T.M.P. didn't flop exactly; fans, excited to see Star Trek finally on the big screen, flocked to see the film in 1979. But it was almost universally panned by critics and, more importantly, most Star Trek fans went away disappointed. It was not a film that anyone was going to pay to sit through more than once, so returns were a lot less than expected, which was a problem considering how much they had sent on the production. So, when it came to a second Star Trek film, the executives at Paramount were understandably skittish. But from the start, The Wrath of Khan was different.
Bennett had never seen TOS, so the first thing he did was sit down and watch all of the original episodes, to get a feel for the Star Trek universe. And he realized that what was needed in the new movie was a great villain, unlike the lame-o V'GER from The Motion Picture. He found one in the episode Space Seed: Khan Noonien Singh, genetically engineered super human, failed world dictator, and man with a grudge.
So, this has been a discussion of some of the elements- and people- which shaped The Wrath of Khan and helped make it into the classic science fiction film it is today. My next post will focus more on the film itself- it's characters, plot, and themes, and why I thinks these things combined to make the very best Trek movie ever put on film.