These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternative Character Interpretation: Admiral Marcus as a Well-Intentioned Extremist. He figured that the exploration-focused Starfleet would not be able to win a war against the Klingons, a war he thought was inevitable (and may or may not actually be). He was only doing what he thought was necessary to ensure the Federation's survival. It's not even really that much of an Alternative Character Interpretation - the guy just ends up tapping the Moral Event Horizon when he opts to try and murder Kirk and the entire crew merely for having Khan in their custody, along with other acts.
Due to the disastrous handling of the extras for the Blu Ray release, Paramount is now offering a new box set, which includes the IMAX scenes in the film and loads of special features. It also includes the 2009 film with all of the goodies from the 3 disc set as well. They are also working on offering a discount for owners of original Into Darkness discs as well.
Base Breaker: James T. Kirk. While most will agree he had good character development over the course of the two movies, many more will debate whether said development is enough to actually make him a credible Captain. By the conclusion, a lot were arguing that it would've made more sense for Spock to be Captain instead.
Best Known for the Fanservice: Often brought up by critics discussing the film's flaws. Carol Marcus is in her underwear for only one short clip which only lasts a few seconds: she changes clothes, Kirk peeks, we see. Blatant Fanservice that could have been left on the cutting room floor without affecting the plot at all? Yes, no doubt. But, based on what critics say, one would think she did nothing but run around in her underwear for the entire film.
Was Khan's casting worth it to see Benedict Cumberbatch's acting talent, or was it pointless whitewashing of a famous person of color role?note Despite the original actor still not being the same race as Khan's entire name would suggest. Does the casting of a white actor in the role of Khan really warrant the cries of "OMGRACISM" or are people just overreacting?
Is the film essentially a remake of previous Star Trek films or merely an homage?
Was Kirk's Disney Death believable (setting aside the unlikelihood of the main character to die in the first place) or wasn't it?
The damaged and fiery Enterprise falling to Earth in posters and trailers garnered responses along the lines of "Oh great, they're blowing up theEnterprise ... again." However, The Enterprise is able to get back on its feet before it crash lands. The ship that does crash, however, was the USS Vengeance, piloted by Khan.
Khan being the main antagonist.
The role reversal of Kirk and Spock during the climax.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: There's a comic coming out in October regarding Harrison's past called Star Trek: KHAN. Pretty blatant example, eh?
Like You Would Really Do It: Spock dying at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was just plausible enough that the viewers might believe it would stick (partially because, at the time, it was believed WoK would be the last Trek film). When this film plays that scenario out with Kirk dying instead, no one believes it will stick. Especially not after introducing a convenient Healing Phlebotinum.
Magnificent Bastard: Harrison plays just about everyone with ease and style. And then it's revealed that he's Khan, one of the franchise's most magnificent villains.
If it wasn't for the fact that he was a Smug Snake, Admiral Marcus could count. His entire plan (get Kirk to kill Khan with his torpedoes while also getting rid of his crew, sabotage the Enterprise and then destroy it to make it look like the Klingons did it) to jump start a war with the Klingons is actually pretty intricate and risky. If Kirk had just done what he was told, Marcus could have gotten what he wanted.
Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Ironically subverted. As cautious as the writers were in making Khannot look like an allegory of terrorism, they failed to realize that Khan is a symbol of racial pride for the Indian Trek fandom; after all, Roddenberry himself had designed Khan to emulate a Sikh warlord and to serve as the antithesis toward Aryan myth, a la that only white people can be genetically superior Magnificent Bastards. As a result, the Indian Trekkies community initially took MAJOR issue to Khan's Race Lift, but that has since been tempered by Benedict Cumberbatch's performance and the aforementioned revelation that this Khan remains Sikh by birth and had originally looked like Ricardo Montalban.
If his plot to start a war with the Klingons didn't do it, Admiral Marcus definitely crosses the line with the revelation that he never intended to spare the Enterprise or her crew, no matter what Kirk said or did.
John Harrison/Khan has several possible MEH's:
Manipulating Thomas Harewood into blowing up himself and a Starfleet institution by curing his daughter's condition.
Attacking a gathering of Starfleet officers, killing Admiral Pike in the process.
Attempting to murder the Enterprise crew after his people were returned to him (or so he thought), at a point where none of the crew posed any threat to him.
Setting the fatally damaged Vengeance on a collision course with San Francisco after believing that his crew had been killed.
Narm/Narm Charm: As is the tradition with Star Trek, there are scenes that worked for some people and failed for others.
Spock's exclamation of "KHAAAAAN!" during the finale.
Many found Kirk's dramatic failed attempt to beat an increasingly confused Harrison on Qo'noS hilarious.
The Klingons redesign look more like Psychlos wearing a trenchcoat.
Harrison's scream when Spock attempts the Vulcan nerve pinch on him during their fight.
Noel Clarke is onscreen for all of five minutes, has virtually no dialogue, and dies before the plot fully kicks off, but he makes quite an impression.
Leonard Nimoy's one scene is very short and a bit of a Plot Hole, but most audiences loved it so much they hardly even noticed.
Ron the Death Eater: Since the release of the film, Admiral Pike has become a go-to villain for many fanfics.
Rooting for the Empire: Despite its writers' Anvilicious attempts to decry militarization and aggression, quite a few people who saw the movie ended up rooting for Alexander Marcus and his goal in militarizing Starfleet for a war against the Klingon Empire. Seemingly, Marcus' only detraction is that he went about it in the manner of a standard General Ripper, to the point that he brought Khan, an infamous genetically engineered warlord that nearly took over the Earth long ago, out of cold storage to utilize as a slave (thinking he could actually control Khan), as well as attempted to purposely start said war with the Klingons (using the oblivious crew of the Enterprise to do so no less) as opposed to letting it happen naturally.
On the flipside, John Harrison/Khan gets a lot of this due to his sympathetic motivations to save his crew from Marcus. Throw in Benedict Cumberbatch's charismatic performance, stylishthreads, booming voice and we've got a full blown example here.
Ship Tease: Between Carol and McCoy, when Kirk drafts Bones into helping her open one of the torpedoes.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Kirk's closing speech, in which he states that no matter how intimidating or threatening our enemies may be, you do not give in to the same fear and hatred they live by. It's not very subtle, and different viewers have different ideas about its effectiveness, but the message underneath is sound.
Stoic Woobie: Dr. Carol Marcus discovers that her father is at the head of a conspiracy to start a galactic scale war, is transporter-kidnapped by him so she can't stand in the way of his attempt to murder the entire crew of a Federation ship (which she is forced to watch helplessly from his side), has her leg broken by Khan, and then watches him brutally murder her father. She holds up remarkably well given what she goes through.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Into Darkness was intended to be a remake of Wrath of Khan because Wrath of Khan is always acknowledged as the best Trek movie. What this film doesn't understand is that the best qualities of Wrath of Khan came from Kirk's relationship with Spock that had been built up throughout TOS, and Khan's previous history with Kirk from "Space Seed", neither of which were established as well in the Abramsverse.
Another point of failure is that Wrath of Khan was made around the theme of "Horatio Hornblower In Space" (well before the Honorverse was conceived might I add), which included staples like a more militarized Starfleet (right down to the uniforms), one of the most elaborate starship battles in sci-fi history and lots and lots of swashbuckling to go around. None of that was passed on to Into Darkness, even when there was ample opportunity for some of it (just imagine how an actual ship-to-ship battle between the Enterprise and the Vengeance would have turned out).
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Enterprise vs. Vengeance. Yes the Vengeance totally outperformed the Enterprise in virtually every area, but that's no excuse not to have an actual starship battle between the two; in fact, it would have made for a great David vs. Goliath scenario, in which Kirk and company would have to come up with elaborate strategy (much like hiding in the Mutara Nebula) to overcome this monster. The fact Vengeance was meant to be a dark, militarized counterpart to the Enterprise would have made such a battle all the more fitting.
Long before the movie came out it was speculated that Khan was going to be the villain. When Harrison revealed his true identity as Khan a lot of people were not surprised.
Many Trek fans who had watched "Space Seed" knew exactly what was in those torpedoes the moment the number 72 was uttered. In addition, a large number of filmgoers who were aware of how much the film was borrowing from The Wrath of Khan caught on to the fairly evident foreshadowing with the Tribble and correctly assumed both that the engine scene would be repeated and that Khan's blood would be used to revive the victim. Between these three untwists, many Trek fans complained of the film being predictable.
Values Dissonance: Khan's Race Lift was because of this. Had Khan — whose name might suggest that he is Muslim — been cast by an Indian or Middle-Eastern actor, "John Harrison's" overtly terrorist actions may have led to further Unfortunate Implications with the character.
Even if Section 31 of Starfleet Intelligence is a bunch of Well-Intentioned ExtremistSecret Police imperialists, how could they be so stupid as to threaten to kill the family of the amoral superman who at one point had conquered a quarter of Earth.
Kirk falsified his Captain's Log and failed to inform his by-the-book second officer that he had done so or what he said instead. Oddly enough he seems convinced Spock stabbed him in the back by not guessing this.
Great work on storming the bridge of the Vengeance, Kirk! I'm sure that one stun round will be more than enough to incapacitate the genetically enhanced, virtually unkillable super soldier whom you already know is capable of enduring a beatdown that would cripple a normal man. Sure, he didn't have a lot of other options, but he could at least have gone for a double tap.
Admiral Marcus for thinking he could control a man who was basically an emperor in his own time period.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In a movie all about the cycle of violence and the difference between justice and revenge, the super-ship which Khan takes control of is named the USS Vengeance for crying out loud. If Harrison had anything to do with the actual naming, this would probably put Admiral Marcus into Too Dumb to Live.
The Woobie: Thomas Harewood. The man's daughter is dying, he's helpless to save her, and he winds up being manipulated by Harrison into killing himself and dozens of others in a suicide bombing in exchange for his daughter being cured.