Enterprise. He will destroy the ship and everyone aboard, as long as Kirk is onboard, too.

Khan ultimately doesn’t care about his own crew either. He would rather make sure everyone died in his efforts to defeat Kirk. There isn’t any wiggle room when it comes to Khan. He isn’t looking to set a positive example. It’s only about his resolve and a means to an end: revenge. Even when he’s been bested by the crew of the Enterprise, he sets off a device that will destroy his ship and anything nearby, including Kirk’s ship.

This single-minded vision doesn’t allow Khan to see any other outcome. He only wants what he wants and he wants it as soon as possible. Although my own kiddos have yet to watch this film, it’s important for kids to see this type of behavior. Despite Khan’s intelligence, his relentless stubbornness causes him to be immovable in his path in life. I think it’s important for kids to recognize there are people in the world who only care about themselves. In those instances, understanding those qualities might help them walk away from potential relationships where friendship isn’t reciprocated.

“The Needs of the Many Outweigh” Kirk and Spock

Parenting is a balancing act. Generally speaking, my wife and I put the needs of our kids above our own. Yes, we try to have date nights, chat about future travel, or have the kids spend the night at their grandparents, but we usually have the mindset where our kids come first. Captain Kirk’s responsibilities includes the well-being of his crew, which also means getting them home safely after each mission.

In the same instance, the crew must also be a part of that process to safely get home. Captain Kirk may give the orders, but Spock and the rest of the crew must do their parts to help in their objectives. Parents also must hope their kids will be self-reliant to take what they’ve learned (much like the crew learned from Starfleet Academy), and propel forward with that knowledge to live a healthy and satisfying life.

Photon torpedoes and phasers aside, we hope our kids will be adventurous like those who explore the galaxies, while being mindful in their approach. When Spock realized the Enterprise was almost crippled beyond repair, and stuck in the path of a devastating explosion, he understood there was one way to save everyone else, despite the harm that would come to him.

On more than one occasion, Spock tells Kirk, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” It’s a devastating thought to think one person needs to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the many, but Spock makes a choice and does not regret it. His vision, much like Kirk’s, is aimed at helping others whereas Khan is solely bent on satisfying his own goal.

Being within a community where the sentiment is to help each other succeed (or “live long and prosper”) is an amazing thing to aspire to be a part of. Shouldn’t we want to surround ourselves with people who want the best for us (or to “boldly go where no [one] has gone before”)? Kirk and Spock both realize their mission is to achieve goodness for their crew, while Khan only cares about himself to the very end.

When it comes to our kiddos’ lives, it’s clear who the role models should be and what message we should send out into the universe. Be like Spock and Kirk. Don’t be a Khan.

Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.

Go to top